This chapter is the chapter of Tristram hot on the trail of the mysterious Fair Knight! First he comes across a lady weeping over a dead knight, because either Malory forgot he used this exact tableau in the previous chapter or else Malory is a master of narrative parallelism and it’s me who is the real idiot.
The dead knight was a pro-Arthur partisan named Galardoun, his widow explains. Probably his widow has a name but Tristram is in too much of a hurry to learn it! He finds out that the Fair Knight is an anti-Arthur partisan who’ll joust with any pro-Arthur knights at the drop of a hat.
Tristram’s too busy to stick around and help the Widow Galardoun dispose of her husband, as Palomides did in the previous chapter. He instead rides hard for a couple of days, staying in much evil lodging.
Three days out from Sir Palomides, Tristram finds Sir Bleoberis and Sir Gawaine chilling in a forest lodge. They’ve both been badly wounded by this mysterious Fair Knight. Just to remind you: Bleoberis a cousin of Launcelot’s, and Gawaine is basically Pete Campbell from Mad Men.
“That jerk!” cries Gawaine, when Tristram asks. “He was talking smack about me, first. He bade me I should not have ado with him because he could defeat me easily. At first I thought it was a friendly warning, but no, he said it for mockery. So Bleoberis here defended my honor.”
“And then after he beat me up, Gawaine tried to attack him, and well, look at Gawaine here,” Bleoberis adds. “It wasn’t pretty.”
“This sounds very similar to Palomides’s and my encounter with him,” notes Tristram.
“Let him go, that’s my advice,” says Gawaine. “After I’ve recuperated I’ll take him out, I tell you what!”
“No-can-doosville,” says Tristram. “By the way, have we met?”
(Seriously that is a question that Tristram has.)
Gawaine just looks at him. “I’m Sir Gawaine, King Arthur’s favorite nephew,” he eventually says.
“Pleased to meet you! I am Sir Tristram de Liones.”
“And de Brittany, am I right?” asks Bleoberis with a chuckle.
“Arthur’s client state next to Normandy? You married King Howell’s daughter, he retired…?”
“Not ringing a bell.”
Eventually Tristram rides off. He next comes to Sir Kay and Sir Dinadan, hanging out together for some reason.
“Yo,” says Tristram, apparently recognizing some dudes at last. I mean, c’mon. This is Arthur’s adoptive brother and Tristram’s Book IX designated travel companion. “How’s it hanging?”
“Pretty bad,” grumbles Kay.
“Well, tell me about it. But make it quick, I’m hunting this Fair Knight…”
“Did he have a shield with, like, a cloth covering?”
Kay nods. “Thought so. Same guy. Me and Dinadan were lodging at a widow’s house last night, and there was this jerk of a knight saying all kinds of things about King Arthur.”
“And Guenever!” pipes up Dinadan.
“Especially Guenever,” says Kay. “Anyway, naturally I defended my sister-in-law, and he turned out to be a Launcelot-class villain, let me tell you. Smote me down and hurt me passing sore.”
“It was nasty,” says Dinadan. “I was going to intervene, but then I figured, if this guy can beat up Kay so easily, what’s the point?”
“Fair enough,” says Tristram. “Now, one last thing. I’m Sir Tristram de Liones. What are your names?”
Seriously! Tristram asked them their names. And Dinadan was his designated Book IX Traveling Buddy!
Anyhow, then Tristram gives up his chase and goes to a convent and spends a week recuperating. I’m not 100% on this, but I’m pretty sure we don’t ever get closure on this mysterious anti-Arthur “Fair Knight.” It’s mentioned another time or two, then dropped.