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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 29

The death of Beowulf

The Geats stood silent, abashed before the keen and deserved reproaches of the young hero, and they lamented the livelong day. None left the shore and their lord’s dead corpse; but one man who rode over the cliff near by saw the mournful little band, with Beowulf dead in the midst. This warrior galloped away to tell the people, saying: “Now is our ruler, the lord of the Geats, stretched dead on the plain, stricken by the dragon which lies dead beside him; and at his head sits Wiglaf, son of Weohstan, lamenting his royal kinsman. Now is the joy and prosperity of our folk vanished! Now shall our enemies make raids upon us, for we have none to withstand them! But let us hasten to bury our king, to bear him royally to his grave, with mourning and tears of woe.” These unhappy tidings roused the Geats, and they hastened to see if it were really true, and found all as the messenger had said, and wondered at the mighty dragon and the glorious hoard of gold. They feared the monster and coveted the treasure, but all felt that the command now lay with Wiglaf. At last Wiglaf roused himself from his silent grief and said: “O men of the Geats, I am not to blame that our king lies here lifeless. He would fight the dragon and win the treasure; and these he has done, though he lost his life therein; yea, and I aided him all that I might, though it was but little I could do. Now our dear lord Beowulf bade me greet you from him, and bid you to make for him, after his funeral pyre, a great and mighty cairn, even as he was the most glorious of men in his lifetime. Bring ye all the treasures, bring quickly a bier, and place thereon our king’s corpse, and let us bear our dear lord to Hronesness,


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