The Gathering ends with the Singer and Jo waving and bowing before the audience. Afterwards, Kira and Thomas walk back to their quarters. After what she’s seen, Kira is afraid and sad. Before she can explain to Thomas what she saw, Matt runs up to them and tells Kira that her big gift is here. Kira walks into her room and sees a stranger sitting in her chair. He is about three syllables old, and about the age of Katrina's brother. Kira notices that he is blind and has scars across his face. Kira has never seen a blind man before. The blind are always taken to the Field before others can meet them.
Just as Kira is about to explain what she saw to Thomas—and to us!—she’s interrupted. The appearance of a scarred man in the Edifice is a great surprise, and it’s not immediately clear what we’re supposed to make of it. The fact that he’s the same age as Kira’s mother’s brother would suggest that he’s the same age that Kira’s mother herself would be now. In this section, we also get a reminder of how barbaric life in the village is: the blind are left to die.
Kira’s notices that the man’s shirt is blue, and wonders where he came from. Matt shouts that he brought the stranger from “yonder,” and the stranger acknowledges this, calling Matt an excellent guide and thanking Matt for helping him sneak into the Council Edifice. Matt points to a hole in the stranger’s shirt and explains that this is where he got the blue cloth he gave Kira. The stranger shows Kira a handful of plants and explains that they are woad, the plant that’s used to make blue dye. He says that he wants to show Kira the woad himself, adding that he has been to the Edifice before, a long time ago. He gives Matt the plants, and gently tells him to run water over them.
The man hints that he has a connection to the village, since he says he knows the Edifice well. At the same time, it’s clear that he comes from the community of invalids and wounded people that Matt described in the previous chapter. With his feet in both camps—the cruel villagers and the sympathetic invalids—this man is a lot like Kira, who often feels that she’s both connected to the village and not meant for it.
Kira doesn’t introduce herself, but she offers the stranger a meal. Thomas says that he’ll call for food. The stranger asks who’s there, and Thomas introduces himself as the carver for the Gathering. The stranger replies that he knows all about the Gathering. He insists that no one call for food, since no one must know that he’s there.
We get more hints that the stranger is a villager, or used to be a villager—he knows about the Gathering, after all. Lowry also builds the suspense when the stranger says that he mustn’t be found—clearly, there’s a conflict between him and the Council. How Matt was able to smuggle the stranger into the Edifice without anyone noticing is never explained. Perhaps it testifies to Matt’s talent for deception (as well as the fact that it’s the Gathering, meaning that the guards are probably off-duty).
The stranger says that he can feel it getting dark. He had to rely upon his senses in this way when Matt led him through the forest. Kira asks him why he’s come to the village, but as she asks, she notices that he’s wearing a pendant that matches the one her mother gave her. The man addresses Kira by name, and tells her that he is Christopher, her father. As he says this, he begins to cry.
The full significance of Kira’s pendant becomes clear: her father had the same pendant. This provides proof that the stranger is who he says he is: Kira’s father. We get further proof that this is the case when Christopher begins to cry—like his daughter, he’s an emotional, caring person.