Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book VI Chapter X
Trigger warning: Mention of rape.
So in the meanwhile we’ve got Launcelot and Yuffie, right? They’re riding along to Launcelot doesn’t know where, but he waits until he’s well away from Castle Turquine before he asks Yuffie exactly what the deal is.
“Up this road there’s a knight who’s been hoving around, and when a lady passes by, BOOM! He does a terrible things to her. We’re talking ravishment and theft.”
“This guy is a knight?”
“He says he’s a knight.”
“Knights shouldn’t run around stealing and mugging, and they definitely shouldn’t ravish the ladies. I feel ashamed to call myself a knight, this guy running around free.”
“Well, that’s why I called you in on this.”
“All right, so, here’s what we do. You go on ahead, and if this knight appears and tries to steal from you or ravish you, I’ll jump out of hiding and give him some what-for.”
Yuffie is fine with this plan. I don’t know that I’d be willing to go along with it, but on the other hand, she’s witnessed Sir Launcelot du Lake going about his knightly business, so I guess she believes in him. Regardless, she rides on ahead and, sure enough, once she’s gone around a corner a knight comes riding out of the woods with a squire. Quick-like-a-bunny he dehorses her and dismounts himself and some ravishment is maybe going to happen but before Malory has any reason to get remotely graphic, Yuffie shouts for Launcelot!
Launcelot rides up hard and fast, shouting invective about what a terrible knight this guy is, to be doing what he’s doing to Yuffie. Where did this knight learn to be a knight? Nowhere reputable!
The knight, Sir Peris of the Thuggish Woods, doesn’t even try to defend himself from this verbal barrage. He just draws his sword and advances upon Launcelot. Launcelot throws a spear at Peris and draws his sword, but before they close to melee, boom, spear into the neck, helmet shattered, Peris keels over and bleeds out and dies.
“Now hast thou they payment that thou long hast deserved!” cries Launcelot. “Jerk!”
“I know, right?” says Yuffie. “This guy here, Peris, he’s basically like as Sir Turquine, only instead of ruining knights he ruined ladies. And instead of taking them prisoner or maiming them, he raped them. And Turquine was motivated by vengeance, whereas Peris was motivated by, I guess, pure malice. But other than that, they were just alike. Yeah. I mean, hey, you killed them both, right?”
“Sure. What’s next on the agenda?” Launcelot is all business.
“This was it, actually,” answers Yuffie. “You’re free to go. Your duty to me is completed. Yay for you. Listen, you take care of yourself, all right? And if you ever need, like, a reference for a job application, I’m totally willing to vouch for you. Sir Launcelot du Lake, the Man from Benwick, awesome guy all around. Or if you’re ever accused of some vile crime, I dunno, treason against Arthur’s court and violating the most sacred oaths of knighthood? I’d be a character witness. I can’t imagine that ever happening, though.”
“Well, that’s mighty knightly of you…”
“But one thing, sir knight, methinketh ye lack.”
“I’ve heard all the rumors, and I know you’re single.”
Launcelot looks uncomfortable. “If you’re planning on propositioning me…”
“No, no, no. I heard all the rumors, I said. I know about you and Guenever —“
“We’re just very good friends!” shouts Launcelot, way louder and more forcefully than necessary.
“They say she put a magic spell on you and now you can never enjoy the love of any other woman…”
“Listen, Yuffie. First off, don’t defame Guenever like that. Second, yes, it’s true, I’m single. You know why I’m single? It’s because I am all about the strange adventures! You know why I left Camelot at the start of this Book and why I was so eager to get moving last chapter before Kay and the others could drag me back to Camelot? Because it’s all ladies this and pageants that and eating grapes under arbors and reciting poetry and rubbing her feet after Arthur has gone off to bed, and you know what that life does to you? It makes you soft.
“Camelot. Every day I’m there, I wake up and I think, I can’t believe it. I’m still in Camelot; there are so many villains — Turquines, Perises — they’re out there, in the wilderland, and every day they’re getting stronger and every day I’m in Camelot, I’m getting weaker.
“I meet a nice lady, I fall in love, I get married, then there has to be a big wedding, and I’ve got to spend all this time sleeping with my wife and honeymooning and consoling Guenever, and I get soft and then I start to lose at jousts and tournaments and duels. Who that useth paramours shall be unhappy, and all thing is unhappy that is about them. Knights who do all that mushy stuff lose out to knights who focus with monomaniacal determination on training and jousting. And I don’t lose.”
Monologue over, Launcelot rides off, in a huff.
Every knight gets everything he wants. I wanted a strange adventure, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like garderobe service. It was a real choice strange adventure, and when it was over, I never wanted another.
last comment for today: I find myself thinking of T.H. White’s gynephobia.
Seriously, Lancelot sounds like an angsty teenage boy. I know, I dated ’em.