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How The Ass Became A Man Again

Once upon a time there lived a young man who would do nothing from

morning till night but amuse himself. His parents were dead and had left

him plenty of money, but this was fast vanishing, and his friends shook

their heads sadly, for when the money was gone they did not see where

more was to come from. It was not that Apuleius (for that was the name

of the youth) was stupid. He might have been a good soldier, or a

scholar, or a worker in gold, if so it had pleased him, but from a child

he had refused to do anything useful, and roamed about the city all day

long in search of adventures. The only kind of learning to which he paid

any heed was magic, and when he was in the house he would spend hours

poring over great books of spells.

Fond though he was of sorcery, he was too lazy to leave the town and its

pleasures--the chariot-racing, the theatre, and the wrestling, and to

travel in search of the wizards who were renowned for their skill in the

art. However, the time came when, very unwillingly, he was forced to

take a journey into Thessaly, to see to the proper working of some

silver mines in which he had a share, and Thessaly, as everybody knows,

is the home of all magic. So when Apuleius arrived at the town of

Hypata, where dwelt the man Milo, overseer of his mines, he was prepared

to believe that all he saw was enchanted.

Now, if Thessaly is the country of magic, it is also the country of

robbers, and Apuleius soon noticed that everybody he met was in fear of

them. Indeed, they made this fear the excuse for all sorts of mean and

foolish ways. For instance, Milo, who loved money and could not bear to

spend a farthing, refused to have any seats in his house that could be

removed, and in consequence there was nothing to sit upon except two

marble chairs fixed to the wall. As there was only room in these for one

person, the wife of Milo had to retire to her own chamber when the young

man entered.

'It was no use,' explained Milo, 'in laying out money on moveable seats,

with robbers about. They would be sure to hear of it and to break into

the house.'

Unlike his guest, Milo was always occupied in adding to his wealth in

one form or another. Sometimes he sent down a train of mules to the sea,

and bought merchandise which the ships had carried from Babylon or

Egypt, to sell it again at a high price. Then he dealt in sheep and

cattle, and when he thought he might do so with safety made false

returns of the silver that was dug up from the mines, and kept the

difference for himself. But most often he lent large sums at high

interest to the young men of the neighbourhood, and so cunning was he

that, whoever else might be ruined, Milo managed to make large profits.

Apuleius knew very well that his steward was in his way as great a

robber as any in Thessaly, but, as usual, he found it too much trouble

to look into the matter. So he laughed and jested with the miser, and

next morning went out to the public baths and then took a stroll through

the city. It was full of statues of the famous men to whom Hypata had

given birth; but as Apuleius had made up his mind that nothing in

Thessaly _could_ be what it seemed, he supposed that they were living

people who had fallen under enchantment, and that the oxen whom he met

driven through the streets had once been men and women.

One evening he was returning as usual from a walk when he saw from afar

three figures before Milo's house, who he at once guessed were trying to

force an entrance. 'Here is an adventure at last,' thought he, and,

keeping in the shadow, he stole softly up behind them, and drawing his

short sword he stabbed each one to the heart. Then, without waiting to

see what more would befall, he left them where they were and entered the

house by a door at the back.

He said nothing of what had happened to Milo his host, but the next day,

before he had left his bed, a summons was brought him by one of the

slaves to appear before the court at noon on a charge of murder. As has

been seen, Apuleius was a brave man and did not fear to face three times

his number, but his heart quailed at the thought of a public trial.

Still, he was wise enough to know that there was no help for it, and at

the hour appointed he was in his place.

The first witnesses against him were two women with black veils covering

them from head to foot. At the sound of the herald's trumpet, one of the

two stepped forward and accused him of compassing the death of her

husband. When she had ended her plaint the herald blew another blast,

and another veiled woman came forward and charged him with her son's

murder. Then the herald inquired if there was not yet a third victim,

but was answered that his wound was slight, and that he was able to roam

through the city.

