Crispin: Cross of Lead Summary
We open in Anno Domini 1377. Anno Domini is Latin for "the year of Our Lord," and get used to telling time by your church watch because every unit of time in Medieval England, from hours to days to weeks to years, is measured by the church calendar.
Asta's son, a poor peasant boy in Lord Furnival's village of Stromford, is in trouble because Asta has just died and he has to use his only ox to pay the death tax, which means he won't be able to work, which means he will probably starve. It's a bad deal.
Things are about to get a lot worse, though, because the cruel steward, John Aycliffe, who could understudy for the Sheriff of Nottingham, decides Asta's son needs to follow his mother to the grave a little bit faster than starvation will take him there, so he accuses the boy of theft—a hanging offense.
With the help of a kind old priest, Father Quinel, who tells him his true name is Crispin, Asta's son—um, Crispin—gets out of Dodge (er, Stromford). When he circles back to get some key intel from Father Quinel, Crispin discovers the priest is dead. Bummer.
Chased out of town and forced to hide from the search parties that are out to kill him, Crispin strikes out on his own to try to lose himself in a city. Along the way, though, he's captured by—um, apprenticed to—a wandering performer named Bear (not his real name) who has some rather interesting (a.k.a. treasonous) political ideas.
Bear and Crispin make their way to the city of Great Wexly, which turns out to be Lord Furnival's main hangout. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on where you're standing—Lord Furnival has just died, so things are a bit out of order. Bear meets up with some of his political buddies and manages to get himself taken prisoner by Lord Furnival's men. Except it turns out Bear and his ideas aren't their true target: John Aycliffe is still hunting Crispin, and he uses Bear as bait.
Crispin discovers that the words written on the cross of lead, the only thing his mother left him, say, "Crispin—son of Furnival." It's a real "Luke, I am your father" moment because Lord Furnival is definitely the Darth Vader of this story.
Crispin uses his newfound knowledge as leverage with John Aycliffe, who wants him dead because he could make a claim to Lord Furnival's property now that Furnival is six feet under. This allows Crispin to free Bear, but of course Aycliffe isn't going to let them go that easily. Aycliffe tries to stop them, and in classic villain fashion, ends up dead through his own evil ways. Bear and Crispin go free to sing and dance and preach new political ideology throughout the land. Crispin rejects all other aspects of his father, but decides to keep the name "Crispin."
- The day after Asta, a peasant woman, dies, Asta's son and the village priest, Father Quinel, bury her.
- After the burial, the cruel steward, John Aycliffe, tells Asta's son he must use his ox to pay the death tax. This will leave Asta's son with no way to work—which he's required to do. Injustice much?
- Asta's son feels desperate. Father Quinel tells him to come to church to pray, but instead he runs off into the forest, trips and hits his head on a stone, and lies there in the cold rain. So that makes things better.
- Asta's son wakes up—still on the forest floor—when he hears a sound.
- Wondering what it is, he creeps to the edge of a clearing, where he sees John Aycliffe with another man.
- Proving the old adage that eavesdroppers hear nothing good, he overhears a mysterious conversation in which he learns that somebody's in danger from something, so something has to be done about that something right away. Ah, a mystery. What are all these somethings, and who is in danger from them?
- Wouldn't you know, Asta's son's troubles aren't over because Aycliffe sees him, and in what seems like a serious overreaction, chases him over the edge of a cliff with a torch and sword.
- Luckily it's a short cliff, so Asta's son is okay, but he decides to just lie there for a little while and wait for some more of God's punishments for his sins. Seems legit.
- Here's a historical point to note: Everything that happens, the characters put down to God's will. Like, everything. That's the medieval mindset for you—everything is within the plan of God. That total lack of a belief in any kind of free will is helpful when you're oppressing peasants. Just ask John Aycliffe.
- This chapter interrupts our regularly scheduled peasants-running-from-stewards show to bring us some key information about Asta's son and the world he lives in.
- Asta's son was born on the Feast of Saint Giles (which, we'll admit, sounds cooler than our birthdays), and his mother never called him anything but "son," which is how he got his less-cool name.
