Okay, so, Launcelot.  Last seen falling out of a window into a rosebush and running away from Camelot, after Guenever scolded him.  Possessions when last seen: a sword, and a shirt, and nothing else.

A couple of years go by, during which Launcelot lives like a hermit.  He mutters to himself, he eats nuts and fruit and grubs, and at some point he loses the sword.  On the plus side, he finds a pair of pants along the way!

So there’s our boy Launcelot, the Man from Benwick, and he’s all malnourished and exposed and unhealthy and kind of crazy.  And one day he wanders across a tent set up in the middle of nowhere in particular, with a couple of swords and shields and spears just sitting out.

For whatever reason, he grabs one of the swords and starts hammering on one of the shields, making a tremendous racket.  His motivation for doing so in unexplained.

Peter comes out of the tent, to see what all this racket it.  Peter, you may have forgotten him because he’s too cool to slum it up in the Interminable Story of Tristram.  Check the character tags; he’s a freelance henchman played by Peter Dinklage.  Actually Malory never gives him a name or even confirms that it’s the same guy each time, but why not interpolate a little bit if you’re going to spend a year and a half blogging about Le Morte D’Arthur, I always say.

Anyway, Peter comes out, and sees this crazy hermit yowling and beating a sword against the shield.  He doesn’t cotton immediately to the dude being Launcelot; he assumes it’s just your run-of-the-mill madman.  Peter figures he can take J. Random Madman, and tries to disarm Launcelot.

Bad move, it turns out!

So Peter’s lying on the ground with his neck “almost broken,” and Launcelot standing over him, and naturally he starts shouting for help.  His current boss, Sir Bliant, emerges from the tent.  Bliant, Malory tells us, is exceptionally well-dressed; he’s well-apparelled in scarlet furred with minever.  “Minever” is apparently a kind of light gray fur they used as trim back in the Middle Ages, the precise definition of which has been lost.

Bliant is a level-headed fashion-plate.  He tries immediately to call Launcelot.  “Buddy, hey, how about you set the sword down, all right buddy?”

Launcelot grunts.

“You look like you haven’t slept or worn warm clothes in months, am I right, buddy?  Hot bath and a nap, wouldn’t you prefer that to waving my sword around everywhere?”

Launcelot won’t have any of it, though.  “No closer!” he says.  “If closer me kill!”

Bliant backs off, and I guess Launcelot lets Peter up, because the next thing you know Bliant and Peter are back inside the tent and Peter is armoring Bliant up.  Bliant emerges again from the tent, this time with a sword in his hand, and Launcelot takes this for a challenge!  He screeches and lunges forward and bashes Bliant in the head!

Bliant’s helmet deforms!  Launcelot’s sword, being a fairly lousy sword he had just picked up, shatters!  Bliant collapses, apparently dead!

“MY TENT NOW!” shouts Launcelot.  He rushes into the tent and chases out Peter and Bliant’s wife (let’s call her Evelyn, and note that while Malory doesn’t name her, he does specify that she’s in her underwear in this scene).  Then he slams the door of the tent, or bars it, or zips it up, I don’t know.  My point is Launcelot climbs into the bed that Evelyn vacated when Launcelot ran in screaming, and throws the covers over his head, and won’t come out.

The Man from Benwick doesn’t do anything halfway, you guys.  When he goes nuts, he goes for the gold.


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Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XII Chapter 1 — No Comments

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