How at Last Guy Went Home
After Guy left the King, he journeyed on towards Warwick. And when he came to the town over which he was lord and master, no one knew him. So he mixed with the poor men who came every morning to the castle gates to receive food from the Countess.
Guy listened to what those around him said. He heard them praise and bless Phyllis, calling her the best woman that had ever lived, and his heart was glad.
Pale and trembling, Guy bent before his wife, to receive food from her hands. He was so changed that even she did not know him, but she felt very sorry for the poor man who seemed so thin and worn, so she spoke kindly to him and gave him more food than the others, and told him to come every day as long as he lived.
Guy thanked her, and turned slowly away. He remembered that a hermit lived in a cave not far off, and to him he went. But when he reached the cave he found it empty. The hermit had been dead many years.
Guy then made up his mind to live in the cave. Every morning he went to the castle to receive food from Phyllis. But he would only take the simples things, often eating nothing but bread and drinking water from the spring which flowed near.
Every evening Guy could hear Phyllis as she paced to and fro, for her walk was not far from the hermits cave. But still some strange enchantment, as it were, held him dumb, and although he still loved her, although he knew that she sorrowed and longed for him to return home, he could not say, "I am here."
At last one day Guy became very ill. He had no longer strength to go to the castle, so calling a passing countryman to him, he gave him a ring. It was the ring which Phyllis had given him, and which he had kept ever with him through all his pilgrimage. "Take this, he said to the countryman, "and carry it to Fair Phyllis, the Countess of Warwick."
But the countryman was afraid. "I have never spoken to a great lady, and I do not know how to address her," he said. "Besides she may be angry with me, and I shall get into trouble if I carry a ring to the Earl"s wife."
"Do not fear," said Guy, "the Countess will not be angry; rather will she reward thee. Tell her to come hastily or I die."
So the countryman took the ring, and, coming to the Countess, fell upon his knees. "Lady," he said, "a pilgrim who lives yonder in the forest sends thee this ring."
Phyllis took the ring, and, as she looked at it, a strange light came into her eyes. Like one in a dream she passed her hand over her forehead. "It is mine own lord, Sir Guy," she cried, and fell senseless to the ground.
The countryman was much frightened, but her ladies ran to the Countess and raised her, and soon she opened her eyes.
"Friend," she said to the countryman, "tell me where is he who gave thee this ring?"
"He is in the hermits cave," replied the man, "and he bade me say that thou must hasten ere he die."
Right glad was Phyllis at the thought of seeing Guy again, yet sorrowful lest she should find him dead. So, calling for her mule, she mounted and rode speedily towards the cave, the countryman running before to show the way.
And when they came to the cave Phyllis went in, and kneeling beside Guy, put her arms round him, crying bitterly. "Dear," he said, "weep not, for I go where sorrows end." Then
"He kissed her fair and courteously, With that he died hastily."
There was sorrow through all the land when it was known that Guy, the great hero, was dead. He was buried with much pomp and ceremony, the King and Queen, and all the greatest nobles of the land, coming to the funeral. And Phyllis, not caring to live longer, now that she knew that Guy was indeed dead, died too, and they were both buried in the same grave.
Then minstrels sang of Guy's valiant deeds, and of how he had slain giants and dragons, and of how me might have been an emperor and a king over many lands, and how he was ever a gentle and courteous knight.
"Thus endeth the tale of Sir Guy: God, on his soul have mercy, And on ours when we be dead, And grant us in heaven to have stead."
If you ever go to Warwick you will see, in the castle there, Guy's sword and armour. Wise people will tell you that they never belonged to Guy, but to some other man who lived much later. Well, perhaps they are right.
The cave where Guy lived as a hermit and where he died is about a miel and half from Warwick. But you cannot see it now as it is in a private garden. Beside it is Fair Phyllis's Walk and the spring from which Guy used to drink, which is still called Guy's Well. There too, in the chapel of the house which now stands there, is a statue of Guy, very old and broken.
Upon the wall of the cave is some writing. You will not be able to read it, for it is Saxon, but it means, "Cast out, Thou Christ, from Thy servant this burden."
Did Guy, I wonder, or some other, in days of loneliness and despair, carve these words?
If you ask why Guy did these things,—why, when he was happy and had everything he could desire, he threw away that happiness, and wandered out into the world to endure hunger, and weariness, and suffering,—or why, when at last he came back and found his beautiful wife waiting and longing for his return, he did not go to her and be happy again, I cannot tell you certainly. But perhaps it may be explained in this way. In those far-off days there was nothing for great men to do but fight. What they had they had won by the sword, and they kept it by the sword. So they went swaggering over the world, fighting and shedding blood, and the more men a knight killed, the more blood he shed, the greater was his fame. It was impossible for a man to live in the world and be at peace with his fellows. So when he desired peace he had to cut himself off from the world and all who lived in it, and go to live like a hermit in some lonely cave, or wander as a pilgrim in desolate places. And so it was with Guy.