Chapter 26 Summary

Dressed as a friar and armed with a handful of stock Latin liturgical phrases, Wamba gains admittance to the castle. The jester claims to have innocently fallen in with the thieves and says that there are at least five hundred of them. Sir Brian suggests to Front-de-Beouf that the priest be allowed to go through with the sham of confessing the captives so that the besiegers will believe that they really are going to execute them. He also wants to entrust the priest with a message to De Bracy's forces, alerting them to the siege. Wamba is escorted to the hall where Cedric and Athelstane are held.

Wamba at first fools the Saxon nobles with his disguise, warning them that they are to be killed. Cedric is outraged and Athelstane declares that he will go to his death with "as much composure as ever I did to my dinner." Wamba then reveals himself and proposes that he and Cedric switch clothes so that Cedric can escape. Cedric is touched, but he is willing to accept Wamba's sacrifice only if Athelstane is allowed to be the one to take Wamba's disguise. The jester refuses, arguing that his ties are to Cedric's ancestors, not the royal forbears of Athelstane. At last, Athelstane urges Cedric to go and try to save them from outside the castle. Wamba tells Cedric of the five hundred men arrayed against the castle, and with the hope of saving Rowena and Athelstane and even Wamba, Cedric agrees.

Wearing the priest's cassock, Cedric worries that he won't know how to pass for a friar among the Normans. Wamba teaches him the Latin phrase Pax vobiscum (peace be on you) and tells him to limit his speech to just this phrase so that no one will suspect him. Luckily, the castle has been without a priest for so long that no one living there would know what to expect of a real priest. However, he is soon intercepted by Rebecca, who speaks Latin and Saxon very well and might have discovered his identity if she weren't in turn interrupted by Urfried. Rebecca has come to ask him to see a wounded man (and learn what she can about their general circumstances), but Cedric, hoping to get away, says that he is freshly holy and wants to avoid being polluted by a Jewess. Rebecca has offered to nurse the wounded knight in return for being allowed out of the turret. Urfried, angered at Rebecca's taking advantage of the deal to roam the castle, sends Rebecca back into Wilfrid's room and insists on seeing the friar to the front door herself.