Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XVIII Chapters 14 and 15
So one of Sir Bernard’s servants runs and fetches the shield, which of course Gawaine recognizes instantly as Sir Launcelot’s. While Elaine prattles on about how much she loves her incognito knight, Gawaine tries to reconcile Launcelot’s shield with his knowledge that in the twenty-four years Gawaine has known Launcelot, Launcelot has never once worn a lady’s favor. Twenty-four years is the number Malory cites, though my estimation is closer to forty, what with all the “and then so-and-so went off and had a year’s worth of adventures” and “and then at Pentecost they agreed to meet at the next Pentecost, and then at the next Pentecost…” Malory does.
Gawaine gives Elaine the good news and the bad news. The good news: her lover is Sir Launcelot! The bad news: he’s probably dead and even if he isn’t, Elaine is probably never going to see him again.
“Nooooo!” cries Elaine, and runs off to search for him. Bernard gives her permission to go, on the grounds that Launcelot had his son Lavaine with him, and maybe Elaine can bring her brother back, and who knows, maybe Launcelot is still alive and Elaine can talk him into marrying her, wouldn’t that be something!
Gawaine meanwhile decides his job is done, and returns to Camelot. “You’ll never believe this!” he tells Arthur and Bors and Guenever. “That mystery knight was Launcelot! And he was shacked up with Baudwin’s daughter, and wore her favor!”
Arthur is surprised that Launcelot would wear any lady’s favor.
Bors is heartbroken because he’s the one who stabbed the mystery knight, and if Launcelot dies of the wound, Bors killed him.
Guenever is pissed. She calls Launcelot false and a traitor-knight, and demands Bors go find him and hurt him. “Fie on him! Yet for all his pride and bobaunce there ye proved yourself his better. I can at least take comfort in the knowledge you’re a better knight than he is, Bors.”
Bors winces. “I don’t know about that… I mean, this is Launcelot we’re talking about… I probably only defeated him because he let me.
“He slept with Bernard’s daughter!”
“We don’t know that! It was ambiguous! Listen, I’ll go and search for him, and we’ll settle this all out. I won the Quest for the Holy Grail, so Jesus owes me a favor. God send me good tidings of him!”
So Bors uses his Grail-granted magic powers to track Launcelot, apparently. Maybe that’s just rhetoric. I don’t know. He arrives at Sir Baudwin’s hermitage, but only after Elaine has been there for a while.
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XVIII Chapters 14 and 15 — No Comments
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