After the witnesses had been called, the judge pronounced sentence.

Apuleius the murderer was condemned to death, but he must first of all

be tortured, so that he might reveal the names of the men who had

abetted him. By order of the court, horrible instruments were brought

forward which chilled the blood of Apuleius in his veins. But to his

surprise, when he looked round to see if none would be his friend, he

noticed that every one, from the judge to the herald, was shaking with

laughter. His amazement was increased when with a trembling voice one of

the women demanded that the bodies should be produced, so that the judge

might be induced to feel more pity and to order more tortures. The

judge assented to this, and two bodies were carried into court shrouded

in wrappings, and the order was given that Apuleius himself should

remove the wrappings.

The face of the young man grew white as he heard the words of the judge,

for even a hardened criminal cares but little to touch the corpse of a

man whom he has murdered. But he dared not disobey, and walked slowly to

the place where the dead bodies lay. He shrank for a moment as he took

the cloth in his hand, but his guards were behind him, and calling up

all his courage he withdrew it. A shout of laughter pealed out behind

him, and to his amazement he saw that his victims of the previous night

had been three huge leather bottles and not men at all!

As soon as Apuleius found out the trick that had been played on him he

was no less amused than the rest, but in the midst of his mirth a sudden

thought struck him.

'How was it you managed to make them alive?' asked he, 'for alive they

were, and battering themselves against the door of the house.'

'Oh, that is simple enough when one has a sorceress for a mistress,'

answered a damsel, who was standing by. 'She burned the hairs of some

goats and wove spells over them, so that the animals to whom the hairs

and skins had once belonged became endowed with life and tried to enter

their former dwelling.'

'They may well say that Thessaly is the home of wonders,' cried the

young man. 'But do you think that your mistress would let me see her at

work? I would pay her well--and you also,' he added.

'It might be managed perhaps, without her knowledge,' answered Fotis,

for such was the girl's name; 'but you must hold yourself in readiness

after nightfall, for I cannot tell what evening she may choose to cast

off her own shape.'

Apuleius promised readily that he would not stir out after sunset, and

the damsel went her way.

That very evening, Hesperus had scarcely risen from his bed when Fotis

knocked at the door of the house.

'Come hither, and quickly,' she said; and without stopping to question

her Apuleius hastened by her side to the dwelling of the witch Pamphile.

Entering softly, they crept along a dark passage, where they could peep

through a crack in the wall and see Pamphile at work. She was in the act

of rubbing her body with essences from a long row of bottles which

stood in a cupboard in the wall, chanting to herself spells as she did

so. Slowly, feathers began to sprout from her head to her feet. Her arms

vanished, her nails became claws, her eyes grew round and her nose

hooked, and a little brown owl flew out of the window.

'Well, are you satisfied?' asked Fotis; but Apuleius shook his head.

'Not yet,' he answered. 'I want to know how she transforms herself into

a woman again.'

'That is quite easy, you may be sure,' replied Fotis. 'My mistress never

runs any risks. A cup of water from a spring, with some laurel leaves

and anise floating in it, is all that she needs. I have seen her do it a

thousand times.'

'Turn me into a nightingale, then, and I will give you five hundred

sesterces,' cried Apuleius eagerly; and Fotis, tempted by the thought of

so much money, agreed to do what he wished.

But either Fotis was not so skilful as she thought herself, or in her

hurry she neglected to observe that the bird bottles were all on one

shelf, and the beast bottles on another, for when she had rubbed the

ointment over the young man's chest something fearful happened. Instead

of his arms disappearing, they stretched downwards; his back became

bent, his face long and narrow, while a browny-grey fur covered his

body. Apuleius had been changed, not into a nightingale, but into an


* * * * *

A loud scream broke from Fotis when she saw what she had done, and

Apuleius, glancing at a polished mirror from Corinth which hung on the

walls, beheld with horror the fate that had overtaken him.

