Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book I Chapter XXV continued
We skip ahead a few hours, and Arthur and Merlin are riding up the road and come to a familiar-looking pavilion.
“I recognize this tent,” says Arthur. “It’s the tent of that villain Pelli–”
“It’s the tent of King Pellinore, the knight who beat you up so badly a few days ago,” interrupts Merlin. He speaks very quickly so as to prevent Arthur from getting a word in edgewise. “He packed it up and moved it here away from the fountain. Earlier today he met one of the knights in your service, Sir Egglame, that is the man’s name, don’t make fun, and they jousted which joust I could describe for you now but I’m eliding the jousting in favor of the bare facts. Egglame ran away, on account of otherwise Pellinore would have killed him, so, no fault to Egglame there, and Pellinore ran after him and now they’re both halfway to Caerleon, and we’ll bump into Pellinore up the road in just a few minutes.”
“Okay,” says Arthur. He’s more patient with Merlin than I would be. “Hey, I can try out this nice new sword on him!” Arthur brightens at the prospect.
“No no no,” says Merlin. “He’s tired after beating on Egglame and chasing him, and you’d just kill him, which, that’s not going to happen because of all the things he’s going to do in the future. Best to let him live.”
“Best, I said, to let him live.”
“He’ll do you a good turn, and his sons also, and also he’ll be your brother-in-law soon.”
“Fine,” says Arthur petulantly. He fiddles with his new sword and scabbard.
“Hrmph,” says Merlin. “Which do you like more, the sword or the scabbard?”
“Is this a trick question?” asks Arthur.
“No. I’m just making conversation.”
“Obviously the sword is best, because you can kill your enemies with it. The scabbard is just a sword delivery system, like how waffles are just a carrier for butter and syrup.”
“Wrong!” cries Merlin. “It was a trick question! The scabbard is a magic scabbard that causes your blood to remain in your body at all times.”
“That doesn’t sound so useful… no, wait, what if I get cut or someone puts a leech on me unexpectedly… yeah, okay, I can see how that would be useful.”
“Good,” says Merlin. “Hold on to that scabbard. Also, hold still for a moment, I’m going to do some magic.”
Then Merlin casts invisibility on Arthur, such that when the two of them ride past King Pellinore a few minutes later, Pellinore doesn’t see Arthur at all and therefore doesn’t insult him.
Afterwards Arthur muses that perhaps Pellinore is turning over a new leaf. “He didn’t insult me!”
“He would have if he’d seen you,” says Merlin. “I did magic at it.”
Then Arthur and Merlin ride back into Caerlaeon, and everyone is glad to see Arthur, since he’s been gone for days. Arthur tells them all about the crazy mystic adventures of the last few chapters, really everything since he met his biological mother, and everyone marvels about how great Arthur is for having such a crazy mystic adventure with no friends along, just Merlin.
I was all set to comment wondering when exactly waffles were invented but then “no friends along, just Merlin” actually stopped me cold. Goddamn, that’s a beautiful line.
Glad you like.
As we see in Book II, Merlin isn’t anyone’s friend.