Mark flees through the forest, comes to a well — everything important happens at wells, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Chilling by this well: Sir Palomides. Let me remind you that Palomides and Mark have met before more than once. Palomides once spent a season loitering around Mark’s court at Tintagil, straight up pining after Mark’s wife, the lovely Isoud.
“Hey, strange knight running at top speed, what’s your deal?” Palomides asks Mark, when he bursts into the well-clearing.
“I’m running from one of the best knights!” cries Mark.
“Bah,” says Palomides. “I believe myself to be the third-best knight around, and the statistical chances you’re running from Launcelot or Tristram are tiny. Plus I’m all limbered up; I bet I could take either of those dudes on.”
Mark declines to mention that he is fleeing (as far as he knows) Launcelot, and hides behind Palomides when Sir Dagonet comes on the scene.
“Yar! Spear in your neck!” shouts Palomides, and [bears] a spear to Dagonet, and [smites] him so sore that he [bears] [himself] over his horse’s tail, and nigh he had broken his neck.
“Crap crap crap crap crap,” says Sir Brandiles, who was right behind Sir Dagonet. Arthur’s gonna be pissed, is what he’s thinking.
Uwaine and the others are right behind him. “Crap,” says Uwaine. “That guy protecting Mark is tough. Step one, we neutralize him.”
Sir Uwaine and Sir “Big Heart” both joust Palomides. Both fall.
“Who is that guy, anyway?” asks Sir Griftlet. “I could just ask him I guess, but instead I’ll leap to the conclusion that it’s Sir Lamorak, because he was around a couple of chapters ago until Malory forgot about him.”
He sends a squire with a note over to Palomides, which runs “Dear Lamorak, Are You Lamorak? If Not, Are You of Camelot? Love, Griftlet.”
Palomides sends back a response.
1) Screw you; I’m not telling my name.
2) I’m not Lamorak.
3) Nor am I from Camelot.
“Jerk,” says Agravaine. He and Griftlet and Sir “Good Uwaine” all three try to joust Palomides, but nothing doing; he beats all of them, too. Soon only Sir Dinadan and Sir Mordred are left, and Sir Mordred isn’t in his armor because he lent it to Dagonet.
For whatever reason — maybe because of all their past history, maybe for some other reason — Dinadan and Palomides don’t joust. Instead Palomides rides off, with Mark following him.
“Man, you kicked those guys around,” says Mark. “Who are you, pal?”
“Who are you, buddy?”
“What’s the deal, guy?”
But Palomides takes no heed of Mark’s insults. A few miles down the road they come to a manor. Palomides calls over a varlet from Mark’s entourage (Malory totally said Mark had an entourage, we just haven’t been paying attention).
“Go and run into the manor over there, and let the lady of the house know that a knight in search of the Questing Beast is around, and had they seen an animal that in the belly [makes] such a noise as it had been a thirty couple of hounds?
So the varlet runs off and does that. Knocks on the door, boom, the lady of the house meets the varlet. “Palomides? My son? Has he come back to me after questing after the Questing Beast? No? Won’t he come in for diner and/or stay the night at least? No?” And then she cries.
I should call my mother.
Mark’s varlet runs back and tells Mark that Sir Palomdes (who Mark has met many times) is Sir Palomides. Apparently this is news to Mark. Then Mark and Palomides break for dinner, and Mark lies down for a nap. And then Palomides decides to ditch Mark, and rides off without him.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Sir Palomides is Muslim, as we’re reminded very occasionally. How is it that his mother has a nice manor house in Wales? I always assumed he came back with Arthur’s forces in Book V’s conquest of southern Europe, or something, not that he was native to Britain.
SECOND DISCUSSION QUESTION: Any thoughts on how Palomides ended up hunting the Questing Beast? It had been King Pellinore’s quest, and you’d think upon his death (offscreen at the hands of Gawaine) it would have passed to one of his sons, Tor or Lamorak. In Book IX, Chapter 12, Palomides and Lamorak have a fight over just that, actually. But then the issue is dropped, until it comes up again here.
THIRD DISCUSSION QUESTION: What is up with his relationship with his mother, while we’re at it? He can’t come in for a cup of coffee?
FOURTH DISCUSSION QUESTION: Palomides’s mother is the first female character to be introduced in quite a while. It’s a shame she only has the one line. I know: that’s not really a question. I’m just saying.