Chapter 31 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 844

Cedric has told Locksley and the Black Knight about Ulrica's signal. They use their time awaiting the red flag constructing a floating bridge with which to cross the moat, but once the bridge is complete, the Black Knight is unwilling to wait longer to continue the assault. Locksley directs his archers to create a diversion on the far side of the castle while the Black Knight leads those who will follow him across the bridge to take the gate. Cedric, although he has no armor to protect him, insists on following the Black Knight. The two of them are left chopping at the gate while the rest of their men are driven back to the shelter of the barbican. De Bracy tells his soldiers to stop throwing rocks at them and to loosen a large chunk of masonry that will do much more damage when it falls.

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Locksley sees the red flag and calls on the men sheltering in the barbican to rush the gate and help the Black Knight and Cedric. Locksley himself shoots the men loosening the pinnacle, but when De Bracy takes the lever and continues the work, Locksley's arrows are unable to pierce his armor. The yeomen again retreat, but the Black Knight and Cedric are unable to hear the warnings of Locksley. Gurth leaps onto the bridge to take the warning to Cedric, but De Bracy is suddenly halted in his work by the Templar. Sir Brian coolly informs De Bracy that the castle is burning and that they must go down, open the gate, knock the two men before it into the moat, and sally forth.

Throwing open the gate, De Bracy discovers that knocking the Black Knight into the moat is beyond the ability of his men, and he goes forward to meet the knight himself. De Bracy, however, is knocked flat by the Black Knight's battle-axe. Forced to yield or die, he refuses to yield to an unknown knight, so the Black Knight whispers his name in De Bracy's ear. De Bracy yields sullenly, but he volunteers the news that Ivanhoe lies wounded in the burning castle and will perish unless rescued soon. He submissively offers to guide the knight to Wilfrid's room, but he is stingingly rebuffed when the Black Knight tells him, "I trust thee not." The victorious knight charges into the castle, while De Bracy removes his helmet and gives his sword to Locksley.

Rebecca declines to leave Wilfrid as smoke begins to fill his room. Sir Brian arrives to save her, and she asks him to save Wilfrid and her father as well. He picks her up and runs off. Wilfrid calls futilely after the Templar, but his shouts draw the Black Knight. Wilfrid tells him to go after Sir Brian and Rebecca and also to save Rowena and Cedric. The knight picks up Wilfrid and deposits him with two of his own men, then returns to the castle to look for the other prisoners.

Gurth, fending off blows aimed at Cedric, follows the Saxon closely as he searches for Rowena. Cedric finds his daughter and sends her with Gurth to the safety of the barbican while he goes on to the old hall to liberate Athelstane. Wamba, however, has already taken advantage of the noise of battle to bang on some handy armor and shout that the castle is fallen, thus fooling the guard into thinking the enemy had broken through into that part of the castle. The guard runs to Sir Brian with the news. The Templar sits on his horse with the last remnant of the still-fighting garrison and his own two slaves. He uses his shield to protect Rebecca, who shares a horse with one of the slaves.

Athelstane, more brave than bright, mistakes Rebecca for Rowena and declares that he will save her and kill the Templar. Wamba hangs on Athelstane's tunic, pointing out that he has no armor and that the lady is clearly not Rowena—not even blond. Athelstane will not be deterred, and he plucks a mace out of a dead man's hand as he closes on Sir Brian. The Templar spins his horse and brings his sword down on Athelstane's head, slicing through the handle of the Saxon's mace. The fall of Athelstane causes a momentary lull, and the Templar, with his followers and the unwilling Rebecca, charges through and gallops to the barbican, where he hopes De Bracy has also broken out. De Bracy answers the Templar's calls and chivalrously declines to be rescued. He advises Sir Brian to "put the seas betwixt you and England," but the Templar declares that he believes he will find shelter at Templestowe and gallops off.

As the last of the defenders fight for their lives, Ulrica appears on a turret like a fury singing a pagan war song. She remains there, overseeing the conflagration until the turret collapses. Locksley recalls the attention of the besiegers, ordering that the booty will be gathered at their trysting place and will be distributed among themselves and their allies.

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