Chapter 39 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 554

Rebecca is in the middle of her devotions when Sir Brian visits her. He tells her that she has nothing to fear from him because there are guards outside her door that he does not control. He remarks that they both would choose death over disgrace. Rebecca replies that she would not abandon principles founded on the Rock of Ages and her disgrace would be real, while his principles are without substance and his disgrace is in standing by them instead of doing the right thing. He might not have anticipated the situation she was now in, but it was still entirely his fault. He might have spoken up for her during the trial, but instead he went along with Beaumanoir to avoid trouble for himself.

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Sir Brian tells her that it was he who passed her the note to give her a chance to save herself. Rebecca reminds him that he himself is to fight her champion. The knight objects and says that his plan went wrong when he was proposed as Champion Defender—a role that should have fallen on an inferior knight. He had intended to show up on the day of the combat as her champion, defeat the defender, and rely on her gratitude to win her affections. Now, he must choose between beating her champion or not showing up for the combat. If he wins (which he must because no one can beat him), she will die; if he forfeits, he will be drummed out of the Temple order and be thoroughly disgraced, but she will live. She must make the choice, because the price for her life is to become his mistress.

Rebecca suggests that he go to the Queen Mother and Prince John and ask them to intervene instead, but Sir Brian doesn't see any attraction in that option. Rather, he proposes that they leave Europe and go to Palestine, where he has friends without Beaumanoir's scruples. He can join the forces of Saladin and defend Jerusalem against the crusaders. He will make her a queen. Rebecca tells him he is dreaming and that it would be better to find Richard, who will listen to her appeal. The mind of Sir Brian, however, has gone wild, and he wants only to make her choose between death and running away with him. She refuses.

Rejoining Malvoisin, Sir Brian is weak and exhausted by his encounter with Rebecca, who has inspired so much shame and self-loathing in the knight that he is tempted to go tell the grand master what he thinks of him. Malvoisin calms him down and points out to him that if he renounces his vows and refuses to fight in the lists, Beaumanoir will throw him in the dungeon. If he tries to flee, he will find that the gates will not open for him. He notes that Richard will be delighted to hear that the proud Templar has renounced all for a Jewish mistress. This last point settles it for Sir Brian. He will not suffer the disgrace he has considered for Rebecca's sake, but on the other hand, since neither Richard nor Ivanhoe can possibly enter the lists, no one else will. Therefore, his only role will be to sit on his horse, and for that, he cannot be blamed for what follows.

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