This chapter's epigraph comes from Oliver Goldsmith's play <em>She Stoops to Conquer</em> (1773). It's a line from one of the play's main characters, Tony Lumpkin. He pretends to be unable to read a letter that will get someone else in the play into trouble.
De Bracy and Bois-Guilbert meet in the main hall of the castle.
They both complain about their failed love affairs.
Front-de-Boeuf comes to join them.
A messenger delivers a letter in Saxon to the Normans.
Bois-Guilbert reads it, but at first he thinks it's a joke.
It's written by Wamba and Gurth on behalf of Locksley and the Black Knight.
The letter demands that Reginald Front-de-Boeuf free Rowena, Cedric, Athelstane, Isaac, Rebecca, and their pack animals.
The letter is signed with a drawing of a rooster's head (Wamba's mark), a cross (Gurth's mark), an arrow (Locksley's mark), and the words "Le Noir Faineant" (a.k.a. the Black Sluggard, who we call the Black Knight).
De Bracy and Bois-Guilbert burst out laughing.
Reginald Front-de-Boeuf is not amused. This whole business is causing him more trouble than it's worth.
One of the squires informs Reginald Front-de-Boeuf that there are about two hundred outlaws waiting in the woods.
Bois-Guilbert and De Bracy want to ride out immediately to fight.
But Front-de-Boeuf reminds them that the outlaws know the forest and have ten times their numbers.
Front-de-Boeuf decides to write them a nasty letter.
In the letter, he suggests that they send one churchman into Torquilstone Castle to hear a last confession from the captives.
The next day, Front-de-Boeuf is going to execute all the captives and place their heads on spikes outside the castle.
The heads will prove what he thinks of outlaws trying to bully him.
The Normans send this letter out to the outlaws.
The Black Knight reads the letter to his friends.
They are enraged at the idea that the Normans plan to execute Cedric.
Locksley thinks the Normans are just trying to buy time.
They decide to send Wamba into Torquilstone, dressed as a friar.
(The actual Friar won't do it because he's in his outlaw outfit now.)