CRISPIN. THE CROSS OF LEAD. AVI. WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL. ENGLAND, 'In the midst of life there is death. 'How often did our village. CRISPIN THE CROSS OF LEAD AVI WINNER OF THE NEWBERY MEDAL ENGLAND, 'In the midst of life there is death. 'How often did our village preach. Avi's Crispin: The Cross of Lead takes place in the last part of the four- teenth century. The world had changed since the midcentury, and new movements were .
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Introduction. With approximately one-third of this book being originally written in poetic form similar to Chaucer, Crispin: The Cross of Lead is dripping with. Title: Crispin-the Cross of Lead by: Avi. Level W. Summary: This story is about a 13 year old boy in 14th century England. His mother has died and he is all. grade Novel – Crispin: The Cross of Lead. Answer the questions on loose leaf paper and bring to class on the first day of school. Chapters 1.
Having spoken, they drifted off. I'd listened to such talk before, but always whispered. People often complained about their lives, taxes, work and fees. Indeed, there had been so much talk that the steward - who must have heard of it - called a moot and informed one and all that such speech went against the will of God, our king and our master, Lord Furnival. That henceforward he would treat ah such talk as treason, a hanging offence.
Knowing these things could not be changed - despite the words of men like Matthew and Luke - 1 cared little for such matters. But in learning that I was being blamed for a crime I had not done, my incomprehension as to my plight only grew. The rest of the day I spent hiding, not even dating - despite my hunger - to search for food Instead, I waited for darkness, past Vespers and beyond, choosing not to stir until I heard the church bell ring the last prayers of the night, Compline.
Still I held back for fear of being seen. But once the day was truly over, when the curfew bell had rung and all lay still as stone, I crawled from my hiding place.
The night was intensely dark Low clouds hid the moon and stars. The air was calm though animals' slops and whiffs of burning wood made it rank No lights came from the village but some gleamed in the manor house. Only then did I creep towards the church, alone, uncertain and very fill of fear.
Though I saw no light beneath his door - one of the few doors our village boasted - 1 knocked softly. The priest's small pale face peered out His once-white alb, which covered him fi9m neck to fbo2 seemed ghostlike. Frail from his many years, Father Quinel had served in Strom ford his entire life. Now he was snail and wizened, with sparse grey tonsured hair. Some claimed he was the unwanted son of the previous Lord Furnival, who had provided him with the church living when Quinel was still a boy.
I didn't think it likely. You're being looked for everywhere. I have some food for you. If anyone comes, claim sanctuary' He led me inside the church. A large building, it took a man standing on another's shoulders to reach the pointed roof.
Some said it was as old as the world, built when our Blessed Saviour was first born. Not even Goodwife Peregrine - who was the oldest person in our village - knew for sure. The church contained a single open space where we village knelt on the rush-strewn floor to face our priest and altar during Mass. Above, in deep shadow, was the carved crucifix - Jesus in His agony. Below Him - on the altar - stood the fat tallow candle, whose constant fluttering flame shed some light upon the white walls of painted lime.
The font where our babes were baptised was off to one side. Two faded images were on the walls. The other revealed St Giles, protecting the innocent deer from hunters, a constant reminder as to what our faith should be. Since I was born on his day, and as he was the village's patron saint, I held him for the kin I never had When no one else was there, I would creep into the church to pray to him I wished to be the deer that he protected.
Near the altar the priest genuflected I did the same. Then we knelt, facing each other. Are you hungry? From behind the tattered altar cloth he produced a loaf of barley bread and gave it to me.
I took the heavy bread and began to devour it. But why does Aycliffe put your name to the crime? He's ill and expected to die. Do you not see the consequences if you don't? Is that why they pulled down our house! In the dim light I studied his face. When he looked up it was to gaze at me.
When I baptised you, you were named Only that he died before I was born. Or any of this? If you can stay there for a yea and a day, you'll gain your freedom' 'Freedom? I am what I am. I know nothing but Stromford. Too many to count. Ask for help as you go.
