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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 FIFTEEN VILLAINS

[44] ONCE again Guy reached the shore, and, the wind blowing fair, he stepped on board his ship, and sailed away in search of adventure.

He landed in France, and wandered through many lands, everywhere winning praise and fame, and because he was courteous and gentle, much love too. Other knights joined him, sure of honour and renown if they but followed in Guy's train. One of these knights was called Heraud of Ardern, and between Heraud and Guy there was great love. But some people hated Guy. Duke Otto had neither forgotten nor forgiven Guy for having overthrown him at the White Tournament. The more he heard of Guy's great deeds the more he hated him. Jealousy and anger filled his wicked heart, [45] as, brooding and gloomy, he roamed about seeking ever for revenge.

At last his chance came. Guy was wounded at a Tournament, and afterwards rode away, attended only by three friends, one of whom was Heraud. When Duke Otto heard of this, he rejoiced greatly. Guy, wounded and almost alone, would be easily overcome, he thought. So he bribed fifteen villains to lie in wait for him in a certain wood through which he must pass.

"His knights ye shall slay," said Otto; "but Sir Guy ye shall take alive and bring unto me. In my dark prison he shall lie. No ransom shall be great enough to buy his freedom. From thence shall he never win. In sorrow and woe he shall end." Then Otto laughed a low, cruel laugh, and his little eyes gleamed with a wicked joy.

"My lord, thy will shall be done," said the villains, and taking their swords and spears they set out quickly for the forest. There, lying still and quiet among the green leaves, they waited for Guy.

[46] Soon he came. Knowing nothing of these wicked plots against him, he rode slowly through the wood, mounted, not upon his war-horse, but upon a little mule, for his wound was still very painful, and he could go but gently.

Suddenly, through the green branches, Guy and his friends saw the gleam of steel helmets and the glitter of swords and spears as the fifteen villains came towards them with dark and evil look.

"Alas!" said Guy, "here is treachery. Truly death comes to us now, for we are but four against fifteen. But right dearly will I seel my life, and I charge ye all that ye do manly work this day."

"Dear friend," said Heraud, "for the love thou bearest me, go hence. Let us fight this fight, for thou art sore wounded. For love of thee we will die gladly."

Then Guy answered right proudly, "If thou diest so also will I. I will never go from thee," and getting off his mule, he made ready to fight.

[47] "Sir Guy," called the leader of the villains, "yield thee, or ye be all dead men. But if thou dost yield, thou shalt have thy life, for we be Duke Otto's soldiers, and he has charged us to bring thee to him alive."

"By my troth," cried Guy, "that shall ye never do," and with one blow from his sword the leader fell dead. "Nor thou, villain, thou shalt never lead me to thy proud duke," he cried again, as a second fell beneath his sword. "Nor to prison shall I ever be brought by thee," and a third fell dead.

Heraud too laid about him with his sword, and man after man sank beneath its blows. Fierce was the fight. Terrible strokes were given and taken. Helmets were cloven from brow to chin, arms were lopped, the ground was strewn with the dead and dying.

Gallantly though they fought, two of Guy's knights went down. He and Heraud were left alone. Then, suddenly, one of the traitor men smote Heraud so hard that his sword pierced shield and hauberk and he fell to the ground as if dead.

[48] "Villain," cried Guy, "thou shalt dearly pay for his death," and with redoubled fury he set upon the traitor so that he died.

Three villains still remained, and they now all attacked Guy at once.

"Yield! Yield!" cried one.

That will I never do until my body lies stiff in death," cried Guy, swinging his sword mightily, and the speaker's voice was dumb for ever. Then the others fled and left Guy alone, bleeding and exhausted.

Great sorrow and moan did Guy make for his dead friends. "Alas!" said he, "true knights were ye, and for thy love, fair Phyllis, they are slain this day. Ah, Heraud! My dearest friend, that was so courteous and kind, who shall help me now in the fight? In the world was never a better knight and brother. Oh that the villain who slew thee had slain me too!"


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FIERCE WAS THE FIGHT.

So Guy mourned and wept, then, mounting again on his mule, he rode away to the cave of a Hermit who lived near. The Hermit, a holy man greatly learned in the [49] use of herbs and simples, spent his days and nights in prayer and fasting.

"Hermit," said Guy, as he lighted down at the entrance to the cave, "come with me, and I will show thee where in the forest lie three men, dead. These, for the love of Holy Trinity and of Saint Charity, I pray thee bury, and daily say a Mass for their souls, and God shall reward thee."

"Tell me first who art thou," said the Hermit.

"Willingly," replied Guy. "I am a knight from a far country, and, passing through this forest with my three friends, we were set upon by thieves and outlaws. All my friends have been brought to death, and I am sorely wounded."

"Fair sir," said the Hermit, "I will come with thee. But first I will tend thy wounds."

So the Hermit unlaced Guy's armour, and washed his wounds, and bound them up with healing herbs. Then together they went to the place where Guy's three friends lay.

[50] Once again Guy knelt beside Heraud, weeping over him; once again he kissed him. Then rising he went sadly away, with dim eyes and bent head, leaving the Hermit in prayer beside his friend.


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