Not much happens in this chapter, it seems to be a bridge between better and more interesting things. But, to get right into it.
Wart wakes up from his night as a merlin to an agitated Kay, who demands to know where Wart was since they both have a strict curfew; something which, evidently, was a thing in a castle with a limited number of things to do at night. But I digress.
Kay wants to know where the heck his bro was and Wart is all like, ‘I don’t kiss and tell,’ and remained firm in his silence. This upsets Kay and the two fight. This brings us to another homoerotic bit.
“In a trice they were out of bed, pale and indignant, looking rather like skinned rabbits—for in those days, nobody wore clothes in bed—and whirling their arms like windmills in an effort to do each other a mischief” (86).
There should be a Godwin’s law about stories concerning young boys where, eventually, they will appear naked at some point—Ender’s Game, Harry Potter, and so forth, all have their protagonists in compromising positions at one time or another and we, as the audience, are expected to not notice the uncomfortable fetishization going on. It’s creepy.
But Wart gives Kay a bloody nose and the story goes on. Kay slumps on his bed starting to sob and bemoans the fact that it is Wart who captures Merlyn’s attention; he is feeling left out, you see.
So Wart hurries off to find Merlyn so as to try and convince him to transfigure kay at some point. But Wart is accosted by his nanny woman who notices the black eye that Kay gave him; she swipes him down to the kitchen and Wart acts sullen. Finally, though, he escapes and finds Merlyn.
“He found him [Merlyn] without trouble in the tower room which he had chosen when he arrived. All philosophers prefer to live in towers…” (87).
Just for the record: I would love to live in a tower. Though I am not a philosopher by training, I enjoy the practice, so I can vouch for the book here—towers are pretty cool.
Merlyn is distracted, as usual, but flatly declines to pull Kay into an episode of ‘Magical Misadventures!’ Merlyn tries to find his hat by calling out to it; this part is actually pretty amusing: Merlyn keeps on calling a variety of anachronistic hats to him and finally curses himself, literally, to the Bahamas, which he uses as a bit of advice to Wart against swearing. Wart begs some more but Merlyn sticks to his guns saying that he was, essentially, was ordained by fate to teach Wart, not Kay.
Poor Kay. He really got the short end of this bargain. No, really, he did… I thought I distinctly remember reading in the opening chapters that Sir Ector was looking for a tutor for both of the boys.
Why now that only Wart is the one who is taught? Because he was the one who found him in his cottage when Kay stormed home after the hawking incident? If so, then damn, what a bum deal.
Thankfully, though, Merlyn isn’t a complete ass, just somewhat of one. He talks cryptically for a bit about Wart taking Kay to some clearing beyond the castle, or whatever, where they will find something… fun? He doesn’t say and the chapter ends.