- He was born in 1363, in the reign of King Edward III, who loves him some wars so much that he has been at them all of Asta's son's life. Lord Furnival loves to fight with him, which is why John Aycliffe has been left in charge of Furnival's manor in the village of Stromford, home to one hundred and fifty people. (And we thought we grew up in small towns.)
- Asta and her son are (well, were, before she died) serfs, or villeins. They're not exactly slaves, but they're not exactly free, either. They're bound to the manor and to Lord Furnival, but they're accepting of their lot because all must be as God has willed it—or so they believe.
- And when this exciting time on earth is over, they'll get to die and await God's judgment—God seems fairer than John Aycliffe, anyway.
- Asta's son feels like the end of the world has come early with the death of his mother. Aw.
- The sound of the church bell wakes Asta's son the next morning.
- He decides to creep back to the one-room hut where he lived with his mother, but before he can get there, he sees the reeve and the bailiff tear it down and set it on fire. Thanks, guys.
- Deciding maybe it's not such a great idea to go back to the village, Asta's son climbs to the top of a high rock, where he can see the manor spread out before him.
- Now we get a clear description of a Medieval manor, complete with fields, manor house, church, and grazing land. Oh, and gallows. Of course there's a gallows.
- Asta's son describes how it all belongs to Lord Furnival, and they all have to be good little serfs if they want to go to heaven and if they want Lord Furnival to protect them from scary monsters like Scots and Danes.
- Asta's son is not feeling particularly protected right at this moment.
- As Asta's son looks down on the manor, the church bell calls everyone to the church.
- John Aycliffe, the stranger he met in the forest, and Father Quinel address the crowd.
- Asta's son feels this can't be good and prays to Jesus to help him.
- Asta's son continues watching the village from his hiding place.
- People come out of the church, and some of them accompany John Aycliffe and the stranger to the manor house.
- Later, an armed party emerges, and Asta's son knows they're searching for him.
- Asta's son spends all day hiding from the searchers. While hiding up in an oak tree, he overhears two village men, Matthew and Luke.
- From their conversation, he learns that the steward has accused him of breaking into the manor's moneybox.
- Matthew and Luke say they don't believe it, but they feel powerless to do anything against the steward, who is related to Lord Furnival's wife.
- Asta's son decides to creep back to the church after nightfall to talk to Father Quinel.
- Asta's son creeps back to the church and knocks on the door of Father Quinel's little room.
- The priest is glad to see him and takes him into the church so that if anyone comes, he can claim sanctuary. This is a medieval thing: If criminals could make it to a church, they were considered under God's protection and could not be apprehended. Of course, there would always come a time when they would have to leave the church…
- Asta's son tells Father Quinel he didn't steal the money, and Father Quinel tells him most people in the village don't believe the steward.
- Asta's son tells Father Quinel about the conversation he overheard in the forest, and the priest guesses that's why Aycliffe is out to get him.
- Father Quinel identifies the stranger as Sir Richard du Brey.
- Father Quinel tells Asta's son he must leave or Aycliffe will kill him. He has two options. He can join the church, but since he doesn't have the fees to pay for his entry into a religious order, he really has only one option. He has to make it to a city and survive there for a year and a day, after which time he will be considered free.
- Asta's son has also been declared a wolf's head, which means he's no longer legally human and anyone can kill him on sight. So that's great.
- Father Quinel reveals that his mother christened him with the name "Crispin," and that she could read and write. Both of these revelations are real shockers for Asta's son.
- The two plan that Asta's son—ahem, Crispin—will try to make it to a city, but he'll need some supplies. Father Quinel tells him to hide in the forest for another day and meet him at Goodwife Peregrine's the next night, where they will give him some food and other protections and will tell him about his father.
- He gives Crispin his mother's cross of lead, which has some writing on it, though Crispin cannot read.
- Understandably, Crispin feels understandably confused.
- Crispin hides throughout the day, pondering everything the priest told him.
- At nightfall, he goes to Goodwife Peregrine's cottage.
- Before he can get there, though, a boy named Cerdic intercepts him and tells him Father Quinel couldn't come.