God will guide you. But it's a grave step and you're hardly prepared In any case, you don't have the fees. If I had them they would be yours. No, the most important thing is for you to get away. What I do know is that you must leave. Come back tomorrow night prepared to leave. That and my blessing are all I can give. Should I be ashamed of him! Make sure it's dark so you'll not be seen.
Why would my mother keep such things from me! Then, from his pocket, he removed my mother's cross of lead, the one With which she so oft prayed, which was in her hands when she died. I had forgotten about it. He held it up. Just remember, God mends all. As I did, I thought I saw a shadow move. Concerned that I had been observed, I stood still and scrutinized the place where I'd seen movement. But nothing shifted or gave sound.
Deciding it had been just my fancy, and in any case too upset to investigate, I made my way back to the forest, where I slept but poorly. Why had I been so falsely accused! I kept asking myself. How could I be proclaimed a wolfs head! Regarding my father, why had my mother told me nothing about him!
And what possible matter of importance could Father Quinel reveal of that connection! Mostly, however, I kept marvelling at the priest's revelations about my mother. That she had given me a name It did not seem to be me. If true, why had she held it secret!
As for her being able to read and write, surely that could not be true. But if true, why would she have kept such skills from me! In the darkness where I lay I held her cross before my eyes. Of course I could make out nothing. In any case, I could not read If there was one person I thought I knew, depended on and trusted utterly, it was my mother. Yet I had been told things that said I did not know her, I hardly knew what to think.
Closer to the truth, I was in such a state of wretched disorder, I did not want to think. The things the priest had said made my heart feel like a city under siege. Happily, I saw none. Not entirely trusting what I saw, I spent my day in anxious idleness, watching dozing, searching for acorns and berries for my food. Sometimes I prayed for guidance, as my mother had done, her small cross pressed between my hands. Occasionally I would say the name Crispin out loud.
I tried to guess what the priest was going to tell me about my father. I even wondered if that was why I had become a wolfs head - because my father had been one. But what I kept pondering endlessly were the priest's revelations about my mother. Though the day seemed to last for ever, night returned at last. When it became completely dark, I set out for the village and the church. Though upset, I was resolved to do as the priest had instructed The sky was clear. A slender moon was in the sky, Nothing along the way gave me pause.
But no sooner did I draw near the church than a figure rose up before me. I stopped, heart pounding. Afraid to answer, I kept still. Cerdic was a village boy a little older than myself. I stared into the dark. Cerdic moved off a few paces. Cerdic followed Peregrine was not just the oldest person in our village, she had a special wisdom for healing, midwifery and ancient magic. The village hag, she was a tiny, stooped woman with a dull red mark on her right cheek and wayward hairs upon her chin.
It was she, no doubt, who had delivered me into this world Like others, I looked upon her with fear and fascination. The old crone's cottage, like most other Stromford dwellings, was built with a few timbers. It had a thatched roof, and wattle- and-daub walls. There was a space to either side of the single entry way, which had no door.
One side of the space was for her animals - her cow, pigs and goose - and general storage. The other side was for her living. I came through the entryway full of foreboding.
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An open tire pit lay on Peregrine's living side and gave the only light. Smoke thickened the air, making the herbs that hung from the rafters look like dangling carcasses. Over the fire sat a three-legged iron pot in which something cooked The food smells made my mouth water.
He had come up dose behind me. She peered at the boy through the smoke. Her stench was strong and I was aware of the mark on her face. The steward's offering twenty shillings reward for you. The amount was half a year's wages, No one in the village had such a money. Cerdic answered 'The bailiff told people he intends to go along the northern road. I do it for him, Asta's boy, not you.
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After putting the cross of lead into the leather pouch, done, I returned the bowl. I stuffed porridge into my mouth with my fingers. It won't take you far, but it'll take you off. Why should he have said that if he wished to keep it secret! I think he wants you south. Go a different way' 'But which way! That's what Father Quinel said to do. But I said, 'I want to go by the church first.
Maybe Father Quinel' s there.
