Launcelot was up, doing early-morning things. He saw from out a window when a giant boar ran past Castle Blank, chased by hunters. These hunters were having no success: they’d brought along plenty of dogs, but the boar was just too gigantic for the dogs to successfully tear into. Then Launcelot espied a horse tied up inside Castle Blank. It was all ready to go, with saddle, hunting gear, spear, sword, full tank of gas, the whole bit. On impulse, he mounted this horse and rode off after the boar!
Sir Launcelot chased this boar, all alone… no, Malory never said there were a bunch of other hunters with dogs, shut up… and eventually he caught up to it, just outside a hermitage.
Despite Launcelot’s incredible jousting abilities, he wasn’t the greatest hunter in the world. When he charged the boar, intent on skewering it with his spear, instead Launcelot ended up sprawled on the ground on top of several pieces of horse. And by “ends up” I mean he was there for only a few moments, because straightaway the boar started goring him.
He might have had his legs gored up pretty bad, but Launcelot still had a sword! He anticlimactically sliced the boar’s head off, and then he lay there bleeding to death.
Fortunately this all had happened on a hermit’s front lawn. The hermit in question poked his head out to see what all the ruckus was about.
When he saw Launcelot lying there, he was moved with compassion. “You poor fella,” murmured the hermit, as he cautiously approached Launcelot.
“ARGLE BARGLE STILL CRAZY YAR YAR YAR!” shouted Launcelot, when he heard the hermit approach. “KILL NOW! BLOOD!”
Naturally the hermit drew back; this was not something he signed up for. “….Sir knight?”
“Go thy way and deal not with me,” commanded Launcelot. It was the first coherent sentence he’d said in years.
The hermit fetched some knights, who loaded Launcelot onto a cart and hauled him inside the hermitage. The hermit treated Launcelot’s wound, and he slowly recuperated. Boar meat and bed rest, the traditional cure! Unfortunately once the hermit ran out of boar meat to feed Launcelot, there were only enough berries and grubs to feed one person. Sir Launcelot lost all the weight he’d regained back at Castle Blank, then wandered off.
An indeterminate amount of time later, Sir Launcelot stumbled on the city of Corbin, which was the name of the town by Castle Corbin, which you might recall from Book XI as the home of Elaine, Galahad, the Grail, and all kinds of weird visions. When Launcelot wandered into town, everyone there mistook him for a hobo. He got all the usual hobo treatment, like mud thrown at him. After he broke the arms of a few people who’d tried to get too close, someone thought to call in knights. The Corbin knights took one look at Launcelot and recognized him as, at the very least, an incredibly goodly man. So naturally they did the decent thing: they got him a doghouse to live in, inside a fenced-in area. They threw meat into the enclosure a couple of times a day.
More time passed! And then the ruler of Corbin, King Pellam, knighted his nephew Castor one Candlemas (or as we call it now, Groundhog Day). Castor celebrated his knighting by giving everyone gowns as presents. I’m not sure whether this was a Candlemas thing or a knighting thing, but either way, Sir Castor had a big pile of gowns, which he passed out to everyone in the court, including the court’s fool, that was Sir Launcelot.
Pellam and his court didn’t realize that the crazy forest hermit dog man and Sir Launcelot were the same guy, remember. Although when he put on a gown, watch out! According to Malory, Launcelot was the seemliest man in all the court, and none so well made. Guy looked good in a gown, is what he’s saying.
Launcelot, all a-gown’d and let out of his enclosure for the occasion, wandered around in the Corbin gardens before he stretched out for a nap by a well. (LAUNCELOT NAP 6!) And then Elaine, the mother of Launcelot’s son, who had been living in Corbin this whole time, just happened to wander by with a friend. She saw him and recognized him! Sir Launcelot du Lake!
Naturally Elaine collapsed into tears, because that’s the girly thing to do I guess. Rather than wake Launcelot up, she ran to her father.
“Daddy! Daddy! I need something from you!”
“I was walking in your garden and I saw Sir Launcelot sleeping by the well!”
“That sounds unlikely.”
“It’s true! It’s true! He’s probably crazy!”
“All right, all right, I’ll handle this.”
Pellam summoned his brain trust: Dame Brisen, plus three guys who didn’t matter. They all made their way to the garden, where they took a gander at the sleeping knight.
“Yep, that’s definitely Launcelot,” said Brisen. She rubbed her hands together. “Okay, we need to handle this real delicate-like, see? Otherwise he’ll probably freak out and try to kill us.”
“Well, we don’t want that.”
“No, we don’t. So here’s what we do. I’ll cast deeper slumber on him, so we can transport him into one of the towers without his waking up. It directly parallels an encounter between Launcelot and Morgan le Fey back in Book VI.”
So Brisen did her magic, and then they hauled Launcelot off to one of the towers. This particular tower had the Grail in it, which is in no way explored or explained. It was just there. Brisen had Launcelot dumped out next to the Grail, then she takes off its little Grail-cover and left him there overnight. For hours, Sir Launcelot basked in the radiance of the Grail, and then, boom, he’s healed. (GRAIL SIGHTING 5!)
“Dang I’m sore,” he said when he woke up. “I feel like I haven’t slept in a bed in four, maybe five years.”