Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XII Chapters 11 to 14
Now we will leave off this matter, says Malory, and speak we of Sir Tristram, and of Sir Palomides, and that sound you hear is me banging my head against my desk. The tail end of Book XII, chapters 11 to 14, wrap up the Tristram ‘n Palomides saga, more or less. I’m not going to go into any detail, because it’s awful. Instead, I’m just going to give you the super quick version.
CHAPTERS 11 TO 14, THE SUPER QUICK VERSION
Tristram does a bunch of strange adventures, that’s what he’s been doing this whole time so quit asking. Isoud fills him in on the events of Book XI and Book XII to this point, which she knows all about through her spy network and her correspondence with Guenever.
“Great!” says Tristram. “Let’s go to Camelot and party!”
“Eugh, let’s not,” says Isoud. “The ladies at Camelot are all so catty; they’re jealous of how hot I am. But no, go without me, and joust a bunch of guys, so that they don’t think you’re chicken.”
So Tristram heads out, not wearing armor for some reason. On the way to Camelot he bumps into Sir Palomides.
“Tristram! Let’s joust and settle our longstanding on-again, off-again emnity!” suggests Palomides.
“Well, I don’t have my armor on, but I’m no chicken!” So they joust a bunch, and Palomides is winning, but he feels bad on account of he has armor and Tristram doesn’t.
“Jerk!” says Tristram.
“Call it a draw?”
“Yeah, okay.” They ride together. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, why haven’t you ever converted to Christianity?”
“Oh, no good reason,” says Palomides. “I’ve been meaning to, I’m just lazy I guess.”
“Here’s what we do. We attack that knight over there…” Tristram points at a guy, Sir Galleron of Galway. “And I take his armor, because I don’t have any, and then we do a straight-up joust with us both in armor, and then we’ll get you baptized!”
And that is what happens! Sir Galleron is not especially cool with it, but he’s outnumbered two to one. Afterwards they force him to be Palomides’s godfather at the baptism.
“Sorry about being in love with your, well, not wife. Isoud,” says Palomides.
“No big,” says Tristram. “I forgive you.”
They arrive in Camelot! The king and all the court were glad that Sir Palomides was christened… and Sir Tristram returned against to Joyous Gard, and Sir Palomides followed the Questing Beast. The end.
In honor of your Tristram frustration, follows now some of Mark Twain’s meditation on Malory in Connecticut Yankee:
“The truth is, Alisande, these archaics are a little too simple; the vocabulary is too limited, and so, by consequence, descriptions suffer in the matter of variety; they run too much to level Saharas of fact, and not enough to picturesque detail; this throws about them a certain air of the monotonous; in fact the fights are all alike: a couple of people come together with great random – random is a good word, and so is exegesis, for that matter, and so is holocaust, and defalcation, and usufruct and a hundred others, but land! a body ought to discriminate—they come together with great random, and a spear is brast, and one party brake his shield and the other one goes down, horse and man, over his horse-tail and brake his neck, and then the next candidate comes randoming in, and brast his spear, and the other man brast his shield, and down he goes, horse and man, over his horse-tail, and brake his neck, and then there’s another elected, and another and another and still another, till the material is all used up; and when you come to figure up results, you can’t tell one fight from another, nor who whipped; and as a picture , of living, raging, roaring battle, sho! why, it’s pale and noiseless—just ghosts scuffling in a fog. Dear me, what would this barren vocabulary get out of the mightiest spectacle?—the burning of Rome in Nero’s time, for instance? Why, it would merely say, ‘Town burned down; no insurance; boy brast a window, fireman brake his neck!’ Why, that ain’t a picture!”