“Ye Legend of Sir Stupid and the Purple Knight” — Thomas Pynchon (Juvenilia)

“Ye Legend of Sir Stupid and the Purple Knight” was published in Thomas Pynchon’s high school newspaper; he was 16 at the time. (Via).

“Ye  Legend of Sir Stupid and the Purple Knight”

 

“Ridiculous!” roared King Arthur, slamming his beer mug on the Round Table. “Purple, you say?”

“All purple, my liege,” said Sir Launcelot, nervously wiping the foam from his face, “head to toes. Completely.”

“I say! Most irregular. Well, what does he want?”

“He wants audience with you, my liege. It seems he’s done ole Cholmondesley in.”

“Cholmondesley?”

“With an axe, your grace. A purple axe. He says he’ll do the same to us all if we don’t send a challenger to fight him in fair battle.”“Well?”

“Well, he— he’s— twenty feet tall.”

“Twenty! Oh, I say! Ghastly business! Who’ve we got crazy enough to fight him? How about you, Launcelot?”

“Oh, no, my liege. Cut my finger last night peeling potatoes. The pain is beastly.”

“Rotten luck, old chap. Well,” he addressed the knights of the round table, “there’s a big purple idiot outside who’s looking for a fight. Who’s game?”

Then up spake Sir Bushwack, a sturdy youth with a broad beam and a low center of gravity: “Where is the bloke? I’m not afraid, even if he is twenty feet taII!” Sir Bushwack had been drinking.

Then spake King Arthur to Sir Launcelot, telling him to bid the knight enter. And Launcelot did this, and the horns sounded, and in staggered a tremendous giant, perhaps four feet in height, dragging behind him a ten-foot purple axe. He had a vast quantity of purple hair which fell down over his eyes, and was clad in purple armor, and his feet in purple sneakers. He led a noble steed, also purple, which resembled a cross between a Shetland pony and an armadillo.

King Arthur whispered to Launcelot, “I thought you said he was twenty feet tall.”“That’s what he told me, your majesty.”

“That’s what he what? Why you …”

The rest of King Arthur’s tirade was drowned out by the purple giant, who was bellowing in a mighty voice:

“Okay, I can beat any man in the house! I ain’t scared of nobody ‘cause you’re all … “ he hiccoughed “ … chicken to fight me! Come on, who’s first?”

Up spake Sir Bushwack, shouting, “I challenge thee, Sir Knight!” The purple knight laughed. “Look what’sh challenging me! You slob, I can,—hic—can lick you with, — hic— one hand tied behind my back! Come ahead!” Then did the purple knight pick up the purple axe and begin to whirl it about his head, faster and faster. Sir Bushwack waddled up dubiously with sword in hand, feebly attempted to parry, then quickly retreated. The purple knight stood and laughed.

“Chicken, all of you! Scared to fight me! Har! Har!”

Suddenly, the horns sounded and into the hall rushed a very brave and manly knight, Sir Stupid.

“I say!” he shouted to all and sundry, “Old Fotheringay’s run amok! He and his horse fell into that newly-pressed grape juice up at the distillery, and …”.

Then he caught sight of the purple knight and stopped short. King Arthur started to laugh hysterically, spilling beer hither and yon.

“I say, old Fotheringay’s gone and fallen into the wine vat! Old Fotheringayl Haw, Haw, Haw! Old Fotheringay’s got high on grape juice! Haw! In the still of the knight!”

Old Fotheringay stood digesting this in silence. Then slowly he began to chuckle and whirl that axe.

“Oh, oh,” Sir Stupid whispered to Arthur, “here he goes!” With a savage yell, Old Fotheringay charged the Round Table, swinging his axe. In an instant, the hall became the scene of a free-for-all. The purple knight was in the thick of the whole mess, smashing furniture, beer kegs, and anything else that happened to be in his way. The hall resounded with the clanging of swords, the splintering of wood, and the demonaical chuckling of the purple knight. In the midst of the noise and confusion, Sir Stupid buttonholed Bushwack.

