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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
hopes.

'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
nay.'

'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
Cathay.'

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 Héraud, 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
tourney.

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.



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