Chapters 12-13 Summary
Crispin travels as quickly as he can, running as much as possible and walking during periods of fatigue. On the way, he weeps for Father Quinel. Although Crispin does not know for sure, he guesses that the old man was murdered for trying to help him.
The road is little more than a muddy trail, and nobody but Crispin is on it. As he walks, he realizes that he has lost the bread from Goodwife Peregrine. He stops, wondering if he should go back and find it. Ultimately he decides that this would be too dangerous. He will just have to go on without food and hope to survive until he reaches a city.
Crispin passes through open country, then enters a forest. Eventually he leaves the trail and collapses under a tree. But even after his body loses its power to go on, he is unable to quiet his brain. He sits thinking late into the night, trying to make sense of all that has happened to him. And now he has a new worry to add to all the old ones: if he dies in the open country, without a priest to bless his dead body, he will go to hell forever. He climbs to his knees and prays for mercy. This action provides him some small comfort, and he finally falls asleep.
In the morning, Crispin awakes to the sound of horse hooves. He freezes as John Aycliffe and two other men charge past. They do not see Crispin, who says a quick prayer of relief. When they are gone, he remains still, wondering what to do next. He is afraid to go on now that he has seen his pursuers on the road, but he cannot go back to Stromwell, either. He could make his way across open country, but the road is his last link to the life he used to know. Leaving it seems impossible.
Unable to decide what to do, Crispin spends two days just living in the woods beside the road. He finds almost nothing to eat, and he is so miserable that he almost wishes somebody would catch him and kill him. Then he sees one of Aycliffe’s companions, the bailiff, ride past again, heading alone back to Stromwell. As Crispin watches this new development, he silently wonders where Aycliffe has ended up.
Eventually Crispin shakes himself out of indecision and decides to continue following Father Quinel’s advice: find a city and gain freedom. Crispin returns to the road and stumbles along, not knowing what will happen or where he will end up. He is so hungry, scared, and uncomfortable that, by the time night comes, he has almost lost his will to live. With this dark thought in mind, he says his prayers and goes to sleep again.