'Quick, quick! fetch the water, and I will seek for the laurels and

anise,' he cried. 'I do not want to be an ass at all; my arms and back

are aching already, and if I am not swiftly restored to my own shape I

shall not be able to overthrow the champion in the wrestling match


So Fotis ran out to draw the water from the spring, while Apuleius

opened some boxes with his teeth, and soon found the anise and laurels.

But alas! Fotis had deceived herself. The charm which was meant for a

bird would not work with a beast, and, what was worse, when Apuleius

tried to speak to her and beg her to try something else, he found he

could only bray!

In despair the girl took down the book of spells, and began to turn over

the pages; while the ass, who was still a man in all but his outward

form, glanced eagerly down them also. At length he gave a loud bray of

satisfaction, and rubbed his nose on a part of the long scroll.

'Of course, I remember now,' cried Fotis with delight. 'What a comfort

that nothing more is needed to restore you to your proper shape than a

handful of rose leaves!

The mind of Apuleius was now quite easy, but his spirits fell again when

Fotis reminded him that he could no longer expect to be received by his

friends, but must lie in the stable of Milo, with his own horse, and be

tended, if he was tended at all, by his own servant.

'However, it will not be for long,' she added consolingly. 'In the

corner of the stable is a little shrine to the goddess of horses, and

every day fresh roses are placed before it. Before the sun sets

to-morrow you will be yourself again.'

Slowly and shyly Apuleius slunk along lonely paths till he came to the

stable of Milo. The door was open, but, as he entered, his horse, who

was fastened with a sliding cord, kicked wildly at him, and caught him

right on the shoulder. But before the horse could deal another blow

Apuleius had sprung hastily on one side, and had hidden himself in a

dark corner, where he slept soundly.

The moon was shining brightly when he awoke, and looking round he saw,

as Fotis had told him, the shrine of Hippone, with a branch of

sweet-smelling pink roses lying before it. It was rather high up, he

thought, but, when he reared himself on his hind legs, he would surely

be tall enough to reach it. So up he got, and trod softly over the

straw, till he drew near the shrine, when with a violent effort he threw

up his forelegs into the air. Yes! it was all right, his nose was quite

near the roses; but just as he opened his mouth his balance gave way,

and his front feet came heavily on the floor.

The noise brought the man, who was sleeping in another part of the


'Oh, I see what you are at, you ugly beast,' cried he; 'would you eat

roses that I put there for the goddess? I don't know who may be your

master, or how you got here, but I will take care that you do no more

mischief.' So saying, he struck the ass several times with his fists,

and then, putting a rope round his neck, tied him up in another part of

the stable.

Now it happened that an hour or two later some of the most desperate

robbers in all Thessaly broke into the house of Milo, and, unheard by

anyone, took all the bags of money that the miser had concealed under

some loose stones in his cellar. It was clear that they could not carry

away such heavy plunder without risk of the crime being discovered, but

they managed to get it quietly as far as the stable, where they gave the

horse some apples to put it in a good temper, while they thrust a turnip

into the mouth of Apuleius, who did not like it at all. Then they led

out both the animals, and placed the sacks of money on their backs,

after which they all set out for the robbers' cave in the side of the

mountain. As this, however, was some distance off, it took them many

hours to reach it, and on the way they passed through a large deserted

garden, where rose bushes of all sorts grew like weeds. The pulse of

Apuleius bounded at the sight, and he had already stretched out his nose

towards them, when he suddenly remembered that if he should turn into a

man in his present company he would probably be murdered by the robbers.

With a great effort, he left the roses alone, and tramped steadily on

his way.

It were long indeed to tell the adventures of Apuleius and the number of

masters whom he served. After some time he was captured by a soldier,

and by him sold to two brothers, one a cook and the other a maker of

pastry, who were attached to the service of a rich man who lived in the

country. This man did not allow any of his slaves to dwell in his house,

except those who attended on him personally, and these two brothers

lived in a tent on the other side of the garden, and the ass was given

to them to send to and fro with savoury dishes in his panniers.

