Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 739
Urfried guides Cedric into a small room, locks the door, and makes him admit that he, like she, is a Saxon. She declares that she will soon be dead, and she wants to tell a fellow Saxon the story of her unhappy life. She tells him that she was the daughter of Torquil. Cedric is appalled that the hag was once the girl he knew as Ulrica, and tells her that he is the son of her father's friend Hereward. She wonders why Cedric of Rotherwood is dressed as a priest, and he wonders why she is alive and in her own castle when all the rest of her family were killed. Ulrica confesses that she became the paramour of her father's murderer.
Cedric tells her that she was believed to have died with the rest of her family and that she should have ended her own life rather than live in lawless love with her Norman conqueror. Ulrica replies that the only thing she cannot reproach herself with is loving the Normans. She hates the current Front-de-Beouf and his murdering father and had her revenge in nurturing hatred between father and son until the elder was at last murdered by the younger. She had long lived in hope that Cedric the Saxon would succeed in taking England back from the Normans. Ulrica leaves it to Cedric to infer that she became the mistress of the current Front-de-Beouf, but she has withered and decayed since then and has become an object of abuse for even the menials of the castle.
Cedric is disgusted by her and wants to leave, but Ulrica is desperate for some comforting words from the first decent person she has seen in twenty years. She has made her confession, as if Cedric really were a priest, and she wants absolution, which Cedric is unwilling to give. Ulrica tells him that his lack of compassion has broken the last tie she had with her own people. Cedric softens a little and suggests that now would be the time for her to repent of the horrors of her past life, but Ulrica says that she is like a fiend of hell who can feel remorse but not repentance. She tells Cedric that her death will be worthy of Torquil's daughter and that he should watch for a red flag as he attacks the castle. The flag will be a signal that the defenders have their hands full.
Front-de-Beouf finds Cedric and gives him the letter Sir Brian has written. He tells him to take it to Malvoisin to be forwarded to York. Additionally he asks the false priest to use his wiles to keep the outlaws from leaving before the relieving forces arrive. Cedric heartily promises to keep the besiegers around the castle.
Once Cedric is gone, Front-de-Beouf summons the false Cedric and Athelstane to discuss their ransom. It is only when Wamba speaks that the Norman discovers the ruse. De Bracy recognizes Wamba, who continues to jest even as Front-de-Beouf threatens him with a grisly death, and offers to take the jester into his own service. Wamba banters evasively until De Bracy attempts to end the siege simply. He turns to Athelstane and asks what ransom he will pay for his freedom and to take the outlaws away with him. Athelstane says he will pay one thousand marks, and they are ready to seal the deal. Then Front-de-Beouf remarks that the ransom does not cover Isaac. The Templar arrives and adds that Isaac's daughter isn't part of the deal either. De Bracy excludes Rowena, and Front-de-Beouf decides to retain Wamba as well. Athelstane declares that Rowena is his fiancée and he will leave neither her nor Wamba behind.
A new visitor is announced, a real monk sent from Prior Aymer, who has himself been taken captive by outlaws. The long-winded monk is unnerved by the violent impiety of Front-de-Beouf and delivers his message in fits and starts. When he mentions that there is an army raising a bank against the walls of the castle, the nobles abandon the priest to defend the walls—they cannot help the Prior and aren't interested in the rest of the priest's message. De Bracy spots the Black Knight directing the siege and preparing for an assault on the walls. Front-de-Beouf says that he is glad the knight who defeated him at Ashby has come to allow him his revenge.
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