“Noble knight,” he said, “art thou truly dedicated to thy leige?”

“Yes.”

“And wouldst thou suffer discomfort to rid thy liege of this menace?”

“Surely,” Sir Bushwack said absently, as he ducked a flying beer mug.

“That’s all I wanted to know! Fotheringay! You feeble-minded halfwit cretin! Over here!”

Infuriated, the purple knight whirled toward Sir Stupid and raised his axe. Sir Stupid lifted the protesting Bushwack and hurled him bodily at Fotheringay. There was a loud, splintering smash as the purple knight went down, and then all was silent, except for the gurgling of beer from a shattered keg. Sir Stupid stood over the horizontal Fotheringay.

“Now, thou proud knight,” roared Sir Stupid triumphantly, “now what hast thou to say?”

Slowly, the purple knight looked up and sneered. “CHICKEN,” he said.

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“How Sir Launcelot departed to seek the Queen Guenever, and how he found her at Almesbury” — Sir Thomas Malory

“How Sir Launcelot departed to seek the Queen Guenever, and how he found her at Almesbury” by Sir Thomas Malory

Then came Sir Bors de Ganis, and said: My lord Sir Launcelot, what think ye for to do, now to ride in this realm? wit ye well ye shall find few friends. Be as be may, said Sir Launcelot, keep you still here, for I will forth on my journey, and no man nor child shall go with me. So it was no boot to strive, but he departed and rode westerly, and there he sought a seven or eight days; and at the last he came to a nunnery, and then was Queen Guenever ware of Sir Launcelot as he walked in the cloister. And when she saw him there she swooned thrice, that all the ladies and gentlewomen had work enough to hold the queen up. So when she might speak, she called ladies and gentlewomen to her, and said: Ye marvel, fair ladies, why I make this fare. Truly, she said, it is for the sight of yonder knight that yonder standeth; wherefore I pray you all call him to me.

When Sir Launcelot was brought to her, then she said to all the ladies: Through this man and me hath all this war been wrought, and the death of the most noblest knights of the world; for through our love that we have loved together is my most noble lord slain. Therefore, Sir Launcelot, wit thou well I am set in such a plight to get my soul-heal; and yet I trust through God’s grace that after my death to have a sight of the blessed face of Christ, and at domesday to sit on his right side, for as sinful as ever I was are saints in heaven. Therefore, Sir Launcelot, I require thee and beseech thee heartily, for all the love that ever was betwixt us, that thou never see me more in the visage; and I command thee, on God’s behalf, that thou forsake my company, and to thy kingdom thou turn again, and keep well thy realm from war and wrack; for as well as I have loved thee, mine heart will not serve me to see thee, for through thee and me is the flower of kings and knights destroyed; therefore, Sir Launcelot, go to thy realm, and there take thee a wife, and live with her with joy and bliss; and I pray thee heartily, pray for me to our Lord that I may amend my misliving. Now, sweet madam, said Sir Launcelot, would ye that I should now return again unto my country, and there to wed a lady? Nay, madam, wit you well that shall I never do, for I shall never be so false to you of that I have promised; but the same destiny that ye have taken you to, I will take me unto, for to please Jesu, and ever for you I cast me specially to pray. If thou wilt do so, said the queen, hold thy promise, but I may never believe but that thou wilt turn to the world again. Well, madam, said he, ye say as pleaseth you, yet wist you me never false of my promise, and God defend but I should forsake the world as ye have done. For in the quest of the Sangreal I had forsaken the vanities of the world had not your lord been. And if I had done so at that time, with my heart, will, and thought, I had passed all the knights that were in the Sangreal except Sir Galahad, my son. And therefore, lady, sithen ye have taken you to perfection, I must needs take me to perfection, of right. For I take record of God, in you I have had mine earthly joy; and if I had found you now so disposed, I had cast me to have had you into mine own realm.