Part 1, Chapters 1-2 Summary
Arthur, nicknamed the Wart, is the object of torment from his foster-brother Kay. Their governess had to be dismissed when it was discovered that she was mentally unbalanced and spent three years in a lunatic hospital. Sir Ector, Kay’s father and the Wart’s guardian, asks his friend Sir Grummore Grummersum what he should do about their education. Sir Grummore suggests sending them off to school, but Sir Ector points out that there is a giant, Galapas, who lives in the region separating the school and Sir Ector’s castle. Sir Grummore suggests that Sir Ector go on a quest to find a tutor. Sir Ector agrees, but it is now haying time, so any education would have to wait anyway.
The Wart enjoys the work of haying and does it well while Kay struggles with it, much to his chagrin in being outdone in anything by the Wart. Kay is saved by a severe thunderstorm, which soaks both the workers and the hay. Kay thus decides that he will take his goshawk Cully and go hunting. The Wart tags along, though he feels that he could handle the hawk better. They spot a rabbit and Kay sends Cully off for the kill. Instead, the hawk flies up in a tree, allowing the rabbit to escape.
Kay is furious and follows Cully from tree to tree. He finally gives up and leaves (going the wrong way), but the Wart decides he will stay to find the hawk, which is product of much training by Sir Ector’s servant, Hob. He follows Cully to the edge of the forest but does not go further. As the light fades, the Wart sits under a tree, hoping someone will come to find him. He is startled when an arrow zips close to his hand. He runs into the forest, with arrows flying after him. After he escapes from the unseen assailant, he finds that he has gone deep into the forest. He keeps walking, lost, until he comes to a clearing, lit by the moonlight. He sees a knight in shining armor, mounted on a white horse. He startles the knight, who falls off the horse and almost loses his spectacles. The Wart helps him to regain himself. The knight introduces himself as King Pellinore and claims he has been on a quest for seventeen years to find the Questing Beast. Pellinore is bumbling and confused, but the Wart promises him a bed in Sir Ector’s castle if he will help him find his way back. Pellinore agrees eagerly, but all of a sudden the sound of the Questing Beast is heard. Pellinore mounts his horse, unwraps his dog from a tree, and takes off after the Beast.