Were you waiting with bated breath to find out if Taran goes to the river with Llonio to check his nets? Well, the answer is yes. Yes, he does. Whew, I’m glad that tense cliffhanger is resolved!
Lloyd Alexander taught me about osiers in “The Castle of Llyr,” and in “Taran Wanderer” I learned another new term. Weir means a barrier across a river (in addition to being the surname of the family in “Freaks and Geeks”).
A weir is usually constructed to alter the flow of a river, but in this case, as Taran observes, Llonio has set one up to sift the water and catch things floating in the current. Today he’s caught an old horse’s bridle, which Taran thinks is a piece of crap but Llonio is all excited about. They continue foraging, and find some mushrooms, herbs and roots for dinner. Taran bruises his shins on a large rock and curses his luck, but Llonio points out that the large, flat, smooth stone could be useful, and insists on bearing it home with them.
Taran and Gurgi stay the night with Llonio and his family, and in the morning a sack of wheat is discovered in the weir. They all take turns grinding it into meal, and Llonio urges Taran to stay another night. Taran is happy to do so, and over the next few days, he notices how everything the family needs seems to “appear from nowhere.” Taran says he envies Llonio’s luck, and Llonio winks and says he’ll tell him the secret behind it one day.
Next, Taran uses the large stone he tripped over, along with a second one of the same size and some pieces from the bridle, to fashion a labor-saving windmill to grind wheat for the family. He should change his last name from Wanderer to Engineer! After that achievement, he decides it’s time to move on. As he and Gurgi say goodbye to Llonio, Taran asks about the secret of Llonio’s luck. Llonio is like, duh, I have the same luck as everyone else. To be as lucky as he is, he explains, “You need only sharpen your eyes to see your luck when it comes, and sharpen your wits to use what falls into your hands.” Good advice!