Chapter 16 Summary
The "sluggard" knight who came to Wilfrid's assistance at the tournament has traveled north through the woods and gotten lost in Yorkshire. Tired and hungry, he cannot tell which path is the most likely to take him back to the road, so he leaves the decision to his horse. Allowed to pick his own way, the weary horse sets off in the direction of a nearby hermitage.
The hermit's hut is made of logs and stands beside a stone fountain and ruined chapel in an isolated forest glade. The Black Knight is relieved because hermits are bound to offer hospitality to travelers in need.
Knocking on the door of the hut, the Black Knight is at first ignored by the hermit and then told to keep going. Surprised and unwilling to be unaccommodated, the knight appeals to the hermit's religious obligations, but the hermit says he has no food or fodder to share.
The knight then asks to be shown the way to the road, but the hermit says he's getting behind in his prayers and can't spare the time. He starts to call out a series of complex directions through dangerous geographical terrain, which prompts the knight to threaten to break the door down if the hermit doesn't open up and give him a place to stay the night. The hermit replies that if he is forced to defend himself, the knight will be sorry. The knight, who is a large and powerful man, kicks the door, which rocks the hut, and the hermit at last admits him.
The hermit has two large dogs, a torch in one hand, and a club in the other. Seeing that his visitor is a formidable knight, however, he welcomes him and claims that he was afraid he might be a robber; the forest is full of outlaws. Silently, each man sums the other up as the most physically powerful looking man he has ever seen.
The Black Knight asks about food and lodging for himself and his horse, and the hermit answers by pointing at two corners of the hut and retrieving a plate of dried peas. When the knight brings in his horse and blankets him with his own cloak, the hermit is moved...
(The entire section is 554 words.)