The cook and his brother were both careful men, and always had a great

store of pastry and sweet things on their shelves, so that none might be

lacking if their lord should command them. When they had done their work

they placed water and food for their donkey in a little shed which

opened on to the tent, then, fastening the door so that no one could

enter, they went out to enjoy the evening air.

On their return, it struck them that the tent looked unusually bare, and

at length they perceived that this was because every morsel of pastry

and sweets on the shelves had disappeared, and nothing was left of them,

not so much as a crumb. There was no room for a thief to hide, so the

two brothers supposed that, impossible though it seemed, he must not

only have got _in_ but _out_ by the door, and, as their master might

send for a tray of cakes at any moment, there was no help for it but to

make a fresh supply. And so they did, and it took them more than half

the night to do it.

The next evening the same thing happened again; and the next, and the

next, and the next.

Then, by accident, the cook went into the shed where the ass lay, and

discovered a heap of corn and hay that reached nearly to the roof.

'Ah, you rascal!' he exclaimed, bursting out laughing as he spoke. 'So

it is you who have cost us our sleep! Well, well, I dare say I should

have done the same myself, for cakes and sweets are certainly nicer than

corn and hay.' And the donkey brayed in answer, and winked an eye at

him, and, more amused than before, the man went away to tell his


Of course it was not long before the story reached the ears of their

master, who instantly sent to buy the donkey, and bade one of his

servants, who had a taste for such things, teach him fresh tricks. This

the man was ready enough to do, for the fame of this wonderful creature

soon spread far and wide, and the citizens of the town thronged the

doors of his stable. And while the servant reaped much gold by making

the ass display his accomplishments, the master gained many friends

among the people, and was soon made chief ruler.

For five years Apuleius stayed in the house of Thyasus, and ate as many

sweet cakes as he chose; and if he wanted more than were given him he

wandered down to the tent of his old masters, and swept the shelves bare

as of yore. At the end of the five years Thyasus proclaimed that a great

feast would be held in his garden, after which plays would be acted, and

in one of them his donkey should appear.

Now, though Apuleius loved eating and drinking, he was not at all fond

of doing tricks in public, and as the day drew near he grew more and

more resolved that he would take no part in the entertainment. So one

warm moonlight night he stole out of his stable, and galloped as fast as

he could for ten miles, when he reached the sea. He was hot and tired

with his long run, and the sea looked cool and pleasant.

'It is years since I have had a bath,' thought he, 'or wetted anything

but my feet. I will take one now; it will make me feel like a man

again'; and into the water he went, and splashed about with joy, which

would much have surprised anyone who had seen him, for asses do not in

general care about washing.

When he came back to dry land once more, he shook himself all over, and

held his head first on one side and then on the other, so that the water

might run out of his long ears. After that he felt quite comfortable,

and lay down to sleep under a tree.

He was awakened some hours later by the sound of voices singing a hymn,

and, raising his head, he saw a vast crowd of people trooping down to

the shore to hold the festival of their goddess, and in their midst

walked the high priest crowned with a wreath of roses.

At this sight hope was born afresh in the heart of Apuleius. It was long

indeed since he had beheld any roses, for Thyasus fancied they made him

ill, and would not suffer anyone to grow them in the city. So he drew

near to the priest as he passed by, and gazed at him so wistfully that,

moved by some sudden impulse, the pontiff lifted the wreath from his

head, and held it out to him, while the people drew on one side, feeling

that something was happening which they did not understand.

Scarcely had Apuleius swallowed one of the roses, when the ass's skin

fell from him, his back straightened itself, and his face once more

became fair and rosy. Then he turned and joined in the hymn, and there

was not a man among them all with a sweeter voice or more thankful

spirit than that of Apuleius.

[Apuleius, _The Golden Ass_.]