- Unwilling to trust Cerdic, Crispin goes to Goodwife Peregrine anyway.
- She is also surprised that Father Quinel isn't there, but she gives Crispin a leather pouch and says some (magic?) words over him. She also gives him bread for the journey.
- Cerdic says the steward is offering a reward of twenty shillings for Crispin's capture, which is half a year's wages.
- Goodwife Peregrine just about pushes him out of her cottage.
- Cerdic and Crispin debate which direction Crispin should go, and Cerdic convinces him to go west past the manor house so he can cross the river.
- As Crispin follows this path, he is surrounded by four men.
- He realizes Cerdic has led him into a trap.
- Crispin manages to elude the searchers by running to the mill, going a little way down the river, and doubling back.
- Instead of crossing the river to go west, he decides to go south and runs until he sees the southern boundary cross. (Fun fact: The limits of Stromford are marked by crosses in each direction.)
- He sees a figure on the ground by the cross and thinks it's a guard, but then realizes it's Father Quinel, whose throat has been cut. Yikes.
- Crispin keeps run-walking along the southern road as far as he can.
- He's wracked with grief and guilt over Father Quinel's death, and imagines the same grisly end is waiting for him.
- He's lost the bag of food Goodwife Peregrine gave him, but he doesn't dare go back for it.
- At least he still has the pouch around his neck and the cross of lead he carries inside it.
- Crispin finds a place to sleep and begs Jesus, Mary, and Saint Giles for mercy.
- Crispin wakes to hear horses going by. Guess who? Our old friends the steward, the bailiff, and the stranger from the forest.
- He manages to hide and spends a good chunk of time feeling sorry for himself because he's lost his mother, Father Quinel, and the only home he's ever known. Truthfully, we can't say we blame him.
- He keeps moving south, but slowly, pausing to consider that he doesn't know what to do.
- He sees the bailiff heading back to Stromford, but the steward and the stranger never reappear, so he fears they're waiting up ahead.
- Finally Crispin hits rock bottom and begs Jesus to take him to heaven. He doesn't want to live anymore, which he knows is a sin.
- On the third morning after his escape, Crispin wakes to a cold mist.
- As he approaches a crossroads, he sees a body hanging in midair—it's the decaying body of a hanged man, and it's pretty gross.
- On the upside, however, this makes Crispin decide he really doesn't want to be that guy, so now he wants to live.
- Following the path of the sun, he takes the western road.
- Crispin comes upon an abandoned village and deduces all its inhabitants must have died in the Great Mortality. (That's the Black Death to you 21st century readers.)
- Still seeking food, he heads toward the church and is surprised to hear someone singing.
- Crispin slowly approaches the church.
- Through a window, he sees a huge man in a ridiculous multicolored costume; the man sees him, too.
- Crispin and the man go back and forth for a while about where Crispin comes from, if he's hungry, and whether or not the king is just—deep stuff to talk about with someone you just met.
- Crispin accepts the man's offer of food and enters the church.
- Just as he gets close enough to take the food, though, the man reaches out and grabs him. Clearly no one taught Crispin much about stranger danger.
- The man forces the truth out of Crispin about who he is and where he's going, before finally letting Crispin go.
- But then dude blocks his path out of the church. Ugh.
- The man forces Crispin to swear service to him: Any serf who has run away from his master is the lawful property of the man who finds him, so now Crispin belongs to this man.
- The man tells Crispin that the body hanging at the crossroads was a thief—and that's what will happen to Crispin if the man takes him back to Stromford.
- As Crispin eats the bread the man's offered, the man continues to talk about freedom, masters, and equality. Which, again, is heavy stuff to talk about with someone you just met. Clearly this guy wants an audience something fierce.
- He assures Crispin he could find a much worse master and shows off his juggling skills. Turns out, this is what he does for a living.
- In the middle of asking a bunch of questions and getting frustrated because Crispin doesn't seem to know anything about anything or have any answers, the man discovers Crispin's true name and says it seems a bit fancy for a peasant.
- He continues to give Crispin a hard time about where he's going and what he's going to do, seeming to think Crispin is pretty lucky to have run into him because Crispin would have had no chance on his own.
