Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
When Quentin Durward, a young Scottish gentleman, approaches the ford of a small river near the castle of Plessisles-Tours, in France, he finds the river in flood. Two people watch him from the opposite bank. They are King Louis XI in his common disguise of Maître Pierre, a merchant, and Tristan l’Hermite, marshal of France. Quentin enters the flood and nearly drowns. Arriving on the other side and mistaking the king and his companion for a burgher and a butcher, he threatens the two with a drubbing because they did not warn him of the deep ford. Amused by Quentin’s spirit and daring, Maître Pierre takes him to breakfast at a nearby inn to make amends. At the inn, Quentin meets a beautiful young peasant, Jacqueline, who actually is Isabelle, the countess of Croye. Quentin tries to learn why the merchant Maître Pierre acts so much like a noble. He sees many other things as well that arouse his curiosity but for which he finds no explanation.
Shortly afterward, Quentin meets Ludovic Lesly, known as Le Balafré, his maternal uncle, who is a member of King Louis’s Scottish Archers. Le Balafré is exceedingly surprised to learn that Quentin can read and write, something that no other Durward or Lesly before him has been able to do.
Later, Quentin discovers the body of a man hanging from a tree. When he cuts the body down, he is seized by two officers of Tristan l’Hermite. They are about to hang Quentin for his deed when he asks of the...
(The entire section is 1391 words.)
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