Have you ever noticed that Malory is not great at internal continuity? Like, last chapter we had the tragic tale of Manuel, put to death for the crime of being Sir Aglavale’s squire in a place where Sir Aglavale’s name was mud, and now this chapter opens with Sir Percivale conspiring with Sir Aglavale’s squire, a totally different guy than the one who was just killed.
Let me back up. After the sordid events of the last chapter, Percivale and Algavale ride around for a while, looking for Launcelot. Eventually they put in for the night at a castle called Castle Cardican, and it’s there that Percivale wakes up in the middle of the night and tells Aglavale’s squire that he’s ditching Aglavale, and does the squire want to come along?
This second squire is reluctant to abandon Aglavale in Castle Cardican, not so much because the squire respects his master, as because he’s afraid Aglavale will be angry that he and Percivale left him, and will express that anger by murdering him.
“Don’t worry about it,” says Percivale. “If it comes up, I’ll protect you.”
But Malory is vague as to whether Percivale leaves alone, or with Aglavale’s squire. All we know is that in the next scene, Percivale is miles away and without his brother. Here in this next scene Percivale finds a stone bridge with, get this, a knight chained up on it.
“Whoa,” says Percivale. “How’d you get yourself into this predicament?”
“It’s a funny story,” says the knight. “I’m Sir Persides of the Round Table, by the way. You may have heard of me? I was a friend of Sir Tristram’s, back in Book IX?”
“Doesn’t ring a bell,” says Percivale.
“Well, anyway, I was out having a strange adventure, and I stayed in that castle over there.” Persides points to a castle on the other side of the bridge. Really very close by, built into the bridge, Malory says. Not clear how Percivale missed it. “Anyway, she totally wanted me, and I was all, no way, I’m married to strange adventuring and that means I’ve got to be totally celibate, just like Launcelot and Tristram, neither of whom have ever had sex as far as I know. So, long story short, she had me chained up here.”
“Huh,” says Percivale. “That seems disproportionate. Here, let me try breaking your chains with my sword.”
“Don’t kill me!” warns Persides, but he leans out so the chain’s taut.
Percivale draws his sword and swings and there’s a huge CLANG! Percivale struck at the chain with such a might that he cut a-two the chain, and through Sir Persides’ hauberk and hurt him a little.
“That was awesome!” says Persides. “I don’t mind that all that I’m now bleeding! Also, a knight just came out of the castle, so watch out.”
Sure enough, a knight comes running across the bridge to investigate the clanging. Percivale’s ready for him, though! Percivale lunges out and shoves the knight off his horse and into the water.
I don’t know why he mounted up, given he emerged from a castle that’s built into the same bridge as Percivale is on. Nor do I know why there was a little rowboat positioned under the bridge such that this strange knight fell onto it, instead of into the water where he’d drown. All I am doing is reporting what Malory said. Blame him!
Afterwards Percivale and Persides head into that castle themselves, and find the lady who wanted to sleep with Persides, and Percivale chews her out and makes her apologize, and also release Persides’s servants she’d been keeping prisoner. Percivale really tears this lady a new one, calling her shameful and uncourteous. He makes a big deal about how he’s in the middle of a strange adventure, otherwise he’d stick around and really see to it she reformed.
Then Persides and Percivale go back to Persides’s castle and have a party!