“One slot remains,” says Arthur. “Who should join the knights of the Round Table?”
“I can think of two candidates,” says Pellinore. “I can’t offer up an opinion on which of the two would be a better choice, however. The two I’m thinking of are Sir Bagdemagus and Sir Tor. Now Sir Tor, of course you know he’s my son.”
“Of course,” says Arthur.
“And since he’s my son, I can’t really speak to him. I’m not an impartial judge. If he wasn’t my son, I’d point to his many noble deeds. I’d remind you how well he acquitted himself in the strange adventure that followed after your wedding. I’d even go so far to say as there’s no better knight in your court, or indeed the whole of England. He’s a good man, who tries to do what’s best. He avoids unnecessary bloodshed, but he’s a fine jouster. However he’s my son, so I won’t mention any of that.”
“Hmm,” says Arthur. “Tor is a good one, as good as any of the knights we talked about in the last chapter. He’s soft-spoken, not a braggart, but he’s accomplished. Nice guy.”
“If you say so, sire,” says Pellinore. “I can’t speak to him either way, since he’s my son.”
“Yeah, you know what? I’m going to go with Tor. Bagdemagus can wait for the next opening, I’m sure he’s a good man but we’re not considering him just yet. Inform the men!”
So Arthur gets everyone together and announces that he’s promoting Uriens, Kay, Gawaine, Griftlet, the three guys whose names I’ve already forgotten that’s how unimportant they are, and Tor to the Round Table. Everyone cheers, the knights take their seats, and the only person at the assembly who isn’t laughing and smiling and getting drunk and congratulating folks is Sir Bagdemagus, who knew he was on the short list and is hella resentful at getting passed over. I mean, Gawaine got promoted. Gawaine!
Rather than go complain to Arthur or anyone about it, which he knows would be pointless and rude, he just excuses himself early from the party and grabs his squire and goes off into the woods to sulk. He and his squire find a good sulking spot in the forest, a clearing with a cross, and they dismount and Bagdemagus prays and sulks all night.
In the morning his squire finds a dire prophecy written on the cross! It says that Bagdemagus won’t return to Camelot until after he’s slain a knight of the Round Table.
“Boss, this is some bad mojo here,” says the squire. “This prophecy is one of those dire prophecies, you know, boss, I think we should just slink back to Camelot and not tell anyone about it.”
“No!” rages Bagdemagus. “I’m not going back there until everyone agrees I’m awesome! Let’s go, we’re going to have like fifty strange adventures and return to Camelot covered in glory. Next stop: Cornwall!”
So Bagdemagus rides off, and along the way he finds a coupon entitling the bearer to be counted as a right proper participant in the Grail Quest, which he takes to be a good sign. At some point he stops for a bit by a rock, which happens to be the same rock containing the magic cave which Nimue sealed Merlin up in, and Merlin hears him and bangs on the walls with his fists for Bagdemagus to let him out, but Bagdemagus can’t figure out how to make it happen, the rock is too heavy, and he gives up and leaves, and goes off and has like fifty strange adventures, and eventually he goes back to Camelot and becomes a knight of the Round Table.
So this whole interlude is pointless, because Bagdemagus doesn’t show up again until like Book VI. Malory has a terrible sense of pacing, you know that? It’s not me, you guys. It’s Malory.