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Hello! In The Cross Of Lead, Asta (also known as Crispin) has been accused of killing Father Quinel. The novel opens with the death of Crispin's mother; only Father Quinel and Crispin attend the poor woman's funeral. Crispin tells us that everyone in the village of Stromford has always shunned his mother. However, the death of his mother brings undreamed of new realities for Crispin: Father Quinel soon reveals that his mother could read and write when she was alive. Furthermore, he warns Crispin that the steward of Stromford, John Aycliffe, has declared Crispin a "wolf's head" (in old English law, this term refers to an outlaw who is worth no more than a miserable lone wolf and is therefore considered inhuman and may be hunted down and killed by anyone who chooses).
The evil Aycliffe promises a reward to anyone who kills Crispin. It is Aycliffe who murders Father Quinel before the old priest can reveal the true circumstances of Crispin's birth to the boy. Aycliffe pins the murder on Crispin. He does everything he can to kill Crispin because he knows that Crispin is actually the illegitimate son of Lord Furnival, the knight who owns all the land in Stromford. With Lord Furnival's death, Aycliffe wants to crush any challenge to Lady Furnival's impending rule. In working to preserve her power, he also protects his own position. Crispin later meets Bear, a wanderer and spy who wants to see England usher in a new age of equality. In an exciting final showdown, it is Bear who fights Aycliffe to the death. Despite having been tortured, Bear is able to survive Aycliffe's fierce swordplay. He finally pins Aycliffe and with all his strength throws Aycliffe towards his own soldiers. Aycliffe is impaled on his own soldiers' swords and dies.
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