Fflewddur orders the others to flee the cabin while he has Llyan under his musical spell. Taran hesitates, but for once concedes some authority to Fflewddur and obeys. The horses have fled, so they escape on foot. Rhun is a poor runner (of course), and Taran and Gurgi have to help him along. When they finally stop to rest, Rhun tells Taran he knows that their situation is all his fault, that he hates “being a blunderer,” and that he wants to be worthy of marrying Princess Eilonwy. Taran is surprised that Rhun knows about the betrothal, and apologizes for giving him such a hard time about his royal birth. Then he says that, as much as they both want to rescue Eilonwy, they’ll never keep up with Magg without horses. They only have one choice: to return to Dinas Rhydnant. When Rhun protests, Taran tells him about the oath he made to keep Rhun from harm. Rhun sadly says he should have known he wasn’t truly in command.
Fflewddur comes running toward them, none the worse for his captivity with Llyan, except for some blisters on his fingers. (Now I have Dire Straits in my head: “Maybe get a blister on your thumb…”) He’s been strumming for nothing and singing for free … until Llyan finally fell asleep, at which point he grabbed their swords and ran off. He warns that they had better get going before she wakes up and comes looking for him. But just then, Kaw shows up, croaking “Eilonwy!” The crow confirms that Magg has taken Eilonwy to the river Alaw. Taran says they can’t lose any time trying to return to Dinas Rhydnant or sending word to the search party for reinforcements. They follow Kaw to the river, where they find hoof prints, boat tracks, and Eilonwy’s bauble. Dun dun DUN!
|These are osiers. You’re welcome.|
The companions use branches and vines to build a raft. Just as they’re finishing, Llyan appears. She spots Fflewddur, gives a “questioning cry,” and then advances, purring. Kaw attacks, flying at her face and pulling her whiskers, giving the others time to escape. But their raft soon starts to fall apart in the strong current. They swim to shore and begin to repair it. Then Rhun suddenly vanishes again, falling into a large hole (amid a clump of osiers, which I had to look up. I love that I can still learn new words from a YA novel at my age). Fflewddur, who has lost all patience with Rhun, cries, “If there were a field with one stone he’d trip over it!” Hee.