- He reveals his name to be Orson Hrothgar, but his nickname is "Bear." If our name were Orson Hrothgar, we'd go with Bear, too.
- Bear is heading to Great Wexly to meet a man about some great work they're trying to accomplish.
- Crispin will be carrying his stuff.
- Bear and Crispin head down the road, seeing no one because the pestilence—or Great Mortality or Black Death (call it what you want)—spared no one in this part of the world.
- Bear tells Crispin not to call him "Sir," and Crispin thinks there may be some advantages to going to Great Wexly. Perhaps he can gain his freedom there.
- When they stop to eat, Bear gives Crispin the short version of his life.
- Bear was given to a Benedictine order when he was twelve and stayed there for seven years.
- Now he cannot be hanged because he knows how to read, so common law treats him as a priest.
- He ran away from the monks and became a traveling performer for ten years, and then he went to be a soldier.
- Now he travels alone, making his living by performing.
- He needs Crispin to join his act, though, so he starts teaching Crispin to juggle and then to sing.
- Crispin thinks Bear is off his rocker.
- After tying Crispin to a tree so he won't escape, Bear goes off to try to catch some dinner.
- Crispin does try to escape, but he's unsuccessful.
- Bear at last returns with a rabbit—more meat than Crispin has ever had at one time—and as they eat, Bear tells Crispin about some of his adventures.
- It turns out Bear knew Lord Furnival when he was a soldier.
- Crispin asks what Lord Furnival was like, and to hear Bear tell it, he was a total jerk.
- Great Wexly, where they're headed, is Lord Furnival's main home.
- Bear decides he needs to learn more about Crispin.
- When Bear asks him about himself, Crispin doesn't know what to say; Bear helps him out by asking about his mother and the rest of his family.
- Crispin has always been told that they all died in the Great Death, which is yet another cheerful name for the Black Death.
- Bear says he escaped the plague by going north to the islands off the coast of Scotland.
- He wonders why Crispin doesn't want to know more about who he is and who his family was, and finally asks how Crispin came to be declared a wolf's head.
- Crispin finishes up his story, and Bear thinks declaring him a wolf's head was a little extreme on the part of John Aycliffe.
- He's even more shocked that Aycliffe and Co. killed a priest, which can really get you in trouble in this world and the next.
- Bear chooses this time to tell Crispin that he needs to lighten up because nobody likes hanging with a Debbie Downer.
- Then he offers Crispin the chance to come with him willingly. Crispin can't really understand the concept of having a choice because he's still stuck in the idea that things are what they are.
- When Crispin takes out his cross to pray, Bear shares some heretical thoughts that could get both of them burned at the stake.
- He also tells Crispin the cross is one of many made during the plague that were never blessed, so just in case Crispin thought that cross was something special, it's not. Thanks, Bear—you're a real pal.
- Crispin falls asleep wondering what his fate is to be.
- Bear begins to explain how he approaches the towns he performs in.
- He's interrupted by Crispin worrying that he'll be recognized; Bear gets frustrated with Crispin and tells him to take a look at himself in the river.
- Bear makes Crispin wash his face and gives him a haircut.
- Now Crispin looks different, and Bear wants to teach him to sing so they can perform together.
- This (somehow) leads them back into talking about souls. Crispin doesn't believe he has one because he hasn't felt it, and Bear decides they need to make sure he does.
- Bear teaches Crispin to play a song on his recorder. When Crispin finally gets it, Bear dances and juggles and sings in time to the music. It's good times.
- He tells Crispin they'll perform the next day in the village of Burley, which is on the way to Great Wexly.
- Crispin prays he will do well and that Bear will not betray him.
- As Bear and Crispin head down the road to Great Wexly, Bear notices the birds behaving strangely. Apparently Bear has been to the Disney Princess School of Interpreting Animal Behavior, so this tips him off to danger ahead.
- Climbing to where he can get a better look at the road, he sees a group of armed men blocking it, and Crispin recognizes John Aycliffe among them.
- Bear asks Crispin again what is going on and is relieved to hear Crispin say he didn't steal.
- However, Bear is sure something else is up.
