Chapter 42 Summary
Richard and Wilfrid are taken up to the tower's third floor, where the more important guests are gathered in a mournful circle. Wilfrid has hidden his face, but Cedric recognizes the Black Knight and rises to meet him. Together they pass through a side room where monks are praying for the soul of Athelstane to another room where Athelstane's mother sits alone.
Lady Edith has willed most of the family estates to the local convent of St. Edmund. After introductions, they pass on to a room where Rowena and other Saxon ladies are singing a funeral dirge. Cedric notes that Rowena's demeanor is caused by her sorrow for her betrothed, although in fact she is wondering what has become of Wilfrid.
Cedric shows Richard and Wilfrid to an apartment for special guests, and Richard reminds his host of the favor he promised to grant him. Cedric thinks the timing is a little inconvenient, but he is willing to grant anything as long as it doesn't interfere with his family.
Richard tells Cedric that he is the king, but Cedric does not kneel. He disputes Richard's claim to the throne, to which Richard replies that there really isn't anybody else with a better claim. Cedric says that he disputes only Richard's claim to the throne, not his de facto occupation of it. Richard then asks his favor, which is that Cedric reconcile with his son.
Cedric forgives Wilfrid, asking only that he not wear the silly Norman fashions that Cedric finds offensive. He adds that Rowena must be in mourning for two years before she can marry or the memory of Athelstane would be dishonored and his ghost rise up and forbid the wedding.
At this moment, Athelstane bursts through the door, dressed as a corpse and looking like the walking dead. Recovering from their initial shock and horror, they hear Athelstane's tale. He survived the Templar's blow but has been living on bread and water for three days.
When Sir Brian's sword sliced through the handle of Athelstane's mace, the blade was turned and only smacked him hard enough to knock him out, but he was not wounded. He awakened in an open coffin in St. Edmund's, alarming the abbot (who is expecting a large inheritance from Athelstane's estates) with his sudden return from the dead.
He was promptly given suspiciously strong wine, which knocked him out again. When he next opened his eyes, he was bound and imprisoned in the sepulcher of the convent. He escaped when the sacristan came to deliver a little of Athelstane's own funeral feast to the prisoner and drunkenly locked the door while it was still ajar.
Athelstane pulled his rusty manacles out of the wall and went to find his jailors. Haggard, shrouded, dragging his chains, and full of rage he burst in on...
(The entire section is 715 words.)