For safety's sake I kept away from the road, skirting behind the cottages, moving quietly along the back lanes. Upon reaching the church, I knocked on the door to the priest's room When no one answered, I went into the church proper.
No one was there either. Cerdic must have sensed my thoughts. Maybe that's why he said to go that way. Cerdic stayed dose. Soon Lord Fumival's manor house loomed before us. Light beamed through a window upon the road that ran before it. The light illuminated the boundary cross and I could see the mill just opposite the manor. To see the cross moved me greatly, It meant I was truly about to leave.
I hesitated. Startled, I hated and peered back into the darkness. There was still nothing to be seen, though the drum kept beating. Then I realised Cerdic had begun to back away from me. I turned to face the boundary cross again. This time I saw shadowy forms rise up from the side of the road. It was four men. They lumbered across the -road, blocking my way. When he made no reply, I looked around. He had gone.
I swung back. I saw now that two of the men were armed with glaives. In another's hands I saw the shimmering glint of a sword. I turned around again to see if I could retreat, but now four more men were approaching.
I had been led into a trap. Give way. I fled the only way open to me, towards the mill Reaching it, I felt about its outer walls. Finding a hold, I hoisted myself up in the hope of escaping by climbing and hiding.
But then a great crack exploded a hand's breadth from my head Twisting around, I saw an arrow embedded in the timbers of the mill. Faint with horror, I loosened my grip and dropped to the ground. For a moment I squatted, trying to regain my breath and wits. Hearing the men draw closer, I leapt up and scrambled around the corner of the mill. Aycliffe urged the men on.
He went around the mill. Head him off. He mustn't escape. For all I saw, I might have been blind Sure enough, the next moment my feet slipped out from under me and I crashed into water. Gasping for breath, I flailed around until my feet touched the bottom. The water was up to my chest. I'd dropped into the millrace, the ditch where the river water ran to turn the mill's wheels. Knowing I was in no -danger of drowning, I paused to catch my breath and listen. In the darkness I heard the steward continually cry out while the other men stumbled about, trying to find when I was.
Deciding to use the millrace as a path, I waded forward against the water flow, knowing it would take me to the river. The further I went, the more the tumult behind me lessened Even so, I had little doubt they were still searching. The press of water increased Stopping, I grasped the edge of the race and hauled myself out, rolled over and hugged the ground I could hear the river before me. I crawled forward, making my way down a gentle slope until my hand touched water again.
It was the river. Unable to swim, not certain how deep the water was at this spot, I hugged the bank, too timid to pass over. I spied lights upstream. They looked like torch flares. The men were hovering near the fording place, thinking I'd try a crossing there. I had to either cross where I was or go a different way. Afraid of the river, I chose to turn and work my way back to the millrace.
I slipped in, waded across and came up on the other side. Gaining firm ground, I began to run. I went past the cottages and across new-ploughed fields until I reached the road. Not stopping, I rushed on. In such moonlight as there was, I made my way to the southern end of Stromford and another boundary cross.
It was when I knelt down to pray that I saw a form on the ground. It took a moment for me to realise someone was lying there. My first thought was that it was a guard meant to stand against me and that he had fallen asleep. But when the person didn't move, I drew forward albeit timidly.
It was Father Quinel. He lay very still. He did not answer. I knelt down, reached out and touched him gently. He still did not move. I peered closer only to see that his throat had been slit. His blood, made black by night, lay pooled upon the ground. Stifling a shriek, I knelt down, my whole body shaking. Terrified, I offered a short and desperate prayer to St Giles, imploring his blessings on the priest and on myself.
That done, I ran away. God I was certain, had completely abandoned me. The only thing I knew for sure was that if the steward overtook me - and he with horse - I'd not survive long.
With every step I took, and with every look back, I shed tears of grief. That the death of Father Quinel had to do with my mother and me, I didn't doubt. I wondered if it was because the priest was helping me, or because he was about to tell me about my father or something more about my mother.