- Still, they take a detour to avoid the men. Smart thinking.
- After they spend the day detouring, Crispin and Bear break for supper and sleep.
- Bear teaches Crispin how to snare birds, which seems a bit wrong since the birds did warn them about trouble earlier, after all.
- Later, Bear insists on looking at the cross of lead. He holds it to the fire to try to read the writing, but says the light is too weak.
- Crispin did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday, though, and is sure Bear just doesn't want to tell him what the cross says.
- The next morning, Bear and Crispin stop to chat before entering a village.
- Bear tells Crispin if there's ever any trouble, he's to run and not worry about Bear. (Just your typical foreshadowing, nothing to see here.)
- Bear recommends getting all the way out of England if that happens.
- He also reveals that he's part of a group that will meet on the eve of the Feast of Saint John the Baptist in Great Wexly.
- Crispin thinks there's more to all this than Bear's telling, and Bear is definitely not going to tell him what's written on the cross of lead. We're thinking Crispin is right.
- Bear and Crispin enter the village of Lodgecot, where they gain the approval of the priest to perform.
- Bear claims that he and Crispin are father and son and pilgrims on their way to Canterbury.
- During the performance, Bear teases a young man with one eye by juggling with his mazer, or drinking bowl.
- As they pray in the church afterward, the priest informs them that a notorious murderer is about—a young boy who went mad and stole money and killed a priest—so now they know Crispin is blamed for Father Quinel's murder.
- Further, a messenger from Lord Furnival named du Brey came to say that Lord Furnival is home from France but in bad shape.
- Bear and Crispin leave Lodgecot and talk about the information they discovered there.
- Crispin is worried that someone might recognize him.
- They count the money they earned, and Bear gives Crispin a penny, big bucks in those days, especially for Crispin, who's just about never seen money.
- Crispin's feeling all right until he remembers he's still a wolf's head and people are after him. See? Money can't buy happiness.
- For twenty days, Bear and Crispin continue to journey toward Great Wexly, but they don't go in a straight line. Instead they double back and make detours and zigzag in case anyone's searching for Crispin.
- Along the way, Bear teaches Crispin how to fight with a dagger, how to look people in the eyes, and how to catch small animals using snares.
- Bear invites Crispin to be his apprentice instead of his servant, and Crispin is excited, but he still wonders whether to trust Bear.
- Finally he decides he has to trust somebody.
- As Bear and Crispin approach Great Wexly, traffic (foot and horse traffic, that is) picks up around the city. Some things never change.
- They see people from all walks of life, and Bear tells Crispin what clothing and other clues signify about a person's life.
- Great Wexly is encircled by a high wall, and they notice that soldiers are only letting a few people at a time in—as if they're looking for someone. Uh-oh…
- To get past the guards at the city gates, Bear and Crispin dance and play. This method of drawing attention to themselves and distracting the guards allows them to get in without a single question.
- Inside the walls, Crispin is astonished and overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of a large city—he thought the whole world was like his little village.
- Everywhere, they see ribbons of gold and blue draped with black cloth; Bear says this means an important person has died.
- At last they arrive at the Green Man tavern where Bear has business.
- Bear and Crispin enter the Green Man, and Crispin describes the interior.
- They meet the Widow Daventry, who runs the inn and clearly already knows Bear quite well, which makes Crispin jealous.
- In their conversation, it comes out that Lord Furnival has died at home of wounds received in the French wars—the black-draped ribbons around town are for him.
- Because Lord Furnival has no legal heirs, all his property goes to Lady Furnival, unless an illegitimate son (read: a son whose mother was not married to Lord Furnival) shows up and can enforce his claim or Lady Furnival marries again.
- No one thinks Lady Furnival is likely to do that because it would require her to give up her new power.
- Bear asks the Widow Daventry for the special room he gets whenever he's in town. We get it: We like a room with a nice view and a free snack bar, too.
- Turns out that's not what's special about this room, though. When Bear and the Widow Daventry take Crispin upstairs, Bear shows him a secret hiding place concealed in the wall. Now why would Bear need that?
- Telling Crispin to stay in the room, Bear and the Widow Daventry give Crispin probably the best meal of his life, broth with meat and bread in it.
