Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Crispin (Paperback))
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Then best to go south,” Peregrine said to me. “Are there towns or cities there? ” I said. “I wouldn’t know,” the old woman said. “Now, draw closer,” she commanded. “The priest asked me to provide you with protection. I do it for him, Asta’s boy, not you. ” I stepped forward reluctantly. She reached up and dropped a thong—with a small leather pouch—about my neck. Then she spoke some words I didn’t understand. “Eat this before you go,” she said, thrusting a bowl of porridge into my hand. After putting the cross of lead into the leather pouch, I stuffed porridge into my mouth with my fingers.
More than once Bear had to haul me in, or yell, for, dumbfounded by what I saw, I would halt in my tracks and stand in danger of being knocked down and trampled by the swarming people. For instance, I saw a bakery that sold bread that was swan white, something I had never seen before. And meat. I swear, by Jesus’name, there was more meat than the whole kingdom could consume. I had always known that Stromford Village had little enough to eat, but assumed it was no different from the rest of the world.
Bear had to be wrong. Yet I found myself thinking it was not so bad to have fallen in with him. To be sure, he was a rough-and-ready man. The things he said confused me. Even his calling me by the name Crispin was unsettling. Still, if Bear fed me and protected me, I might, at least, survive awhile. In any case I had little choice. God had willed it. And yet—thinking on what he said—I asked myself if I were to live by questions, what questions would they be? About my father? And those things Father Quinel had said about my mother—if they be true or not.
And bring them to me. ” I did as I was told. She took them, sloshing out what remained onto the floor. We worked in silence. She seemed tense. But then, as if she’d been thinking the matter over for some time, she said, “Crispin, I’m sorry for your troubles, but if ever a boy could find a good master, you’ve found him in Bear. As God is merciful, keep him close to his true calling—his juggling and his music. Don’t let him mingle too much with those who would cause trouble. Because"—she looked at me as if I knew something I didn’t—"if you don’t help him, things could go much the worse for you both.
Greatly shocked, I didn’t know what to say. “But,” he added, with a hard edge of anger, “if you so much as spoke my words in public, do you know what would happen to you? ” “No. ” “You’d be burned alive. So don’t repeat them. And if you said I spoke them, I’d denounce you for a liar and a heretic. “So, put your cross away. I don’t wish to see it again. Keep your faith to yourself. ” Though unsettled by his words, I turned away and made my prayers, the cross in my hands. I prayed to Saint Giles and asked him to remember my father whom I had never seen, my mother whom I missed so deeply, and last of all, myself.