Study Guide

The Once and Future King Book 2, Chapter 10

By T.H. White

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Book 2, Chapter 10

  • It's now the night before Arthur's big battle with King Lot's men. Uh oh. Arthur's army is outnumbered by about 3 to 1. This doesn't look good.
  • Merlyn assures Arthur he will win the battle… but there's still that thing that's bothering him. Something he's sure he's forgotten to tell Arthur—and it's super important.
  • Merlyn starts to count things off on his fingers. He's warned Arthur about Guenever, right? And about Guenever and Lancelot, right?
  • Arthur disregards the warning about Guenever and Lancelot, since it's "base" (or too impolite to discuss in polite company).
  • Did Merlyn remind Arthur to make sure he always protects Excalibur's sheath? What about telling him about his father?
  • Arthur tries to shut all this down, because he doesn't want to know too much about the future.
  • Merlyn then proceeds to tell Arthur a parable about Death and a man from Damascus. To avoid Death, he decides to ride to a different town. The joke's on him, though, because when he arrives in the other town, Death is there waiting for him: he was actually supposed to meet him in that town, which is why he was surprised to see him in Damascus the day before.
  • The upshot of this is that people can't escape their destiny.
  • In fact, Merlyn tells Arthur, both of them are destined to return. Plus, a fancy-schmancy Latin phrase will be inscribed on Arthur's tomb, which means: Here lies Arthur, the once and future King.
  • Arthur hopes that in the future the people will remember his Round Table.
  • Merlyn just looks sad, and Arthur frantically wonders what the future people will be like.

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