I forced myself along, keeping to the road, though to speak of the muddy path I took as a road was a gross exaggeration. Though uneven as well as muddy, and barely half a rod across, it's what I followed.
I had gone for but a short time when I realised I'd lost the sack of food Goodwife Peregrine had given me. I hated, even considered going, back to find it, but I knew that would be folly. I'd have to forage as I went. I did touch around my neck. The little pouch the old hag had given me - with the cross of lead - remained Grateful to have that at least, I pushed on.
At first the road took me by open areas, but soon it led me into a forest of densely twisted trees that allowed neither moon nor starlight to seep through.
After walking a little more I halted, too exhausted to go on. I sank down, my back propped against a tree. Though worn out from my flight, my dose escape, not to mention my churning emotions, I could not rest. I kept thinking of all that had happened, trying to make sense of what had occurred, of how I had become a wolfs head As for what would happen, I could see little but an early death and an unmarked grave - if I were lucky to have even that.
What's more, I knew that if I died alone, without the benefits of sacred rites, I'd plunge straight to Hell, and my torments would go on for ever. Unable to sleep, I sat amidst the swarming darkness, starting at every random rustling and crackling that came to ear. Then the wind began to moan, causing branches to stir and trees to creak and knock one upon the other.
These sounds were lanced by the hooting of the Devil's own bird an owl. Far worse were the sudden silences that suggested something lurking near. At length I flung myself upon my knees and prayed long and hard to Our Saviour Jesus, to His Sainted Mother, Mary, and most of all to my blessed St Giles, for mercy, guidance, comfort and protection. This putting myself in God's merciful hands brought me a little relief, enough to allow me to fall into an irregular sleep, unsure what the next day would bring.
Greatly alarmed I pressed myself upon the ground and lifted my head just enough to see the road It was John Aycliffe, the steward, as well as the man I'd seen with him in the woods. The bailiff was there too. The three went racing by, sweeping quickly out of sight. A cold rain was falling. The light was dim. Stiff in limb, chilled in bone, numb in thought, I shifted about, As I did, some tiny animal scurried into the undergrowth.
Oh, how I then wished that I could be such a wee creature, small enough to hide so well. As I lay there, I remembered Goodwife Peregrine's pouch that hung about my neck. With a spurt of hope, I sat up and emptied the contents into my hand. To my dismay it contained three seeds, one of wheat, one of barley and one of oats - plus my mother's cross of lead.
Sorely disappointed, I tossed the seeds away but decided to keep the cross in the pouch as the solitary connection to my past. If I hoped to live, I knew I could not return to Stromford.
Yet my fear of the open road was just as dire. What if I were to be seen by the steward! And, beyond that, recalling Father Quinel's description of towns and cities, I was too timid to press on. I, who had already gone further from my home than I had ever gone before; I, whose life had become so quickly altered; I, who had never realty had to make important choices about anything - now I had to decide everything for myself. The result was that I stayed where I was.
In truth, I dreaded going far from the road lest I lose the muddy thread that connected me to the only life I knew. In faith, I did not know how to do otherwise. Thus for the next two days I kept to the forest, only now and then meandering off for short distances in search of food. All I found were acorns and bitter roots. All in all, I spent my time in an aimless, crushing sadness, consumed by alternating dread and desire that I might be caught.
If I were caught, at least my misery would end. It was during the afternoon of the second day that I saw the bailiff again upon the road. Alone, he was, I supposed, heading back towards Stromford While somewhat reassured, I wondered where the steward was. I could not help thinking he was waiting ahead for me. It was what Father Quinel had told me to do.
Such thoughts forced me back to the road, where I continued on. Sometimes I stumbled Sometimes I sat by the roadside, head tucked within my folded arms while waiting, I knew not for what. Then yet again - pushed by the need to act — to move - to do anything - 1 went on. Late that day, besieged by fears, very lonely and quite famished, I fell to my knees and prayed with deep-hearted, sobbing words. In these prayers I acknowledged my great unworthiness to my Lord Jesus and searched my heart for every sin to which I could confess.
