The Once and Future King Part 3, Chapters 33-36 Summary

T. H. White

Part 3, Chapters 33-36 Summary

Lancelot continues the tale of his quest. One day, he was by the seaside when a boat approached. He boarded and found anything he could wish for. The boat carried him away, and he discovered that on the barge there was the body of a dead woman, holding a letter. He is not disturbed at the thought of being on a boat with a corpse. Galahad approaches him and as they travel, the father and son get to know each other. The boat lands at a forested cove, where Galahad leaves to go on his quest for the Holy Grail. The boat takes Lancelot to the Castle Carbonek. He approaches, knowing that he will at least get to see the Holy Grail. The doors open onto a chapel where Galahad, Percivale, Bors, and Percivale’s sister, now alive, are serving at the table of the Holy Grail. Also present is someone who may be Joseph of Arimathea. A sword blocks the doorway, and when Lancelot tries to enter, a blast of heat knocks him down and he remembers nothing more.

Guenever meanwhile sits in her bath, washing off the makeup that she wore to try to impress Lancelot. She is convinced that he will come back to her, despite his new “holiness.” He explains to her that they cannot be lovers now, because of his encounter with the Holy Grail. Also, it was because of their sin that he was barred from touching the Grail. Agravaine and Mordred are watching them both, hoping for a chance to betray them to the king, but this is something that Lancelot does not want to happen, knowing how hurt King Arthur would be.

Guenever waits, and waits, but a year goes by, and Lancelot still will not come to her bed. She becomes angry at his holiness, which she sees as selfishness. One day, while they play musical instruments alone, she tells him that he must leave. She thinks it would be better if he would go on a quest for a month or two. He agrees, packs his things, and leaves.

With Lancelot gone, Guenever becomes even more unpopular. An attempt to murder Gawaine fails when another knight eats a poisoned apple meant for him. Another knight, Sir Mador de la Porte, accuses the queen of treason. Trial by combat is decreed, but no one will volunteer to be Guenever’s champion. The night before the battle, Arthur cries out to Guenever, demanding to know why she cannot keep Sir Lancelot by her side.