This chapter Malory wants to catch back up with Sir Dinadan, last seen in the previous chapter declining to joust Sir Palomides. He reminds us about that, and how Dinadan and the other knights he’s hanging out with — Uwaine and the others — all think that Palomides was Sir Lamorak for no very good reason at all.
But wait! Malory totally forgot. He needs to tell us that after Palomides ditches Mark, Mark wakes up and chases after him for a while. But then Mark gets distracted by this totally different knight, who is sitting in the middle of the forest crying.
Apparently that’s important, but having established it, Malory’s ready to turn back to Dinadan. It’s a lot of characters for Malory to keep track of, and if he was writing this in prison I guess he didn’t have access to scratch paper for notes.
So Sir Dinadan is chasing after Sir Palomides… I don’t know, people, I’m just going off what Malory writes. Now leave we that and talk we of Sir Dinadan, that rode to seek Sir Palomides, he says. He’s gotten himself all mixed up.
These are things that happen.
Dinadan meets a guy.
“Guy,” says Dinadan. “Have you seen this knight?” And he holds up a picture of Sir Palomides which is captioned SIR LAMORAK.
“Yeah, definitely,” says the guy. “He went that way.”
Dinadan goes that way, and hears a sobbing knight. He tracks down the sobbing knight, who is the same knight as Sir Palomides, who is also the sobbing knight whom Mark espied at the top of this chapter! Why is he crying? Because he’s just now remembered how much he pines for the lovely Isoud.
Way to pace, Malory. Way to pace.
“Ah! fair lady, why love I thee! For thou art fairest of all other, and yet showest thou never love to me,” Palomides cries to himself. “You don’t love me! You love Sir Tristram, my nemesis! And you’re married to that loser murderer villain, King Mark!”
Mark, spying on Palomides, hears Palomides complain about what a murdering loser villain he is. He frets when he sees Dinadan approach, because Dinadan knows Mark is Mark and might tell Palomides. According to Malory. Suddenly Dinadan is Sir Can Recognize Mark, which is a new thing let me tell you!
So Mark runs away. He mugs Sir Amant, whom I know I had already forgotten, so let me remind you. Amant is the henchman Mark took with him from Cornwall, who resigned from Mark’s service when Mark murdered his other henchman, back in Chapter 7. I know, it seems like a lifetime ago.
Then there were maidens, says Malory. Maidens out of nowhere! Two of them. This troupe of maidens is the lovely Isoud’s crack team of Tristram-message-deliverators. They recognize Amant, lying there on the forest floor all mugged and without horse or armor and with a spear sticking out of him.
Amant, with his dying breath, tells the story of how King Mark decided to murder Tristram and how he killed his other henchman and stole Amant’s stuff and attacked/murdered him, too. The two maidens immediately run and tell King Arthur.
Actually, no, first they curse God for allowing such an evil thing to happen. Then they spring it on Arthur that Mark’s around. That’s actually the word Malory uses, by the way. Anon it was sprung to the king, and the queen, and to all the lords, that it was King Mark, says Malory.
Arthur’s pissed, Tristram’s sad for the loss of Amant and Bersules, and Launcelot volunteers to bring Mark in.
“Dead or alive,” says Launcelot.
“Alive,” says Arthur. “I want to talk to him.”
“Give me five minutes,” says Launcelot.
Five minutes later, because Launcelot is the best you guys, Mark gets strewn out on the ground in front of Arthur’s throne.
“Mercy mercy mercy mercy mercy,” begs Mark.
“Yeah, okay,” says Arthur. “Launcelot tells me you refused to joust him.”
“I’m weak! I’m puny! I’m pathetic!” cries Mark. “Have mercy on me!”
“Oh, Mark, Mark, Mark, what are we going to do with you?” asks Arthur. He turns to Tristram. “He’s your uncle. What do you say? Should we execute him?”
“Oh, no,” says Tristram. “Just ask him not to do it again. I’m sure that will be fine.”
So Arthur gives Mark a suspended sentence, for the sake of Tristram and because Mark is a fair speaker and false thereunder (you can just see Malory shaking his fist at those damn wellspoken lawyers and politicians). The end! No moral.