Frederick Buechner's Godric relates a fictionalized account of St. Godric, a twelfth-century hermit. The young Godric, however, was anything but a saint, and he relates his early years honestly in the first few chapters of the novel, showing the world how sinful he had once been.
In the novel's fifth chapter, entitled "Of Peregrine Small and how Godric came to prosper in trade," Godric begins by returning to a discussion of his two pet snakes that he had sent away from him. He now explains why. They were preventing him from loving God as fully as he should have been. Tune was a beautiful snake, and Fairweather was Godric's great protector, but they were both distractions.
Godric then recalls how his hometown priest had blessed his ears on the day he left home so that he would always hear the poor crying for help. Godric has indeed heard that many times and in many places, he notes, but he has heard many other things, too. And yet he is still glad and sometimes still sad through it all.
Godric then turns to the story of Peregrine Small, the weaver of Bishop's Lynn. Small was a little man with a high voice, and he tended to be a coward. Godric arrived in town one day during fair time, and he describes the sights of the fair in some detail. He also speaks of a Jew, Haggai, who was to be baptized that day by the king's chancellor, Ranulf Flambard (whom Godric declares to have been a rogue). Haggai, Godric also notes, looked very much like Peregrine Small.
Haggai's fellow Jews were not at all happy at the prospect of his conversion. They were so angry, in fact, that they broke down the church doors and started a regular riot alongside the crowd of Christians who had gathered to see what was going on. In the chaos, Godric found Peregrine Small cowering behind a tomb. He tried to rescue him, but the crowd mistook him for Haggai, and Peregrine Small ended up dead.
Word quickly spread that Peregrine Small had been martyred by the Jews (actually, in the pandemonium of the fight, it was the Christians who had killed him). Godric knew the truth, but he was not above making a little money by selling "relics" of Peregrine Small until Flambard ordered him out of town.