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The Once and Future King

T. H. White

Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 14–19

Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 10–13

Book I: “The Sword in the Stone,” Chapters 14–19, page 2

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Summary: Chapter 14

In November, Sir Ector receives a letter from Uther Pendragon, the king of England, telling him that the royal huntsman, William Twyti, will be coming to hunt near Sir Ector’s castle that winter. Sir Ector is expected to house Twyti, his dogs, and his men.

Summary: Chapter 15

On Christmas night, the whole village comes to the great hall of the castle to feast. William Twyti is there with his men. The castle and its fields are beautiful under the snow, and everyone is in a good mood.

Summary: Chapter 16

Early the next morning, Twyti gathers his men and his dogs for the hunt. With the help of Robin Wood, they find a boar. The boar eventually rushes at Twyti, but Robin kills it with a sword before it can harm Twyti. After the hunt, Pellinore finds the Questing Beast lying sick on the ground and deduces that the beast’s decline is his fault. Pellinore is guilt-ridden by the thought that he has been resting in Sir Grummore’s castle for months while the beast has pined away in his absence. He gathers men to bring the Questing Beast back to Sir Ector’s castle, where he plans to nurse it back to health so the quest can begin again.

Summary: Chapter 17

One day in spring, Merlyn, the Wart, and Merlyn’s talking owl, Archimedes, have a conversation. The Wart claims that the rook is his favorite bird because it flies as though it has a sense of humor. Archimedes says his favorite bird is the pigeon. Merlyn speculates that the calls of birds and animals are imitations of sounds in nature.

Summary: Chapter 18

That night, Merlyn transforms the Wart into an owl. Archimedes teaches him to fly gracefully. Once the Wart knows how to fly, Merlyn turns him into a goose and transports him to a vast, wet plain. The Wart flies with other geese, looks for food, stands guard as they eat, and meets a female goose named Lyo-lyok. She makes fun of his strange behavior, and the Wart tells her that he is really a human. He shocks her by wondering out loud whether they are guarding against an attack by other geese. Lyo-lyok tells him that the idea of two groups of the same species killing each other is unthinkable, since there are already predators outside of their species and since there are no boundaries or territories in the air that can be fought over.

Summary: Chapter 19

The Wart learns about the geese’s society from Lyo-lyok. The geese have no private property or laws, and their leaders are selected on the basis of their ability to navigate. Soon the time for migration comes, and on their first day of flight, they travel to Norway. The Wart wakes up in his human form to hear Kay, with whom the Wart shares a bed, telling him he snores like a goose.

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