The truth was - and how great my shame - 1 no longer wished to live, which was, I knew, a sin. Thick and clammy air embraced me like the fingers of some loathsome toad Sounds were stifled Solid shapes were soft as rotten hay. No sun jewelled the sky. My entire world had shrunk dawn to the frayed margins of the sadden road I walked as solitary as Adam before the creation of Eve.
As I pressed on through the boundless mist, my damp feet sucking soggy sad, the road went up an incline. Suddenly, I spied what appeared to be a man hovering in the air. Heart pounding, I hated and peered ahead. Was it a mortal! My first thought was that it was the steward Or was it a ghost? A demon perhaps- Or was it an angel come ham Heaven to take me to the safety of God's sweet embrace! I drew close. It was a man - for so he once had been Now his face was mouldy green and much contorted with a protruding tongue of blue that reached his chin.
One eye bulged grotesquely. The other was not there. His body oozed ham open wounds. Swollen legs and arms flopped with distended disjointedness. Bare feet pointed down, with toes that curled upon themselves like chicken's claws. Such clothing as he wore was nothing more than a loincloth of filthy rags.
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Sitting on his left shoulder were blue-black crows feasting on his corruption. He stank of death A piece of writing was affixed to him by a broken arrow that stuck out ham his body. Since I couldn't read, I had no idea what it said Terrified, I sank to my knees and made the sign of the cross.
Perhaps there were some outlaws lurking nearby. Then I thought that it might be some thief brought to his lawful end I tried to imagine what awful thing he might have done to deserve such a fate. Then with dread, it came to me that God had set the man before me as a warning. The next thought that took hold was that I had already died. That here were the gates of Hell. How long I stared at the corpse, I do not know. But as I knelt, the mist seemed to ensnare my body like a sticky shroud, intent on dragging me down.
Except - as Jesus is my Saviour - as sure as my heart understood anything - 1 knew then how much I wished, not to die, but to live. I can give no explanation how I came to this understanding, save that I did not want to become the blighted man who dangled before me, pillaged by the birds, Knowing how wondrous are the works of God, I thought that perhaps He - in His awful mercy - was speaking to me with this dreadful vision.
For I knew that, from that moment on, I was resolved to stay alive. But which of the crossroads was I to take? North, south, east, or west! Nothing blocked my way. The mist lifted The air turned light, Still I saw no one, not even from afar. From time to time I found streams to -slake my thirst, but not so much as a crumb of food. Sometimes I travelled through woods. More oft I passed abandoned fields. While I saw birds aplenty, heard them too - wood pigeons, cuckoos, thrushes - 1 wondered if England had any human souls.
Would I find no life or food anywhere? More than once I reminded myself of the times when my mother and I had gone without sustenance. If we could survive then - and we did - 1 could do so now. During the afternoon of the following day, still going westerly and while coming off a rise, I saw ahead what looked to be a village situated in a deli.
It was a duster of cottages and taller than the rest, a church of stone. At first glance it seemed as if the hamlet contained fewer dwellings than my own Stromford. Still, my heart began to race. Perhaps this was where God had led me, where I would gain my liberties, where people would treat me kindly.
And where there would be food for me. Yet as I drew dose I began to sense something greatly amiss. There was no rising smoke, no people, sheep or cows.
No living thing appeared, not so much as a single cock, goose, dog or pig. Nor were there smells, no dung, no manure. The fields I passed had long been unploughed. As I came into the village proper, I saw that all lay in rum. Roofs had collapsed.
Walls had fallen m. Carts and wheels were broken. Tools lay scattered on the ground. The roof thatch that remained was worn to shreds, full of gaping holes, House daubing had crumbled and remained unpatched. Wattle had unsprung. In the middle of the hamlet I came upon a well whose surface water lay thick with dotted scum. My skin crawled with trepidation.
Something ghastly had occurred. I was put to mind of my nightmarish thought that I had come to Hell. In Stromford there had been much talk of this devastating pestilence, 'the Great Mortality', as it was called. Our village had lost more than half its inhabitants, some by death, others by a desperate fleeing. It had caused my own father's death. As Father Quinel had always warned, God in His sweet mercy and unforgiving anger touches whom He wants.
