| Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|The Anglo-Saxon saga retold in excellent English prose, with the heroic qualities emphasized. Relates how Beowulf, the hero of the Anglo-Saxons, came to Daneland and how he overcame Grendel, the ogre, and the waterwitch; also how the fire dragon warred with the Goth folk and how Beowulf fought his last fight. Ages 8-10 |
HOW BEOWULF THE GOTH CAME TO DANELAND
 And now it came to pass that, across the sea in far
Gothland, the songs of Grendel and his wrath were sung,
until to Beowulf the Goth the tale of woe was carried.
And Beowulf, when he heard of Grendel's deeds, cried
that he would go across the waves to Hrothgar, the brave
king, since he had need of men to help him.
Now Beowulf was very strong in war, mighty among men. Of
all the nobles of the Goths there was none so great as
he. Much beloved, too, was he of Hygelac, King of the
Goths, for they were kinsmen and good comrades. And
because of the
 love they bore him, many prayed him to bide peacefully
at home, but others, knowing his prowess, bade him go
Beowulf was eager for the contest, so taking with him
fifteen warriors and good comrades, he stepped into a
ship and bade the captain set sail for Daneland.
Then like a bird wind-driven upon the waves, the
foam-necked ship sped forth. For two days the warriors
fared on over the blue sea, until they came again to
Daneland and anchored beneath the steep mountains of
that far shore.
The warriors fared on over the blue sea
There, lightly springing to shore, the warriors gave
thanks to the sea-god that the voyage had been so short
and easy for them.
But upon the heights above them stood the warden of the
shore. His duty it was to guard the sea-cliffs and mark
well that no
 foe landed unaware. Now as the warriors
sprang to shore, he saw the sun gleam upon sword and
shield and coat of mail.
"What manner of men be these?" he asked himself. And
mounting upon his horse he rode towards them.
Waving his huge spear aloft, he cried, as he rode
onward, "What men be ye who come thus clad in
mail-coats, thus armed with sword and spear? Whence
cometh this proud vessel over the waves? Long have I
kept watch and ward upon this shore that no foe might
come unaware to Daneland, yet never have I seen
shield-bearing men come openly as ye. And never have I
seen more noble warrior than he who seems your leader.
Nay, such splendour of armour, such beauty and grace
have I not seen. But, strangers, travellers from the
sea, I must know whence ye come ere ye go further. Ye
 may not pass else, lest ye be spies and enemies to
Daneland. It were well that ye told me speedily."
Then Beowulf answered him, "We are folk of the Goths,
thanes of King Hygelac. In friendly guise we come to
seek thy lord, King Hrothgar, the mighty chieftain. We
have a goodly message to the famed lord of the Danes.
There is no cause to be secret. Thou knowest if it be
true or no, but we indeed have heard that among ye Danes
there is a great and wily foe, a loather of valour, who
prowleth terribly in dark nights, making great slaughter
and causing much woe. Therefore have I come, for
perchance I may be of succour to the noble King Hrothgar
in his need."
Fearless and bold, facing the band of warlike men, the
warden sat upon his horse, and when Beowulf had ceased
speaking, he answered him.
 "Ye come as friends, O bearers of weapons, O wearers of
war garments. Follow me then, and I will lead you on. I
will also give commandment to my men that they guard
your ship where it lies by the shore until ye come
So following the warden they marched forward. Eager they
were for battle, eager to see the far-famed Hart Hall.
And as they marched, their gold-decked helmets, their
steel mail-coats, their jewelled sword-hilts, flashed in
the sunlight, and the clank and clash of weapons and
armour filled the air.
On and on they pressed quickly, until the warden drew
rein. "There," he said, pointing onward, "there lies the
great Hart Hall. No longer have ye need of me. The way
ye cannot miss. As for me, I will back to the sea to
keep watch against a coming foe."
 Then wheeling his horse he galloped swiftly away, while
the Goths marched onward until they reached the Hart
Hall. There, weary of the long way that they had come,
they laid down their shields, and leaning their spears
against the walls, sat upon the bench before the great
And as they sat there resting, there came to them a
proud warrior. "Whence come ye with these great
shields," he asked, "whence with these grey shirts of
mail, these jewelled helmets and mighty spears? I am
Hrothgar's messenger and servant, I who ask. Never saw I
prouder strangers, never more seemly men. I ween it is
not from some foe ye flee in fear and trouble. Rather in
pride and daring it would seem ye come to visit
Then answered Beowulf. "My name is Beowulf, and we are
 To thy lord, the mighty Hrothgar, we
will tell our errand if he will deign that we do greet
The warrior bowed low, for well he saw that Beowulf was
a mighty prince.
