Sir Lucan (former caterer, Malory reminds us) is the member of the Tristram Rescue Squad who finds Tristram. Funny story, says Malory, it wasn’t as if Lucan had a special lead on Tristram. No, by fortune he puts in at Sir Darras’s lodge in none other intent but to ask for harbour. It just so happens Tristram’s there, convalescing from his wounds.
Lucan tells Darras’s porter that he’d like a place for the night, which as a Knight of the Round Table he’s entitled to. The porter runs and tells Darras (and Tristram, and Sir Daname, Darras’s nephew).
“He’s a knight of the Round Table? Don’t give him a room!” Sir Daname jumps up and down, he’s so excited. “Don’t let him in, no, just, have him wait outside and then I’ll joust him and it’ll be so awesome!!”
Long story short, Lucan smacks Daname around until Daname runs crying back into the lodge. Malory doesn’t provide an age for Sir Daname, I should point out. Lucan then stands outside the lodge and shouts that the folks within are not being very polite!
Dinadan turns to Tristram and grumbles something about how this is a dumb situation. Tristram then demands Dinadan go out and joust with Lucan, as a favor to Darras. Dinadan would rather not, but, long story short, he does. Lucan knocks him around some, eventually stabbing him in the leg! At which point Lucan gives up trying to get a room for the night, and just leaves.
Nobody abuses Tristram’s sidekick except him! Despite his injuries, Tristram rides after Lucan. Lucan doesn’t recognize Tristram, maybe because they’ve never met before. They joust, Tristram severely injures Lucan despite his own fearsome injuries, it’s a whole thing. Lucan getting injured upsets Sir Uwaine! Did Malory forget to mention Sir Uwaine was also there? Well, he was.
Tristram know Sir Uwaine by reputation and isn’t very interested in fighting, but Uwaine wants to avenge Lucan the way Tristram wanted to avenge Dinadan and Dinadan wanted (not really) to avenge Daname. Daname bears the blame for this whole mess, if you ask me.
So they joust, too, and Tristram wins. Uwaine and Lucan limp back to Castle Ganis (Sir Bleoberis’s castle, aka TRISTRAM RESCUE SQUAD HQ, and I’m left wondering whether Uwaine and Lucan ever find out the wounded knight who smacked them around was the same knight they swore an oath to rescue).
Afterwards Dinadan is pretty grouchy about the whole thing; he wants to go ride down Sir Lucan and finish the job Tristram started. Tristram is sorry he let everything get out of hand and figures there’s been enough bloodshed for the day. Maybe Tristram is growing as a person? Is that what we’re supposed to think?
They return to Darras’s place, getting there just ahead of a fresh damosel. Said damosel has a message: remember how back in chapter 34 when all five of Darras’s sons survived the Castle of Maidens tournament? Update on that, in fact they all died. Well, three of them died, and the other two languish in critical condition.
“This is the worst continuity error ever,” says Darras. “Who is responsible for this editorial blunder that slew my boys?”
“The mysterious knight with a black shield,” the damosel says helpfully. “It looked like that shield there,” she adds, pointing to Tristram’s shield. “Yep. That same is he who slew your three sons.”
Then things take a turn! Tristram and Dinadan come in, Darras claps Tristram and Dinadan in irons. Also Sir Palomides, for some reason: all three of them, boom, into the dungeon.
I feel sorry for Dinadan in this situation, even if he did want to go murder Lucan a few paragraphs up, because he’s all the time getting dragged into these situations by Tristram. Plus Palomides and Tristram spend the first interdeterminate amount of time in prison bickering like an old married couple, of old hate betwixt them. That can’t be fun to put up with. But then Tristram’s wound gets infected, and Palomides feels sorry for him.
Malory would like us all to know that being in prison sucks, but being sick in prison is the worst thing ever, and he should know. For all the while a prisoner may have his health of body he may endure under the mercy of God and in hope of good deliverance; but when sickness toucheth a prisoner’s body, then may a prisoner say all wealth is him bereft, and then he hath cause to wail and weep. Right so did Sir Tristram when sickness had undertaken him, for then he took such sorrow that he had almost slain himself.
And with that, we abandon Tristram for another couple of chapters!