Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 1, Chapter 7

By T.H. White

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Book 1, Chapter 7

  • The boys must take classes in jousting and horsemanship, because those were the two most important aspects of an upper-class education in those days.
  • Merlyn, on the other hand, doesn't think much of athletics. If he were in high school today, he'd be making cracks about "dumb jocks."
  • We learn some technical details about how to properly joust, such as which arm you wear your shield on and how the scoring works.
  • (Apparently, Lancelot has the best strategy. Or, will have the best strategy. He's not part of our story yet.)
  • Merlyn and Wart are hanging out near the jousting field, while Kay is being trained by a big, buff sergeant-at-arms. He's kind of the medieval answer to The Rock, but with a moustache.
  • Merlyn is using magic to make one side of this guy's moustache curl and uncurl.
  • Despite Merlyn dissing jousting and athletics, Wart mentions how he'd really like to be a knight one day. Too bad for him, though, that all he'll ever be is a squire. Kay's squire, to be exact.
  • This is because he's not Sir Ector's "real" son.
  • Wart would sure like to be a knight errant, which is a sort of wandering knight that hangs out at fountains and wells and bridges and such and challenges everyone he meets to a jousting match.
  • Well, Merlyn says, let's just see about that. You want to be a knight errant? I'll show you what knight errantry really looks like!
  • Wart says he'd sure like to see King Pellinore, the tangled-up guy he previously met in the forest.
  • Next thing you know, Merlyn's cast a spell and he and Wart are in a forest with King Pellinore.
  • Who still hasn't caught the Questing Beast. Oh, well.
  • Pellinore mentions that another knight is on his way to challenge him to a joust.
  • It's Sir Grummore (who was previously chatting with Sir Ector way back in Chapter 1).
  • In the meantime, Wart introduces Merlyn to Pellinore, who tells him about the Questing Beast and asks if he'd like to see some of his fewmets. Fewmets are the Questing Beast's poo: and Pellinore has a collection of this nastiness on his person at all times.
  • It takes all three of them to get Pellinore into his armor.
  • Once the two start jousting, things move pretty slowly. After all, all that armor is totally heavy.
  • After they are both knocked off their horses, they whack at each other with their swords.
  • Poor Pellinore. He's been knocked around so much by Grummore that he's obviously a bit stunned—his brain's not working very well.
  • The fight devolves into ridiculousness, with the two knights sounding like five-year-olds. Not quite, "I know you are, but what am I?" territory, but not too far from it.
  • In the end, they both get so mad that they take one final charge at each other, and knock each other unconscious.
  • Merlyn speaks the magic words again, and they're back near the jousting field. It's now Wart's turn to have a go.

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