“Well, brother, I will do after your counsel, and ride after you.” Launcelot’s on board! He and Ector and Percivale make ready to return to Camelot.
Only problem: Elaine. Elaine cries and cries, that Launcelot should leave her. She begs him to take along their son Galahad, who is apparently fifteen winter old now, even though that makes no sense at all, what with Percivale and Ector having been searching for Launcelot for only two years, and Galahad being at most like four when they set out.
I’m having a hard time making any sense of this chronology in a way that doesn’t put Arthur and Guenever into their seventies at this point, while Launcelot must be pushing fifty and Elaine herself somewhere in her thirties. A quick googling tells me I’m not alone in this, though it’s plainly something Malory never thought about.
Launcelot declines to bring Galahad with him back to Camelot, though he leaves open the possibility of knighting him in the future. Elaine promises that he will be a great knight, the best man of his kin except one.
So Launcelot, Ector, and Percivale return to Camelot, that is called in English “Winchester.”
Way to drop a bomb on us, Malory! Whatever happened to “nobody really knows where Camelot was supposed to be,” which I am pretty sure I picked up somewhere in my childhood? And what about Caerleon and London and jeez I don’t even know, Malory, you’re really testing my patience.
At Camelot, Ector and Percivale take turns recapping the second half of Book XI and all of Book XII up to this point, explaining what Launcelot’s been up to for the last decade or whatever.
Guenever sobs noisily.
“Man,” says Arthur. “That’s quite a story. I mean, we all figured you’d gone mad. I guess it was all swooning over the love of your wife, the fair lady Elaine? Am I right, Launcelot good buddy? Huh? Huh?” Arthur elbows Launcelot in the ribs, and chortles.
“Heh, yeah, well…” Launcelot has trouble sustaining eye contact with Arthur, for some reason. “I did go kind of crazy there, yeah.”
Bors and Ector and Lionel and Percivale and Aglavale and all of the rest of the Benwick faction of knights, Launcelot’s brothers and cousins, exchange meaningful glances.