Chapters 10-11 Summary
As soon as the boys are alone, Cerdic tells Crispin to go west instead of north. According to Cerdic, Aycliffe would not have announced the plan to search the south road unless he meant it as a trap. The road west goes past the manor house—the one direction nobody would expect Crispin to run.
Crispin cannot deny that this advice seems reasonable. For lack of a better plan, he agrees to go west. But as the boys approach the manor house and the nearby mill, four men step out of the shadows. Cerdic immediately slips away, and Crispin realizes that this is the trap. He turns to run, but four more men are climbing into the road behind him.
For a moment, Crispin stands frozen in terror and uncertainty. John Aycliffe, who is among the men on the road, reminds everyone that the boy is a wolf’s head—an animal who can be killed without fear of repercussions. The men charge, and Crispin darts toward the mill. Hoping to hide above ground, he tries to climb the mill’s outer wall—but a flying arrow soon scares him back to ground level. He runs to the back of the building and, in the darkness, falls into the ditch full of flowing water that powers the mill.
This lucky fall provides Crispin the chance he needs to escape. From the men's shouts, he learns that nobody is sure where he has gone. As quietly as he can, he walks through the chest-deep water. Eventually he arrives at the edge of the river—and there he hesitates. He cannot swim, and he is too afraid to cross the deep water. He considers sneaking across the ford, but his ears tell him that his pursuers have already thought to cut off that means of escape. Unwilling to brave the river crossing or the guards at the ford, Crispin doubles back across town instead, making his way to the southern border of Stromwell. When he arrives at the crossroads there, he kneels in the dirt to pray for God’s protection during the upcoming journey.
As Crispin begins his prayer, he notices a dark shape on the ground. It is Father Quinel, lying on his back in the dirt. Thinking at first that the old man has fallen asleep, Crispin leans over the body. In the dim light from the moon, he sees that the priest is dead from a slit throat. Crying out in fear, Crispin says another hurried prayer and then runs away without completing his prayer. This seems a bad omen, and he cannot help but think that God may no longer want to protect him.