Chapter 27 Summary
The next morning, Crispin and Bear get up early and walk along the narrow dirt road. The road is surrounded by forest, so they can see little of what lies ahead. Suddenly Bear stops, looking wary. He points at a flock of flying pigeons and explains that something has scared them. Thoughtfully, he says that he wants to find out what it is before going forward.
Motioning to Crispin to follow, Bear leaves the road and cuts through the woods. As he heads for a hill, Crispin stays close and quiet. They both climb up the hill on hands and knees. When they reach the top, Bear gestures to Crispin to wait and then looks out over the road. After a moment, he ducks down and gives Crispin the chance to look for himself.
Peering down from his vantage point, Crispin gains a view of a bridge, which is guarded by a group of men. Among them is John Aycliffe, the steward of Crispin's village. Terrified, the boy whispers the man’s identity to Bear. Bear gives Crispin a strange look, studies Aycliffe, and then leads the way back down the hill.
At the bottom of the hill, Bear stops to have a talk. He says that all people make mistakes and that it is not his place to judge. Then he asks solemnly if Crispin is guilty of breaking into his lord’s house. This question bothers Crispin, who claims innocence sincerely. This answer confuses Bear, who explains that a man in Aycliffe’s position should be glad to be rid of a poor, scrawny boy like Crispin. Chasing him seems like a waste of effort. However, Bear admits that he was wrong about Aycliffe giving up. He says he should have listened when Crispin insisted the search would continue. Briefly, this makes Crispin feel triumphant. Then he sees the fear in Bear’s eyes and grows afraid himself.
Bear considers their options and decides to travel overland through the forest and fields, avoiding the main road to Great Wexly. There is only one such road through the area, and Crispin’s pursuers are obviously guarding it. The two of them set out immediately—Bear walking confidently forward, Crispin often glancing back.
During this walk, Crispin thinks about how Bear noticed the pigeons, which made him wary, which gave him a chance to see and evade John Aycliffe. It occurs to Crispin that he, too, should learn how the world works and notice when something is amiss. Given the dangers that surround him, he will need to notice as much as he can to stay alive.