Stories of Guy of Warwick Told to the Children - H. E. Marshall

Guy and the Fight with the Dun Cow

On the way back to England Guy had many adventures and did many great deeds, so that his fame spread far and wide. At last he arrived safely at Warwick. There was much rejoicing. His father and mother were indeed glad to see him, and Brunhilda was so happy that she cried.

As soon as Guy had seen his father and mother, he went to the castle. He took the white horse, the two white hounds, and the white falcon with him as presents to Phyllis.

She was delighted with them all, and said that she would never ride any other horse. 'But,' she said, 'I heard that there was a princess too. Where is she?'

'Oh,' said Guy, 'I told her that I did not love her and could not marry her, so she stayed at home with her father, the Emperor of Germany.'

'Didst thou not want to marry her?' asked Phyllis. 'It would be a very splendid thing to marry the Princess Blanche of Germany,'

'No,' said Guy, 'she may be Princess of Germany, but thou art my queen. I would rather marry thee.'

For a little time Guy and Phyllis were very happy together. Then one day Guy said that he must go away again.

'Oh, must thou indeed?' said Phyllis, feeling very sad.

'Yes,' said Guy, 'now that I have been out in the world, I know what great deeds men do. I would not dare yet to ask Earl Rohand to let me marry his daughter.'

And although Phyllis loved Guy very much, her pride was even greater than her love, so she said to him, 'Go, it makes my heart feel warm and glad when I hear of thy great deeds. I feel proud when I hear every one wondering at them and praising thee for them, for I know that they are all done for my sake.'

Then she helped him to buckle on his sword and spurs. Her eyes were full of tears, but her hand did not shake, nor did her voice tremble as she said good-bye.

Earl Rohand was sorry when he heard that Guy was going away again. He had no sons, and he had grown to love Guy as if he had been his own, instead of his steward's child. He tried hard to presuade him not to go. But it was of no use, and once more Guy rode away.

When he came to the sea, he found that there was a great storm raging. The waves were dashing high, and the wind, which was fierce, was blowing from the sea.

In those days there were no steamers, but only rowing-boats and sailing-ships. So Guy had to wait until the sea calmed down and the wind blew in the right direction to carry him to France, where he wished to go in search of adventure.

While he was waiting by the sea, he heard that a terrible dun-coloured cow had appeared in Warwickshire.

In those days a great part of England was covered with woods. Dreadful wild beasts lived in these woods, so that it was often dangerous to pass through them alone or unarmed. This huge and terrible Cow came out of one of these forests. It trampled down the corn, and destroyed whole villages. It killed and devoured both cattle and people, so that every one fled away in terror to the towns, and the whole country round was deserted.

It was truly a fearsome beast. People who had seen it said that it was twelve feet high and eighteen feet long. Its horns, which were thicker than an elephant's tusks, curled and twisted. Its eyes gleamed with fire and flashed like lightning, and its bellow was like the roar of thunder.

The king of that part of the country soon heard how this dreadful beast was killing his poor people and destroying the land. He therefore sent messengers through all his kingdom to say that whoever would kill the Dun Cow should be made a knight and should receive a great deal of land and money as reward. But no one brave enough could be found. Knights who were not afraid to fight in tournaments and battles feared this terrible Dun Cow.

'If only Guy of Warwick were here,' said the people, 'he would soon kill the awful beast. But he has gone away to France and we shall all be devoured.'

Guy, however, had not yet set out for France, and at length the King's messengers came to the place where he was waiting by the sea until the storm should blow over. As soon as he heard about the Dun Cow, he mounted his horse, and without telling any one what he was going to do, he rode straight back to Warwickshire.

When he came near to the place where the Dun Cow was, he found all the land laid waste. The fields were covered with the bones of animals which it had killed and eaten. The cottages were empty, for those of the people who had not been killed had fled.

When Guy was a long way off, he heard a loud bellow. He followed the sound until he came near to it. Then he dismounted and put his horse in a safe place.

