Chapter 25 Summary
On the next morning's leg of the journey, Bear begins to explain how he earns money. His first step is to walk into a village and pray at the church. Crispin interrupts and asks why Bear prays if he does not believe in God. Impatiently, Bear says that he has to act like he believes in order to gain people’s trust. Crispin finds this confusing and annoying. He demands to know, once and for all, what kind of person Bear really is.
Bear says simply that he is “a man.” Then he turns the question back at Crispin, who says he is “nothing.” Bear asks why, and Crispin says it is because he had no surname, no family, and no position in society. His last master declared him a wolf’s head, and his present master wants him to think and speak in ways he cannot. He ends his outburst with a prediction that Bear will soon give up on him, as everyone else has.
It scares Crispin to speak to his master in this way, but for once, Bear does not seem angry. He just asks if Crispin wants to be different than he has always been. Crispin answers with characteristic evasiveness, putting all the blame on God and others rather than taking responsibility for himself.
Bear does not accept this answer. He grabs Crispin, drags him to the edge of a stream, and demands that the boy look at himself. Crispin hates his own reflection, but he is not brave enough to disobey. He peers into the water and sees a dirty, bruised, tear-streaked boy with long, tangled hair. Bear cuts his hair and makes him wash his face, then asks him to look again. Crispin does as he is told and sees a much different image. Bear points out that if Crispin can change this much just by washing his face and cutting his hair, then he should be able to change much more if he makes a conscious choice to become a different kind of person.
After this lesson, the pair walks onward. Returning to the original topic of the morning’s conversation, Bear explains that he goes to villages, acts pious, and then asks a community leader for permission to perform before the people. Crispin admits that he is afraid to go along with such a scheme; someone might recognize him as an outlaw. Bear says that this is unlikely. Crispin is just an insignificant child, and he did not even commit the crime Aycliffe claimed. Why would anyone keep looking for him? Crispin replies that he is evil, perhaps even lacking a soul like an animal, and that God wants to punish him with suffering.