Meanwhile, elsewhere, Arthur and Launcelot continue their argument from Chapter 35. “No one in the Castle of Maidens has seen hide or hair of Tristram since you nearly killed him back in Chapter 34,” worries Arthur. “Maybe he wandered off somewhere and bled to death! Then we’re out a first-tier, AAA-rating knight.”
“Boss, I get that you blame me for his departition, but Lord knows I think the world of Sir Tristram. He’s a jerk, sure, but who isn’t? He’s done me more than one good turn, in adventures that Malory has declined to describe. But when men be hot in deeds of arms oft they hurt their friends as well as their foes. If he is bleeding to death somewhere, I’ll find him! In fact, I’ll do better than that!”
And Launcelot calls in the Tristram Rescue Squad, consisting of Sir Launcelot and ten knights. They swear on the Bible to find him and bring him to Camelot, or die trying.
TRISTRAM RESCUE SQUAD ROLL CALL!
Sir Launcelot! (best at everything)
Sir Ector-the-Lesser! (perpetual second-stringer)
Sir Bors Junior! (son of King Bors)
Sir Bleoberis! (Sir Bors’s brother)
Sir Blamore! (Sir Bors’s other brother)
Sir Lucan! (previously known as Sir Lucas, way back in Book I when he was Kay’s first assistant caterer, explicitly that same guy)
Sir Uwaine! (Morgan le Fay’s son)
Sir Lionel! (who adventured with Launcelot for a bit in Book VI)
And the rest! (Sir Galihud and Sir Galiodin, a couple of serious backbenchers)
Numbers mean something different to Malory than to you or me, because the set “Launcelot and ten knights” is actually Launcelot plus nine other knights. Some editions of Malory go further, and claim that Galihud and Lionel are the same guy, Sir Galihud Lionel, which would just compound the problem by making “Launcelot and ten knights” into Launcelot plus eight other knights.
The Tristram Rescue Squad rides out! They travel as a unit until they come to a crossroads, where they split up and travel four different ways.
We’ll follow Launcelot first. He picks up Dame Bragwaine by the side of the road (she’s still under the lovely Isoud’s instructions to follow Tristram) and together they encounter Pitiless Bruce! Pitiless Bruce has been chasing Bragwaine around, being a dick. Launcelot settles his hash — he just waves his sword and shouts, and Pitiless Bruce flees.
Apparently Malory is already tires of the TRISTRAM RESCUE SQUAD because now we skip over everyone else’s adventures and cut straight to the knight who actually finds Tristram, Sir Lucan.
VOCABULARY WORD OF THE CHAPTER: Departition, which in addition to being what you do to hard drives you don’t want partitioned any more, once meant departure or separation. Based on context, I thought it might mean ‘extirpation,’ but no.