He took his sword, his battle-axe, and his bow and arrows, and went the rest of the way on foot.

Presently he saw the Dun Cow standing in the middle of a large field, greedily devouring some animal which it had just killed.

Guy crept on very carefully, making no noise. He hoped to get quite close to the Dun Cow before it caught sight of him. But suddenly it raised its head and saw him.

Lashing its huge tail, and uttering an angry bellow, it rushed at Guy with lowered head.

The earth seemed to shake as the huge beast came thundering along. But Guy was not afraid. He stood still. Quickly fitting an arrow to his bow, he waited until the Dun Cow was within short shooting distance. As soon as it was near enough, he shot, hitting the animal right in the middle of the forehead.

Englishmen have always been famous archers, and Guy was the best shot in all England at that time. But although he sent the arrow straight and hard, it could not pierce the tough hide of the Dun Cow. It glanced off as if from polished steel armour, and the great beast came galloping on, unhurt.

When Guy saw it coming, he sprang to one side. But he was not quick enough, and it struck him with its horns, dinting his armour with the blow.

Guy then drew his sword and tried to pierce on of the Dun Cow's eyes. But he could not get near enough. The terrible twisted horns were so long that Guy could not get past them to pierce an eye with his sword.

Guy now knew that there was only one hope of killing the beast. He must strike a blow right behind the ear. That was the only spot where the Dun Cow's hide was soft.

Springing back, Guy threw down his sword, and seized his battle-axe.

With lowered head, the Dun Cow rushed at him again. Again Guy waited unil it was quite near. Then with his left hand he seized one of its horns, while with his right he firmly grasped his battle-axe.

Giving a loud bellow, the Dun Cow tossed its head. Up in the air flew Guy, but he kept tight hold.

Again and again the Dunn Cow tossed its head, trying in vain to shake Guy off. Clinging fast to the horn, he swung his battle-axe well back and brought it crashing down on the Dun Cow's head, just behind the ear.

The huge beast gave one fierce roar of pain and anger, then staggered and fell over on its side with the sound as of a house tumbling down.

Guy was dragged to the ground along with the Cow, but he was not hurt. Rising, he made quite sure that the beast was really dead, then he went to the safe place where he had left his horse. Mounting it, he rode off to the nearest town, which happened to be Coventry, to tell the news.

The people nearly went made with delight when they heard about it. They cheered and blessed Guy as he rode through the streets. Then every one who could walk or ride went out into the country, eager to see with their own eyes the great beast, as it lay dead in the field.

During all the hubbub and excitement, Guy, unseen by any, mounted his horse again, and started on his way back to the sea. He liked doing brave deeds, but he did not like making a fuss over them. So he was very glad to get away quietly.

But the King soon heard of what had happened, and he sent swift messengers after Guy to bring him back again.

When Guy was brought before him, the King made him kneel down. Then he drew his sword and striking Guy on the shoulder said, 'Rise, Sir Guy of Warwick.' So Guy was made a knight.

Then the King gave the new knight a pair of golden spurs. Lady Phyllis came to him, and kneeling at his feet, fastened them on for him.

After that the King gave a great feast. Guy sat at the King's right hand and Phyllis sat beside him. And while every one feasted, a minstrel played upon a harp and sang songs in honour of Guy. He told of all the great things the knight had done, and, above all how he had slain the Dun Cow.

The King now gave to Guy the money and lands which he had promised to whoever should kill the Dun Cow. He begged Guy not to go away any more, promising that he would ask Lord Rohand to allow him to marry Phyllis. But Guy would not stay. He had made up his mind to go, and go he would.

So once more he said good-bye to Phyllis, and rode away to the sea. As soon as he had gone, the King gave orders that, in memory of Guy's great deed, one rib of the Dun Cow should be hung up at the gate of the town of Coventry, and another in the Castle of Warwick.

This was done. The rib in Warwick is still preserved. Should you ever go there you must be sure to look at it and remember Guy's great deeds.