The Once and Future King Part 1, Chapters 7-8 Summary

T. H. White

Part 1, Chapters 7-8 Summary

Merlyn and the Wart watch as Kay practices tilting against a wooden dummy, which swings about when it is hit. The Wart himself still smarts from his own efforts. He confesses to Merlyn that he is upset that he will never be a knight errant because he is not Sir Ector’s son, and he does not have a true father and mother. He will be able to rise only to the level of Kay’s squire. He wishes to go on a quest and see true knights. The knight he most wants to see is King Pellinore. Merlyn tells him to close his eyes while he casts a spell. When the Wart opens his eyes, he finds that he is in the Forest Sauvage. King Pellinore himself is riding up to him. The Wart awkwardly introduces Pellinore to Merlyn. The wizard warns the king that Sir Grummore Grummersum is coming to find him for a joust. The two knights greet each other and then ride toward each other full tilt. Neither is able to best the other man, so they begin to beat each other upon the head. They knock each other out, and Merlyn takes the Wart back to the tilting field where Kay is still practicing with little success.

On one cool, wet August day, the Wart is bored, since no one wants him to do anything for them. Sir Ector tells him that when he was a boy, he focused on his “eddication,” and so suggests that the Wart go find Merlyn. The Wart does so and finds him knitting a night cap. He begs the wizard to turn him into a hawk. Merlyn at first says that the boy is not ready, but eventually relents, warning him not to stand beside Cully. Merlyn accidentally turns himself into a condor, but corrects his error and makes the Wart into a merlin. He carries the bird/boy up to the mews, where the hunting hawks are kept. The Wart can understand the birds’ speech, which is patterned after military officers. The birds accept the Wart as a cadet, but decide that he must undergo an ordeal first. After some thought, they order the Wart to stand by Cully for three rings of their bells. The Wart at first resists, since this is the one thing that Merlyn told him not to do, but he soon agrees. He manages to survive Cully’s verbal abuse and is made a member of the company.