Shortly after Sir Breunor’s knighting, a damosel named Marcie strolled into court. She was merely the latest in a long line of damosels Malory declines to provide with a name. He gives her a nickname (several, actually), but Breunor got a real name and a nickname both; why be stingy? Marcie surely deserved a name, for she strode boldly and took no guff. While she wasn’t armed, she did have armor, which was quite unusual. Specifically, Marcie wore a shield.
Malory describes this shield lovingly: it was big, black, and emblazoned with an image of a white hand gripping a sword. The design was a stark presentation of negative space, Malory says, though not in those words.
“Sire! King Arthur!” Marcie bellowed. “I have arrived! I am come to your court!”
“Yeah, I see that,” said Arthur. There’s a pause. “You have a nice shield there.”
“I have borne this shield over many a bridge and across forests and down desolate country lanes, sire, here to Camelot! There once was a knight, whose shield this was!”
“Great questing and jousting did he undergo, to earn this shield!”
“He encountered a rival, and they fought!”
“As rivals do, sure,” said Arthur.
Marcie gestured wildly to the heavens. “A clash of titans! To a draw they fought, and then their separate ways they went!”
“Really there’s a point of diminishing returns with the portentous statements…”
“Alas, this virtuous knight died of his wounds! But not before compelling me to bear this his shield to Camelot! There to find some great knight to undertake the quest!”
Arthur made the wrap-up sign with his hands. “Can you sum it up for us?”
“Strange adventure, everybody!” Arthur rapped his throne’s armrest, to get everyone’s attention. “We’ve got a strange adventure here! We need a volunteer, because I’m sure as hell not doing it!”
Sir Kay looked around, saw no one else going for it, so stepped forward and picked up the shield. “I’ll handle it, I guess.”
“You! Sir knight!” cried Marcie. She pointed fiercely at Kay. “Shield-taker! What is your name?”
“Uh, yeah.” Kay gave her a look. “I’m Kay. Sir Kay, the seneschal. Brother of King Arthur, and professional caterer? You may have heard of me…?” Kay smiled his most disarming smile. “I’m pretty well-known.”
“Sir Kay! Put down that shield!” Marcie slapped it out of his hands.
“This strange adventure demands a great knight! Not you!”
Kay was taken aback. “Okay, that, that seems kind of unfair… listen, I didn’t want to go on your stupid strange adventure anyway, I was just looking at your dumb shield…” He stomped out.
Marcie ignored him. She closed her eyes and stood still as a statue for, Malory says, a great while. Most of the folks at Camelot were weirded out by her behavior, but Breunor found it charming.
“Fair damosel,“ he said, “I will take the shield and that adventure upon me.”
Marcie opened her eyes, did the whole fierce-pointing thing again, and demanded to know Breunor’s name.
“They call me Sir Ill-Fitting Suit,” he said proudly. “It started out as a derogatory nickname but I’m taking it back!”
“As this strange adventure ends, your very skin will be as perforated as your clothes, which badly need tailoring!” cried Marcie.
“Yeah, well, when that happens I’ll be sure not to go crying to you for medical treatment,” stammered Breunor.
But apparently that was that. Sir Breunor collected a few squires, some armor, a handful of spears, and a couple of horses. He and Marcie mounted up, but as they turned to go, Arthur stopped Breunor and took him aside.
“Listen, Breunor… I mean, Sir Ill-Fitting Suit… are you sure you want to go off with this woman? You may be getting in over your head, here. I suspect Marcie here isn’t playing with a full deck.”
“Never fear, sire! This is my first strange adventure and I promise to do you proud!”
“Come, foolish knight!” cried Marcie. “We ride anon, my dimwitted and badly-dressed champion!”
“See, that’s what I’m talking about,” said Arthur, but Breunor wouldn’t hear any more about it.
Kay watched them ride off. He was annoyed at Breunor and Marcie both: Breunor was really holding a grudge about Kay’s nickname for him (which Kay still thought was hilarious) and Marcie insulted him to his face. “Hey, Dagonet,” he said, calling over Arthur’s court jester. “Dagonet, go catch up to Sir Ill-Fitting Suit over there and joust him on the road. It’ll be hilarious.”
Dagonet was always game for a prank, so he mounted up and rode after the pair. Dagonet had a horse and armor and all the usual knightly accouterments, by the by; he was actually Sir Dagonet of the Round Table. Some sources describe him as having been knighted as a joke, and others defend him as an excellent knight in addition to an expert physical comedian. For purposes of this story, Malory falls in the former camp.
So Dagonet challenged Breunor to a joust, but when Breunor tried to joust him, he did a pratfall instead.
“Dip!” cried Marcie. At this point Malory invented a nickname for her, Ill-Speaker, on account of she was all the time insulting people in general and Breunor in particular. “Sir Ill-Fitting Suit, what kind of knight are you? King Arthur’s court jester shows up to joust you, and you go for it? You just come across as an idiot. You know that, right?”
As Breunor and Marcie rode along, leaving Dagonet behind, Marcie listed off all the ways Breunor was a lousy knight. It’s Sir Prettyboy and Linet all over again; Malory doesn’t even try to hide the similarities. Breunor took her abuse like a trooper, probably because Malory thinks this kind of thing is funny.
Eventually another knight approached from behind them — Sir Bleoberis, Launcelot’s cousin! You remember him from all the hot Launcelot’s-cousin action in Book VIII. Bleoberis jousted Breunor, for some reason. Malory does not explain why. Bleoberis dehorsed Breunor easily; you might think Bleoberis would be stuck jobbing to the hot young main-character of the day, but no. Sir Ill-Fitting Suit picked himself up and drew his sword, but Bleoberis declined to continue the joust.
“We had our fun. I proved my point,” he said.
“What are you, chicken?” crowed Marcie. She is not very good at making friends.
“Don’t mind Ill-Speaker here. Frankly I consider it an honor to have been dehorsed by you, Sir Launcelot’s Cousin,” said Breunor. Marcie found this unsatisfying but she was the only one.