Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race
Day by day the feasting continued, until its noise and the festal joy of its revellers aroused a mighty enemy, Grendel, the loathsome fen-monster. This monstrous being, half-man, half-fiend, dwelt in the fens near the hill on which Heorot stood. Terrible was he, dangerous to men, of extraordinary strength, human
When dawn broke, and the Danes from their dwellings around the hall entered Heorot, great was the lamentation, and dire the dismay, for thirty noble champions had vanished, and the blood-stained tracks of the monster showed but too well the fate that had overtaken them. Hrothgar’s grief was profound, for he had lost thirty of his dearly loved bodyguard, and he himself was too old to wage a conflict against the foe—a foe who repeated night by night his awful deeds, [Pg 5] in spite of all that valour could do to save the Danes from his terrible enmity. At last no champion would face the monster, and the Danes, in despair, deserted the glorious hall of which they had been so proud. Useless stood the best of dwellings, for none dared remain in it, but every evening the Danes left it after their feast, and slept elsewhere. This affliction endured for twelve years, and all that time the beautiful hall of Heorot stood empty when darkness was upon it. By night the dire fiend visited it in search of prey, and in the morning his footsteps showed that his deadly enmity was not yet appeased, but that any effort to use the hall at night would bring down his fatal wrath on the careless sleepers.