The Once and Future King/The Sword in the Stone/Chapter 21

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The Once and Future King - Book I: The Sword in the Stone - Chapter 21

Plot summary

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Wart is sad, because Kay is being made a knight, and he will be only Kay's squire. Merlyn suggests that the Wart learn something, mentioning on the side the worthlessness of education to a laborer. As he warns that this is the last use of his magic, he turns Wart into a badger. Wart picks on a hedgehog and threatens to eat it, and the hedgehog asks for mercy by singing. Finally, when the hedgehog reveals he is one that was in Merlyn's hut, the Wart agrees to let the hedgehog go. Then, the Wart goes to see Badger, who tells a myth about how, when God was about to shape the embryos of the species, most animals requested specialization of their parts to help them. Man, though, said he would settle for the embryo shape, because God must have some plan in His mind. After God reveals man has solved the riddle, he gives them dominion over the other animals. Badger continues, questioning Man's ability at this leadership; he mentions he can only think of seven species that war against themselves. When the Wart protests, he asks, "Which did you like best, the ants or the wild geese?"


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Animals as governments - Badger ends by asking Wart whether he preferred the species that made war or the species that kept peace. Though Wart sees war as possibly noble, Badger reminds him that peace can accomplish much more. Badger also questions if humanity really holds the mankind is taken as an animal species.