We’re shifting gears for the next nine or ten chapters. Out with Sir Tristram the randomly bloodthirsty, in with Sir Breunor, aka the Black Knight (one of many), aka the Knight in an Ill-Fitting Suit, or La Cote Male Taile.
It goes down like this. One day Arthur’s hanging out at court, just him and Sir Kay and Sir Lamorak and Sir Gaheris and probably some other knights also. In walks, with no introduction or hesitation, this young guy in an ill-fitting suit. It’s a nice suit, expensive, cloth of gold and belted and clearly cut for someone roughly twice this kid’s size. Also: stab holes.
“Have you been helped?” asks Arthur, looking up from his issue of the Squared Jousting Arena.
“Sire, I’m awesome. I’m here to become a knight. You see, my name is Breunor, the Black…” the kid begins, but Sir Kay cuts him off.
“Sir Ill-Fitting Suit is more like it, am I right? I’m right, of course I’m right!” Kay chortles.
“Listen, Sir Ill-Fitting Suit,” says Arthur. He has not been paying close attention. “What’s this about? How did you get in here? Did someone leave the door open again? Do you want your suit tailored, is that what you’re here for?”
“Sire, sire, I can explain,” says Breunor. “My father was a worthy knight. He was! And recently he was out hunting, and lay down the middle of the forest to take a nap, like you do, and along came his hated enemy, who stabbed him to death. While he wore this very suit! Not the enemy, my father. You see? It has all these stab holes in it. I wear it to remind myself of my oath to avenge Dad’s death. So you can see why I should become a knight.”
“Hmm,” says Arthur. “I’m not easily swayed by fanciful tales of stabbings.”
Sir Lamorak pipes up. Or maybe it’s Sir Gaheris? Malory can’t be expected to keep track of everything, people. Anyway. One of them. “Say sire, you know who Sir Ill-Fitting Suit here reminds me of? A young Launcelot. A little bit around the eyes — you know what I mean? Launcelot got knighted and that turned out well. Maybe you should think about knighting this kid.”
“Mmm, well, fine. I’ll allow it. We’ll go on a hunt tomorrow, then, to see how it goes. Afterwards, assuming the hunt goes well, I’ll knight you.”
The next day Arthur and most everybody goes on a hunt. For reasons Malory doesn’t bother to go into, even though the hunt is in his honor, Breunor stays at Camelot. It’s just him, Guenever, and a skeleton crew of a dozen or so other knights stuck at home. Also for reasons Malory doesn’t explain, at Camelot there’s a stone tower containing a captured lion. You with me so far? Okay. The lion escapes and starts rampaging around Camelot. Arthur’s not home, basically none of the knights are home, it’s just Breunor and Guenever and eleven other knights who’d been deemed too puny to go hunting. Breunor steps up while everyone else panics and runs around in circles! He kills the lion! He’s the hero! No way was this carefully staged! There just happened to be a lion!
Anyway. After Arthur gets back he congratulates Breunor for saving the day. “Man, and to think Kay here was calling you Sir Ill-Fitting Suit,” he says. “No more of that derogatory nickname. Full knight status. Sword!”
Someone hands Arthur a sword. He does the shoulder tap thing. “I knight thee Sir Breunor the Black!”
“Sire,” says Breunor, “I ask that you knight me Sir Ill-Fitting Suit, in honor of this day and to rub everyone’s nose in how awesome I am and what a jerk Kay was for being rude to me yesterday.”
“Fair enough. Sir Ill-Fitting Suit I dub thee, and let all in Camelot know you by that name!” cries Arthur.
“Ha!” cries Breunor. “That shows you, huh Sir Kay?”
“Is it really me that’s getting insulted here?” Kay asks Arthur quietly. “I mean, I’m a big boy, I can take it, but we’re supposed to call this kid Sir Ill-Fitting Suit?”
“Enh, let him have his fun.”