The Story of Guy and Phyllis
It was not long after Brunhilda and Gordian went to live in Warwick that their little baby boy was born. It seemed to Brunhilda that this was the only thing that she had wanted to make her quite, quite happy. She thought that no baby had ever been so beautiful as hers. And indeed he was a very wonderful child. Soon after he was born, a wise woman came to see Brunhilda. She took the baby in her arms and looked long and earnestly at him. Then giving him back to Brunhilda, she said, "Thou art a happy woman. Thy son will be a great man. He will do many wonderful deeds, and his name will be remembered for hundreds and hundreds of years."
Then the wise woman went away, leaving Brunhilda very happy.
Gordian and Brunhilda called their little boy Guy. They loved him very much. He was a pretty child that all the ladies in the castle loved too. They used to play with him and kiss him and give him toys.
As Guy grew older he became as strong and brave as he was beautiful. When he was only eight years old he could run and fight, throw stones and climb trees, better than a boy of twelve. By the time that he was sixteen he was taller and stronger than any man. No knight in all the country could compare with him. He rode a horse, and handled a sword and spear better than any of them. Yet he was not a knight, but only a steward's son.
At last Earl Rohand heard of Guy and his wonderful strength and skill. He asked the boy to a great dinner at Warwick Castle, and afterwards to join in a Tournament, as the games in which knights took part were called.
Earl Rohand loved brave deeds and brave men. So, although Guy was only his steward's son, he treated him as an honoured guest. Guy was given a seat near the upper end of the table, quite close to the Earl, and opposite his lovely daughter, Phyllis.
At first Guy was rather shy at finding himself among so many grand lords, and knights, and fair ladies. But soon he took courage, and, raising his eyes, he saw Lady Phyllis looking at him. She, too, had heard of Guy's great deeds and had longed to speak to him. For although Guy had had dinner every day in the same room as Phyllis, he had sat far down the table, and did not dare to speak to so grand a lady. But he had often looked at her from his distant seat, and had thought that no one in all the world was so beautiful. Now that he looked at her, as she sat opposite, he was sure of it.
And indeed Phyllis was the most beautiful lady in the whole kingdom. Some people say she was one of the most beautiful ladies who have ever lived in all the world. Certainly Guy thought so. He did not want to sit at dinner any longer. He longed for the Tournament to begin, so that he might show Phyllis how well he could fight.
At last the feast was over and the Tournament began. Lord Rohand and Lady Phyllis, and many other gay lords and ladies, sat watching, while the knights fought and wrestled.
Never did Guy fight so well as on this day. He conquered every one of the knights, and won the prize. Shouts and cheers filled the air as he knelt before Phyllis. She smiled kindly at him, as she put the crown of roses upon his head, and the chain of gold around his neck. It pleased her that the son of her father's steward should be so brave. And as he knelt before her, Guy's heart beat so loud and fast that he thought every one must hear it and know that he loved Phyllis, although he did not dare to tell her so.
Earl Rohand soon grew to like Guy very much, and he often invited him to the castle. Every time that Guy came, he saw Phyllis. Each time that he saw her, he loved her more.
Guy knew that it was very foolish to love Phyllis, for she was a great lady, and he only a steward's son.
Day by day great lords and princes came to the castle to ask Phyllis to marry them. To each one she said, "No, I love thee not." Then they went away sadly, for Phyllis was very beautiful and very rich.
Yet Guy lived in constant fear that some day Phyllis would marry one of these splendid princes who came to ask for her hand. Then she would go away, and perhaps he would never see her again.
One beautiful spring day Phyllis and Guy were walking in the garden together. They birds were singing, the sun was shining, the first flowers were making sweet the air, and all the world seemed full of happiness. Only in Guy's heart was there pain and trouble.
"Phyllis," he said suddenly, "Phyllis, I love thee, I love thee; I cannot help it."
Phyllis had been merry and smiling. In a moment she looked cold and proud. She was no longer his laughing playmate, but the Lady Phyllis, his master's daughter.
"What nonsense, Guy," she said; "surely thou has forgotten that I am Lord Rohand's daughter, and thou but his steward's son. Go away, and never speak to me again." Then she walked proudly up the garden path, leaving poor Guy feeling very miserable indeed.
After this Guy became most unhappy. He no longer laughed and sang with his friends, but wandered about by himself, silent and gloomy. He became at last so pale and ill that every one wondered what the matter could be.
Lord Rohand, who was very fond of Guy, was sorry to see him look so pale. "What aileth thee, Guy?" he asked.
"Nothing, my lord, nothing at all," replied Guy. He did not dare to say, "I love Lady Phyllis, and she is angry with me."
Poor Guy! he was strong, and brave, and handsome; he could fight wicked giants and wild beasts, but he did not know in the least how to make a beautiful lady love him. So he wandered about alone, looking very pale and miserable.
Now Phyllis began to be sorry that she had spoken so crossly to Guy. She missed him very much, for he never came now to walk with her in the garden, or to ride through the woods. She thought at first that he would soon come back, and that they would be friends again. But day after day passed and still he did not come.
Strange to say, too, the longer Guy stayed away, the more Phyllis wished he would come back; and the more she thought about him, the sorrier she became that she had spoken so crossly, till at last she thought of nothing but Guy all day long.
From thinking of Guy all day long, Phyllis came to dream about him all night too. One night she dreamed that he had come back, dressed in splendid armour, and looking like a grand prince.
When Phyllis woke after this dream she began to wonder if it could ever come true. She wished it would. Certainly it seemed as if something strange had happened to her, for instead of being angry with Guy, she now felt that she loved him better than any one in all the world.
But day after day went by, and Guy did not come, so at last Phyllis sent for him. He came quickly, wondering what she wanted to say to him, and when Phyllis saw him looking sad and miserable, she was more sorry than ever that she had been so cross.
As she looked at him the tears came into her eyes. "I am very sorry," she said gently; "wilt thou forgive me, and be my friend again?"
It seemed to Guy as if the sun suddenly began to shine and the birds to sing. "Dost thou mean it?" he cried. "Dost thou truly want me to come back again? And may I love thee? And wilt thou marry me?"
Phyllis, looking more beautiful than ever, answered, "Yes, I want thee to come back, Guy, but I cannot marry thee yet. I am very proud—I cannot help it—and I want to be proud of thee too. I could not be proud of thee while thou art only a steward's son, even if thy father is really a nobleman. Go away and make thyself famous, and when thou comest back then I will marry thee."
Guy took Phyllis in his arms and kissed her once. "Good-bye," he cried, "good-bye, I will come back famous."
Then he mounted upon his horse and rode away, and Phyllis did not see him again for a long time.