Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XIII Chapter 9
Malory can’t keep track of that many characters, so he focuses at first on young Galahad. Malory takes a moment to remind us that Galahad has armor and the magic sword he pulled from a stone, but no shield. He rides for three days, then arrives at a White Abbey, apparently not the White Abbey, just one of many? The monks there are, of course, thrilled to see him, and take him to where the other two knights are being lodged overnight.
Uwaine and Bagdemagus beat Galahad to this abbey, it turns out. They’re pretty pleased to bump into Galahad here; he’s a good omen on account of everyone knows he’s going to find the Grail.
“So what brings you all the way out to a White Abbey?” asks Galahad.
“Magic shield,” says Uwaine.
“Cursed magic shield,” clarifies Bagdemagus. “They keep it in the basement here. Three days after you start using it, you either die horribly or else you’re maimed.”
“And you’re seeking this shield out? On purpose?”
Uwaine just shrugs, but Bagdemagus nods. “Yeah, I thought it might help my Grail seeking if I started with really lousy magical items and worked my way up.”
“In the name of God!” swears Galahad. “That’s crazy-talk!”
“It’s a bad plan, isn’t it?” Bagdemagus looks chagrined. “I thought it might be. You’re blessed and holy; if and when I mess it up, why don’t you take the shield? You probably won’t die horribly.”
“Yeah, okay,” says Galahad.
So in the morning, after church, the knights get a monk to fetch the shield in question for them. Malory describes it as all white, with a red cross, like the St. George flag. The monk warns them about how only the worthiest knight of the world can wear the shield without being affected by its curse, and Bagdemagus shrugs and admits that he doesn’t qualify, but takes the shield anyway.
“Wait here for me to fail,” he tells Galahad.
“Check,” says Galahad, and sits down with a lemonade. Uwaine sits down too.
So Bagdemagus rides off alone with a squire who has strict instructions to bear word of Bagdemagus’s exploits back to the abbey. Malory eventually gets around to naming this squire, by the way: he’s Melias of Lile, Prince of Denmark.
About twenty minutes out from the abbey (two mile on horseback, says Malory) Bagdemagus bumps into a mysterious shining white knight who effortlessly stabs him in the shoulder.
“Dude,” says the mysterious knight. “You were told all about how this shield is for your better; what the hey?”
Bagdemagus can’t respond as he’s too busy bleeding, so the knight walks over and picks up the shield and hands it to Melias, with instructions to send it back to Galahad.
“Well, okay,” says Melias. “But I have a number of questions about this, like, how you know about the shield, and about Galahad, and what your name is, and…”
“You get no answers!” thunders the knight.
“Would you say you qualify as maimed?” Melias asks Bagdemagus.
“Yea forsooth,” replies Bagdemagus. “I shall escape hard from the death.” And then he almost dies, very slowly and painfully, Malory tells us solemnly, but he pulls through at the last minute. Either way, he’s out of the quest for the foreseeable.
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XIII Chapter 9 — No Comments
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