Online Study Guide: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart - Book Summary|
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THE CRYSTAL CAVE: LITERATURE SUMMARY / NOTES
The sign of the axe is a sign Merlin will see again in the future and one
which will lead him towards his destiny. When he runs away it, however,
it occurs to him that this is the first time he runs away from solitude
and towards the light. The standing stone in the field beside the shed
where Merlin finds shelter is yet another sign of the path upon which
the god leads him. The arrival of the patrician rider is another of the
steps of Merlinís destiny. We will learn later that this is Uther, the
brother of Ambrosius, and his secretive liaison will prepare us for his
later overwhelming desire for Ygraine, Arthurís mother.
New names in this chapter: Uther, the brother of Ambrosius
Merlin acknowledges that the god has provided for him again with shelter,
food from the riderís saddlebags, and even the riderís cloak which he
left to provide warmth for his horse. He is determined not to sleep, hoping
to return the cloak before the rider returns, but he nods off anyway.
When he awakes, he has no idea what has brought him out of his light slumber
for even the animals in the shed are still. He sees the rider returning
from his tryst, but Merlin has no time to return the cloak and must hope
for the best. It is then that he realizes that the horse he sees is not
the mysterious riderís horse, but instead a white bull and that the man
is not the rider who had arrived at the farm so late. Suddenly, the bull
charges and the man deftly lassoes it with a rope he carries. Each time
the bull charges the man lassoes another loop around its neck until he
finally leaps onto its neck. Merlin, fearing the man needs help, gets
up and begins to move in the direction of this human-animal dance. Before
he could be seen, however, the man pulls on the rope and the horns of
the bull, pulls back its head so its throat is exposed, and runs a knife
across it. The bull collapses as Merlin runs from his hiding place, screaming,
towards them. The man seems to smile when he sees Merlin and yet his face
is actually without expression at the same time. He catches his feet in
the cloak around his shoulders, falls, and strikes his head and passes
The scene with the bull and the expressionless man is so fantasy-like that
it is, no doubt, another of Merlinís visions.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Crystal Cave".
. 09 May 2017