Chapter 32 Summary
In the morning, the victorious besiegers meet under an ancient oak where a "throne" of fern has been constructed for Locksley. The Black Knight and Cedric are seated to either side of him as he explains that he is monarch of the forest and cannot show deference to any man in front of his outlaw subjects. Being outlaws, they have managed to carry off a staggering amount of loot from the burning castle. Locksley asks for the friar, but he has not been seen since mounting his own assault on Front-de-Beouf's wine cellar. Worried that the Clerk of Copmanhurst may have been too drunk to withdraw in time, Locksley sends a large rescue party in search of him.
Locksley is anxious to divide the spoil and get away before any hostile forces show up from Malvoisin or elsewhere. He offers Cedric first choice, but Cedric is too saddened by the fall of Athelstane and wants nothing from Torquilstone. He wishes only to extend his thanks and go. He says that he will reward his people from his own treasury (Wamba adding that many of them have already rewarded themselves). Cedric embraces Wamba with tearful gratitude, which Wamba says is reward enough for him, but he asks that Cedric pardon Gurth for the week he spent with Wilfrid. Instead, Cedric declares Gurth a free man.
Rowena arrives on her palfrey. She is happy that Wilfrid is safe and relieved that Athelstane is out of the way. She thanks Locksley and tells him that his yeoman will never go hungry while she has food in her hall or deer in her forests. De Bracy steps forward and asks her pardon, which she gives with reservation "as a Christian" (which Wamba remarks means "not at all"). Cedric says he'd like to pin him with his javelin, and De Bracy steps back from Rowena's horse, muttering that Saxons never did have any manners. Cedric invites the Black Knight to come as a son or brother to Rotherwood, but the knight says that he has some pressing business first. When he comes, he says, he will have a favor to ask, which Cedric grants without knowing what it is.
Cedric announces that he will be at Coningsburgh helping Athelstane's mother with the funeral. He invites everyone to come to the feast, and Wamba remarks that it is too bad Athelstane can't be there for his own funeral banquet although he is no doubt feasting with gusto in Paradise. Cedric's party rides away with Athelstane's body.
Locksley asks what the Black Knight would like to have, and the knight requests De Bracy, whom he promptly frees with a warning. The outlaws object, and De Bracy jumps on a horse and gallops away. Locksley gives the knight a bugle and shows him how to blow a signal that will bring him help from the yeomen if he should ever need it. After setting aside a tithe for the church, Locksley proceeds with the distribution of the booty,...
(The entire section is 753 words.)