Palomides has a problem, and that problem is named Tristram. Tristram eats at Palomides. He can’t sleep. He can’t make sensible conversation. He can’t ride straight, even. After the tournament ends, Palomides starts off, but crossing a ford his horse slips due to his distracted riding. Palomides’s horsemanship is so poor he simply alights from the saddle and continues on foot and leaves his horse to drown, which is the Arthurian equivalent of smashing your car into someone’s parked car, totalling them both, then getting out of your car and running away on foot. It’s not sensible, and then the guy who’s car you wrecked has to deal with the fallout. And maybe that car had just one payment left on it and had just had its big midlife maintenance done and had just been swapped to a new insurance provider making for a real nightmare headache of paperwork. Plus shopping for a replacement car becomes an exercise in frustration because the guy and his wife are 6’4” and 4’11” respectively which means very few cars fit them both comfortably and they end up with a 2012 model of the same car they’d had in 2008 form, which doesn’t feel like anywhere near enough of a step up to justify all the bother. Jerk.
Sir Palomides doesn’t care. He sits down on the riverbank and watches his horse drown and just starts sobbing and complaining about how he doesn’t deserve any of this.
Along comes a damosel! I looked for a textual justification to conflate her with any of the other damosels we’ve already seen lately, Marcie or Sally or whoever, but no, this is pretty clearly a new damosel. Let’s call her Margarita.
Margarita seeks Sir Mordred. She has a message to Mordred from Sir Gawaine. He’s concerned because Mordred missed out on the Castle of Maidens tournament. It turns out, Malory forgot to mention this but back in Chapter 28 or so, while Tristram and Palomides gave one another the hairy eyeball, Tristram’s sidekick of the moment, Sir Persides, wandered off. Persides bumped into Sir Mordred, like you do, and they jousted a little pre-tournament joust, like you do. Persides walloped Mordred quite well, and maybe would have just laughed and left him to die, but then Mordred protested that he was Sir Gawaine’s kid brother, and that Sir Gawaine, as we all know, is King Arthur’s nephew! So Persides had better not just let Mordred die, is what Mordred is saying.
And so Persides took Mordred to Sir Darras’s place, the same lodge where he and Tristram entertained Palomides in Chapter 32, and left him there to convalesce. As a result, Mordred missed the tournament entirely, and so Gawaine was worried, and so sent Margarita to find him.
“Anyway, have you seen him?” asks Margarita.
“Go to hell,” roars Palomides. He has better things to think about than Margarita and her silly errands.
“Push off! Nobody cares what you want, you damosel!”
Margarita gasps. She’s not accustomed to being spoken to in that manner! She gives Palomides a chance to apologize, and instead he hucks a tomato at her (hurled tomato interpolation by yours truly; they didn’t have tomatoes in Arthurian Times & Places). She storms off, which is pretty reasonable.
As it happens her next stop is Darras’s lodge, where Tristram, Dinadan, and even Mordred all hang out. Mordred and Tristram are both badly wounded, and Dinadan doesn’t have much going on in his life. Margarita passes along her message to Mordred, but mostly she’s interested in trash-talking the incredibly rude knight whom she met along the road.
“Hmm, what was his name?” asks Tristram.
“He didn’t say, he was too busy being unpleasant,” says Margarita.
“He had a shield, right? What kind of heraldry was on it?”
“It was indented with white and black,” says Margarita, according to Malory.
From this detailed description (which doesn’t match the description Palomides’s outfit gets in Chapter 27, when he’s got a black-covered shield) Tristram correctly identifies the rogue knight. “That was Sir Palomides, the good knight. For well I know him for one of the best knights living in this realm.”
I have to imagine Dinadan doing a spit-take, because come on Tristram you and Palomides have been going at like cats and dogs for chapters and chapters and you keep beating him and he hates you and why the hell are you, an established jerk, going so far out of your way to be nice?
Old Sir Darras takes a cart out to pick Palomides up and bring him back to the lodge for dinner, again. Tristram pranks Palomides by pretending he’s already healed of the bad wound he got from Launcelot back in Chapter 34, for some reason. For some additional reason, Tristram and Palomides and Dinadan all have dinner together. Whenever Tristram’s out of earshot, Palomides turns to Dinadan and talks smack about him, how badly Palomides plans on beating him next time they fight, et cetera.
“I marvel that ye boast behind Sir Tristram[’s back] like that,” says Dinadan. “I mean, you and he fought just last chapter and even though he’d lost a bout with Launcelot, and a lot of blood, he still beat you.”
And that shuts up Palomides!