The Open Cage is the fifteenth chapter of Taran Wanderer. Here the hero learns some essential truths: how all people have shameful thoughts and feelings; how easy it is to act on selfish urges.

This page contains spoilers. If you do not wish to be spoiled, do not read further.

One winter's day, when it was exceptionally windy, Gurgi came crying to Taran that Craddoc had plummeted down a crevice. Badly wounded, the old shepherd had landed on a ledge. Taran was at once ashamed at his own feelings of exultant freedom, but this resolved in him to help Craddoc at all costs. He and Gurgi slid down the ravine wall, but Taran struck a sharp rock and lay wounded; Craddoc himself, Taran saw, was gravely injured. The shepherd awoke and pleaded with Taran to leave him, but the youth refused: his ties of blood and personal honor drove him to risk his own life for his father's.

Craddoc declared there were no such ties, and confessed he had lied to Taran.

His wife's child had died with her. Taran was not his son; he had only said so because he needed help in breathing life back into his land. Dallben had come and stayed but had never spoken of what he sought. Yet he confided that though at first he had leaned on Taran as a crutch, he had grown to love him as a father loves a son. Taran's hand dropped and found the Battle Horn
that Eilonwy had given him, which contained a Fair Folk summoning. Taran blew the horn and lost consciousness; later he could only recall strong hands and ropes hoisting him up. 

He awoke by the hearthfire to hear Gurgi's account of their rescue by the dwarfish mountaineers. When Taran asked how Craddoc fared, his companion's face wrinkled with misery and tears filled his eyes. Taran's own cry of anguish rang in his ears.

Taran Wanderer
1. Who Am I? | 2. Cantrev Cadiffor | 3. Goryon and Gast | 4. A Matter of Cows | 5. A Judgement | 6. A Frog | 7. Friends in Danger | 8. The Wall of Thorns | 9. The Hand of Morda | 10. The Broken Spell | 11. Dorath | 12. The Wager | 13. The Lost Lamb | 14. The End of Summer | 15. The Open Cage | 16. Taran Wanderer | 17. The Weir | 18. The Free Commots | 19. The Potter's Wheel | 20. The Spoilers | 21. The Mirror
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.