Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur Book XI Chapters 4 and 5
So Bors goes to bed for the night, in a room that’s been set aside for him, and he politely declines an unspecified number of offers of bedtime companionship (Malory is vague).
And then! Spear out of nowhere! It’s long and clearly magical: its tip shines in the darkness of the room, and also no one is wielding it. It’s just floating in the air! The spear stabs Bors deep in the shoulder, then vanishes.
“Whoa,” says Bors. He lies there in bed for a second, feeling his wound, reflecting perhaps that his insistence on a strange adventure was maybe ill-founded. Then a knight comes in!
You are not going to believe who this knight is, but I am going to tell you anyway: it’s Sir Pedivere! The jerk who murdered a woman and outsmarted Launcelot and ended up repenting and begging the Pope for forgiveness? Now he’s doing strange adventure temp work out of Castle Corbin!
“Arise, sir knight, and fight with me,” says Pedivere.
“I’m bleeding pretty badly,” says Bors. “But okay, sure.” He gets up out of bed, grabs his sword and shield, and starts to swordfight with Pedivere. Bors is wounded, but he’s still much better than his opponent, who’s forced to retreat right out of Bors’s bedroom and into the bedroom next door.
“Five-minute break!” cries Pedivere, as Bors starts to follow him into the room, and slams the door.
Bors is stuck standing there tapping his foot, until he came out freshly again, and began new battle with Sir Bors mightily and strongly.
Bors realizes that whenever Pedivere starts to lose the swordfight, he can just retreat into the room next door, lock Bors out, and then sit and catch his breath. So Bors outflanks Pedivere, positioning himself between Pedivere and the door, until Pedivere is backed into a corner. Finally unable to retreat, Pedivere is no match for Bors, who knocks him down.
“Okay, okay, you win,” says Pedivere.
“Right, now, next Pentecost you need to…”
“I have to go to Camelot, and announce that Sir Bors defeated me, I know, I know,” says Pedivere. “I’ve been through that once before, with Sir Launcelot. Let’s just be done with this, all right?”
So Bors goes back to bed (Malory doesn’t mention the spear-wound again) but no sooner has he fallen back asleep, than some jerk starts firing hundreds of arrows in through the windows of his room! They get all over the floor and they stick to the bedframe and more than one lodge themselves in Bors’s limbs.
“Jeez! This strange adventure is awful!” Bors staggers out of the bedroom and into the hallway, where he’s nearly eaten by a lion.
Yeah! A lion! Just stone hanging out in the hallway. Bors manages to slay it, though it rips up his shield to tatters. Now down to just his nightshirt and his sword and some arrows stuck in his body, Bors limps downstairs to the main courtyard, where he falls into an editorial cartoon.
There’s this dragon, okay, and it’s labeled KING ARTHUR. Really! Listen to Malory if you don’t believe me: Right so Sir Bors forthwithal saw a dragon in the court passing horrible, and there seemed letters of gold written on his forehead; and Sir Bors thought that the letters made a signification of King Arthur.
I know, right?
But there’s more! A mean old leopard springs out of the darkness and attacks the dragon! Then the dragon breathes fire, which defeats the leopard, but it wasn’t really fire, it was smaller dragons! The smaller dragons come spewing out of the big dragon’s mouth, and then they turn on the big dragon, and rip it all to pieces! Finally there is nothing left in the courtyard but parts of the dead dragon and little dragons squabbling over the bits.
If Bors doesn’t wake up in a cold sweat next to Bob Newheart at the end of this I think we can all agree we will have been had.
I know, right? Slogging through the Increasingly Terrible Story of Tristram was almost worth it, to get to this!
Wait, more commitment to a single woman*? No more awful tales of Tristram? Are we still reading Malory or did you pull a switcheroo on us?
*I think? I can’t tell if Bors is in an active relationship with Princess Brangoris’s Daughter or if that is a thing of the past from what’s described.