Everyone knows about the famous knight Sir Guy, the slayer of the great

Dun Cow which had laid waste the whole county of Warwick. But besides

slaying the cow, he did many other noble deeds of which you may like to

hear, so we had better begin at the beginning and learn who Sir Guy

really was.

The father of Guy, Segard the Wise, was one of the most trusty

councillors of the powerful earl of Warwick and Oxford, who was feared

as well as loved by all, as a man who would suffer no wrong through the

lands which he governed.

Now the earl had long noted the beauty and strength of Segard's young

son, and had enrolled him amongst his pages and taught him all manner of

knightly exercises. He even was versed in the art of chess-playing, and

thus whiled away many a wet and gloomy day for his master, and for his

daughter the fair Felice, learned in astronomy, geometry, and music, and

in all else that professors from the schools of Toulouse and Spain could

teach a maiden.

It happened one Pentecost that the earl of Warwick ordered a great

feast, followed by a tourney, to be held in the open space near the

castle, and tents to be set up for dancing and players on the lute and

harp. At these tourneys it was the custom of every knight to choose out

his lady and to wear her token or colours on his helmet, as Sir Lancelot

did the red sleeve of Elaine, and oftentimes, when Pentecost and the

sports were over, marriages would be blessed by the priest.

At this feast of Pentecost in particular, Guy stood behind the chair of

his master the earl, as was his duty, when he was bidden by the

chamberlain of the castle to hasten to the chamber of the Lady Felice,

and to attend upon her and her maidens, as it was not thought seemly for

them to be present at the great feast.

Although, as we have said, the page had more than once been called upon

to amuse the young damsel with a bout of chess, she had ever been

strictly guarded by her nurse and never suffered to exchange a word with

the youth whose place was so much below hers. On this evening, however,

with none to hinder her, she chattered and laughed and teased her

ladies, till Guy's heart was stolen from him and he quite forgot the

duties he was sent to fulfil, and when he left her presence he sought

his room, staggering like one blind.

Young though he was, Guy knew--none better--how wide was the gulf that

lay between him and the daughter of his liege lord. If the earl, in

spite of all his favour, was but to know of the passion that had so

suddenly been born in him, instant death would be the portion of the

over-bold youth. But, well though he knew this, Guy cared little, and

vowed to himself that, come what might, as soon as the feast was over he

would open his heart to Felice, and abide by her answer.

It was not easy to get a chance of speaking to her, so surrounded was

she by all the princes and noble knights who had taken part in the

tourney; but, as everything comes to him who waits, he one day found her

sitting alone in the garden, and at once poured forth all his love and


'Are you mad to think that _I_ should marry _you_?' was all she said,

and Guy turned away so full of unhappiness that he grew sick with

misery. The news of his illness much distressed his master, who bade all

his most learned leeches go and heal his best-beloved page, but, as he

answered nothing to all they asked him, they returned and told the earl

that the young man had not many days to live.

But, as some of our neighbours say, 'What shall be, shall be'; and that

very night Felice dreamed that an angel appeared to her and chided her

for her pride, and bade her return a soft answer if Guy again told her

of his love. She arose from her bed full of doubts and fears, and

hurried to a rose bower in her own garden, where, dismissing her ladies,

she tried to set her mind in order and find out what she really felt.

Felice was not very successful, because when she began to look into her

heart there was one little door which always kept bursting open, though

as often as it did so her pride shut it and bolted it again. She became

so tired of telling herself that it was impossible that the daughter of

a powerful noble could ever wed the simple son of a knight, that she was

about to call to her maidens to cheer her with their songs and stories,

when a hand pushed aside the roses and Guy himself stood before her.

'Will my love ever be in vain?' he asked, gasping painfully as he spoke

and steadying himself by the walls of the arbour. 'It is for the last

time that I ask it; but if you deny me, my life is done, and I die, I

die!' And indeed it seemed as if he were already dead, for he sank in a

swoon at Felice's feet.

