Study Guide

The Golden Compass Chapter 9

By Philip Pullman

Chapter 9

The Spies

  • Lyra tries to come up with a plan to go north but has no luck. Meanwhile, she becomes interested in the work of Benjamin de Ruyter (the spy for the gyptians).
  • She also attaches herself to Fader Coram, whose beautiful feline daemon she admires. Fader Coram helps her read the alethiometer.
  • Lyra asks the alethiometer how Benjamin is getting on with his spying. She gives it three symbols (serpent, crucible, beehive) and gets symbols back (hourglass) that means he's dead!
  • Sure enough, one of the other spies, Jacob, returns badly wounded to report that Benjamin is indeed dead.
  • The group had decided to break into the Ministry of Theology for information. The plan went awry and Benjamin was killed.
  • Fader Coram sends Lyra away but tells her that they need to talk further about the alethiometer.
  • Lyra is not so happy that the alethiometer worked – she's kind of afraid.
  • Once Jacob dies, Lyra is summoned to Fader Coram and John Faa, who tell her that, against their better judgment, she is to go on the journey to the North.
  • Two weeks pass as the gyptians prepare for the journey. Lyra and Fader Coram continue to read the alethiometer.
  • Fader Coram asks Lyra to ask the compass what Mrs. Coulter is doing right now. Lyra gets back symbols but can't discern them. Fader Coram interrupts her and she can't concentrate.
  • Fader Coram lets her go onto the deck of the barge, where she and Pan are attacked by two tiny flying black things. The tillerman comes to their rescue.
  • They capture one of the bugs but the other gets away. Fader Coram inspects the captured bug and determines that it's a little green clockwork beetle with an evil spirit in it.
  • This is, apparently, what the alethiometer had been trying to warn Lyra about.
  • Fader Coram seals the clockwork bug in a smokeleaf tin. What else can they do with it?
  • The barge finally arrives in Colby, where Lyra and Fader Coram meet up with John Faa and board the huge sailing vessel that will take them north.
  • The journey has begun.