No soul can escape His wrath. Here, not one person appeared to have remained alive. The profound stillness that embraced all was its own sad and lonely sermon. Still, desperate to find some food - even a tiny morsel - 1 crept with care through what remained, fearful my steps might waken restless spirits.
To protect myself, I gripped the cross of lead in my hand. In search of something to eat, I made myself enter one of the better structures, an empty cottage with half a roof. Some of its walls remained. In a collapsed corner sat a brown-boned skeleton. About its open ribs lay shreds of old cloth. Once fair hair dangled from its skinless skull. Its fleshless hands clutched a tiny cross. I made the sign of the cross over my own hammering heart and retreated, then rushed through the village, wanting nothing more than to flee.
THEN I became afraid. After what I had witnessed in the village, I could not believe I was hearing a living voice. But when the voice sang out again - and I realised it was coming from the abandoned church - 1 told myself that a church was an unlikely place for evil spirits to abide.
Besides, food was uppermost in my thoughts, and I had desperate hopes that I might have come upon a survivor. As I drew closer, the voice sang out again. This time it was accompanied by the beating of what sounded like a drum.
At first, all I saw were rubble and rot, Then, partly hidden in the shadows, I saw a man who was anything but a skeleton. On the contrary, he was a mountain of flesh, a great barrel of a fellow whose arms and legs were as thick as tree limbs, and with a cub-like belly before at Legs extended he was sitting with his back propped against a crumbling baptismal font.
He was, moreover, garbed like no man I had ever seen before. Upon his head was a hat which seemed to have been split into two, like the points on a cocks comb.
At the end of these points hung bells. Moreover, the flaps of his hat came down along both sides of his face, encircling it, then tied below, making his cheeks plump. As for his face, most striking was a bushy beard of such ruddy red it seemed as if the lower part of his face was aflame. He also had a large, red and fleshy nose and hairy eyebrows of the same hue, as well as a cherry-lipped mouth big even for such a face as his.
He wore a wide-sleeved tunic of blade, and ankle-length hose with a different colour for each leg, one blue, the other red, though the colours were faded. His brown leather boots were long and somewhat pointy at the tips. Yet, for all this rare colour, his clothing was ragged, torn and patched in many parts, enough so that I could see his dirty, hairy skin in several spots. A dagger was fastened to his hip.
On the ground by his side lay a fat sack, which contained, I prayed, food. His eyes were dosed, but clearly he was not asleep. Instead, he was singing raucously while beating a small drum with his massive hands. As I looked on, he continued to tap the drum with his big fingers, bleating out his song. After repeating the words a few more times, he let loose a booming laugh as if he'd just heard a rare jest.
He laughed so hard he put down his drum, and opened his eyes. Compared to the rest of him, these eyes were small and wet. Old pig's eyes, I thought, shrewd and wily. But what he must have seen was me, staring at him.
For he dropped his drum and his hand went right to his dagger.
Crispin: The Cross of Lead - Chapters 26-30 Summary & Analysis
We gazed at one another in silence. Your face is scratched and mucked, as are your naked arms and legs. Your hair is long and unkempt. I can barely count your fingers for the caked filth. In short, you're more cur than boy. How old are you! I said nothing, trying to make up my mind if I should run away. But, still hoping that such a barrel of a man must have some food, I stayed. For his part, he continued to consider me steadily with his small intense eyes.
And why! Because the officials of this most holy kingdom are all corrupt gluttons. His councillors and parliaments - all dressed in that new Italian cloth, velvet - sit upon the backs of the poor and eat their till of venison and sweetmeats, Not to mention the Flemish foreigners who loot our country's gold.
But such is the will of our gracious majesty, that poor souls like you and I are not part of his daily reckoning. Mine is, Let it be as it may be! Sure enough, his face clouded with anger. I hate all tyranny. Is that treason too! Then, far softer, he said, 'Well, by all the blessed saints and martyrs, what does it matter what I think!
