And now we have a short chapter. Not much happens in it. The boys—Wart and Kay—are practicing their archery. Merlyn, meanwhile, truly earning his mentor of the year award, sits idly underneath a tree slurping some pudding and ice cream.
“What with the warmth and the [cooked] chicken and the ice cream he had poured over his pudding and the continuing repassing of the boys and the tock of the arrows in the targets… the aged man was soon fast asleep” (53).
I left out a bit of the prose here but White does well in conveying the lazy afternoon quality of this introduction. Once can almost feel themselves transposed into this life; the yummy grilled smoky flavor of chicken breasts, sweet pudding intermixed with the cold iced cream, all while you eat it under a tree, watching your bros carry on a cheerful game of sport. It takes no large feat to see how this is relevant to any young lad on summer vacation. White knows how to depict summer days and one can almost fall asleep simply be reading his evocative prose, that’s how well he wrestles with the sign system.
But, at any rate, the boys soon grow tired by simply firing arrows at static targets. They decide to lay a game of rovers, which is where they go out walking and fire at whatever target they agree upon; a pointless game of fun made up during a period where video games were still many, many years away.
We learn that the boys are able to stand with their bows and arrows at the ready for a half-an-hour, due to their training, and this makes hunting easy for them while playing Rovers. Today, they get lucky and nab a rabbit; after they skin and gut it, they tie it up and take it back to camp, but not before firing a celebratory arrow up in the air—but it gets snatched by a gore-grow. Kay is frightened by this while Wart is furious, since that arrow was his best inanimate buddy. Kay remarks that “it was a witch” (55). This passage is filled with purple prose and reminds me of the end of chapter one where the boys and Cully’s heartbeats were described as one. White seems to fall back on this flowery prose every time he needs to convey an otherwise boring situation.