Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XIII Chapter 3
Arthur cups his hands together and calls to his nephew. “Hey, Gawaine!”
Gawaine is already halfway to the feasting, but he gets up and comes over to his uncle. “Yes, Uncle Sire?”
“You’re all the time talking about what a great knight you are, right?”
Gawaine shrugs. “Sure. I’m pretty awesome.”
Arthur nods. “So you seem like a great candidate for the title of ‘best knight.’ And also you’ve always rubbed me the wrong way. So, pull this sword from out this stone, will you?”
“I’d rather not try.” Gawaine was in earshot last chapter, when Launcelot uttered all that prophecy about how if you try to pull this sword out but aren’t the best knight, not only will you fail, but one day in the future you will be badly wounded by the best knight, wielding that selfsame sword.
“Yeah, but do it.”
“Do I have to?”
Arthur considers. “We disagree. I say you should pull the sword out, you say you shouldn’t. How can we resolve this?” he asks rhetorically. “I have it! Which of us is king? We’ll go with what that guy says.”
Gawaine sighs. “Fine. I’m doing it already.” He grabs the pommel of the sword and gives it a yank, but nothing doing. Sword remains in stone.
“Aw, man!” Launcelot winces. “Dude, now you’re cursed to be wounded by this sword! Didn’t you listen?”
Gawaine shrugs. “Whatever. Uncle Sire tells me to do a thing, I do it. He’s the king, and I’m his loyal knight.”
“Well dang,” says Arthur. “Now I feel kind of bad for trying to get you cursed in the first place.” He snaps his fingers. “Jeez! What am I thinking… Sir Percivale! You’re the vaunted subject of prophecy, circa Book X, Chapter 23! There was this whole thing with a mute woman speaking. Obviously you’re the knight in question here, the ‘best knight’ that the sword was meant for.”
“Sounds plausible,” agrees Percivale.
“So snap to! But, and this is important, I want you to promise that you won’t maim Gawaine. Can you do that?”
“Absolutely.” Percivale nods solemnly. “I’ll do it gladly, for to bear Sir Gawaine fellowship.” And Percivale grabs the sword and gives it a good yank! And then… nothing. It just sits there, in the stone.
“I really thought you had it,” says Arthur.
“Let me try again!” Percivale tugs and tugs on the sword, but it doesn’t budge.
“Well, hopefully you’re not cursed,” says Sir Kay. “I’ll set up a cordon around this, so that knights don’t wander in and curse themselves trying to claim the sword. But on the plus side,” he tells Arthur, “this absolutely counts as a strange adventure for Pentecost feasting purposes, am I right?”
Arthur brightens. “Hey, yeah! And now it’s over, which is great. Nice short strange adventure, just ten minutes. Let’s go eat!”
So all the knights sit down to eat, one per chair except that the Siege Perilous remains empty. I don’t know where Percivale sits but it isn’t there. And they start in on the feast, and then things get weird. Or as Malory puts it, anon there befell a marvelous adventure. I think marvelous adventure must be one step up from strange adventure. Tune in next time!
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XIII Chapter 3 — No Comments
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