Chapter 9 Summary
The next day, Asta’s son lies low in the woods. In the morning, he climbs the high rock and watches carefully in case another search party comes after him. To his relief, none does. Nevertheless, he is quiet and watchful as he gathers what little food he can find to stave off his growing hunger. Occasionally he says the name Crispin out loud, trying to get used to it.
While he waits for the day to be over, Crispin wonders what the priest knows about his father. Crispin and his mother have always been shunned. Crispin has a strong sense that God makes the world work as it should, so he thinks that something must be wrong with him to make him deserve such treatment. He wonders if his father was evil, perhaps a criminal or an atheist. If this is the case, then Crispin can understand the strange new developments in his life. After all, is it not natural for the son of an outcast to become an outcast as well?
At nightfall, Crispin returns to Stromwell. Following the priest’s instructions, he makes his way toward the home of the oldest woman in town, Goodwife Peregrine. Partway there, Crispin meets a village boy named Cerdic, who says that plans have changed, and that Father Quinel left instructions for Crispin to go to the road leading west from town. Cerdic cannot explain why the priest changed plans in this way.
Crispin hesitates. He has never trusted Cerdic, and he sees no reason to start now. After thinking it over, Crispin decides to go to the Goodwife Peregrine as originally instructed. Father Quinel is not there, but she acknowledges that the priest asked her to help Crispin. She does not seem at all happy about this, and she mutters that she would not help the boy if Father Quinel had not pressured her to do so.
As Cerdic hovers in a corner, watching, the Goodwife Peregrine lets Crispin eat a bowl of porridge. Then she gives him a magically protective pouch to wear around his neck during his journey. She tells him that John Aycliffe mentioned a plan to take some men and search the road leading south from Stromwell. Accordingly, she advises him to take the road north. Then she hands Crispin a loaf of bread for the road and, with an air of being glad to get rid of him, shoves him out the door.