Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 1, Chapter 14

By T.H. White

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Book 1, Chapter 14

  • It's now autumn, and Sir Ector's people are preparing for winter: storing up food and supplies.
  • Although he is the people's master (Ector is a Norman, and his workers are Saxons), he treats his people well, and even works beside them. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty and put in a hard day's work.
  • The feudal system, the narrator points out, isn't evil itself—it's bad only when those who run it are themselves bad.
  • During these preparations, Sir Ector gets a letter from Uther Pendragon, the King, who wants to send his hounds in to hunt for boar in the Forest Sauvage (which actually belongs to the king).
  • One problem: Sir Ector regards the forest as his and is a bit miffed that the King wants to take his game. The thing that most miffs Sir Ector is that he could just as easily hunt the boar with his own hounds—there's no need for the King to send them.
  • Plus, Sir Ector will have to feed and board the King's men, who will look down their nose at Sir Ector's household and in general just disturb things with their wild royal airs.
  • Apparently, this same situation occurs every year, and Sir Ector is tired of it. He's also worried he can't show the King's royal huntsman (whose name is William Twyti) a good hunt.
  • Robin Hood could do this, though. He knows the forest so well he can lead the huntsmen to the best boar.
  • Although this introduces a problem: Robin Hood (being an outlaw) isn't the sort of guy you'd want around the royal huntsman. After all, he's both an outlaw and part of the Saxon resistance against the Normans.
  • There's also the issue of the royal hounds running riot—trying to go after a unicorn or the Questing Beast and possibly getting lost, or killed. It seems that there is some danger involved in this happening on Sir Ector's watch and in his forest.
  • Despite all this, Sir Ector writes a message back to the King agreeing to his request.

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