Come closer. Instead, I returned my cross to my neck pouch and hurried around to the church's proper entry way. I then approached the man where he sat, moving quickly when I saw he had untied the sack that lay by his side.
With something dose to elation I saw him pull out a large, grey lump of bread, which he held up. I reached out towards it. The moment I did, his free hand shot out and, with a speed that belied his bulk, he grabbed me by my wrist and held me with the strength of stone. No boy, either. What makes you think you'll do it in a town! And you believed him!
Why did you run away! That's extreme. For what reasons! I feared he'd take my life. I'm in great pain. But in the same motion he leapt up, swung about and stood between me and the doorway of the ruined church. My way was blocked. You've left yours. And I have found you, a gift of God. From now on, you'll serve me.
That man rose up against his lord and master. By holding back a pound of wool to sell that he might feed his sickly child. And, as God is good and holy, I promise you, in such a cursed place as this, only the dead shall know. I was m sud-1 fright I could hardly breathe. Tears were coming hard. It was a dreadful thing he was making me swear. One could never break such vows. Then he put his dagger aside and tossed me a piece of bread. As I swallowed the bread he'd given me, I knew I'd sworn a sacred oath to whid- II was forever bound.
Far better, I thought, to have died on the road Hearing him move about, I stole an anxious glance in his direction. He had sat down again, but m such a place so as to prevent me from bolting. What's more, he was staring at me with his moist, sly eyes. I dared to look back with the greatest loathing I had ever felt.
Then the only one who can betray you is yourself I didn't know what to say. Do you hear me? Then, smiling, he cocked his head to one side and ruffled up his beard. With a sweep of his hand, he snatched off his hat, revealing a bald pate. Fearing what sudden thing he might do next, I watched him warily. Who I am! My name! What I'm doing here! For a while he toyed with his hat, not to any purpose that I could see, but as if lost in thought. At length, however, he reached over and took up his sack and rummaged through it, From it he took out three balls, each made of stitched leather.
To my surprise he tossed the balls into the air. Instead of falling to the ground, they stayed in the air and rotated at his will, with only the smallest touch and encouragement of his fingers. I looked on, astonished. When I made no response he said, 'Don't you know the word! I shook my head. A French word It means I balance things, or toss balls, boxes, knives - anything I choose - through the air and catch them up again.
And what do I do with my skills! I wander from town to town through the kingdom Not as a beggar, mind you, but as a man of skills. Skills, boy, which enable me to gather enough farthings and pennies to live and keep this belly full.
Gascony, Brittany and Scotland too, for that matter. What think you of that! He sighed. But I was not comfortable with my newly discovered name either. He leaned towards me, glaring.
I go by simple means. You'll do as you're told or suffer the consequences. What is your name! Were you never', he said, 'christened with a name of your own! That's too fine and noble a name for such rubbish as you. Have you a surname! It was all I could do to suppress screams of rage. But I wend my way to such places, not as a runaway peasant beggar like you, but earning my bread with tossing things into the air the way I showed you.
People m towns pay fair corns to see my revels in squares, m merchants' houses and inns, as well as guildhalls. Do you know how to make music! Were you born of sheep! Do you know nothing of drums, horns and pipes! Do you even sing! Music is the tongue of souls. Is there anything you can do! Sow seed. Gather crops. Thresh wheat and barley. I wanted to gain my liberty. And with God's help I would have, if not for you. Then he tilted bad his head and roared with laughter as if I had told the rarest jest of all.
It's a marvel you don't seek out the blessed St Crispin himself to come to your aid, No wonder you want to die. The only difference between a dead fool and a live one is the dead one has a deeper gravel It was as if all the scorn and insults I had ever endured were pouring forth from him. I shall begin by teaching you something.
Mark me well.
With all the armies of the kingdom at your side, you could not gain your liberty on your own. A boy! Alone in a city! A wolfs head! Why, any city you entered would swallow you like the whale took Jonah.
