Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XVIII Chapter 12
Special spoooooky Friday the 13th update! (Not really.)
All in all, Launcelot and Lavaine defeat about forty knights, including many Knights of the Round Table. Launcelot takes a licking, but comes out on top, and wins the prize for the day. He refuses the prize, however, and rides off. Once he and Lavaine are safely hiding in the woods, he pulls his armor off and reveals that he’s suffered a pretty serious wound in the side, so sore that it nigh slayeth him. Launcelot hadn’t fully recovered from his bout with Sir Mador, and he’s not a spring chicken any more, either.
Lavaine panics, because he’s never had to deal with an injured man before, but Launcelot talks him through getting the broken spear-point out of Launcelot’s side, and cleaning and dressing the wound. Then Launcelot passes out from blood loss, and Lavaine stands there wringing his hands for about half an hour.
Just when Sir Lavaine has about decided Launcelot is dead, his eyes flutter open! “Lavaine,” he croaks. “Lavaine, help me on my horse. Sir Baudwin, the physician-knight, lives near here. Two miles. C’mon. We can make it.”
And then with great pain Sir Lavaine helps Launcelot up and onto his horse, and then they ride a great wallop to Baudwin’s estate. Launcelot’s still losing blood, so they leave a drizzly trail of it as they ride along.
Malory describes Baudwin’s hermitage as pleasantly picaresque: under a wood, and a great cliff on the other side, and a fair water running under it. Lavaine dashes to the gate and pounds on it, shouting for Baudwin.
Baudwin’s very young son answers the door, and Lavaine has to explain that there’s a special big-boy job the kid needs to do, which is fetch his father immediately before Launcelot bleeds to death. As the kid totters away, we enjoy a moment of dramatic tension. Will he pull it off? Or is this where Launcelot dies?
Spoiler alert: Launcelot’s fine. Baudwin shows up and explains, for the benefit of the audience, that he’s the same Sir Baudwin that we met waaaaay back in Book I, the very first knight who saw Arthur take the sword from the stone, and swore fealty. He’s retired now, living as a simple physician-knight-landowner-hermit.
There’s a moment of concern, because Lavaine introduces Launcelot as one of the knights opposed to Arthur at the jousting tournament from the previous chapters. Baudwin is pro-Arthur, of course, and so he’s reluctant to heal this rogue knight. But he recognizes Launcelot, despite all the bleeding, and so that opportunity for drama is likewise squashed.
Baudwin puts Launcelot up for a while, and gives him wine, and lets him convalesce in Baudwin’s home. Malory goes on a brief screed here about how back in olden times, hermits were nice and good folk and would help a guy out, not like modern times and certain so-called hermits Malory doesn’t credit with the worship and prowess all the Arthurian hermits had.
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XVIII Chapter 12 — No Comments
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