The Once and Future King Part 4, Chapters 7-10 Summary

T. H. White

Part 4, Chapters 7-10 Summary

Lancelot goes to Guenever’s bed chamber and tells her of Gareth’s warning. At first she dismisses it, stating that Arthur would never willingly be part of such a trap. On second thought, she thinks that he might if he felt forced by his sense of justice. She urges Lancelot to leave at once, but it is too late. There is knocking on the door and a command to open. Lancelot lets one knight in, slamming the door behind him. He takes the knight’s sword and kills him. Opening the visor, he sees that he has killed Agravaine. Lancelot then prepares for a siege and gets Guenever to promise to come to him at Joyous Gard if they are able to escape. She agrees in desperation, knowing that if they are caught she will be burned at the stake and Lancelot will be executed.

Mordred and Gawaine watch the preparations for Guenever’s execution. Arthur enters and tells Gareth and Gaheris to go down to strengthen the guard, preparing to offer some resistance when Lancelot comes to rescue the queen, as Arthur prays that he does. Guenever is brought out dressed only in her shift and tied to the stake. Lancelot arrives as hoped for, giving battle to the guard and finally managing to rescue Guenever and ride off with her. Arthur is overjoyed that his queen is safe. He learns that Gaheris and Gareth are among the dead knights slain during the struggle.

Six months later, Lancelot and Guenever are under siege at Joyous Gard. Guenever suggests that she go back, even if it means being burned at the stake. Lancelot refuses to consider this, saying that they should let the Pope decide, asking that he excommunicate both sides if an agreement is not reached. Guenever tells him that if they do this, they will have to abide by whatever the decision is.

The Pope decrees that Guenever shall return to her husband with no punishment. No word is said about Sir Lancelot. Gawaine and Mordred watch the peace procession, with Guenever carrying an olive branch. Mordred is unsatisfied, and neither is Gawaine. As the king grants forgiveness to the queen, Gawaine tells Lancelot that he has been banished from the kingdom. He has fifteen days to leave England, and that the decree is with Arthur’s consent. Lancelot begs Gawaine not to follow him, thus prolonging the war, but Gawaine refuses this request. Lancelot bids the crowds good-bye and sets off for France.