Guy and His Lion
At one time Guy stayed a long while with the King of Greece, helping him to fight his battles.
The King of Greece, like all the other kings whom Guy helped, loved him very much. He had no sons of his own, so he asked Guy to marry his daughter and become king after him. Buy Guy said, "I cannot marry the Princess. I love a beautiful lady who lives in England. Some day, when I am rich and famous, I am going back to marry her."
The King of Greece was very sorry when he heard this, but he hoped that Guy would yet change his mind.
Now it happened that one day Guy went out hunting. As he rode through a great forest, he heard a most terrible noise. It was like the sea roaring, yet it was not the sea, for there was no sea near. It was like the wind howling in the trees of a windy night, yet it was so still that not a leaf stirred. It was like the crash of thunder, yet the sky was calm and clear. What could it be?
Guy, who was always ready for an adventure, turned his horse towards the place from where the terrific noise seemed to come. As he rode on, the forest grew thicker and thicker, the noise louder and louder. At last, quite suddenly, he came out into a large open space.
There he beheld the most wonderful sight. There a Lion and a Dragon were fiercely fighting.
Guy stopped to watch. "I will wait to see which is the weaker," he said to himself, "then I will help him."
That was Guy's way. He always took the side of the weak, and of the people who seemed to be having the worst of the fight. That was one reason why he was such a hero, and why every one loved him so much.
It was a tremendous fight. With an angry roar and fierce gaping jaws the Lion sprang upon the Dragon. But neither its teeth nor claws could pierce the strong scales with which the monster was covered. They seemed as if they were made of steel.
The Dragon beat with its mighty wings, making a sound like the howl of the wind in the trees. He waved his crooked, knotted tail, and twisted it round and round the Lion. Tighter and tighter wound the horrid coils; the Lion could scarcely breathe; it gave one despairing roar, and then lay still. It could struggle no longer.
The devouring jaws, wide gaping and terrible, seemed about to close upon it, when, with a shout, Guy drew his sword, and, setting spurs to his horse, sprang upon the Dragon.
As Guy's sword flashed and fell, the fierce creature loosed its hold upon the Lion. It turned its blazing eyes, burning with living fire, upon Guy. Flames and smoke poured from its mouth. It raised its speckled crest high—higher than Guy could reach with his long sword. Towering above him the Dragon belched forth fire and smoke, then, swift as lightning, it darted out its terrible sting. It was pointed like a spear, and was sharper than any sword. Hither and thither it darted, while Guy hewed and hacked at it in vain.
Then, with a horrid roar, the Dragon raised its wings and twisted its scaly tail round the legs of Guy's horse.
For a moment all seemed lost. But, like a flash, Guy leaped from his horse, dived beneath the Dragon"s outspread wing, and with the strength of three men plunged his sword deep into the brute's side.
With one last roar of baffled rage and pain the Dragon rolled over on the gorund. For a few minutes its knotted, scaly tail and grisly, speckled crest quivered and twisted, then all was still. The horrible beast was dead.
Having made sure that the Dragon was really dead, Guy cut off its head, and, fixing it upon his spear, he calmly mounted his horse, which happily was not at all hurt, and rode away. He had not gone far, however, when he heard the sound of something running behind him. Looking back, he saw the Lion coming bounding quickly along.
"I suppose I must kill this beast too," said Guy to himself. He did not feel very pleased at the thought, for he was tired after his fight with the Dragon, but springing from his horse, he drew his sword and stood ready.
On came the Lion, leaping and bounding. But as it came near, instead of springing fiercely at Guy, the beast rolled over on the grass. It licked Guy's feet, and fawned upon him, purring softly like a great pussy-cat all the time.
Guy was very much astonished. He bent down, stroked the Lion's head, and tickled its ears. That seemed to please it very much, and it rubbed its head against Guy, evidently in great delight. Then it jumped up, and putting its two great paws gently on Guy's shoulders, licked his face.
