First off, happy birthday to me. Secondly, it turns out, despite the ominous note we ended on last time, we’re not moving directly into Le Morte D’Arthur endgame just yet. I’m on page, like, 386 out of 757. Lots more to go. Malory gets himself out of the Arthur-realizes-Launcelot-and-Guenever-are-having-an-affair corner. How, you may ask.
Arthur has already had someone draw dire connections between his wife and one or more of his knights — specifically Morgan le Fay, his estranged sister. Back at the end of Book IX, Tristram showed up to a jousting tournament with a shield from Morgan, which shield had a nutty editorial cartoon on it. You remember this.
But anyway, Arthur is no idiot, and he knows neither Morgan nor Mark have his best interests at heart. So he shows the letter to Guenever, says it’s a piece of nonsense from his enemy Mark, and further evidence that Mark is bad and therefore Tristram is good.
Guenever reads the note and freaks out. She passes it over to Launcelot, who reads it and likewise freaks out. Guenever and Launcelot are way more upset about this note than Arthur is. Arthur’s already gone back to the royal pinball machine or whatever he does in his free time, I don’t know.
Launcelot, though, Launcelot goes down to the knight barracks (here Malory explains briefly that Camelot totally has a knight barracks where all the knights bunk together) and stretches out on his bed and takes a nap, that’s how angry he is.
While he sleeps, he clutches the note to his chest, like you see cartoon characters do, and naturally this attracts the attention of Sir Dinadan, fresh back to Camelot from his trip to visit Palomides. Dinadan’s curiosity is piqued, so Dinadan snatches the note and reads it and is just baffled because he has zero context.
Later, when Launcelot stands staring grimly out a window, rolling and unrolling the note and shaking his head and scowling, Dinadan approaches him and asks what’s up. “Discover your heart to me: forsooth ye wot I owe you good will, howbeit I am a poor knight and a servitor unto you and to all good knights.”
“Dude, what’s troubling you?”
“I can trust you, I suppose,” says Launcelot. And he fills Dinadan in, Malory says, on the situation.
“Well, Mark is a dick,” Dinadan says straight off, once he understands. “Here’s what we do: revenge novelty song.”
“What?” asks Launcelot.
“What?” I also ask, reading this. But no, Dinadan is totally serious. He sits down and composes a satirical song about Mark and what a dick he is, and teaches it to a harper he knows whose name by the way is Eliot. Eliot teaches the novelty song to a bunch of other harpers, and they go all over the place, into Wales and into Cornwall, to sing the lay that Sir Dinadan made… which was the worst lay that ever harper sang.
King Mark, he sucks, he suck suck suck suck sucks!
He is the guy who sucks, oh yes, he sucks!
That dolt, King Mark, I hate him so so much!
He shouldn’t be loved no nobody loves him nope,
I mean, Malory specifies that it isn’t a good novelty song.