Chapter 22 Summary

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Isaac is in the dungeon, deep under the castle. The chamber is damp and dark, and he has a skeleton for company. There is a large, rusty fire grill at one end of the room. Isaac's initial terror has subsided and he is considering his situation. He has been in similar peril before and escaped, and he has the pride and courage to resist his tormentors. Isaac contrives a cushion out of his cloak and sits calmly awaiting the next move.

At last, Front-de-Boeuf arrives in the dungeon accompanied by Sir Brian's eastern slaves. The slaves carry bags and a basket and are dressed for hard, messy work, and the noble locks the door. Front-de-Boeuf's face is marked by his vicious nature, and his eyes freeze Isaac with fear. As Isaac shrinks in terror, the noble swells like an eagle that "ruffles up its plumage" before it pounces. From the basket, Front-de-Beouf takes out a scale and some weights. He tells Isaac that for his ransom, he will deliver one thousand silver pounds onto the scale. Isaac prevaricates, pleading that the sum is impossible. Front-de-Beouf tells Isaac that he will roast slowly over the grill until he agrees to the ransom. Sir Brian's slaves appear to be proficient in the practice. Isaac appeals to the noble's humanity, but Front-de-Beouf reminds Isaac that he has seen Christian towns sacked and has no mercy for a single Jew. That the Jews were not a party to the sacking is beside the point. Isaac will be roasted if he doesn't pay.

Isaac counters that he cannot pay unless he goes to his friends to beg for help in making up the ransom. Front-de-Beouf refuses to let him leave. Isaac asks why he should believe that he will be freed after the ransom is paid. The noble says that Isaac determines the terms of financial transactions in his own house, but in Torquilstone's dungeon, Front-de-Beouf makes the conditions. Isaac asks that his ransom include the Saxons who were taken with him. Again, he is refused. Isaac asks that it at least include the wounded knight, but Front-de-Beouf warns him to stop interfering with other people's business. Finally, Isaac asks that his daughter be given safe conduct to York to arrange for the money to be delivered.

Front-de-Beouf is surprised and admits that he has mistakenly given Rebecca, who he had assumed was Isaac's mistress, to Sir Brian. Isaac howls, throwing off the astonished slaves and falling to the floor. He pitifully begs Front-de-Beouf to spare Rebecca, offering all his fortune to save her. Front-de-Beouf sees that Jews do indeed have some family feeling and apologizes for the mix-up, but he says he can do nothing about it now. Isaac then declares that he will not pay the ransom until Rebecca is safe. Front-de-Beouf then orders Isaac to be roasted, but before they slaves can begin their work, the horn is heard and voices call for Front-de-Boeuf. Unwilling to be discovered practicing an uncivilized form of torture in his own dungeon, the noble postpones the roasting of Isaac and goes to find out what is happening upstairs.

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Chapter 21 Summary


Chapter 23 Summary