Chapter 38 Summary

The grand master has some stirrings of pity for Rebecca and offers her the opportunity to confess to witchcraft, convert to Christianity, and spend her life in an ascetic convent. Rebecca begins to dispute the grand master in matters of doctrine, but when he asks the chaplain to take over his end of the argument, Rebecca returns the conversation back to her challenge.

Beaumanoir compares Rebecca's silk glove to a Templar's gauntlet, but Rebecca asserts that with her innocence in the scales, the glove outweighs the gauntlet. He turns to the knights and says that it wouldn't be fitting for a military order to refuse a challenge, but who will fight her champion? Sir Brian is proposed as being most closely interested in the outcome, but the grand master argues that it might be a problem if Sir Brian is in fact under a spell. But the concept of trial by combat is that God controls the result, so spell or no spell, the outcome would be God's justice. Sir Brian is selected to face Rebecca's champion, and she is given three days to find one.

While Rebecca argues for more time, Malvoisin and Sir Brian have a heated, whispered conversation. The order for the combat is arranged and read out by one of the chaplains. Rebecca asks if she might send a message to her own people so that they can help her find a champion, but at first no one will volunteer to be her messenger. They are all afraid. Finally, the lame peasant—Higg, son of Snell—who had testified on her behalf steps forward. She writes a quick note and gives him money, then tells him to find Isaac of York.

Luckily, Higg doesn't have to go all the way to York. He finds Isaac with his friend Nathan not far from the preceptory. Isaac reads the note and faints. Reviving, he gives the note to Nathan, who reads Rebecca's summary and her direction to send word to Ivanhoe. She believes Wilfrid will come if only he is recovered enough. Nathan comforts Isaac by reminding him that Ivanhoe is a favorite of Richard and that Richard himself is rumored to be in England. If Ivanhoe cannot fight, perhaps Richard will stop the proceedings anyway as a favor to him. Additionally, he will go himself to York and see if he can purchase the services of a knight, in case Ivanhoe doesn't come. Knights worship gold, he says, and will do anything for money.

Isaac and Nathan take their different roads and leave Higg, son of Snell, bitterly regretting having risked his life to deliver a note to two wealthy old men who took the message and went off without tipping him. He believes he must have been bewitched after all, although thinking of Rebecca, he knows he would even now do anything to save her.