Chapter 5 Summary
The porter returns a moment later with the supplemental news, whispered to Cedric, that the stranger is a Jew named Isaac of York. Overhearing, Wabma suggests that Gurth the swineherd usher Isaac in, which causes Prior Aymer to genuflect and Sir Brian to register outrage at the thought of a defender of the Holy Sepulchre being approached by a "dog Jew."
Wamba wryly notes that the Templars seem to prefer the Jews' inheritance to their company. Cedric, however, maintains that his hospitality must be extended to all, although Isaac can certainly be accommodated apart from the rest of the diners.
Unable to find a place at the crowded servants' table where he is clearly unwanted, Isaac is at last approached by the Palmer, who relinquishes to him his place by the chimney. After loading a plate of food from the table and delivering it to the drenched and miserable old man, the Palmer moves across the room to a place nearer the dais, where Cedric and the prior are discussing the virtues of Saxon English.
Aymer praises the refinements of Norman French, which Cedric declares he has no use for. Sir Brian is distracted from his admiration of Rowena long enough to assert that French is the language of the hunt and of war.
Cedric recollects his youth on the battlefield of Northallerton, when the Saxon warriors fought victoriously without the Norman crie de guerre. Warming to his role as host, Cedric toasts the crusaders of England regardless of race or language. Wamba suggests that King Richard should have taken "a fool's advice" and stayed home.
Rowena prods Sir Brian into admitting that Saxons were serving bravely under Richard in the Holy Land, although he holds them second to the knights, like himself, who had long professionally defended their holdings in the Palestine. At this the Palmer declares that Richard's English knights were inferior to none and that the point was proven in a friendly challenge between the two parties.
Sir Brian reluctantly admits that he was unhorsed (through the fault of his horse) by the knight of Ivanhoe in that tournament. He issues a new challenge for a rematch with Ivanhoe, should he ever return to England, which the Palmer pledges that Ivanhoe will be sure to meet.
The pledges—a reliquary from the Palmer and a gold chain from the Templar—are put into Aymer's safekeeping. Sensing a new rise in tensions, the prior decides that this would be an opportune moment to go to bed.
Cedric is surprised at Aymer's sobriety and desire for an early retirement, a contradiction to his reputation as the sort of priest who enjoys eating and drinking all night. As the guests leave the table, Sir Brian passes Isaac, pausing briefly to deliver an unprovoked and deeply hateful insult.