"I will ask my lord the King," he said, "if so be thou
mayest come to him. And to thee right quickly will I
bear his answer."
So saying he departed, and came to Hrothgar where he sat
amongst his earls. The king was now old and grey-haired,
and sat amid his wise men bowed with grief, for there
was none among them mighty enough to free his land from
"My lord," the warrior said, and knelt before the king,
"from far beyond the sea strange knights are come. They
pray that they may speak with thee. These sons of battle
name their leader Beowulf.
 Refuse them not, O king, but
give them kindly answer. For by the splendour of their
arms I deem them worthy of much honour. The prince who
sendeth such warriors hither must be great indeed."
"Beowulf!" cried Hrothgar. "I knew him when he was yet a
lad. His father and his mother have I known. Truly he
hath sought a friend. And I have heard of him that he is
much renowned in war, and that he hath the strength of
thirty men in the grip of his hand. I pray Heaven he
hath been sent to free us from the horror of Grendel.
Haste thee, bid him enter, bid them all to come. I would
see the whole friendly band together. Say to them that
they are right welcome to the land of Danes."
The warrior bowed low. Then once more going to the door
of the Hall, he stood before Beowulf and his knights.
 "My lord," he said, "the king biddeth me to say to thee
that he knoweth already of thy rank and fame. He saith
to you brave-hearted men from over the sea that ye are
all welcome to him. Now may ye go in to speak with him,
wearing your war trappings and with your helmets upon
your heads. But leave your shields, your spears, and
deadly swords without here, until the talk be done."
Then Beowulf and his warriors rose. Some went with him
to the Hall, others stayed without to guard the shields
Guided by the Danish warrior the knights marched right
through the great Hart Hall, until they stood before the
Gift-seat where sat the aged king.
"Hail to thee, Hrothgar," cried Beowulf. "I am Hygelac's
friend and kinsman. Many fair deeds have I done though
 I be young. And to me in far Gothland the tales of
Grendel's grim warfare were told. Sea-faring men told
that the great Hall so fair and well-built doth stand
forsaken and empty as soon as the shades of evening
fall, because of the prowlings of that fell giant.
"Then as we heard such tales did my friends urge me to
come to thee because they knew my might. They had
themselves seen how I laid low my foes. Five monsters I
bound, thus humbling a giant brood. Sea-monsters I slew
in the waves at night-time. Many a wrong have I avenged,
fiercely grinding the oppressors.
"And now will I fight against Grendel. Alone against the
Ogre will I wage war. Therefore one boon I crave of
thee, noble prince. Refuse it not, for thereto am I come
from very far. I pray thee that I alone, having with me
only mine own
 earls and comrades, may cleanse Hart Hall.
"It hath been told to me that Grendel recketh not of
weapons, for his hide is as of steel armour. Therefore
will I bear neither sword nor shield. But I will grapple
with the fiend with mine hands alone, and foe to foe we
will fight for victory. And, unto whomsoever it seemeth
good to the Lord of Life, unto him shall the victory be
"If Grendel win, then will he fearlessly devour the
people of the Goths my dear comrades, my noble earls,
even as aforetime he hath devoured thy warriors. Then
wilt thou not need to cover me with a mound, for the
lone moor will be my burial-place. Where ye track the
footsteps of the Ogre stained with gore, there will he
with greed devour my thanes and me.
 "But if I die, then send back to Hygelac my coat of
mail, for in all the world there is no other like to it.
This is all I ask."
Beowulf was silent, and Hrothgar the aged king answered
"O friend Beowulf," he said, "thou hast sought us out to
help us. Yet to me it is pain and sorrow to tell to any
man what shame, what sudden mischiefs, Grendel in his
wrath hath done to me. See! my palace-troop, my war-band
hath grown small. Grendel hath done this. In his
prowlings he hath carried off my men so that my warriors
"Full oft when the wine was red in the cup my knights
did swear that they would await the coming of Grendel,
to meet him with sword-thrust. So when night fell they
abode in the Hall. But in the morning, when day dawned,
my fair house was red
 with blood. And I needs must mourn
the death of yet more gallant knights, must have fewer
thanes to own my rule.
"But sit now to the feast and eat with gladness, sure
that victory will come to thee."
So the Goths sat them down in the great Hart Hall and
feasted with the Dane folk. The mead cup was carried
round, the minstrel sang of deeds of love and battle,
and there was great joy and laughter in all the Hall.
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