Her screams brought one of her maidens running to her. 'Grammercy, my

lady, and is your heart of stone,' cried the damsel, 'that it can see

the fairest knight in the world lying here, and not break into pieces at

his misery? Would that it were _I_ whom he loved! I would never say him


'Would it _were_ you, and then I should no more be plagued of him,'

answered Felice; but her voice was softer than her words, and she even

helped her maiden to bring the young man out of his swoon. 'He is

restored now,' she said to her damsel, who curtseyed and withdrew from

the bower; then, turning to Guy, she added, half smiling:

'It seems that in my father's court no man knows the proverb, "Faint

heart never won fair lady." Yet it is old, and a good one. _My_ hand

will only be the prize of a knight who has proved himself better than

other men. If _you_ can be that knight--well, you will have your chance

with the rest.'

The soul of the youth leaped into his eyes as he listened; for he knew

that this was much for the proud Felice to say. But he only bowed low,

and with new life in his blood he left the castle. In a few days he was

as strong as ever he had been, and straightway sought the earl, whom he

implored to bestow on him the honour of knighthood.

'Right gladly will I do so, my page,' answered Rohand, and gave orders

that he would hold a solemn ceremony, when Guy and twenty other youths

should be dubbed knights.

Like many young men, Sir Guy thought that his first step on the road was

also to be his last, and instantly sought the presence of Felice, whom

he expected to find in the same softened mood as he had left her. But

the lady only laughed his eagerness to scorn.

'Think you that the name of knight is so rare that its ownership places

you high above all men?' asked she. 'In what, I pray you tell me, does

it put you above the rest who were dubbed by my father with you to-day?

No troth of mine shall you have until your name is known from Warwick to


And Sir Guy confessed his folly and presumption, and went heavily unto

the house of Segard.

'O my father,' he began before he had let the tapestry fall behind him,

'I would fain cross the seas and seek adventures.'

'Truly this is somewhat sudden, my fair young knight,' answered Sir

Segard, with a mocking gleam in his eyes, for Guy's father had not been

as blind as fathers are wont to be.

'Other knights do so,' replied Guy, drawing figures on the floor with

the point of his sword. 'And I would not that I were behind them.'

'You shall go, my son,' said Segard, 'and I will give you as companions

the well-tried knights Sir Thorold and Sir Leroy, and Heraud, whom I

have proved in many wars. Besides these, you shall have men-at-arms with

you, and such money as you may need.'

Before many days had passed, Sir Guy and his friends had sailed across

the high seas, and had made their way to the noble city of Rouen. Amidst

all that was strange and new to him, there was yet much that was

familiar to his eyes, for there were certain signs which betokened a

tournament, and on questioning the host of the inn he learned all that

he desired. Next morning a tourney was to be held by order of the

emperor and the prize should be a white horse, a milk-white falcon, and

two white greyhounds, and, if he wished it, the hand of the princess

Whiterose, the emperor's daughter.

Though he had not been made a knight a month ago, Sir Guy knew full well

the customs of chivalry, and presented a palfrey, scarcely less

beautiful than the one promised as a prize, to the teller of these happy

tidings. Then he put on his armour and rode forth to the place of the


In the field over against Rouen was gathered the flower of Western

chivalry. The emperor had sent his son, and in his train came many

valiant knights, among them Otho duke of Pavia, hereafter to be Sir

Guy's most bitter enemy. The fights were long and sore, but one by one

the keenest swordsmen rolled in the dust, and the prize was at length

adjudged to the youngest knight there present.

Full courteously he told all who might wish to hear that he might not

wed Whiterose, the princess, for his faith was already plighted to

another across the sea. And to Felice and to her father he sent the

falcon and horse and greyhounds as tokens of his valour. After that he

and his friends journeyed to many lands, fighting tournaments when there

were any tournaments to fight, till the whole of Christendom rang with

the name of Sir Guy.

'Surely I have proved my worth,' he said, when a whole year had gone by.

'Let us go home'; and home they went.