And not to spit you out either, but only to belch up your empty soul. Let's see if you're capable of asking me a question. But people call me "Bear". Because of my size. And strength.
Sweet and gentle - but if he becomes irritated, he turns into a vicious brute. So I beg you to consider the two sides of my nature. Next question. God's truth, before I reach my end, there's work to be done. Big work.
The work of ages. Let it be as it may be. But, time for that to come. Until then you and I shall wander. Our task is to stay alive and measure this great kingdom with our feet, our eyes, our ears. With that, he tossed his sack to me.
His meaning was perfectly dear. Huge as he was, I was to carry his belongings. Inwardly lamenting my fate, I lifted the sack and began my life as servant to the Bear. I began to wonder if he was mad. Bear went first, moving over the road with the strides of a giant. And what a strange sight he was, with his black tunic, legs of two colours, split hat bobbing and bells jangling. As for me, with his heavy sack upon my back, I had to struggle to keep up.
I was too down in my spirits. That I, in fleeing from one cruel master, should be bound to another was almost too much to endure. And to a man who claimed he hated tyranny. More than once I considered dropping the sack and running away. I had to remind myself that I had sworn a sacred oath to stay. To break it would cast me straight away to Hell. Bear and Crispin stay at The Green Man tavern. In the room, there is a false-wall, which Bear tells Crispin will be his hiding place if things go badly.
Bear meets with John Ball. Soldiers come and raid the tavern, taking Bear with them. John Aycliffe had been looking for Crispin, who is hiding. Depressed, Crispin discovers that he is Lord Furnival's son.
Crispin tries to get the help of "The Brotherhood", an organization Bear is a member of, and headed by John Ball. When they refuse to aid Crispin in trying to find Bear, Crispin takes it upon himself to break into Furnival Palace and find Bear himself. Crispin finds a dagger in one of the hallways and keeps it under his cloak.
He goes into a great room and sees a picture of Lord Furnival, who looks a lot like him. When he finds Aycliffe, Crispin pins him to the ground and puts the dagger to his neck, but instead of killing him, makes him vow under oath that he Crispin and Bear will be able to leave Great Wexly unharmed never to return in exchange for Crispin's cross of lead. Crispin is led to Bear, who is being kept in the palace's cellar and has been tortured.
Though weakened, Bear manages to walk out of the palace on his own. Aycliffe and a band of soldiers escort them to the city gates, where he reneges on his oath and is intent on killing Crispin. A fight ensues between Aycliffe and Bear, who is given the dagger Crispin found at the palace, as the soldiers surround them with their swords drawn.
After a back and forth battle, Bear eventually squeezes Aycliffe from behind, causing him to drop his sword and dagger.
As Bear hurls Aycliffe into the line of soldiers, Aycliffe is punctured multiple times by the soldiers' swords and dies. Crispin leaves the cross of lead on Aycliffe's bleeding chest as he and Bear exit the Great Wexly gates. Outside the gate, Bear and Crispin play music and sing and for the first time he feels like Crispin instead of Asta's Son. Characters[ edit ] Crispin - A 13 year old serf and a peasant boy, living in a rural English village called Stromford in The book is written from his point of view.
Forced to live as a serf when Crispin was born out of wedlock by Lord Furnival. Her death initiated the main plot of this story. Father of Crispin born out of wedlock. Died while Crispin and Bear were en route to Great Wexly. Works as a traveling jester.When winter came, we fed the animals - we had an ox, and now and then a chicken - gathered wood and brush for heat, slept and tried to stay alive. I shook my head.
I assumed it was the stranger's. They lumbered across the -road, blocking my way. Bear introduces Crispin to the idea that perhaps God wants him to "better" himself, to help change and improve his situation, rather than wait for God to change it. Bear also encourages Crispin to see his own fate as something that can be changed, rather than accepting it as the way God wants it to be. My first thought was that it was the steward Or was it a ghost?
The other side was for her living. What I do know is that you must leave. THEN I became afraid.
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