At the Castle of Corbin, Elaine is preparing for her journey to Camelot; she has decided to try and win Lancelot from Guenever. Being young and immature, she is not versed in the art of seduction and believes just by dressing in a sophisticated gown, she might have a chance of getting him to leave Guenever for her.
Elaine is one of the most tragic characters in the novel—she is deeply in love with Lancelot but her only means to have him is through deceit.
One afternoon, Arthur comes across Lancelot in the rose garden looking wretched. Arthur knows deep down about Lancelot and Guenever's affair, but chooses to ignore it. He is capable of neither jealousy nor malice and thus unable to confront what is so obvious to everyone else. He is a simple, affectionate man and has simply become more reserved. He asks Lancelot if anything is the matter—perhaps it is the girl Elaine and the son she claims is Lancelot's. Lancelot confesses the whole tail of Elaine to Arthur. Later, Guenever finds Lancelot in the rose-garden. She is stiff and cold. She informs Lancelot that Elaine is at the gates of Camelot with his child in her arms.
The story Lancelot tells Arthur about Elaine—although true—is only part of the truth of why Lancelot feels deeply impure. However, it gives Arthur some truth to hang on to, some alternate tale to stave off knowledge of Guenever's betrayal.