Then the jousting tournament begins, and simply everyone is there. Sir Palamides, but also Sir Gawaine, Gawaine’s brothers Sir Gaheris and Sir Agravaine, Sir Bagdemagus, Sir Kay, Sir Dodinas, Sir Sagramore the Lusty, Sir Li’l Gumret, and Sir Griftlet, plus way more, I’m just listing the ones Palamides defeats on the first day of the tournament.
At the end of the first day, Anguish notices that his favorite knight/minstrel, Sir Tramtrist, hasn’t been participating. He heads over to Tristram to ask what’s up. What’s actually up is that Tristram is waiting for the lovely Isoud to procure a horse and armor, but Tristram can’t say that, so he falls back on the ol’ I-was-nearly-killed excuse, and starts on about how he’s still convalescing.
During this conversation, who should wander up but Famous Hebes! You’ve already forgotten him, haven’t you? He was in Chapter V, delivering a puppy to Tristram. Anyway, Famous Hebes sees Tristram, and hears Anguish calling him ‘Tramtrist,’ and Famous Hebes is all set to correct the king. He’s going to put this whole case of mistaken identity to rights! Oh no!
But it’s all right; Tristram sees Hebes opening his mouth and clearing his throat and going um actually, and Tristram shakes his head and makes a cutting-the-throat motion, and Hebes clams up until Anguish is gone.
Afterwards, Hebes wants to know what’s up.
“They think my name is Sir Tramtrist here,” Tristram says. “Just play along.”
“You don’t want to know why?”
“Not really, no,” says Famous Hebes.
“Well, why are you here?”
“Sir Gawaine promised to make me a knight, and then ran off. I’ve been tracking him down. Don’t you think I’ll make a good knight?”
“Yeah, sure. Tell you what. Meet me tomorrow morning, I’ll knight you myself. I got to do a thing first, is all.”
The lovely Isoud overhears this conversation, of course, and afterwards she corners Tristram. “My darling Tramtrist, I heard you promising to knight that courier,” she says. “You’re some kind of prince, aren’t you?” At this point she cast more love unto him than she had done to-fore, which, interpret that how you will, but we’re fading to black and fading back in the next morning.
The next morning, Sir Palamides defeats still more noble knights — remember Mister 100? Remember King Anguish of Scotland, wait a minute, Malory is checking his notes, uh, he means the otherwise unnamed King of the Scots, of course. And at last, Sir Tristram takes the field, bedecked in all white, with a white horse that the lovely Isoud procured for him.
Palamides has been rocking a black shield and tabard this whole tournament, so the following joust is conveniently color-coded.
Tristram and Palamides joust, but it’s a hugely anticlimactic letdown that even Malory doesn’t get excited about. Tristram wins, Palamides is humiliated, Gawaine and the other Knights of the Round Table congratulate the young knight, the lovely Isoud swoons, Famous Hebes gets knighted and become Tristram’s squire, it’s a whole long thing and I’ve just now described it in about 90% as much detail as Malory himself. No one else wants to fight Tristram after seeing his defeat of Palamides, so he gets declared the champion of the tournament.
So this is hilarious, Tristram turns out to be a sore winner. He’s defeated Palamides, as just recounted, and everyone cheered and declared him the victor already, and he knighted Famous Hebes in celebration. Afterwards Palamides tries to ride away, like a dog with its tail between its legs, and Tristram won’t have that. He rides after Palamides, and demands he turn and they finish the fight that Tristram already won.
Palamides tries to defend himself, but Tristram knocks him down a second time, and demands Palamides yield, which he does.
“Okay, great! I have some demands!” Tristram tells him. “Demand number one: you quit macking on the lovely Isoud, you hear? Leave her alone from now on!”
“This is ridiculously embarassing.”
“Shut up! Shut up and swear! Or here thou shalt die!” says Tristram.
“Fine, I so swear.” Then Palamides pulls off his armor and throws away his harnesses and stomps off, presumably to take up a life that doesn’t involve all this knightly jousting and junk.