Chapter 29 Summary

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Rebecca is pleased to find herself once again beside Wilfrid, but she knows that her feelings cannot be indulged in or returned—in fact, she quickly finds that Wilfrid's feelings for her are far from romantic. She confirms his guess that they are the captives of Front-de-Beouf, and he declares that he must do something to save Rowena and his father—not, Rebecca notes to herself, his Jewish companions. On being told that there is a priest in the castle, Wilfrid begs Rebecca to go and bring him so that they can gather some news about the forces outside the castle.

As the noise of the defenders going to their posts on the battlements thrills Rebecca, Wilfrid becomes anxious to engage in the battle himself, though he is still weak and weaponless. Ignoring Wilfrid's warning about the danger of becoming a mark, Rebecca goes to the window so that she can describe the action for him. He insists that she at least guard herself with a shield as she looks out.

Rebecca identifies the point where the castle is most likely to be attacked and tells how the woods are bristling with archers. Wilfrid is perplexed that there is no banner displayed, but Rebecca describes the knight who seems to be directing things. Wilfrid recognizes the Black Knight from her description but can make no sense of what force the knight leads. As the assault begins, Rebecca recoils from the window in horror, but Wilfrid can't bear not knowing what is going on. He asks Rebecca to look again and find the Black Knight. Arrows are flying, but Rebecca risks getting a better look. She reports that the knight is leading an attack on the barbican and pulling down the barriers. As the knight's forces meet the castle's defenders hand to hand, Rebecca turns her head, but Wilfrid begs her to look again. She describes the hand-to-hand combat between the Black Knight and Front-de-Beouf, and rejoices as Front-de-Beouf falls. He is dragged back inside the castle by Sir Brian, but the besiegers are now at work trying to take the outer walls.

Rebecca, although hopeful of rescue, is horrified by the site of battle. Wilfrid is impatient with the prayers and pious lamentations she mingles with her narrative of events. The yeomen are repelled from the walls, but the Black Knight, ignoring the stones that rain down from the defenders, single-handedly hammers the postern gate to splinters with his battle-axe. Wilfrid is amazed, because he had not believed there were two men in England capable of the feat. Rebecca again turns away, sickened by the violent deaths of the defenders who are thrown down from the walls. Wilfrid once again tells Rebecca to overcome her aversion to bloodshed and look out. The assailants are resting, she reports.

Rebecca reproaches Wilfrid for his anxious fretting and warns that he will set back his recovery. She wonders how he can so long to go out and inflict injuries on others when he lies so injured himself, but he tells her that the "love of battle is the food upon which" chivalrous knights live. She delivers a scorching indictment of the blood thirst at the heart of chivalry, calling it a sacrifice to a demon. Glory, she says, is rusty mail propped in a tomb and memorialized in a ballad for drunks. Wilfrid retorts that chivalry is what separates the noble from the degraded and that, not being a Christian, she wouldn't understand. Stung, but no less proud or brave than Wilfrid, Rebecca considers the ignorance behind Wilfrid's opinion and watches as he sleeps. Remembering Isaac, Rebecca is appalled that her thoughts of Ivanhoe could have distracted her from the real plight of her own father. She turns her back to the knight and tries to impose some discipline on her heart.

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Chapter 28 Summary


Chapter 30 Summary