- However Bear clearly doesn't think through the fact that he just brought a kid with a penny in his pocket to the first city he's ever seen and told him to stay in the room.
- Figuring what happens in Great Wexly stays in Great Wexly, Crispin decides to go out on the town.
- Crispin wanders around the streets of Great Wexly.
- He uses his penny to buy some white bread (bread made with white flour) from a street vendor and thinks it's really weird that it doesn't have to be chewed very much to get down.
- Everyone has to stop for a procession involving a fine lady on a black horse, who turns out to be Lady Furnival.
- Crispin spends the afternoon wandering around Great Wexly and continuing to be overawed by the big city.
- Finally he comes to the town square, where all the nice shops are; the square is anchored by two large buildings, one of which is a cathedral.
- Crispin overcomes his fear of the soldiers outside and enters the cathedral, where he sinks to his knees in awe of its size and opulence.
- Somebody else is on his knees in the cathedral, though we didn't really have him pegged as the praying type.
- It's John Aycliffe, our evil steward, and he's accompanied by lots of guards.
- Aycliffe turns around, catching sight of Crispin.
- He sets the guards on him, natch, so Crispin runs through the streets, looking for Bear…
- But he gets blocked by a tall man.
- Crispin is trapped by two men, but he manages to get free, losing Bear's dagger in the process.
- He continues running until he physically can't do it anymore, but fortunately he seems to have evaded Aycliffe's men.
- Crispin decides he'll try to get out of the city and strike out on his own, figuring Bear will never forgive him for leaving the room and losing the dagger.
- Only trouble is, everything about the city looks the same.
- Crispin figures if he can get to the city walls, he can follow them until he comes to a gate.
- This seems like a good plan, except by the time he gets to a gate, it's being closed until the next morning.
- The town is also under the evening curfew, which is enforced by soldiers in Furnival colors.
- Crispin thinks it's weird that Aycliffe's men and Lord Furnival's men wear the same livery, or uniform, but then he remembers that Aycliffe and Lady Furnival are related.
- As he's trying to evade the curfew, Crispin hears his name called by a large man and runs away.
- The man calling Crispin's name turns out to be Bear (phew), who has been out looking for him.
- Crispin explains about the attack, and he and Bear conclude that Lady Furnival must have summoned John Aycliffe to Great Wexly.
- Bear takes Crispin back to the Green Man, where the Widow Daventry tells Bear that a man named John Ball has arrived. She doesn't seem too happy about it.
- Bear and the Widow Daventry get Crispin settled in his room with dry clothes and a hot meal, and after sitting with Crispin for a while, Bear goes downstairs to meet with John Ball.
- The fact in the fiction, John Ball is the only real person to appear in the book.
- For as long as it takes to eat his food and say his prayers, Crispin behaves himself.
- Having learned nothing from the last time he left the room, though, he then decides to eavesdrop on Bear's meeting downstairs.
- He overhears Bear, John Ball, and the Widow Daventry discussing what sounds an awful lot like rebellion and treason.
- After he sneaks back upstairs, Crispin opens a window and spots a shadowy figure across the street.
- Eventually Crispin falls asleep.
- Crispin wakes to pealing of church bells.
- They're so loud because it's Market Day in Great Wexly, and people have come from miles around to buy and sell.
- Leaving Bear asleep, Crispin creeps downstairs to the tavern room, which is crowded with all sorts of people and wandering animals.
- At the door, Crispin spies the one-eyed man from Lodgecot, and thinks this is probably not a coincidence.
- He slowly creeps back upstairs and sits down on the steps to guard Bear's room.
- The Widow Daventry spies Crispin at the top of the stairs and calls to him that he's supposed to be in the kitchen.
- Crispin thinks that's weird because no one told him this.
- When she gets him into the kitchen, Widow Daventry tells him he needs to stay out of sight; she sets him to taking pies in and out of the oven to bake.
- When she's gone, one falls on the floor and Crispin eats it.
- The Widow Daventry is a hard one to fool, though, and she knows he ate the pie, but it's cool as long as he doesn't eat any more.
