In the morning Launcelot wakes up, and he sees that he’s in bed with a woman who isn’t Guenever, and he leaps to the conclusion that he’s the victim of enchantment, which is a pretty intuitive guess there Launcelot. He feels awful, says Malory.
“Alas that I have lived so long,” he mutters. “Now I am shamed.”
Then he comes to his senses, more or less, and goes from feeling ashamed of himself to feeling enraged at Elaine, on the grounds that she raped him. He grabs his sword and shakes her awake.
“Thou traitress, what are thou that I have lain by all this night? Thou shalt die right here of my hands!”
Elaine springs out of bed, all naked Malory tells us, thanks for that dude. She was expecting this reaction, you can tell, because she has her response all planned out. Instead of shrieking and running away, she kneels down in front of Launcelot and humbly begs his forgiveness.
(Which is Launcelot’s one weakness! I remind you of Book VI, Chapter 17! Launcelot and Sir Pedivere?)
Elaine explains that their child will be a prophesied messiah-figure, but Launcelot scoffs.
“Bull hockey,” he says. “False traitress, why hast thou betrayed me? Anon tell me what thou art!”
“I told you!” Elaine insists. She repeats the whole story: she’s Pellam’s daughter, their child will be magical, Brisen the enchantress, et cetera.
“Well shoot.” It sinks in for Launcelot, that this is actually happening. “I guess I forgive you, since you apologized and I’m that kind of guy. Just… just don’t do it again, okay?”
Elaine nods and promises not to do it again and then what with one thing and another she and Launcelot start to make out for a bit, even though mere moments ago Launcelot was enraged about the whole rape thing (Malory reminds us how Elaine is all hot and lusty and young, I guess in contrast to Guenever who isn’t a spring chicken).
But Launcelot breaks it off! Perhaps because he remembers Guenever exists, or maybe it’s because of the rape. “Listen,” he tells Elaine. “I’ve forgiven you, but you and me, that’s over. And if I find this Brisen woman, who sounds like the true party responsible? Even if she is a woman, I’m going to chop her head off. I know, I’m surprising even myself. I don’t normally talk about chopping the heads off ladies. But this whole rape thing really has me torn up.”
Elaine nods. She’s kind of upset herself, inasmuch as Brisen and her father had really led her to believe that Launcelot was going to be much cooler on this, the morning after. On their instructions she gave up her virginity, she’s just saying.
Launcelot doesn’t want to hear it, though. He’s strapping his armor back on, getting ready to leave. “So I’m going to go back to your father’s castle, whatever it’s called…”
“Sure. And then I’m leaving. And you stay here at Castle Case until I’m gone, and then we don’t see one another again, you got it? Launcelot leaves.
“Oh, Launcelot, he’s so dreamy,” says Elaine, and falls back onto her bed.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Malory doesn’t remind us that Elaine was also Launcelot’s mother’s name. Why not?