The Once and Future King Part 3, Chapters 8-10 Summary

T. H. White

Part 3, Chapters 8-10 Summary

Sir Lancelot comes upon a damsel who begs him to rescue her hunting falcon from a tree. She tells Lancelot that if she comes home without the falcon, her abusive husband will kill her. Reluctantly, Lancelot takes off his armor and captures the falcon. As he is climbing down, the woman’s husband arrives to fight Lancelot, telling him that his wife played a trick on the knight to get him to take off his armor. Lancelot quickly takes the husband’s sword and kills him, telling the damsel that he is not sorry that her husband was killed.

As Lancelot continues along, he spots a woman being chased by a knight. The knight says that the woman is his adulterous wife and he plans to kill her. When Lancelot objects to the killing of a woman for whatever reason, the knight distracts Lancelot’s attention and cuts off his wife’s head. Enraged, Lancelot demands that the knight fight him, but the knight begs for mercy. Disgusted, Lancelot orders him to leave.

At the end of the year, all of the people involved in Lancelot’s quest arrive at Camelot to give witness to the noble knight’s adventures. They present themselves, not to the king, but to Queen Guenever. Despite his voluntary exile, Lancelot has been thinking of his lady the entire time.

Guenever finds that she is in love with both King Arthur and Sir Lancelot. She is overwhelmed at the steady stream of prisoners that come to present themselves to her from the knight. She pardons all of them. Lancelot himself then arrives at court. He approaches King Arthur and kisses his hand. Arthur thanks him for the prisoners on the queen’s behalf, as well as the three counties that have been safely added to the kingdom because of Lancelot’s deeds. Guenever chides Arthur for his seeming love of warfare, for he has long held that war is wrong. Arthur does feel guilty that he has striven for a kingdom of peace and as a result finds himself swimming in blood. He feels unsettled about the knights from Orkney, the sons of Morgause, who are having numerous affairs now that King Lot has been killed. Arthur warns Lancelot that he may have trouble with Gawaine.

Uncle Dap helps Lancelot repair his accoutrements on his return. Lancelot in despair asks his uncle if Guenever loves him. Uncle Dap advises him to ask the lady himself. Lancelot is bound by his beliefs as a Christian. Though he and the queen may be in love with each other, Lancelot cannot make love to her or run away with her. He loves both Arthur and Guenever, but he hates himself.