Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 548
The preceptor of Templestowe is the brother of Cedric's neighbor Philip de Malvoisin. Unlike Sir Brian, Preceptor Malvoisin has the gift of veiling his hypocrisy behind a face expressing sincere fanaticism. When Beaumanoir confronts him with his knowledge of Rebecca's presence in the mansion, Malvoisin is at first speechless. Rebecca had...
(The entire section contains 548 words.)
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The preceptor of Templestowe is the brother of Cedric's neighbor Philip de Malvoisin. Unlike Sir Brian, Preceptor Malvoisin has the gift of veiling his hypocrisy behind a face expressing sincere fanaticism. When Beaumanoir confronts him with his knowledge of Rebecca's presence in the mansion, Malvoisin is at first speechless. Rebecca had been so well hidden he did not think she would be discovered, but now he needed a quick and plausible response to save the careers of himself and Sir Brian. When pressed for an answer, Malvoisin expresses horror that the maiden—whom he had put in residence there to supervise and prevent a growing intimacy between her and Sir Brian—should turn out to be a Jewish sorceress. Suddenly, he says, it all makes sense: the good knight's wild and unexplainable attachment is clearly caused by enchantment.
The grand master is so enthusiastic about freeing Sir Brian from Rebecca's influence and executing a witch that the preceptor begins to worry that Beaumanoir may be carrying things too far. When the grand master orders the hall to be prepared for a trial, Malvoisin hurries off to warn Sir Brian.
Rebuffed again by Rebecca, Sir Brian is in a foul mood, but on hearing that Rebecca is to be executed, he swears that she will not be. "Will future ages believe that such stupid bigotry ever existed!" he says with supreme irony. Sir Brian asks Malvoisin to arrange Rebecca's escape, but the preceptor tells him that he will not risk ruining himself. He urges Sir Brian to give up his passion and play along. The elderly grand master will die eventually and Sir Brian will likely take his place—but not if he defies Beaumanoir for the sake of a Jewish paramour. Nearly convinced, Sir Brian resolves to try once more with Rebecca, and if he is refused, he will abandon her as revenge.
Conrade joins Malvoisin as arrangements are going forward for the trial. He notes that Sir Brian is too valuable to the order to be expelled. Malvoisin remarks that he thinks the evidence against Rebecca is rather weak. Conrade agrees, but he says that the evidence must be strengthened, that it is in Sir Brian's interest—and the order's—that Rebecca be convicted of putting a spell on him. Otherwise, the grand master may use the opportunity to rid himself of a formidable rival as well. Conrade bribes Malvoisin with the promise of promotion to a much richer preceptory if he can arrange for adequate evidence in the short time before the trial can begin. Malvoisin says he knows a couple of reliable witnesses he can get hold of conveniently.
Rebecca hears steps outside her door and is glad to see Conrade and Malvoisin, simply because they are not Sir Brian. When they tell her she is to be brought before a judge, he is relieved and happy. She naively believes that a judge will naturally protect the innocent. She veils herself and accompanies the Templars to the hall, which is so crowded with spectators that she has difficulty making her way across it. A note is thrust into her hand, but she does not at first look at it or at anything else. At last, she raises her face and looks around for her judge.