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by Sir Walter Scott

Ivanhoe Chapter 16 Summary

  • Scott opens this chapter with the first six lines of Thomas Parnell's poem "The Hermit." A hermit is a religious man who decides to leave the world behind and live alone, praying and meditating about God.
  • The narrator reminds the reader about the Black Knight who had disappeared so suddenly at the end of the tournament.
  • We rejoin the knight as he is trying to go north.
  • He gets lost in the curving roads of Yorkshire and decides to let his horse choose the way.
  • The horse finds a tiny path that leads to a small chapel. Inside is a hermit.
  • The Black Knight asks for either shelter for the night or directions to the main road.
  • The hermit is really, really reluctant to help. He just wants to be left alone with his prayers.
  • But he finally allows the Black Knight to come inside and have dinner.
  • The hermit, whose title is the Clerk of Copmanhurst, settles in to some porridge after saying a long grace.
  • In this chapter, the hermit is called Friar, but for the rest of the book, he is "the Friar," so we're just going to call him that. (By the way, a friar is a monk who frequently ministers to the faithful.)
  • When he pulls back his hood, the Black Knight sees that the hermit is youngish, healthy, and very strong looking.
  • The Black Knight can't believe the Friar could stay so healthy looking on just a diet of porridge.
  • The Friar admits that his sponsor leaves richer food, but he never eats it since he has taken a vow of self-denial.
  • The Friar ducks back into his house and brings out a fine piece of deer meat baked into a pastry.
  • It turns out that he hasn't really been denying himself, but he holds back from eating for a bit, since he doesn't want it to be too obvious.
  • But the Black Knight insists, and finally the two men devour their rich meal.
  • The Black Knight also guesses that the Friar has some wine hidden, which the two men split.
  • They are getting quite drunk by now.
  • The Black Knight hints that the Friar has been poaching – that is, killing animals that belong to someone else.
  • For doubting the strength of his holy vows, the Friar challenges the Black Knight to a fight.
  • It turns out that the Friar has some very fine weapons hidden away in his chapel.
  • The Black Knight backs down at the sight of the Friar's swords and arrows.
  • The two of them continue to drink happily together.

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