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It was a bright and beautiful morn, the perfect weather for embarking on a hunting trip. The majestic King Arthur, illustrious leader of the Knights of the Round Table, could not believe his luck. As he was carried across a grassy knoll (by some beggars he’d chanced to acquire along the way) he contemplated the unbridled feelings of joy brought to him by his loyal knights. When Arthur happened to spot a pot-bellied pig out of the corner of his kingly eye, he quickly reined in the beggars and gracefully dismounted. Following a brief target practice involving the taller beggar and an overripe peach, the king successfully smote the baby boar.
“Aha, I do believe I’ve smote the beast,” the king announced with pride. “Do thou not agree my fine beggars?”
“We think thou hast it right, sire; t’was most brave and royal of you,” the beggars replied in unison (as they were beggars of the Siamese kind).
Most suddenly, the kindly conversation between the king and his beggars was rudely interrupted by a piercing scream. A small green man, wearing a tall hat and carrying a large sum of gold in a black fire-pot began to kick Arthur in the shins. Seeing a fine opportunity for a quick escape from the King, the beggars fled in laughter.
“What have I done to deserve such fierce and foulle behavior?” the king asked.
“You’ve smote mine pot-bellied pig,” the little green man replied. “ T’is a lucky pig that can n’er be replaced.”
“Know you not that I am the most illustrious and royal King Arthur?”
The angry little green man introduced himself as Todd and told the king that he did not care how illustrious or royal he was. Todd was most determined to have vengeance for the slaying of his lucky pig. After much lengthy discussion, and Todd’s refusal to accept the beggars (now long gone) as consolation for the slain little beast, King Arthur was in a most precarious position. Todd was getting ready to unleash a second ghastly kick to Arthur’s shins when he came upon an idea.
“Know thee not a Sir Gawain?” Todd asked.
“Yes,” said the king, “he is one of my most loyal knights.”
“To preserve thine kingly life, I order thee to bring me Sir Gawain.”
“But why?” asked the king.
“Gawain must replace mine lucky pig,” Todd replied. “Bring him at once with a snout on his face and a most curly tail on his brave behind.
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Frightened for his life, the king hastily agreed to return to Todd with Gawain in one week and a day. When he returned to his castle, he nervously summoned Gawain to the Round Table. Having been involved in an intense and fruitful game of witch-hunting, Gawain was somewhat irritated at being summoned by the king. But because he was known as a fine and most loyal knight, he abided by the king’s request to see him. Things took a turn for the worse when the king informed Gawain that he had been promised to Todd as a replacement for the lucky pig.
“Have I not previously wed a hag so foulle as a n’er a man saw, for thee?” the furious Gawain asked.
“Yes my loyal knight, and it was most appreciated,” the king replied.
“Nay, Sir King, did I not tell thee n’er to hunt unaccompanied again?”
“But I was most accompanied by mine new Siamese beggars,” the king said to Gawain.
“That’s it,” Gawain cried, “I’ve no choice but to abandon the comitatus.”
“But how could a knight so loyal do such a thing?”
“I’ve been thinking about it, “ Gawain replied, “and when your royal highness frequently gets into dire trouble having done the most stupid deeds, it is loyal Sir Gawain who pays the price.”
“Do I not provide thee with thanks and treasures for thy knightly loyalty?”
“It’s not worth it.”
And with that, Sir Gawain swiftly abandoned his position as a loyal knight at King Arthur’s Round Table. Once word of Gawain’s leave-taking spread to the rest of the knights, many, including Lancelot, followed suit. Poor King Arthur could not understand why his valued knights were turning against him. He wandered the castle in tears (often accompanied by the Siamese beggars who returned after the plague eliminated the kind strangers who had previously provided them with their meager source of income). As he cried, the once magnificent and illustrious King Arthur cursed the day that he allowed a lucky pot-bellied pig and a green man named Todd to cause the ultimate destruction of his beloved Round Table.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
Seventh Edition. Volume 1. Ed. M.H. Abrams. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 114-209.