Chapter 22 Summary
In the evening, Bear ties Crispin to a tree and then goes off to find food. Crispin begs not to be tied up. He thinks it is unnecessary since he made a sacred oath not to run away, but Bear refuses to listen. “As God in heaven knows, both wheat and trust take a full season to grow,” the man says. Then he walks away and leaves Crispin to wonder if he has been left to die. His only consolation is that Bear has left his sack behind as well. Crispin reasons that, even if Bear does not value the life of his new servant, he will surely return for his possessions.
After a long time, Bear returns with a dead rabbit. He unties Crispin, who is too angry to speak. He sits down and rubs his arms, which are sore from being tied together. Bear, who seems unbothered by Crispin’s foul mood, launches into a lecture about tyranny. He says that it is wrong for kings and lords to keep all the wild animals in England for themselves. It is totally reasonable for a man like Bear to kill a rabbit to fill his hungry belly, but under the law of the land, it is a crime.
Bear builds a fire and begins cooking his kill. As Crispin watches, he admits that he has only tasted meat a few times in his life. This is so pathetic that it makes Bear laugh bitterly. A while later, Bear hands the boy a piece of the cooked rabbit—more meat than Crispin has ever eaten at one sitting. As Crispin eats, he admits to himself that life with Bear may have its advantages.
When darkness falls, Bear lies down by the fire and tells stories about his life. He has seen more of the world—both the good and the bad—than Crispin has ever imagined existed. The man fills his stories with joking and laughter, but he also seems bitter when he speaks of injustice.
Bear explains that after his traveling performance group broke up, he spent several years as a soldier, fighting in France. In those times, he met—and disliked—Lord Furnival, the man who owns Crispin’s home village. Bear tells Crispin that people of noble birth are not necessarily good. Lord Furnival was not brave on the battlefield, but he clearly enjoyed being cruel to the people he conquered.
After hearing all of this, Crispin lets down his guard a bit. He comments that John Aycliffe, Lord Furnival’s steward, was a cruel man as well. Bear takes the opportunity to ask what town Crispin comes from, and the boy answers truthfully, naming Stromford. Then he sits in silence, wondering if it was a bad idea to tell his master such a detail about himself. Bear, meanwhile, presses Crispin to say even more.