The Once and Future King Part 3, Chapters 14-16 Summary

T. H. White

Part 3, Chapters 14-16 Summary

King Arthur receives a letter from King Ban of Benwick, Lancelot’s father. He is being attacked by King Claudas and requests assistance. Arthur feels obligated to go to his aid, since Ban was his ally at the Battle of Bedegraine. He asks Lancelot if he wants to go as well. Lancelot yields to whatever the king wants him to do, though privately he yearns to remain in England with Guenever. Arthur asks him to stay and deal with the factions that still cause trouble. Lancelot agrees, and he and Guenever have a year together. Lancelot fears getting discovered, and Guenever catches this fear from him. They sometimes quarrel, especially when Lancelot feels that he is being treated like a possession. He tells the queen of his childhood, when he hated himself. One time he lied to his brother and in remorse stuck his arm in some stinging nettles. However, he was not stung, so he feels that perhaps this was a miracle. Guenever suggests that they end their affair so that he can perform miracles once again, but Lancelot tells her that she is his miracle.

Arthur returns after defeating King Claudas, and he is soon met by King Bors, Lancelot’s cousin, who has been at Corbin. He tells the news that King Pelles’ daughter Elaine has given birth to a son and named him Galahad. Guenever confronts Lancelot when she hears about this, discerning that Elaine is the miracle that he told her about. Lancelot tells her the story of his being tricked, but Guenever does not believe it. She calls him a seducer and a liar. Eventually, the two lovers make up, but the first seeds of doubt have been planted.

Elaine prepares to go to Camelot with the baby Galahad to show him to his father, Lancelot. She plans to take Lancelot away from Guenever somehow. At court, the news of her intended arrival is discussed. Arthur knows in his heart that Guenever and Lancelot are lovers, but he cannot bring himself to admit it. He hopes that, if he remains unconscious of it, the matter will end itself. He confronts Lancelot in the garden to discuss the knight's recent sadness. Lancelot almost confesses his sin to the king, but says that his malaise has to do with Elaine and the baby. Arthur asks if it is possible for Lancelot to marry Elaine, but Lancelot replies that he does not love her. Lancelot and Guenever also discuss Elaine. The queen tells him that they cannot be together while Elaine is present at Camelot. Lancelot decides to see if he can love Elaine enough to marry her, since he and Guenever can never marry.