The quill quivered between Thomas’ shivering fingers as he wrote his final lines. Years of translating, compiling and composing left him within striking distance of finishing his work, but the cold London night threatened to delay him. Something told him, he must finish tonight, even though he had all the time he wanted. The king made it clear that Thomas was not to be pardoned. Had he even committed the crimes they said he did? He couldn’t remember, but it didn’t matter anymore. All that mattered now was finishing his work — his time as an errant knight would soon draw to a close.
The glow of the moon, which faintly lit his cell, was partially blocked by the shadow of Old Bailey. He squinted at the parchment as he hunched over the tiny wooden desk. His vision began to blur.
He looked up and could make out a shape moving towards him. As the shape moved closer, it revealed the profile of a man. Thomas, even with blurred vision, could tell who it was. He had never met the man but he knew exactly which man it was. It was Sir Lancelot.
“Kneel,” said Lancelot. Thomas obeyed. “Arthur is dead, and now I am too,” Lancelot said.
“I know,” said Thomas hesitantly. “Am I next?”
“Yes,” said Lancelot as he unsheathed his sword. Thomas lowered his head. “But not yet.” Slowly Lancelot lowered the sword to Thomas’ shoulder. “I name you Sir Thomas of Warwickshire, scribe of Arthur.”
Thomas looked up. Lancelot was gone. Thomas shook his head, which seemed to focus his vision. He returned to his desk. He used his left hand to steady his right. Assured of his own composure, Thomas began to write his final lines:
“I pray you all, jentylmen and jentylwymmen that redeth this book of Arthur and his knyghtes from the begynnyng to the endynge, praye for me whyle I am on lyve that God sende me good delyveraunce. For this book was ended the ninth yere of the reygne of Kyng Edward the Fourth, by Syr Thomas Maleoré, knyght.”
Le Morte D’Arthur, the greatest collection of Arthur stories was complete. Sir Thomas Malory put down his quill. Now he could rest.