Joyful was the welcome bestowed on him by every one he met--joyful, that

is, from all but Felice.

'Yes, you have done well,' she said, when he knelt before her, offering

some of the prizes he had won. 'It is truly spoken among men that there

are not twelve knights living as valorous as you. But that is not good

enough for me. It matters not that you are "one of the best"; my husband

must be "the best of all."'

In vain Sir Guy pleaded that with her for his wife his strength would be

doubled, and his renown also.

'If you cannot conquer all men for my sake _now_, you will never do it

after,' she answered; and Sir Guy, seeing his words were useless, went

out to do her bidding.

The wrath of his father and mother was great when their son came to tell

them he was going to seek a fresh quest, but, though his heart was sore

rent with their tears, he only embraced them tenderly, and departed

quickly, lest he should make some promise he might not keep.

For long he found no knight whose skill and strength were equal to his

own, and he was beginning to hope that the day was drawing nigh that

should see him stand without a peer, when, in a tourney near the city of

Benevento, his foe thrust his lance deep into his shoulder, and for many

days Sir Guy lay almost senseless on his bed.

Now Otho duke of Pavia had neither forgotten nor forgiven his overthrow

by the young knight at Rouen, more than a year agone, and he resolved to

have his revenge while his enemy was still weak from loss of blood. So

he hid some men behind some bushes, which Sir Guy would needs pass while

riding along the road to the north, 'and _then_,' thought he, 'I will

cast him into prison, there to await my pleasure.'

But though his plans were well laid, the fight went against him, and in

the end Sir Guy, nearly fainting with weariness and loss of blood, was

again the victor, and Otho's best knight, Sir Guichard of Lombardy, owed

his life to the swiftness of his horse. His victory, however, was to Sir

Guy as sad as many defeats, for his constant companions lay dead before


'Ah, Felice, this is your doing,' said he.

* * * * *

Long were it to tell of the deeds done by the noble knight Sir Guy; of

the tourneys that he won, of the cities that he conquered--even at the

game of chess he managed to be victorious! Of course many men were

sorely jealous of him and his renown, and wove plots for his ruin, but

somehow or other he contrived to escape them all.

By this time Sir Guy had grown to love wandering and fighting so well

that he had well-nigh forgotten who had sent him from his native land,

and why he was not dwelling in his father's castle. Indeed, so wholly

had the image of Felice faded from his memory, that when Ernis emperor

of Constantinople, under whose banner he was serving, offered him the

hand of his only daughter and half of his dominions, Sir Guy at once

accepted his gifts.

The sight of the wedding-ring brought him back to his allegiance. He no

longer loved Felice it is true, and he _did_ love a younger and gentler

maiden. But he must abide by the oath he had sworn, though it were to

his own undoing.

His grief at the loss of the princess Lorette sent Sir Guy to his bed

for many days, but as soon as the fever left him he felt that he could

stay at court no longer, and began to make plans to seek other

adventures in company with his friend Heraud and a lion which he had

saved from the claws of a dragon.

Since that day this lion had never quitted his side, except at his

master's bidding, and he always slept on the floor by his master's bed.

The emperor and all his courtiers were fond of the great beast, who

moved among them as freely as a kitten, but Sir Morgadour, the chief

steward of the emperor of the West, who was visiting the court, had ever

been Sir Guy's mortal enemy, and one evening, thinking himself unseen,

gave the lion a mortal wound as he was sleeping quietly in the garden.

He had just strength enough to drag himself to Sir Guy's feet, where he

died, and a damsel who had marked the cruel deed proclaimed loudly that

it was done by Sir Morgadour. In an instant Sir Guy's dagger was buried

in his breast; but when he grew calmer he remembered that his presence

at court might bring injury upon Ernis, as the emperor of the West would

certainly seize the occasion to avenge the death of his steward. So the

next day he left the city, and slowly turned his face towards England.

