Chapter 43 Summary
The tiltyard at Templestowe is prepared for mortal combat, with a stake set up for the execution to follow. Among the crowd is a minstrel and a friar, who stop to hear the latest gossip. It is rumored that Athelstane of Coningsburgh was raised from the dead after being buried for several weeks.
The minstrel encourages the storyteller, but he and the friar deny every point of the story: Athelstane was at Ashby, so he can't have been dead so long; his body was carried to Coningsburgh, not St. Edmunds; the sacristan's visitor was a sober cleric, not a drunken friar.
It soon becomes clear to the minstrel, who is Allan-a-Dale, that the friar knows more than he has told. Friar Tuck tells him how his quarter staff passed right through the specter of Athelstane. He tells Allan-a-Dale that he has come to help with the combat or witch burning, whatever the case may be, as atonement.
The Templars enter the field in a procession, with Sir Brian sandwiched between Malvoisin and Conrade. Rebecca is seated beside the stake. She prays a moment, then studies the stake and the pile of wood surrounding it before looking away.
The grand master asks Sir Brian to undergo the formality of swearing that his cause against Rebecca is just, but Malvoisin tells him that he already took the oath with Conrade—a lie to avoid a potential reversal from Sir Brian.
No knight has appeared to be Rebecca's champion, so the grand master tells the herald to ask Rebecca if she's expecting anybody. Sir Brian turns his horse and follows the herald to Rebecca's chair. Rebecca requests more time, and while the herald is relaying her message to the grand master, Sir Brian urges her to jump on...
(The entire section is 447 words.)