Chapters 44-45 Summary
Bear wakes up and comes downstairs. He calls for his breakfast and then notices Crispin cleaning the dining room. This pleases Bear, who comments that this work will reduce the expense of their stay in the hotel. He announces that he is going out and asks the widow to keep Crispin busy for the rest of the morning. Hesitantly, she asks if Bear has another meeting with John Ball. When Bear evades the question, Crispin guesses that the answer is yes.
While Bear eats breakfast, Crispin shares his worries about being followed. He explains about seeing the one-eyed young man whom Bear teased in the first village they visited. Bear seems impressed by his young friend’s observations, but not worried. He promises that the two of them will leave Great Wexly today, after he does what he came to do. Then he departs, ordering Crispin to stay at the hotel. Crispin watches Bear leave and spots the one-eyed man following. Immediately Crispin decides that he must warn his friend. He runs after Bear.
Today is a market day, so the streets of Great Wexly are even busier than yesterday. Crispin is glad about this because he knows he must not be noticed. He is careful to avoid soldiers as he follows Bear up streets and alleys. During the walk, Crispin is frequently grateful that Bear is tall and easy to see.
After a long walk, Bear enters a building. A picture of a boot hangs above the door, indicating that it is a cobbler’s residence. Crispin has lost sight of the one-eyed man and his companion, so he is not sure if they managed to follow Bear. Unwilling to anger his friend unnecessarily, Crispin loiters outside, watching as John Ball enters the building too. Then Crispin finds a cramped alley space beside the building. It dead-ends at a stone wall. Crispin climbs this wall and hops down into a garden full of flowers and herbs.
From the garden, Crispin tiptoes to the building’s back door and listens to the voice of John Ball calling for people to be “free and equal.” Ball demands an end to high taxation, then says that “petty tyrants” like Lord Furnival should be replaced by “true and righteous men” who serve the king.
Listening to all this, Crispin realizes that John Ball is trying to help serfs like Crispin himself. The ideas sound good in themselves, but they are definitely treasonous. Afraid, Crispin backs away and returns to the street, intending to go back to the inn. Then he sees John Aycliffe and the one-eyed man approaching with a group of soldiers.