Chapter 26 Summary
Crispin does not think he is capable of helping Bear perform in villages, but Bear refuses to accept the boy's lack of confidence. He forces Crispin to learn to play the flute. Crispin does not believe that he can learn, but he watches as Bear explains how to hold his fingers and how to shape his mouth. Then Crispin halfheartedly takes the instrument and gives it a try. When he fails on his first few attempts, he says he wants to quit. Bear refuses to allow it. He threatens all kinds of terrible punishments unless Crispin keeps practicing, so Crispin obeys—at first in terror, and then with a growing understanding that Bear’s threats are just a gruff sort of kindness.
After half a day’s practice, Crispin manages to play a tune. Bear is thrilled, and Crispin is flabbergasted. He never would have believed he could make music until he heard himself do it. Now that he has experienced a little success, he continues practicing of his own free will.
Crispin’s newfound desire is good, because Bear insists on more practice. After a while, he gets out a drum and plays a beat. Then, to Crispin’s complete astonishment, the big man begins to dance. The boy has never before seen such a strange spectacle as an enormous man bouncing around to the beat of music. At first, Crispin stops playing just to watch.
Bear makes Crispin restart the song, and again he sings and dances to the tune. When they are finished, Bear admits that this is why he took Crispin as a servant. Two people can make a better performance than just one—and this, in Bear’s words, will “bring…pennies of plenty.” This promise makes Crispin smile. Bear cheers and makes a show of praising God for the fact that the boy is capable of showing happiness.
In the evening, Bear tells Crispin that they will go in the morning to a village called Burley, which is on the way to Great Wexly. This makes Crispin nervous for many reasons, but he does not protest anymore. He is afraid that Bear will make fun of him for being afraid.
That night, after Bear goes to sleep, Crispin gets out his cross and prays to Saint Giles. He prays that he will not shame Bear in front of tomorrow’s audience. He also prays to sing and dance as well as his master someday. Lastly, Crispin begs Saint Giles to prevent Bear from turning him over to John Aycliffe and a fate of certain death.