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


 

 

HOW GUY WENT HOME, AND HOW HE SET FORTH AGAIN

[74] After many adventures, Guy at last resolved to go home again. So, laden with riches, and followed by a great train of knights and servants, he at length reached Warwick. The people received him with much joy. The Earl welcomed him as a son, every one was glad, and Phyllis most glad of all. But Guy had one sorrow. His own father and mother were dead, and that grieved him sorely. But Phyllis comforted him, and in the joy of being with her once more he forgot all else.

Many long hours Phyllis and Guy sat together talking, telling each other of all that had happened in the years which had passed since Guy rode away to seek adventures. Phyllis was never weary of listen- [75] ing to these adventures, and of wondering over Guy's marvelous deeds. And so, with pleasant talk and laughter, the summer days slipped past.

At last one day the Earl called Phyllis to him. "Daughter," he said, "it is now time that thou shouldst marry. Lords, knights and nobles have come to ask thy hand, but thou has refused them all. Now I grow old, and I would fain see thy husband before I die. Choose now whom thou wilt have."

"Father," replied Phyllis, looking down, "give me three days. Then will I choose."

I wonder why she wanted three days, for she knew quite well whom she would marry. But you see Phyllis was a beautiful lady, and beautiful ladies do many things which are hard to understand.

When the third day came, the Earl called his daughter again. "Thy will, daughter, tell it me," he said.

"Sir," she said, blushing and smiling, "my will I tell thee blithely. There is thine own knight Guy. In the whole world is there [76] never a better man. Him I will marry, and none other."

"Daughter," replied the Earl, greatly pleased, "thou dost choose well. I will speak to Sir Guy, and if he be willing, I shall be right glad."

Then Phyllis went away laughing softly, for she knew well that Guy would marry her.

So there was a great and splendid wedding. Dukes, earls, and knights came to it with many fair and lovely ladies; but Phyllis was the fairest of them all, and not a knight or lord was so handsome as Sir Guy. For fifteen days the feasting and merriment lasted. Then all the guests went away full of wonderment at the splendour they had seen.

For some time Guy and Phyllis lived happily together. Then one sad day Earl Rohand died. He left all his land and vast wealth to Guy, and the King made him Earl of Warwick, so he became a great and powerful lord as well as a gallant knight. [77] One day Guy had been out hunting, and, returning in the evening, he climbed to the high turret of his castle, and looked out over his broad lands. There field, and hill, and valley, river and forest, lay before him, all red in the evening sunshine, and as far as the eye could reach it was all his own—tower and town, cattle, homestead, all were his.

Guy leaned upon the stone rampart deep in thought. The red sun went down, the sky grew dark, and one by one the twinkling stars shone out. Still Guy stood there thinking. So quiet it was, so peaceful, and unlike the life he had been used to lead, that it seemed almost a dream.

Then, as in a dream within a dream, his past life all came back to him. He heard the clatter and jingle of horse and armour, the ring of sword on shield, the cries of rage, of pain, of exultation. He saw the field covered with splintered spears, broken armour, bloodstained, torn banners; he saw the fallen foe, wounds and death. Then it seemed as if he woke, and looking out again [78] over the peaceful country, he remembered that that was all past for him, and that life now flowed stilly on in love and gentleness. Suddenly he fell upon his knees. "O God," he cried, "I thank Thee that Thou has brought me to such honour, peace, and love."

In those far-off days, when the world was not so old, men were more simple, and God seemed nearer to them than now. But Guy in all his life had never thought of God. He had loved Phyllis only, and had done great deed that he might bring honour and fame to her. He had fought many battles, he had killed many men, but never once had he thought of the pain and trouble he had brought on others, but only of the glory to himself. He had indeed nearly always fought for the weak against the strong, but that was because it brought him greater glory. Now, kneeling upon the cold stone, with his face pressed into his hands, it seemed to him as if his whole past life had been wicked. "I have done everything for the love of a beautiful face,"he moaned. "I [79] have never done one action because it was right."

"Alas, he said, that I was born,

Body and soul I am forlorn,

Of bliss I am all bare;

For never in all my life before

For Him the crown of thorn that bore

Good deed did I neer;

But war and woe have I wrought,

And many a man to ground have brought,

That rues me now full sore."

So he knelt and mourned. All around it was still, and over his head was the deep blue sky with its twinkling stars. There was none to hear or pity his misery.

Then at last he stood up. Baring his head he threw his sword. Holding it in both hands high above him, he turned his face up to the sky. "Lord God," he cried, "here is my sword. It is Thine for ever. I swear here and now that it shall never again be drawn save in a good cause. Never again shall I shed blood for the sake of glory only." [80] As Guy stood there, holding out this sword, Phyllis came softly up the stone steps. When she reached the top, and saw his pale face turned up to the sky, and his drawn sword held out, she stood still, afraid.

There was silence for a few minutes, then Guy looked down and saw her standing there.

What is it?" whispered Phyllis, more afraid than ever at the strange look in Guy's eyes.

Then, taking her by the hand, Guy told Phyllis all his thoughts. "For many years, he said, "I have never ceased from wars and from shedding man"s blood. Surely God must be angry with me. So I have vowed never again to draw sword except in a just cause. And now I will put off my fine clothes, my jewels, and my chains of gold, and, dressed in pilgrim garments, I will journey barefoot to the Holy Land, and there, and the Sepulchre of our Lord, do penance for my sins."

When Phyllis heard these words she sat [81] quite still. She had been happy when she came up on the stone stair. It was dark, but she was not afraid, for Guy, she knew, was at the top, and she had run lightly up, singing as she came. Now she was utterly miserable. All life seemed dark. She shivered at the thought that she would have to go up and down these stairs, and through all the great empty rooms, alone, and than, however she might wander and search, there would be no Guy anywhere. Then, leaning her head against his shoulder, she let the hot tears chase each other down her white cheeks.

Guy tried to comfort her, but she would not be comforted. Do not go away," she moaned. "Oh! Stay with me, stay with me. We will give all our money to the poor; we will guild great churches and monasteries. If thou hast done anything wicked that will make up for it, only do not go away."

Buy Guy shook his head. "I must go," he said, "there is no other way,"

So the great Earl of Warwick put off [82] his fine clothes and dressed himself in pilgrim robes. Of all his jewels and gold he took only a ring which Phyllis had given him. Then with a staff in his hand he set out on his long journey. Slowly, sadly, with bent head he walked away, leaving behind him his lovely wife, whom he had fought for and loved these many long years. He would not look back—not once—lest his heart should fail him, and he should return.

And Phyllis, left alone in her beautiful castle, sobbed as if her heart would break.


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