- With all her customers gone, the Widow Daventry has Crispin help her clear the tables.
- While they work, she tells him that Bear's a good guy and Crispin is lucky to have him as a master.
- She tells him he can return the favor by keeping Bear's mind on his music and juggling—and off of rebellion.
- When Bear finally wakes, Crispin and the Widow Daventry serve him breakfast, and Crispin tells him about the one-eyed man.
- The Widow Daventry again warns Bear away from John Ball and his ilk.
- Bear says he has one meeting to go to today, and after that he and Crispin will leave town, hopefully leaving Crispin's pursuers behind, too.
- Crispin is supposed to stay out of sight at the Green Man all day, but after Bear leaves, he sees the one-eyed man and a soldier in blue and gold following him.
- Crispin concludes that the one-eyed man is after Bear, not him, and sets off through the streets to warn Bear.
- Crispin pursues Bear through the streets, trying to warn him that he's being watched.
- At last, Bear comes to a building with the sign of a boot over it and enters.
- A few minutes later, John Ball follows him in. Things are looking suspicious.
- Crispin manages to get over the wall of a small garden behind the building and eavesdrops on the meeting, which is definitely about rebelling against the realm of England.
- Eavesdropping is starting to look like Crispin's specialty. Seriously, how much can one kid do?
- Intending to get back to the inn and wait for Bear, Crispin returns to the alley, where who else does he see but our old buddy, John Aycliffe, accompanied by the one-eyed man.
- Crispin scrambles back into the garden and bursts through the back door, where he finds John Ball, Bear, and six other men meeting.
- He yells that the soldiers are coming, and the meeting breaks up in a hurry.
- Everyone runs out the back way, and Bear takes charge, lifting everyone over the wall; Crispin is the last to go.
- Once he lands on the other side of the wall, Crispin stops to listen and hears Bear being taken prisoner.
- Unable to leave Bear to his fate, Crispin scurries back over the wall. Everyone is gone, though, and inside, everything has been overturned.
- At the front door, Crispin runs into a soldier, who unsuccessfully tries to catch him. Either Crispin is really wily, or all the bad guys are really inept. Just sayin'.
- Crispin runs off, wondering how to free Bear.
- Crispin chases Bear and the soldiers guarding him through the streets of Great Wexly until they disappear into the large building opposite the cathedral.
- Crispin asks what the building is, and a man tells him it's the Furnivals' palace.
- He spies Aycliffe looking out a palace window and realizes they've taken Bear in order to get to him.
- Not sure what to do, Crispin returns to the Green Man.
- He goes up to the room he shared with Bear and lies down to think about what to do.
- Below, he hears a commotion and decides it would be best to get out of sight.
- He hides in the secret compartment just before guards burst in; when all is quiet once more, he emerges and hears someone crying downstairs.
- Crispin comes downstairs to find that the tavern room has been trashed.
- Widow Daventry has been beaten by soldiers and is weeping.
- She is angry with Crispin because of all that has happened, and she's also a little angry with Bear for getting mixed up with the likes of John Ball.
- She tells Crispin he needs to hide in the secret compartment until nightfall, when he needs to get out of town.
- She believes the soldiers will torture Bear to try to find Crispin, but either way Bear's a goner.
- Crispin creeps back into his hiding place, feeling truly terrible about all of this.
- Widow Daventry brings some food upstairs to Crispin and apologizes for being angry with him—it's not him she was angry at so much as the overall situation, which is a major bummer.
- Crispin asks her to read what his cross says.
- She says she doesn't have to because Bear told her: "Crispin—son of Furnival."
- She goes on to tell him what she believes to be true. His mother was the youngest daughter of Lord Douglas. Lord Furnival became infatuated with her and took her to Stromford against her will, abandoning her there when she became pregnant and making sure she never left.
- Now Lady Furnival sees Crispin as a threat, someone who could challenge her for the wealth her husband left behind.
- Widow Daventry tells Crispin his noble blood is the reason Lady Furnival and John Aycliffe want him dead.
- She advises him to get out of Great Wexly and never come back.
- With this newfound knowledge about his parents, a whole lot of things start to make sense to Crispin.
