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Free Study Guide-The Once and Future King-T.H. White-Free Book Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

BOOK ONE: THE SWORD IN THE STONE

Chapter 16

Summary and Notes

Christmas Day (Boxing Day) is a cold morning, and Wart gets out of bed early for the hunting expedition. Everything is a bit different after the revelry of the night before: Twyti, in particular turns out to be a gloomy and irritable man.

The whole castle is abuzz with excitement, for boar hunting is fun. The author goes into some detail about the nature of medieval hunting while Wart breakfasts with the hungover men of the castle.

The men, and their hundreds of dog, and attendants go off to the edge of the forest to begin the hunt, where they meet their last guest, Robin Wood. Ector introduces Robin to the rest of the party nervously, and Pellinore and Grummore are duly impressed. The party begins the hunt.

Almost immediately, a boar charges Sir Grummore, wounds him, and turns to charge Twyti. The dogs (in particular, Twyti’s dog, Beaumont) kill the boar, and the hunt is over. Beaumont has died in the process. Twyti is quite upset, and this disconcerts Wart.

The boar is stripped and disemboweled, and there is much celebrating. At that moment, Pellinore thunders out of the forest, very upset. The party follows him back into the forest, where they find him cradling a wounded Questing Beast, who is a mixture of a snake, lion, and hart.


The Questing Beast is ailing because Pellinore has not been searching for it; it is dying of loneliness and a broken heart while Pellinore has been living in luxury. Pellinore promises the Beast that he will resume his Quest so that the Beast can live.

Chapter 17

Summary and Notes

It is early spring and Merlyn announces that it is time for Wart to have another lesson. He asks Wart what he would like to be, and Wart answers a bird. Merlyn, Archimedes and Wart compare notes on the different types of birds and their respective governments. It is clear during this conversations how much time Wart spends observing nature and its ways, and the reader cannot help but be struck by the contrast between his leisure time and the modern kid’s.

Wart prefers the rook, even though it is “saucy,” and Archimedes makes a case for the austere pigeon. Merlyn prefers the chaffinch because of the separation of the sexes within their flocks. The conversation then segues into comparisons between their different conversational styles of birds; Merlyn makes the case that all of their conversation comes from mere imitation.

At this point, Kay enters the room, triumphant because he has just killed a thrush, a type of bird. The irony is great.

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