The Black Knight, who had disappeared before his identity was questioned too much, reappears in these chapters wandering in the forest. He comes upon the hermitage of the Clerk of Copmanhurst, whom the reader will recognize as the curtal friar of Fountain's Abbey, Friar Tuck of Robin Hood's band. When a mutual trust is established, the Friar and the Black Knight drink and sing together in lusty conviviality.
Friar Tuck, who says facetiously that he bolts his door against robbers, is a type of disreputable "holy man" who traveled with men of notorious character. Though pretending to be saintly, he is, in reality, a poacher, a heavy drinker, a lover of good food and drink, and unschooled. His status with the church was that of an "unfrocked priest," and Scott, who borrowed the incidents involving the Friar from an old romance, probably did not intend his lack of piety to be a serious indictment of the church.
The words of the songs which the Black Knight and the Friar sing show a kind of "spoof " on the sanctity of each partaker's vocation — knighthood and the church.
anchorite one who renounces the world to live in seclusion
Shadrach, Meshech, Abednego Bible characters who abstained from the heathen king's meat and drink
stoup a small cask
runlet a small barrel
Waes hael. To your health.
Drinc Hael. I drink your health.
derry-down chorus chorus to the hymns of the Druids
exceptis excipiendis except what is to be excepted