- Now he has to figure out what to do about the fact that Aycliffe is holding Bear as bait for him.
- Crispin spends the rest of the day in the hiding place at Widow Daventry's, thinking.
- He concludes that he must try to rescue Bear. Bear gave him a new life, so he owes it to Bear to risk that life to save him.
- Widow Daventry comes into the room in the late afternoon to tell Crispin she's found someone to help him get out of Great Wexly.
- When night falls, Crispin grabs all his and Bear's belongings and meets the man—who sounds like a shady character—downstairs.
- Before he leaves, he asks Widow Daventry the way to a tavern called the White Stag, where John Ball spoke of meeting.
- Bidding the Widow Daventry goodbye, Crispin leaves with the man.
- Crispin pays his guide to take him to the White Stag instead of to the city walls.
- At the White Stag, he finds John Ball and a group of other men, some of whom he recognizes as those at the earlier meeting.
- He tells them Bear has been taken, and they admit that Bear is a spy for their cause.
- They refuse to help, though, because Bear seems less committed to their cause than before and because Crispin is Lord Furnival's son.
- However, one man agrees to guide Crispin close to the palace if he's determined to help Bear.
- The guide leaves Crispin alone in the town square.
- Crispin sneaks into the Furnivals' palace by scaling a wall and swinging onto the second-floor balcony.
- Inside he finds a room full of weapons and takes a dagger, and then he creeps toward the entry hall.
- Astonished by the size of the hall, Crispin nonetheless manages to make his way to a small, brightly lit room on the other side of it.
- The room contains more gold and jewels than Crispin has ever seen and appears to be a small chapel.
- There's a painting of the Virgin Mary by the cross. A knight is painted looking up at her—a knight with Crispin's face.
- Crispin realizes that the knight is Lord Furnival, his father.
- He doesn't want anything to do with Lord Furnival and prays that God will judge the lord justly.
- And wouldn't you know it, just then John Aycliffe walks in.
- Crispin confronts Aycliffe with the knowledge that he is Lord Furnival's son, which Aycliffe tries to deny.
- He tries to take Crispin's cross of lead, too, but Crispin continues to accuse him of various crimes, including the murder of Father Quinel.
- Crispin says that if Aycliffe will let Bear go, they will leave Great Wexly and Lady Furnival will never have to worry about Crispin making a claim to her property.
- Aycliffe tries to call the guards, but Crispin gets the better of him with the dagger.
- Aycliffe and Crispin make a trade: Aycliffe swears to let Crispin and Bear go free, and in return, Crispin swears never to claim that he is Lord Furnival's son and to give Aycliffe the cross once he is out of the city.
- Aycliffe begins to lead Crispin to Bear.
- Aycliffe leads Crispin out of the great hall, down a flight of steps, and through several rooms in which food is stored and people are sleeping.
- They descend again, and it becomes very cold; Aycliffe orders a guard to take them to Bear.
- When they reach Bear's cell, Aycliffe allows Crispin to take a light and go in to see Bear.
- Bear has been roughed up, to say the least, and doesn't seem to understand that Crispin is here to save him.
- When Crispin finally gets Bear on his feet, he demands clothes and water for Bear.
- Aycliffe provides it, but then he and Crispin have a standoff about when and where Crispin will turn over the cross of lead.
- Finally Aycliffe relents, and guards lead Bear and Crispin up the stairs and out of the palace.
- They head toward the city walls, but Crispin doubts whether they will really be allowed to leave.
- Sure enough, when they reach the city gates, Aycliffe breaks his word, declaring to everyone that Crispin and Bear are traitors, etc. Frankly, we'd expect nothing less of him at this point.
- Bear and Aycliffe get into a sword/dagger fight, and Aycliffe, in true villain fashion, ends up impaled by the swords of his own soldiers. Ha.
- True to his word, Crispin lays the cross of lead on the dying steward's chest, then runs to catch up with Bear, who is already heading out of the city.
- Bear and Crispin sing as they leave.
- Crispin decides to keep the name Crispin. We don't blame him—it's that or "Asta's son," which doesn't have quite the same ring to it.