Despereaux and his guards travel down through the castle. When Despereaux tugs on the tight red thread knotted around his neck, the guards bark at him to not touch it. As they walk, Despereaux admires this upstairs world: Princess Pea’s world, one that’s full of music. Suddenly realizing the Pea won’t know where he is, Despereaux asks if he could have a final word with her. Frustrated, one of the mice in hoods stamps his foot and says Despereaux doesn’t learn—and Despereaux recognizes Furlough’s voice. Despereaux’s heart shrinks for a moment but then grows as Despereaux starts to hope. He asks Furlough to let him go since they’re brothers, but Furlough refuses.
Again, Despereaux’s innocence shines through, as does his honor. He doesn’t seem to fully grasp the seriousness of the situation, or how much the mice disapprove of his romance with the Pea. But in his mind, his request to speak to her again is just the right thing to do so she doesn’t worry. Learning that Furlough is one of the mice to deliver Despereaux to the dungeon highlights how much Furlough agrees with Lester: he values conformity. And he feels no loyalty to his brother, if his brother won’t play by the same rules.
The narrator asks if readers remember what the word “perfidy” means. It’s certainly becoming an increasingly appropriate word as the story progresses, and it’s on Despereaux’s mind as he and the guards stand at the top of the dungeon stairs. Furlough puts a hand over his heart and announces that today, he’s delivering a mouse who deserves punishment to the dungeon. That mouse wears “the red thread of death.” Despereaux shudders, but he doesn’t have time to think before the hooded mice push him. Despereaux flies down the stairs, thinking of two words: Perfidy and Pea.
The narrator encourages readers to see Furlough’s choices to escort Despereaux to the dungeon (and push him!) not as upstanding ones, but as cruel, disloyal ones that hurt someone whom the narrator implies Furlough should protect. As Despereaux falls down the stairs, the two words in his mind suggest that he’s focused on how alone he is in mouse society, and on his love for the Pea. Love may, perhaps, fill the gaps left by his disloyal family—if Despereaux survives.