Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book X, Chapters 86 to 88
We play a sad violin song for Sir Palomides, as he wanders around in the forest near Joyous Gard. He eats little, he speaks softly or not at all; he’s got some depression going, you guys. All men had marvel wherefore he faded so away.
One day he comes across a forest well, as you do, and he spends a long time staring down into it, maybe thinking about jumping in. He sees his reflection. “Ah, Palomides, Palomides,” he says to himself. “Why art thou so defaded, thou that was wont to be called one of the fairest knights of the world? I will no more lead this life, for I love that I may never get.”
And then he lies down by the well and starts to compose sad songs about how tragic his life is.
What a sorry guy!
He has no friends
He has no lover
He’ll die, by and by.
Which, okay, not a good rhyme scheme but you get the idea. A lot of his song is about the lovely Isoud, and how she’s too cruel/stupid/female to realize how much he loves her.
So anyway Tristram finds him. Tristram wasn’t looking for him or anything; dude was hunting the hart of greese, which sounds delicious. Tristram’s all decked out in full jousting armor and arms, because Isoud won’t let him leave the house any other way any more, not after that episode with Pitiless Bruce back around chapter 54 or so.
Tristram’s creeping along, seeking out that greesey hart, and he hears somebody singing about his lady-love! He comes up quietly and sneakily, and spots Palomides, lounging by the well and singing.
You’re so lovely
Why don’t you love me?
Is it because I’m Muslim?
Or is it because you’re too dumb?
Understandably, this pisses Tristram off mightily! He almost leaps out of the forest, intent on decapitating Palomides in a single mighty blow, but for once his conscience won’t let him. This is a guy who killed… he’s killed lots of people. Sir Nabon and Sir Nabon Junior spring to my mind, as examples of his excess.
But he remembers that Sir Palomides was unarmed, and of the noble name that Sir Palomides had, and the noble name that he himself had, and then he made restraint of his anger, says Malory. I guess if Palomides hadn’t been a knight, Tristram would have murdered him with a clear conscience.
Well, regardless, Tristram emerges from his hiding place and confronts Palomides. “I’ve heard your song,” he says. “I always knew it, I always knew you were after my girl who is married to my uncle! That time you eloped with her should have been a tipoff, in retrospect. Or that time you entered a tournament to win her hand, back in Ireland. The point is, no fair creeping on my girlfriend! I mean, what am I supposed to do in response to that? I can’t just let it go!”
Palomides scuffs the ground with his shoe, all guilty-like. He mumbles something about how he’d been hoping to die in battle for Isoud’s honor, the way Sir Kehdyius did at some point offscreen during Book IX.
“Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for her! Except for the part where I conquered part of France and married Isoud the White. Or the part where I turned her over to my uncle to marry! But we don’t talk about that! Not important! What’s important is that she’s my lady-love! She’s not your lady-love! Quit it!”
Palomides has had about enough to Tristram’s abuse. He points out that love is free, man, and he can love whoever, man, and everyone is free, dude.
“Shut up and joust!” cries Tristram.
Tristram and Palomides agree to joust to the death! But not immediately. Palomides needs some time to put his affairs in order, get some armor on, et cetera. They agree to meet fifteen days later, in the front yard of Joyous Gard.
Tristram would like to joust Palomides immediately, or the next morning at the latest, but Palomides insists he needs some time to train up and prepare.
“I remember one time we agreed to fight, and you didn’t show,” Tristram says.
“I was in prison! I warned you I wouldn’t be able to make it if I was in imprison.”
“If you’re a no-show this time, I don’t know what I’ll do. But it won’t be pretty.”
Ironically, during this fifteen-day period it’s Tristram who suffers an accident. It’s a small hunting accident, which results in an arrow wound and a dead horse, but Tristram carries on about how badly he’s hurt and he can’t ride and even if he could his horse is dead. So when Palomides shows up to fight him, he’s in bed, complaining, sending messengers downstairs about how much pain he’s in and it isn’t fair for Palomides to expect him to joust. Palomides sends up his squire to fetch Tristram, and Tristram shows him the arrow wound, claiming it’s six inches deep.
So Palomides declares himself the winner by default, and goes off to have all kinds of awesome strange adventures without Tristram. Tristram recovers from his wound, and goes off alone to have even better strange adventures to spite Palomides. The two of them range all over Christendom, strange adventuring it up.
It gets to a point where everyone’s talking about them and their feud and their incredible adventures, and no one’s talking about Launcelot! Which annoys all of Launcelot’s friends and boosters, but Launcelot himself doesn’t give two hoots about it. Launcelot’s never been into it for the fame; Launcelot’s all about the strange adventure.
And Malory’s gotten tired of talking about Tristram and Palomides and their stupid feud, so, he’s done with that. Everyone relevant lives happily ever after, the end, and now Malory wants to move on. End of Book X! Next up: Book XI, which is more about Launcelot, because that’s what the people pay to see.
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book X, Chapters 86 to 88 — No Comments
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