On the day of the battle/trial/execution, everyone assembled in a field outside of Camelot. Guenever was put into the dock, and someone started up the big bonfire with the stake, for burning her at the stake. Malory takes a moment to remind us that back in the good old days murderers got burned at the stake all the time, man, woman, king, queen, it didn’t matter, they were all for burning.
Sir Mador, her accuser, swore to Arthur that he believed Guenever poisoned Sir Patrice, and while he had no explanation for her motive beyond “she’s a woman,” he felt that sufficient. And then Sir Bors declared that wasn’t good enough, that he was confident in her innocence. The only way to logically settle this argument and get to the bottom of what really happened was for the two of them, Bors and Mador, to joust.
Because that makes sense.
Mador was raring to go, but Bors dragged his feet throughout the process. First he took an extra-long time putting on his armor, and then he demanded a new saddle, and on and on. Eventually Mador was out in the field, mounted and armed and ready to go, pacing and shouting at Bors to hurry up and get on his horse. Bors grew ashamed of his dawdling, and sloooowly made his way out to the jousting field.
But then — finally! — a knight all armed, upon a white horse, with a strange shield of strange arms rode out of the woods, passing Bors.
“Whew,” said Bors to himself. Then, louder, “I’m going to cede my position to this strange knight here!”
Mador was pissed. “Seriously?!”
Arthur, too, was annoyed. “What? Who is this guy?”
“He’s the best!” declared Bors, as he dismounted and pulled off his armor and ordered a scotch.
You can tell where this is going. Arthur checked with this mystery knight, and may or may not have recognized him as Launcelot. Either way, he gave the knight the go-ahead.
“You guys are all jerks!” shouted Launcelot at the bleacher full of Knights of the Round Table. “I cannot believe that none of you were willing to fight on your queen’s behalf!”
“It is kind of scandalous,” agreed Bors.
Mador, tired of all this bullshit, bellowed a challenge. “Less talk more joust!”
And so, Mador and Launcelot jousted! Spears broke and horses keeled over, it was a whole thing. Basically Launcelot made Mador look like an idiot.
“All right, fine. Guenever didn’t murder Patrice,” said Mador, at sword-point.
“Huzzah!” All the knights cheered because finally this ugly scene had ended. The royal tomb-engraver scratched out the MURDERED BY GUENEVER line on Sir Patrice’s tomb.
Guenever was so excited not to be put to death, she kissed Arthur!
Afterwards Launcelot, Guenever and Arthur enjoyed some celebratory wine. Arthur thanked Launcelot for stepping up, and Launcelot assured him that he would always be there for Guenever. Hint hint. Then Launcelot reminisced for a bit, telling a little story about how this one time Launcelot lost his sword, and Guenever happened to have a spare sword that had somehow become tangled up in her gown, as though it had fallen off Launcelot during a moment of passion with Guenever; Guenever came to Launcelot’s rescue at that jousting tournament, supplying a sword. In rescuing her, Launcelot was merely returning the favor. “And ever since, I’ve been her knight in right outher in wrong,” he concluded.
Then Mador and Launcelot both got some leeches and some bedrest and were soon good as new!
The end! No moral.
Wait, no, Malory just remembered that Sir Pinel apparently got away with murder. It was supposed to be murder of Sir Gawaine, not Sir Patrice, but still, can’t let that go. So his designated clean-up gal, Nimue, showed up with her husband Pellas. Nimue announced to everyone that Sir Pinel did it, and how Pinel’s target had been Gawaine. (NIMUE BATS CLEANUP 8!)
“I knew it!” cried Gawaine.
Pinel ran off into the countryside. Rather than give chase, Sir Gawaine decided to be the bigger man and drink wine instead, laughing off the murder attempt! The upshot is that the royal-tomb engraver had to give Patrice’s tomb another line, MURDERED BY SIR PINEL WHO WANTED TO KILL SIR GAWAINE BUT THEN HE GAVE THE POISON APPLE TO PATRICE INSTEAD AND PATRICE EXPLODED, AND SIR MADOR ACCUSED QUEEN GUENEVER OF IT BUT THEN SIR LAUNCELOT DEFEATED SIR MADOR IN COMBAT SO SHE WAS EXONERATED. That may be several lines, actually.