Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 1, Chapter 3

By T.H. White

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Book 1, Chapter 3

  • Pellinore rushes off, so Wart ends up sleeping in the forest anyway.
  • When he wakes up, Wart thinks about how he can find Cully and find his way back to the castle.
  • While he's searching, he happens upon a cottage. There's an old guy out front, drawing water from a well.
  • This guy's wearing some getup: a gown with fur accents, and zodiac signs and other strange markings all over it. He also has a pointy hat and a wand. (No, he's not a transplant from Hogwarts.)
  • The weird old guy introduces himself as Merlyn.
  • Wart follows this guy into his house (what about Stranger Danger?), and sees all kinds of neat stuff.
  • The cottage is filled with things like stuffed animals of all kinds, a beehive, two live hedgehogs and some badgers, and even stuff that hasn't been invented yet, like guns, gloves, and some encyclopedias.
  • Merlyn has a talking owl with him (who, unfortunately, has an accident on the wizard's head).
  • The two have breakfast, which is pretty cool because a lot of the serving dishes move around by themselves. (There's a real Mrs.-Potts-and-Chip-from-Beauty and the Beast kind of vibe here.)
  • Very strange. It seems like Merlyn knew to set places for two people for breakfast. Oh, wait—maybe it's not so strange. The guy's a wizard, remember?
  • Turns out, Merlyn lives backwards through time. That's right: he was born "at the wrong end of time" and lives backwards, when everyone else lives their lives going forwards from the back. Kind of confusing.
  • It gets even more confusing when Merlyn starts to cry. Something's making him sad. Something about Wart.
  • But enough about that. How cool is it that Wart is now friends with a talking owl, whose name is Archimedes?
  • After Wart washes the dishes doing themselves (complete with several little Chips yelling about how the water is too cold), we learn that Merlyn is going to come to the castle with him.
  • After all, he's going to be Wart's tutor. Guess he heard the town crier that was sent out by Sir Ector.

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