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Stories of Guy of Warwick Told to the Children by  H. E. Marshall

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HOW GUY FOUGHT WITH THE GIANT AMERAUNT

[83] Through many heathen lands Guy traveled on his way to Palestine. He was often weary and hungry, his face was tanned by the sun and the wind, his feet were cut and bleeding with the hard stones on the road; he had many dangers to meet, many difficulties to overcome, but still he went on, never faltering or pausing.

At last one day as he walked he came upon an old man sitting by the wayside. His hair was white and his beard was long, but his face was very grand and noble, and Guy felt sure that he must be some great lord. Although he was old he seemed a bold man and a strong, but now he sat [84] by the wayside weeping and moaning, "Alas that I was born!"Goodman," said Guy, "why dost thou make such sorrow and mourning?"

"Pilgrim," replied the man, "I will tell thee, since thou askest. But I fear me thou canst little mend the matter. I am Earl Jonas of Durras. In the castle near by lives a giant called Ameraunt. While I was in a far country fighting the Saracens, he stole away my daughter, who is famed in all lands for her beauty and goodness. I have fifteen strong sons, and they all vowed to save their sister from the giant. But one by one he has seized and conquered them, and shut them up in his dread castle. I know not now whether they be dead or alive, so I sit and mourn. For who shall deliver my daughter and my sons from the fearful giant? Guy of Warwick alone could conquer him. But I have sought far and wide for him in vain. Even in England they know not where he is to be found. Then the old man let his head fall forward [85] on his breast, and cried again, "Alas that I was born!"

"Earl," said Guy, "grieve not so. I have ever been accounted a doughty man. Give me sword and armour and I will fight the giant, and please Heaven, will set free thy daughter and thy sons."

Earl Jonas gazed at Guy in astonishment. He looked him up and down, and saw that he was tall and strong, but very thin; his hair was long and wild, and he seemed more like a man of the wilderness than a soldier.

"I thank thee, Sir Pilgrim," he said at last, "for thy good-will, but thou knowest not this heathen giant. He is so gaunt and grim, that if he did but look at thee with his fierce eye, thy heart would fail thee and thou wouldst flee."

"Do not fear, Sir Earl," replied Guy, "many an one hath looked upon me in wrath, yet have I never fled from any in battle. God, who has so great power, will give me grace and might to slay the giant, for this is a righteous cause."

[86] Then Earl Jonas fell upon his knees and kissed Guy's hand. "What is thy name," he asked, "that I many know who it is has so great courage?"

My name is Young," said Guy, not wishing to be known.

Then Earl Jonas led Guy to his house, and offered him beautiful robes to wear. But Guy refused them. "Give me meat and drink," he said, "weapons and good armour. That is all I ask."

So Earl Jonas ordered his servants to bring forth his most splendid armour. The hauberk, as the coat of mail was called, had once belonged to a great king. It was wrought of steel so fine and bright that it shone like silver. The helmet had belonged to another great king, and was inlaid with gold, and set with jewels. The sword had been the weapon of a famous hero called Hector, the shield was rich with gold and colours, and as Guy stepped out ready to fight, each man there asked his fellow who this might be, for never [87] surely had more splendid knight been seen.

Mounting upon a horse, Guy rode to the castle of the giant Ameraunt. "Come forth and fight," he called.

Ameraunt looked forth from his castle walls. "Who art thou," he cried, "who art thus bold? Dost thou desire that thy carcase shall feed the crows? Look and see how many bones whiten in the sun around these battlements."

But Guy was not afraid. "Come forth," he cried again.

"That will I," replied the giant, "and make short work of thee and thy insolence."

The castle gates flew open, and Ameraunt stalked out. In one hand he held an enormous club, in the other he carried the keys of the castle.

"It is no man, but the Evil One himself," thought Guy, as he watched him come.

Then the fight began, and fierce and terrible it was.

One blow from the giant's club fell upon [88] Guy's helmet with such force that the jewels in it were scattered upon the grass. Another battered his shield so that it was almost broken in two. A third clove his saddle bow, wounding his horse so that it staggered and fell. God of all might," cried Guy, springing up again, shield me from death this day."

Stroke after stroke fell. Sparks flew as Guy's sword clashed with Ameraunts might, steel-shod club; and as he fought the giant grew ever more and more wrathful, until at last, with a most fearful blow, he brought Guy to his knees. Never before in any fight had this happened to Guy. But in a moment he was up again, and soon he in his turn brought the giant to his knees. But he, too, sprang up again, and the fight went on as fiercely as before.

It was midsummer, and the sun was hot. Ameraunt was weary and thirsty. "Hold, noble Knight," he cried at last, "never have I met man like unto thee. Forty giants have I slain, and not one of them could [89] stand against me as thou dost. Hear now, thou Christian man, for the love of thy God and for charity let me drink a little, or from very thirst my heart will break. Let me drink now, and if thou art athirst later thou too shalt drink."

Sir," said Guy, "thou sayest well. Go, drink."

So the giant kneeled upon the ground, and, putting his lips to the stream which flowed near, drank. So deep a draught did he take that it seemed as if he would drink the river dry.

While Ameraunt drank Guy stood stone still. He could easily have killed the giant as he knelt, but he would not take so mean an advantage.

At length Ameraunt rose, refreshed. "Sir Knight, he cried, "yield thee now or I trow thou shalt soon be a dead man. Thou wert very simple to let me drink, for now I am as fresh as ever I was."

"Yield will I never," replied Guy, and once more the fight began. Guy's helmet, shield, [90] up again he set upon Ameraunt with new vigour. Swing his sword mightily, he cut off the giant's right arm. Howling with rage and pain, Ameraunt tried to continue the fight with his left, but his strength began to ebb. At last he slipped and fell, and with one blow Guy cut off his head.

Through all the long summer's day the fight had lasted, and the red sun was making the hills glow with crimson and purple as Guy, weary and wounded, bent to take the keys of the castle which lay by the dead giant's side.

Then slowly he limped to the castle entrance. The key grated in the lock, and the gates flew open. Guy entered the gloomy place, and, one by one, unlocked the doors.

Cell after cell was thrown open. Out of them came many noble knights, brave men, and fair ladies. The were pale and worn with suffering and hunger, and so long had they lain in darkness that they could not at first bear the sunshine, but hid their faces.


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IT SEEMED AS IF HE WOULD DRINK THE RIVER DRY.

[92] Last of all, in the deepest and darkest dungeon, Guy found the Earl's beautiful daughter and her fifteen brave brothers. He led them to their father, who, weeping for joy, fell upon his knees, offering Guy great rewards, even to half of his possessions.

But Guy would take nothing, and putting off his splendid armour, he dressed himself once more in his pilgrim's robe, and with his staff in his hand set out again upon his journey.


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