In fact, Arthur shows up unexpectedly at the tournament, ready to joust Palomides and regain the family honor! But Lamorak has already seen this coming, and arranged for Palomides to be elsewhere, so that when Arthur is walking around trying to find him, Lamorak has a chance to approach Arthur.
“Sire,” he says, “I was hoping to get a chance to meet you here.”
“Lamorak! Good man, I hear you’ve been doing well. Shame about the whole exile-from-Camelot thing,” says Arthur.
“Indeed, and really, I should split from this tournament now that Gawaine and his brothers have shown up, or else they’ll murder me.”
Arthur coughs. “About that. I’ve been thinking. This whole exile thing hasn’t sat well with me. You didn’t actually do anything, after all. Come back to Camelot, all forgiven?”
“I’d love to, sire,” says Lamorak. “But your nephews would murder me, since I witnessed them murdering their own mother.”
“Hmm, yeah.” Arthur doesn’t like to dwell on that. “It would had been much fairer and better that ye had wedded her, regardless of the age thing.”
Lamorak’s face darkens. “O Jesu, her death shall I never forget. I’m absolutely going to take some revenge, you can believe that. I would have done it already except that I wanted to talk to you about it first.”
Arthur nods, thoughtfully. “I don’t like this situation, but enough is enough. Do what you have to, and there’ll be a royal pardon with your name on it, at the ready.”
Dun dun duuuun! Can it be, the actual plot of THE DEATH OF ARTHUR is finally starting to move forward, here in the midst of stultifying jousting description? I think so!
Speaking of stultifying jousting description… Sir Palomides fights fellow-Muslim Sir Corsabrin, and Sir Dinadan, and Sir Gerin. It’s funny how many Muslim characters Malory includes, sympathetic heroic Muslim knight characters, even. I can’t help but note a total absence of Jewish knights, though. A Jewish knight seems at least as plausible as a Muslim knight, in medieval England, but hey.
Launcelot beats everybody, no shock there…
Then Palomides and Corsabrin joust again and Corsabrin ends up dead. No one knows how to give him a proper Muslim funeral, or more likely they don’t want to try, inasmuch as he wasn’t Christian, so was the corpse hauled away and buried in the woods. Galahalt takes the opportunity to try to convert Palomides to Christianity, claiming that Christian corpses smell better than Muslim ones (?!).
Palomides politely declines. “Maybe after I’ve won seven true battles for Jesus’s sake,” he says, since Galahalt plainly won’t take a straight-up no for an answer.
Then, let’s see, you’ve got Sir Gaheris and Sir Ossaise and Sir Dornard and Sir Aglovale and Duke Chaleins of Clarance again, and Earl Ulbawes, and Sir Ector the Lesser, and Mister 100, and it’s a grand ol’ time, jousting, and Malory can’t believe that I’m just skipping over all this, I’m sure, this is the good part, in his mind.
Afterwards everybody gets together for dinner, where Dinadan plays the hilarous prank of serving Galahalt a fish. Everybody thinks this is hilarious. Dinadan and Launcelot talk a little trash.
Finally, the last day of the tournament, you’ve got Duke Cambines fighting Sir Aristance, and Earl Lambile, and Sir Ossaise again with the King of Northgalis. Launcelot is nowhere to be seen, so Sir Dinadan is crowing around about how he’s the best knight around, and then Launcelot shows up in drag.
Launcelot, dressed up in a maid costume, with a borrowed spear, challenges Dinadan. Dinadan accepts, then realizes that it isn’t an actual maid, it’s Launcelot, and he tries to get out of it, but can’t. Launcelot jousts the jolly right out of him.
Guenever loves this. Right here and now Guenever reminds me of Dr. Avril Incandeza, I’ve got to say. I just recently reread Infinite Jest.
Final score: Launcelot first, then Lamorak, then Palomides, then Bagdemagus. No prize for Dinadan.