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 his horse, who he is sure will carry them safely away. She rejects him once again, and Malvoisin interrupts to bring Sir Brian away.

After two hours of waiting, the crowd grows restless, but Wilfrid arrives in time. He and his horse are reeling from exhaustion, and it doesn't seem that he will be able to fight. Sir Brian at first refuses to fight him in such a condition, but Wilfrid reminds the Templar of their oaths at Rotherwood that they would fight the next time they met. Sir Brian then agrees and they take their places.

In the charge, Ivanhoe is easily knocked down, but his lance lightly touches Sir Brian's shield. Sir Brian tumbles. When Wilfrid asks whether the Templar yields, there is no answer. Sir Brian opens his eyes and dies. The grand master is convinced by Sir Brian's incomprehensible death that the judgment has fallen in Rebecca's favor.