The Pillars of the Earth: Part 4
Part 4: 1142–1145
William Hamleigh fears he will burn in hell after his brutal attack on Kingsbridge, but Waleran will not grant him absolution unless he again pledges allegiance to King Stephen. Waleran and Bishop Henry have aligned with the king to gain more power, and William agrees to switch sides and hopes that Stephen will name him earl of Shiring instead of Richard.
Prior Philip is shaken to the core by the burning of Kingsbridge and the death of Tom Builder. He loses all motivation to run Kingsbridge—but Jack steps up. Planning the new town brings Philip out of his depression. Weeks after the fire, new homes are built and work starts again on the cathedral. Life slowly returns to normal, but grief still overwhelms the townspeople—especially Jonathan and Ellen, who miss Tom. As building continues, the masons look toward Alfred for leadership, though he lacks the intelligence of his father.
Aliena has been anxious, knowing she can no longer support Richard. Just as Richard arrives home to learn his family is penniless, Alfred again proposes marriage and promises to support Richard. Later, Aliena tells a devastated Jack that she must marry Alfred.
The night before the marriage, Jack tries to sneak out of the monastery to stop Aliena from marrying Alfred. He is caught and ordered to solitary confinement for two days. He falls asleep but awakens to find Ellen in his cell—the same cell his father was held for allegedly stealing a jeweled cup.
Ellen helps Jack escape and he asks Aliena to not marry Alfred. She reveals the real reason she pushed him away at the mill. Jack comforts her and although they make love, she says she will still marry Alfred. Angry and hurt, Jack wishes her luck and leaves. He flees to the forest, where his mother gives him a horse, some money, food and Tom's tools. He decides to find the jongleurs in Spain and learn more about his father, promising to return some day.
Ellen curses Aliena and Alfred's wedding and leaves town. That night, Alfred is unable to consummate the marriage and bans Aliena to the floor. As winter progresses, Aliena grows sicker and sicker. Philip spends the winter wracked with guilt over Jack's disappearance, worried about the priory's debt and the townspeople's morale. Just as he prays for a miracle, Alfred tells him he can finish the cathedral sooner than expected. Waleran hears the news and tells William he will speak to Bishop Henry about announcing his earldom as a blow to Philip.
The morning of Whitsunday, Aliena goes into labor as the rest of the town is at the new cathedral. As she pushes her way into the service to look for Martha, there is a deafening rumble and the roof collapses. Through the rubble, a baby's cry fills the church, and Philip finds Aliena and her newborn son. More plot points...
Part 4 reading questions
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