The Once and Future King Part 3, Chapters 21-23 Summary

T. H. White

Part 3, Chapters 21-23 Summary

Elaine has hidden away her love for Lancelot and has decided to take the veil and become a nun. As a novice, she is living in her father’s castle with Galahad, who is now three years old, before she joins the convent. One of the maids runs to her to tell her that a man is sleeping by the well in the garden. Elaine is surprised by this, since it is January. She approaches the man, who is dressed in knightly robes and immediately recognizes him as Lancelot. She weeps, but only for the obvious trials he has been through. She tells her father of Lancelot’s presence, but her father insists that Lancelot is dead, killed by a boar. Elaine thus brings Lancelot before him, and King Pelles orders that the knight be carried up to a tower room and placed on a feather bed, with an orchestra playing, as is suggested for someone who is mad. When Lancelot awakens, he wants to know how he arrived there. Elaine tells him that he arrived like a madman and now must rest. Lancelot’s only concern is if many people saw him when he was mad.

As Lancelot recovers, Elaine restrains herself from being constantly at his side. They discuss their future, since Lancelot cannot go back to court. Elaine suggests that they live together in a castle her father would give them. Lancelot once again says that he does not love her, so he cannot marry her. However, he is very fond of her, in spite of how she tricked him twice and ruined his relationship with Guenever. She says that she would be happy just having him near, even though they could not be man and wife. He agrees, and they move into the castle, where Lancelot takes the name Chevalier Mal Fet, the Ill-made Knight. This could also mean the Knight Who Has Done Wrong, or even the Knight Who Is Cursed. Elaine encourages Lancelot to pursue his hobbies and to host tournaments, if he so chooses.

Elaine arranges a tournament for Lancelot. Many knights come to fight against the unknown man of Bliant Castle, but Lancelot defeats them all without saying a word. In the evenings, Lancelot goes off to a high point of the castle and looks off toward Camelot. One day, two knights come to the castle, saying that they want to joust with the Chevalier Mal Fet. Lancelot goes out and discovers that one of the knights is his brother, Sir Ector Demaris. Sir Ector tells him that Guenever has sent out knights to search for him. Lancelot invites them into the Castle Bliant.