The Once and Future King Part 2, Chapters 9-10 Summary

T. H. White

Part 2, Chapters 9-10 Summary

As a result of Queen Morgause’s suggestion of a unicorn hunt, King Pellinore becomes even more lovesick than before. Sir Palomides suggests that the only way to dispel Pellinore’s melancholy is to continue the hunt for the Questing Beast, but Sir Grummore states his belief that the beast is dead. Sir Palomides has the idea that he and Sir Grummore should dress up as the beast, and he and Sir Palomides begin to plan. With much argument, the two friends stitch together the costume and practice moving around in it, with Sir Grummore making the sounds, even though he is the rear end.

In the meantime, Queen Morgause changes her mind about the three knights and loses interest in them. In fact, she thinks them contemptible. She decides that her only interest is in her sons, and she becomes the picture of the loving mother. Gareth runs to tell his brothers of the change in their mother. He finds them arguing about the rightness of the queen’s treatment of the knights. Agravaine wants to pen a letter to their father about what is happening while he is away, but the others thinks this would be traitorous. It descends into a fight, with Agravaine’s threatening Gawaine with a knife. Gareth and Gaheris hold him down to prevent him from killing Gawaine.

Sir Palomides and Sir Grummore tell King Pellinore that they have seen the Questing Beast, but the king has lost interest and tells his friends to go away and leave him alone. They decide to ambush him with the beast in the night. King Pellinore stands on the edge of the cliff with his dog, though it is now raining. He decides that, although it is unpleasant, at least it will make his friends happy. He stands thinking about the Queen of Flanders’s daughter, who is called Piggy.

Sir Palomides and Sir Grummore wait in their costume for the rain to stop. They hear a breathing, but it is not either of them. Sir Grummore feels something bumping up against him, but it is not Sir Palomides. As the moon comes out, Sir Palomides looks out of the mouth of the costume and tells Sir Grummore to run, seeing the real Questing Beast approaching.

In Arthur’s tent on the eve of the battle, Merlyn appears worried. The wizard assures the king that he will win this battle. Merlyn is worried about some warning that he is not sure he gave Arthur, but he does not know if it was about the future or the past. He tells him a parable of a man who has an appointment with death and is unable to escape it. He tells Arthur that he will be known as the once and future king, and that he will return just as Merlyn will.