Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book II Chapter VII
More of Balin and Balan today! I would have combined this with yesterday’s entry, but it ended up a little wordy.
“We should get a move on,” says Balin.
“Let’s stand around a chat a bit longer,” says Balan.
“Good idea!” says Balin.
So this mountaintop is surprisingly well-trafficked, as before Balin and Balan have moved on, another rider happens along. This one is a dwarf, that is, a guy with dwarfism not a mythological creature, and he’s just headed out of Camelot. He’s yet another character who isn’t given a name by Malory, so I’m going to call him Peter. Peter comes up, sees the two corpses and the two knights. “Well well well, what happened here?”
“Who wants to know? asks Balin.
“Me,” says Peter. “I want to know.”
“Oh, okay then,” says Balin. “I slew the knight, but it was self-defense, we were jousting. Then the maiden came up and I slew…” Balin trails off. “I slew her beloved,” he says carefully. “So she killed herself with his sword.”
“I see,” says Peter.
“I’ve decided to be nicer to women in the future,” Balin adds hastily. “For her sake.”
Peter harrumphs. “You don’t realize how bad you’ve got it,” he says. “This was Sir Lanceor, knight of the Round Table (which hasn’t been established yet) and son of the King of Ireland.”
“I thought he was Irish,” agrees Balin.
“He had a lot of friends and a lot of relatives who altogether have a lot of swords,” Peter explains.
“That makes sense,” says Balin. “Him being a knight and prince and all.”
“They will try to kill you and they will not give up until you’re dead,” Peter explains. He might try drawing Balin a diagram, I’m not saying he doesn’t.
It doesn’t sink in, though: Balin is still more concerned about Arthur being mad at him. “Man,” says Balin. “And now Arthur’s going to be double-mad at me because I killed this guy Lanceor and his girlfriend…” Balin pauses, then resumes. “His girlfriend killed herself. Arthur’s going to be so mad.”
The dwarf continues to try to explain to Balin how bad his situation is, and there’s a hole with no bottom, and up rides King Mark of Cornwall. Mark was just in the area and noticed a commotion and came to see.
Mark sees the dead bodies and has to get everything explained all over again to him, and he gets sad and angry. He calls up some fixers and arranges for a nice tomb to be constructed with a sign saying “HERE LIES LANCEOR THE SON OF THE KING OF IRELAND, KILLED BY BALIN ALLEGEDLY IN SELF-DEFENSE DURING A JOUST; AND WITH HIM THE LADY COLOMBE HIS PARAMOUR, WHOM BALIN INSISTS DIED OF A SELF-INFLICTED STAB WOUND IN THE CENTER OF HER CHEST, WHICH IS A STORY ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN WOULD LOOK ASKANCE AT, I’M JUST SAYING.”
I’m wondering if this Balin story is going somewhere, or if this is Malory’s idea of comic relief.