Chapter 30 Summary

During the respite between assaults, while Front-de-Beouf lies dying, De Bracy and Sir Brian consult with each other on how to proceed. Sir Brian scoffs at De Bracy's belief that Front-de-Beouf is being punished for his crass impiety. De Bracy retorts that the Temple order is well known for its contingent of heretics—Sir Brian among them—but the Templar shrugs off De Bracy's reproach and suggests they think about defending the castle. De Bracy's defense on the other side of the castle has gone better than the main defense of the postern gate, but the sheer numbers of archers shooting at the defenders makes any show of force on their side impossible. The nobles do not have enough soldiers to defend every vulnerable point. De Bracy proposes the more practical solution of sending out the captives, but Sir Brian is not willing to become a laughingstock by capitulating to a rabble led by jesters and swineherds. De Bracy airily agrees. He notes that Front-de-Beouf's men are so hated for their treatment of the locals that they will fight the harder, knowing they will get no mercy if the castle falls.

Sir Brian takes a small force with him to patrol the castle and respond as necessary to points of entry by the besiegers. De Bracy takes charge of the gate. Without the barbican, the defenders cannot monitor the movements of the enemy on the other side of the inner wall. The moat remains an obstacle, but De Bracy must try to use too few men to cover too many likely points of assault. The soldiers are losing heart.

Front-de-Beouf in life considered religious observance too expensive; he prefers to risk hell than pay the likes of Prior Aymer for his absolution. From his deathbed, however, the abyss yawns, and Front-de-Beouf grumpily complains that there are no priests around to administer the rites he requires before he dies. He briefly considers employing Sir Brian, who is nominally at least a priest, but he quickly dismisses the idea of saying confession to the Templar. Ulrica, out of sight and calling herself his evil angel, recites aloud for him his catalog of sins—murder, rape, parricide. He tells his evil angel to go haunt Ulrica, who he blames for tempting him and assisting him to kill his father. Ulrica reveals herself and tells Front-de-Beouf that they are each other's evil angels and that they will go together to the "same dark coast." He calls for help, but she gloats over him, telling him to listen to the sounds of the Saxons' victory over him. Then she points out the smoke that is filling his room—she has set fire to the fuel storage room below. Front-de-Beouf's frantic shouts turn to laughter, and hearing his own laughter echoing back to him, the vaulted room collapses in flames.