It was some months before he arrived there, so many adventures did he

meet with on the way. But directly he landed he hastened to York to

throw himself at the feet of Athelstan the king.

'Ah, welcome indeed, fair son,' cried he; 'the fame of your prowess has

reached us these many years past, and we have just received the news

that a fearful and horrible dragon, with wings on his feet and claws on

his ears, is laying waste our county of Northumberland. He is as black

as any coal, and as rough as any foal, and every man who has gone out to

meet him has been done to death ere he has struck a blow. Go, therefore,

with all speed and deliver us from this monster, for of dragons you

have slain many, and perchance this one is no more evil than the rest.'

The adventure was one after Sir Guy's own heart, and that very day he

rode northwards; but even _his_ well-proved courage failed somewhat at

the sight of the dragon, ten times uglier and more loathsome than any he

had ever beheld. The creature roared hideously as he drew near, and

stood up at his full length, till he seemed almost to stretch as far as

Warwick. 'Verily,' thought Sir Guy to himself, 'the fight of old with

the great Dun Cow was as the slaying of a puppy in comparison with


The dragon was covered thickly with scales all over his body, his

stomach as well as his back. They were polished and shiny and hard as

iron, and so closely planted that no sword could get in between them.

'No use to strike there,' muttered Sir Guy, 'a thrust down his throat is

my only chance.'

But if Sir Guy knew this, the dragon knew it much better, and, though

the knight managed to jump aside and avoid the swoops of his long neck

and the sudden darting of his sharp claws, he had not even tried to

strike a blow himself for fear lest his sword should break in two

against that shining horny surface. This was not the kind of warfare to

which the dragon was accustomed, and he began to grow angry, as anyone

might have seen by the lashings of his tail and the jets of smoke and

flame that poured out of his nostrils. Sir Guy felt that his chance

would soon come, and waited patiently, keeping his eye for ever fixed on

the dragon's mouth.

At length the monster gave a sudden spring forward, and if Sir Guy had

not been watching he could scarcely have leaped out of the way. The

failure to reach his prey enraged the dragon more than ever, and,

opening his mouth, he gave a roar which the king heard on his throne at

York. He opened his mouth; but he never shut it again, for Guy's sword

was buried in it. The death struggles were short; and then Sir Guy cut

off the head and bore it to the king.

After this, his first thought was for his parents, who, he found, had

died many years agone, and having said a prayer over their graves, and

put his affairs in order, he hurried off to Warwick to see Felice, and

tell her that he had fulfilled the commands she had given him long years

ago, when he was but a boy. He also told her of the ladies of high

degree whose hands he had won in fair fight--won--and rejected. 'All of

them I forsook for thee, Felice,' he said.

He had kept his word; but he had left his heart in Constantinople.

Perhaps Felice did not know this, or perhaps she did not set much store

by hearts, and cared more for the renown that Sir Guy had won throughout

Christendom. Anyhow, she received him gladly and graciously, and so did

her father, and the marriage was celebrated with great pomp, and for a

space Sir Guy remained at home, and after a time a son was born to him.

But at the day of his son's birth Sir Guy was far away. In the quiet and

idleness of the castle he began to think, and his conscience pricked him

sore, that all the years of his life he had done ill to many a man

And slain many a man with his hand,

Burnt and destroyed many a land.

And all was for woman's love,

And not for God's sake above.

'The end should be different from the beginning,' he said, and forthwith

he put on the dress of a pilgrim, and took ship for the Holy Land,

carrying with him a gold ring, given him by Felice.

Once more he came back, an old man now, summoned by Athelstan, to

deliver the city of Winchester out of the hands of the Danes, who were

besieging it. Once more he returned to Warwick, and, unseen, watched

Felice training her son in all the duties of knighthood, and once more

he spoke with her, when, dying in his hermitage, he sent her the ring by

his page, and prayed her to come and give him burial.

Next: How Bradamante Conquered The Wizard

Previous: Ogier The Dane

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