| 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 GRENDEL THE OGRE WARRED WITH THE DANE FOLK
 Long, long ago, there lived in Daneland a king called
Hrothgar. The old men of his country loved him and bowed
the knee to him gladly, and the young men obeyed him and
joyfully did battle for him. For he was a king mighty in
war, and valiant. Never foe could stand against him, but
he overcame them all, and took from them much spoil.
So this king wrought peace in his land and his riches
grew great. In his palace there were heaped gold in
rings and in chains, armour finely welded, rich jewels
which glowed as soft sunlight.
 Then King Hrothgar looked upon this great treasure and
brooded thereon. At last he said, "I will build me a
great hall. It shall be vast and wide, adorned within
and without with gold and ivory, with gems and carved
work. The fame of it shall spread over all the earth,
and men shall sing of it for all time. And when it is
builded, therein shall I call all my warriors, young and
old and divide to them the treasure that I have. It
shall be a hall of joy and feasting."
Then King Hrothgar called his workmen and gave them
commandment to build the hall. So they set to work, and
day by day it rose quickly, becoming each day more and
more fair, until at length it was finished.
It stood upon a height, vast and stately, and as it was
adorned with the horns of deer, King Hrothgar named it
 Then, true to his word and well pleased with the work of
his servants, King Hrothgar made a great feast. To it
his warriors young and old were called, and he divided
his treasure, giving to each rings of gold.
And so in the Hall there was laughter and song and great
merriment. Every evening when the shadows fell, and the
land grew dark without, the knights and warriors
gathered in the Hall to feast. And when the feast was
over, and the wine-cup passed around the board, and the
great fire roared upon the hearth, and the dancing
flames gleamed and flickered, making strange shadows
among the gold and carved work of the walls, the
minstrel took his harp and sang.
Then from the many-windowed Hall the light glowed
cheerfully. Far over the dreary fen and moorland the
 shed, and the sound of song and harp awoke the
deep silence of the night.
Within the Hall was light and gladness, but without
there was wrath and hate. For far on the moor there
lived a wicked giant named Grendel. Hating all joy and
brightness, he haunted the fastness and the fen,
prowling at night to see what evil he might do.
And now when night by night he heard the minstrel's
song, and saw the lighted windows gleam through the
darkness, it was pain and grief to him.
Very terrible was this ogre Grendel to look upon. Thick
black hair hung about his face, and his teeth were long
and sharp, like the tusks of an animal. His huge body
and great hairy arms had the strength of ten men. He
wore no armour, for his skin was tougher than any coat
of mail that man or giant might weld. His
 nails were
like steel and sharper than daggers, and by his side
there hung a great pouch in which he carried off those
whom he was ready to devour.
Terrible was this ogre Grendel to look upon
Now day by day this fearsome giant was tortured more and
more, for to him it was a torture to hear the sounds of
laughter and of merriment. Day by day the music of harp
and song of minstrel made him more and more mad with
At length he could bear it no longer. Therefore one
night he set out, and creeping through the darkness came
to Hart Hall, where, after the feast and song were done,
the warriors slept.
Peacefully they slept with arms and armour thrown aside,
having no fear of any foe. And so with ease the fierce
and savage giant seized them with his greedy claws.
Speedily he slew thirty of the bravest warriors. Then
 wicked joy he carried them off to his dark
dwelling, there to devour them.
Oh, when morning came, great was the moaning in
Daneland. When the sun arose and shone upon the
desolated Hall, and the war-craft of Grendel was made
plain, there was weeping. A cry of woe and wailing crept
out over the moorland, and the woesome sound made glad
the heart of the Wicked One.
But Hrothgar, the mighty, sat upon his throne downcast
and sorrowful. He who was strong in war wept now for the
woe of his thanes.
With eyes dimmed and dark, in grief and rage he looked
across the wild wide moorland, where the track of the
monster was marked with blood, and he longed for a
But who could fight against an Ogre? Before the thought
the bravest quailed.
 Such a fight would be too loathly,
too horrible. It was not to be endured.
When night fell the sorrowing warriors laid themselves
down to rest with sighs and tears, in the bright hall
that once had rung with songs and laughter. But the
greedy monster was not yet satisfied, his work was not
yet done. Stealthily through the darkening moorland
again the Ogre crept until he reached the Hart Hall.
Again he stretched forth his hand, again he seized the
bravest of the warriors, slew and carried them off to
his drear dwelling.
Then was there wailing and fierce sorrow among the
mighty men. Yet was there none so brave that he would
face and fight the demon foe. But each man swore that he
would not again sleep beneath the roof of Hart Hall. So
when evening fell, they departed every man to the
 around the palace, and the fair Hall was left
Thus Grendel, single handed, warred against the Dane
folk until the great Hall, the wonder of men, was
forsaken and empty.
For twelve long years it stood thus, no man daring,
except in the light of day, to enter it. For after the
shadows of evening fell, Grendel was master there. And
in that stately Hall, when night was darkest, he held
his horrid feasts. Only near to the throne, the carved
Gift-seat or throne of the Dane folk, where Hrothgar the
king used to sit, and from whence he dispensed gifts to
his people, there only he dared not go. Something sacred
and pure was there, before which the wicked Ogre
Thus for twelve long years Grendel warred against
Hrothgar and the Dane folk. He prowled through the misty
 moorland, lay in wait in dark places, slaying young and
old. Many were the grisly deeds he did, many the foul
crimes. And the mighty warriors, strong of heart against
a mortal foe, were powerless against him.
Downcast and sorrowful of heart Hrothgar sat among his
counsellors. None among them knew how to give him advice
or comfort. None knew how to deliver his land from the
Then the minstrels made mournful songs, and far and wide
they sang of how Grendel ever warred with Hrothgar. They
sang of how year by year there was battle and wrath
between the noble King and the Ogre of evil fame.
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