In which Merlin makes a surprise reappearance
Then things got weird. Or as Malory puts it, anon there befell a marvelous adventure. I think marvelous adventure must be one step up from strange adventure. First, the doors and windows of the hall all slammed shut of their own accord! Second, totally darkness in the hall, even though a wide assortment of torches and candles and lanterns had all been set up! All the knights freaked out, because this was crazy!
Arthur rose to his feet, to calm the crowd. “Everyone, everyone, it’s going to be okay. This is just a strange adventure. We’ll get through this. I’m sure things are going to get stranger before they become less strange.”
Around this time someone pointed out the two men standing in the middle of the hall. No one saw them arrive; they were just there, all of a sudden. How the knights saw them in the supposed total darkness is unaddressed. The first man was a good old man, and an ancient, clothed all in white. Although Merlin had been inside a magic cave since the start of Book IV, this guy was basically Merlin. With him was the second man, and Malory tries to be coy about this reveal but screw that, it was Sir Galahad. He wore all red armor, but no sword, just an empty scabbard.
“Hello!” said Galahad, because everyone’s staring at him. He waved.
Merlin (I’m just going to call him Merlin) cleared his throat. “Sire, allow me to introduce Sir Galahad, kin of both King Pellam and, going back far enough, Joseph of Arimathea. He comes now to accomplish all kinds of great mystic deeds.”
This sunk in over the course of a long pause.
Arthur grunted, to break the silence. “Huh. Um. Nice to meet you, Galahad. Welcome to Camelot.”
Galahad stepped forward to, I don’t know, shake Arthur’s hand or something, but Merlin intervened. He grabbed Galahad by the shoulder and hissed at him to take his red armor off and put on his nice new red ermine coat. Galahad didn’t see why he had to change out of his armor so soon after putting it on, but he obliged the old man.
“It’ll have to do,” sniffed Merlin. You can totally see why I figure this has to be Merlin in a surprise cameo. Merlin snapped his fingers and pointed to the Siege Perilous, which as you may recall Kay had put a slipcover over.
In response to Merlin’s signal, Launcelot lifted the slipcover up off the Siege Perilous. And whoa! The golden writing on it had changed! Now it said This is the siege of Galahad, the haut prince.
“There, you see?” Merlin barked at Galahad. “Your seat. Sit!”
Galahad sat. “Thanks, Merlin. You can go now. If you see King Pellam, tell him hi for me? Also say hi to Petchere.”
To answer your question, no, I don’t know who Petchere is, either.
And then Merlin left! The only casualties of his visit were twenty horsemen whom he drafted to escort him back to wherever he was going, which fellows were never seen or heard from again. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, because thank God Merlin was gone. They’d lost twenty horsemen, but they got off light.
With Merlin gone the whole of the hall erupted into chatter. Everybody marveled at Galahad’s entry! The roar of conversation got pretty loud, as all the knights clumped up around Galahad, murmuring about how amazing he was to sit in the Siege Perilous (even though Percivale already had) and agreeing that surely Galahad would be he by whom the Sangreal shall be enchieved, for there sat never none but he, but he were mischieved. Which is, like, almost a pun, and also almost coherent, so I guess Malory gets partial credit and a C+ there.
Launcelot gave a short speech about how great Galahad was, and reminded everyone that he was Galahad’s father. Then Bors reminisced about meeting Baby Galahad back in Book XI, and how he had always known that upon pain of [Bors’s] life this young knight should come unto great worship. And on and on! Everybody just loooooooooved Galahad.
So it was no wonder that Guenever stumbled in to tell everyone to quiet down, and to see what all this fuss is about. When she saw a knight sitting in the Siege Perilous, which had never happened before (except that time when it did) she was dumbstruck, just like everyone else.
“Who is that boy? Doesn’t he look like Launcelot? He does! I bet he’s the son of Launcelot by that trollop whose name I don’t say, the one who used enchantments to rape him! That boy, what’s his name? Galahad!” Guenever answered her own question. “I want to meet this boy, because he’s surely a very fine boy. His father is a very fine man, after all.”
“Absolutely.” Arthur chose to pretend that Guenever had been speaking to him, rather than herself. “Check this out, in fact!” Arthur had Galahad to stand up from the Siege Perilous, then pulled off the slipcover that Kay had put on to cover Merlin’s golden writing. “See? It’s got his name on it!”
Gawaine made a show of looking unimpressed. “Yeah, awesome.” His head secretly filled with thoughts about how he, Gawaine, should be the one to “enchieve the Sangreal.”
“Yes sir!” Arthur leaned back in his throne and put his feet up, the picture of self-satisfaction. “Everything’s looking up for King Arthur and his merry knights at Camelot! We’ve got Galahad, the prophesied best knight, and we’ve got his father Launcelot, who uttered the prophecies. It’s all very wondrous and mystical and clearly we are blessed. Galahad, my boy, welcome to Camelot, where we’re going to do great things together.”
“Thank you, sir.” Galahad was nothing if not polite.
“Now c’mon, I have this levitating stone with a sword stuck in it that I want to show you.” Arthur grabbed Galahad by the wrist and tugged him off towards the riverbank.
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