So Gawaine swears a solemn oath to Sir Pellas, and Pellas swears a solemn oath to Sir Gawaine, everyone is swearing solemn oaths. They swap horses and gear, as Gawaine pitched last chapter, and I guess they’re the same size since Gawaine fits into Pellas’s armor, no trouble. Gawaine mounts up on Pellas’s horse, and rides off to Lady Ettard’s castle.
Ettard is chilling on her front porch, sipping some iced tea, but when she sees a man dressed exactly like Pellas riding up on Pellas’s horse with Pellas’s helmet, she gets up and goes inside and slams the door on him and glares down at him from a second-story window.
“Avast, what light through yonder window breaks?” Gawaine calls up to Ettard from the courtyard.
“What? Go away!”
“I’m not Pellas!”
“I’m not Pellas! I killed Pellas! We had a whole joust, I defeated him, my name is, uh, my name is something besides Pellas!”
Sharp thinking, Gawaine.
Ettard demands Gawaine take off his helmet before she’ll speak to him further, and when she sees that he’s not Sir Pellas, really and truly, she squeals with delight and invites him inside and sits down on his lap and starts purring about how much she hated Sir Pellas and how thrilled she is he’s finally dead, the man just couldn’t take a hint, and when she stopped hinting he couldn’t take that either, and it had gotten to the point where she almost felt sorry for the man but pity is not reason to marry a knight you hate…
“And now you, Sir Knight, you have slain the man who has haunted me, and come to claim your reward. And you shall have it, oh yes, such delights as I may grant you,” she concludes. Snuggling up to a man in platemail can’t be easy, but Ettard manages it.
“Cool!” says Gawaine. Gawaine’s plan definitely did not include Ettard throwing herself at him like this, but on the other hand, hey, she’s a a pretty lady overly offering him sexual gratification. It’s distracting.
Then Gawaine compounds his error, by identifying himself as a knight of the Round Table, Sir Gawaine, and name-dropping King Arthur and how King Arthur is his uncle.
Ettard squeals with delight, it’s as though she’s always wanted to marry a nephew of King Arthur’s, and she, okay, let’s quote Malory directly again:
“I shall be your woman, and do anything that might please you.”
So, yeah, Gawaine’s plan has gone badly off the rails at the earliest possible point. He’s just the worst knight. Anyway, Gawaine remembers that he isn’t there to sleep with Ettard, he swore multiple solemn oaths to Pellas, and he tries desperately to rectify the situation: he comes up with another plan right there on the spot. It’s not a very good plan.
“Oh Ettard,” he says, “I, I cannot plight my troth at you, for, I am in a real lousy situation vis-a-vis a totally different and not-imaginary lady friend.”
“Aw, poor sweet Gawaine,” Ettard coos. “Poor sweet Pellas-killing Gawaine.”
“I love her, see, and she doesn’t love me…”
“That foolish woman!” cries Ettard. “She’s plainly not good enough for you. Perhaps marrying me will take your mind off her?”
“No, no, I’m definitely way into her,” says Gawaine. “But you can help me maybe in a way that doesn’t involve you and me doing the boyfriend-girlfriend kissy-face stuff. Will you promise to help me win her love?”
“By my fabulous body (which is entirely at your disposal) I so swear!” cries Ettard.
“Okay, great,” says Gawaine. “Now: shocking twist! The story I was telling about the knight who loved the lady, and you promised to get the lady to love the knight, in that story, see, the people aren’t who you think. The lady isn’t just some random damosel from Camelot, no, no, see, the lady is you! You were the lady all along!”
But before Gawaine can fire off the second half of his revelation, which is where he explains that the knight in his story isn’t Gawaine himself, but the secretly-not-dead Pellas… Well, Ettard has his armor off…. and then he loses track of what he was talking about…. and what with one thing and another he forgets to mention it later.