Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 22

“Forget not, O noble kinsman of Healfdene,
Illustrious ruler, gold-friend of warriors,
What we two settled when we spake together,
If I for thy safety should end here my life-days,
That thou wouldst be to me, though dead, as a father.
Be to my kindred thanes, my battle-comrades,
A worthy protector should death o’ertake me.
Do thou, dear Hrothgar, send all these treasures here
Which thou hast given me, to my king, Hygelac.
Then may the Geat king, brave son of Hrethel dead,
See by the gold and gems, know by the treasures there,
That I found a generous lord, whom I loved in my life.
Give thou to Hunferth too my wondrous old weapon,
The sword with its graven blade; let the right valiant man
Have the keen war-blade: I will win fame with his,
With Hrunting, noble brand, or death shall take me.”

Beowulf dived downward, as it seemed to him, for the space of a day ere he could perceive the floor of that sinister lake, and all that time he had to fight the sea-beasts, for they, attacking him with tusk and horn, strove to break his ring-mail, but in vain. As Beowulf came near the bottom he felt himself seized in long, scaly arms of gigantic strength. The fierce claws

Beowulf shears off the head of Grendel

Meanwhile the Danes and Geats had waited long for his reappearance. When the afternoon was well advanced the Danes departed sadly, lamenting the hero’s death, for they concluded no man could have survived so long beneath the waters; but his loyal Geats sat there still gazing sadly at the waves, and hoping against all hope that Beowulf would reappear. At length they saw changes in the mere—the blood boiling upwards in the lake, the quenching of the unholy light, then the flight of the sea-monsters and a gradual clearing of the waters, through which at last they could see their lord uprising. How gladly they greeted him! What awe and wonder seized them as they surveyed his dreadful booty, the ghastly [Pg 27] head of Grendel and the massive hilt of the gigantic sword! How eagerly they listened to his story, and how they vied with one another for the glory of bearing his armour, his spoils, and his weapons back over the moorlands and the fens to Heorot. It was a proud and glad troop that followed Beowulf into the hall, and up through the startled throng until they laid down before the feet of