SMASH CUT to Arthur’s court, as he welcomes the three men to the big Pentecost feast.
“Two men and a third man who’s seven feet tall!” cries Arthur. “As strange adventures go, that’s… pretty tame, actually. Now I’m worried there’s another shoe that’s going to drop.”
“Sire,” says the tall man. “I… hold on.” For the tall man is falling over! His two aides help him up, and he leans upon them. “That’s better. Sire.”
“You all right there, guy?”
“Listen, sire, being this tall is harder than it looks. I have a very high center of gravity. But I’m okay! I’m okay.”
“Mmm. Gawaine said Peter was with you…”
“Sire!” The tall man is finally ready to speechify. “I have come! God bless King Arthur, and God bless the Round Table, and all the knights and ladies!”
Everyone applauds, in the way that the studio audience on a talk show will applaud the host saying ‘we’ve got a great audience tonight.’
“I come, sire, to request, nay, to demand, three gifts!”
“Oh really,” says Arthur.
“Most politely and courteously do I demand my three gifts, sire, with great worship and tremendous respect, and I will make my first request/demand now, and the other two at the next Pentecost, in a year.”
“I generally like to condense these strange adventures into a single day,” says Arthur. “But all right. Let’s hear your first demand.”
“Sire, I humbly insist that you provide me with food and lodging and an allowance for the next year.”
“Hmm. Well, on the one hand, that’s going to keep this strange adventure percolating for a year. On the other hand, you’re very tall. So, what the hey, sure. All right. One year, room and board, for… what’s your name, stranger?”
“It’s a secret!”
Arthur shrugs. “Whatever. I don’t really care. Kay! Kay!” Arthur beckons his foster brother, the steward of Camelot, to the front. “Take care of this guy, and keep him out of my hair, all right? Fete him with meat and cheese and wine and whatever, like he was a guest. And mutton! Plenty of mutton to go round.”
“Are you sure this dude isn’t a con artist, bro? He didn’t tell us his name, and normally when knights ask for things it’s weapons and armor and horses and quests and damosels and so on. Pretty-boy here just wants to be fed. If I’m going to put him up for a year, I’m going to make him work for it. Hey, Pretty-boy!” Kay snaps his fingers. “C’mon, Prettyboy, we’re gonna go down to the kitchen and I’m going to teach you to peel anachronistic potatoes, capiche?”
Sir Gawaine and Sir Launcelot do not cotton to this. They get on Kay’s case about his mockery of Prettyboy: Gawaine feels that since he authorized Prettyboy’s arrival in Camelot, an attack on Pretty-boy is an attack on him. Launcelot just thinks it’s unseemly.
“He won’t tell us his real name, and he’s clearly a dandy who’s never worked a day in his life,” counters Kay. “Look at those hands! No calluses at all! So, he’s Prettyboy. Beaumains. I call them like I see them.”
“I’m telling you, this will turn around on you,” says Launcelot. “Remember how you made fun of Sir Breunor?”
“Okay, so, first of all, that hasn’t happened yet because that’s in Book IX and this is Book VII,” says Kay. “Elementary continuity error! Secondly, when that happens, it’ll be totally different! Breunor acted, will act, I mean, like a knight in disguise, demanding to be treated all nice and weapons and stuff. Pretty-boy just wants food and drink and lodging. Am I running a hotel? I am not. He wants to be put up, he has to work for it.”
So Kay puts Prettyboy down among the servant-boys and has him eat there, and Prettyboy clearly feels he deserves better treatment but reluctantly he takes it. Launcelot and Gawaine both invite him to come up to their rooms after dinner and get some real knightly stuff, beef and so on, but Prettyboy rebuffs them. But politely he rebuffs them! Because — and Malory just can’t keep a secret you guys — Prettyboy is actually Gawaine’s brother Gareth in disguise!! Oh!! Oh wow!!
For a full year, Prettyboy works in the kitchens among the servants, and only gets out to watch jousting tournaments, which he can only get into because Gawaine and Launcelot pay his admission fees. At some of these jousting tournaments there’s intramural caber-tossing and stone-throwing and shot put, and Prettyboy kicks ass at these competitions, which are the only ones he’s allowed to compete in. Kay has a big laugh about this.