Guy was pleased to find the animal so grateful for having been saved from the dreadful Dragon. But he thought that now, having shown its gratitude, the Lion would go back to the woods. So he mounted his horse, and again rode away. But the Lion did not go back. Instead, it trotted behind Guy's horse like a great dog, and Guy was so pleased that he did not send it away.
When they came to the town, the people were very much frightened. The women and children, and some of the men too, ran away screaming, when they saw a lion trotting through the streets.
But Guy told them not to be afraid. He played with the Lion, and showed them that it was quite gentle.
Soon the people became accustomed to Guy's Lion. It followed him everywhere, just like a dog. It always slept in Guy's room, and once when he was ill it would neither eat nor drink for three days and nights.
Guy loved his Lion very much. It was always gentle and good, and the little children of the town grew to love it too. They pulled its tail and mane, rode upon its back, and did all sorts of things with it, yet the gentle beast never snapped or even growled at them.
Nearly every one loved Guy, but there was one wicked man called Morgadour who hated him. He was jealous of Guy. He was very angry that the King wished Guy to marry his daughter, for he wanted to marry her himself, and one day become king.
Morgadour would have liked to kill Guy, but he knew that would be a very difficult and dangerous thing to do. So, as he did not dare to kill Guy, Morgadour tried to hurt him in every way he could.
One day Guy went ot the palace to see the King. As usual his Lion trotted behind him. While Guy went into the palace, the Lion played about in the courtyard, waiting for him.
Guy had some very particular business with the King that day, and he stayed talking to him for a long time. He stayed so long that at last the Lion grew tired of playing and lay down to sleep.
When Guy came out of the palace, he was so deep in thought that he forgot about his Lion, and went home, leaving it sleeping in the courtyard.
Morgadour was sitting at a window in the palace, and he saw Guy go home without his Lion. Then his wicked heart was glad. "Aha!" he said, "I cannot kill thee, Guy of Warwick, but I will grieve thee. I will kill this pestilent Lion of thine."
Taking his sword, he crept stealthily across the courtyard. No one was near. He glanced fearfully at all the palace windows. There was no one to be seen. On he crept, step by step, nearer and nearer to the sleeping Lion until he was quite close to it. Then, with one sure, quick stroke, he plunged his sword deep into its side. A moment later he fled.
Morgadour had not quite killed the Lion. With a low growl of pain it awoke and rose to its feet. Then slowly and painfully, marking all the way with blood as it went, the wounded animal dragged itself home, and lay down at its master's feet to die.
When Guy saw what a dreadful wound his Lion had, he was sorely grieved. He was angry, too, for he knew that it was the deed of some wicked man.
"Whoever has done this will bitterly repent it," he said. "He shall feel the vengeance of Guy of Warwick."
Guy tried everything he could to stop the bleeding and save his dear Lion's life, but it was all of no use. The poor animal feebly licked its master's hand, then, with a great sigh, stretched itself out and died.
Guy had a beautiful tomb made, and in it he laid his Lion. Upon the outside he caused its story to be carved. Then he went to the King and told him of all that had happened.
The King was very angry that any of his people should have hurt or offended Guy, for he wanted him to marry the Princess, and stay with him always to help in his battles. H swore to punish the wicked person who had done the deed. But no one knew who had done it. No one seemed to have seen Morgadour, and no one suspected him.
But some one had seen him. A little scullion-maid had been standing near the kitchen window, and she had watched Morgadour do the deed.
At first she was afraid to tell about it. She knew that Morgadour was a cruel man, and she feared him. But at last one day she made up her mind to be brave. She went to Guy and told him who it was that had killed the Lion.
Guy was furiously angry. Seizing his sword, he went off at once to find Morgadour.
"Take thy sword and defend thyself as best thou mayest," he said, as soon as they met. "Prepare to die, cowardly villain that thou art."
Morgadour took his sword, but of course he had no chance against Guy of Warwick. Soon he lay on the ground, pierced through the heart.
"So may all cowards die," said Guy, and turned away. He went to the King and told him that he could no longer remain in Greece after what had happened.
The King was much grieved, and begged him to stay. But Guy would not. He took a ship and sailed away, never again to return.