| 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 OVERCAME GRENDEL THE OGRE
 And now all slept save Beowulf alone. Then out of the
creeping mists that covered the moorland forth the Evil
Right onward to the Hall he came, goaded with fearful
wrath. The bolts and bars he burst asunder with but a
touch, and stood within the Hall.
Out of the dark Grendel's eyes blazed like fire. Loud he
laughed, wild-demon laughter, as he gazed around upon
the sleeping warriors.
Here truly was a giant feast spread out before him. And
ere morning light should
 come he meant to leave no man
of them alive. So loud he laughed.
Beowulf, watchful and angry, yet curbed his wrath. He
waited to see how the monster should attack. Nor had he
long to wait.
Quickly stretching forth a fang, Grendel seized a
sleeping warrior. Ere the unhappy one could wake he was
torn asunder. Greedily Grendel drank his blood, crushed
his bones, and swallowed his horrid feast.
Again the goblin stretched forth his claws hungry for
his feast. But Beowulf raising himself upon his elbow
reached out his hand, and caught the monster.
Then had the fell giant fierce wrath and pain. Never
before had he made trial of such a hand-grip. In it he
writhed and struggled vainly. Hotter and hotter grew his
anger, deeper and deeper his fear. He longed to flee, to
seek his demon lair and
 there make merry with his
fellows. But though his strength was great he could not
win free from that mighty grasp.
Then Beowulf, remembering his boast that he would
conquer this ruthless beast, stood upright, gripping the
Ogre yet more firmly.
Awful was the fight in the darkness. This way and that
the Ogre swayed, but he could not free himself from the
clutch of those mighty fingers.
The noise of the contest was as of thunder. The fair
Hall echoed and shook with demon cries of rage, until it
seemed that the walls must fall.
The wine in the cups was spilled upon the floor. The
benches, overlaid with gold, were torn from their
places. Fear and wonder fell upon the Dane folk. For far
and wide the din was heard, until the king trembled in
his castle, the slave in his hut.
 The knights of Beowulf awoke, arose, drew their sharp
swords, and plunged into the battle. They fought right
manfully for their master, their great leader. But
though they dealt swift and mighty blows, it was in
vain. Grendel's hide was such that not the keenest blade
ever wrought of steel could pierce it through. No
war-axe could wound him, for by enchantments he had made
him safe. Nay, by no such honourable means might
death come to the foul Ogre.
Louder and louder grew the din, fiercer and wilder the
strife, hotter the wrath of those who strove.
But at length the fight came to an end. The sinews in
Grendel's shoulder burst, the bones cracked. Then the
Ogre tore himself free, and fled, wounded to death,
leaving his arm in Beowulf's mighty grip.
 Sobbing forth his death-song, Grendel fled over the
misty moorland, until he reached his dwelling in the
lake of the Water Dragons, and there plunged in. The
dark waves closed over him, and he sank to his home.
Loud were the songs of triumph in Hart Hall, great the
rejoicing. For Beowulf had made good his boast. He had
cleansed the Hall from the Ogre. Henceforth might the
Dane folk sleep peacefully therein. And so the Goths
rejoiced. And over the doorway of the Hall, in token of
his triumph, Beowulf nailed the hand, and arm, and
shoulder of Grendel.
Then when morning came, and the news was spread over all
the land, there was much joy among the Dane folk. From
far and near many a warrior came riding to the Hall to
see the marvel. Over the moor they rode, too, tracking
 footsteps, until they came to the lake of
the Water Dragons. There they gazed upon the water as it
boiled and seethed, coloured dark with the poison blood
of the Ogre.
Then back with light hearts they sped, praising the
hero. "From north to south," they cried, "between the
seas all the world over, there is none so valiant as he,
none so worthy of honour."
With loosened rein they galloped in the gay sunshine.
And by the way minstrels made songs, and sang of the
mighty deeds of the Goth hero, praising him above the
heroes of old. In all the land there was song and
Then from his bower came the aged king, clad in gorgeous
robes. Behind him was his treasurer, the keeper of his
gold, and a great troop of warriors. With him walked the
queen, splendid too, in robes
 of purple and gold, while
many fair ladies followed in her train.
Over the flower-starred meadow they passed, stately and
beautiful, until they stood before the Hall.
As Hrothgar mounted the steps, he gazed upon the roof
shining with gold in the sun. He gazed too upon the hand
and arm of Grendel. Great was his joy and gladness.
Then the king turned to the people gathered there. "For
this sight be thanks at once given to the All Wise," he
cried. "What sorrow and trouble hath Grendel caused me!
When I saw my Hall stained with blood, when I saw my
wise men bowed with grief, broken in spirit, I hoped no
more. I thought never in this life to be repaid for all
the brave men that I have lost.
"Then lo! when my sorrow was dark, there cometh a young
warrior, a youth
 mighty in battle. And he hath done the
deed that all our wisdom was not able to perform."
Then turning to Beowulf, the king stretched out his
hands and cried, "Now, O Beowulf, greatest of fighters,
henceforth will I love thee as a son. No wish of thine
but I will grant it to thee, if it be in my power.
"Full oft of yore have I for lesser deeds given great
rewards. Treasure and honour have I heaped upon knights
less brave than thou, less mighty in war. But thou by
thy deeds hast made for thyself a glorious name which
shall never be forgotten."
Then Beowulf, proudly humble, answered, "It was joy to
do the daring deed. Blithe at heart we fought the
Unknown One. But I would that thou thyself hadst seen
the Ogre among the treasures of the Hall. I thought to
bind him on a bed of
 death. But in my hand he might not
lie. He was too strong for me. His body slipped from my
grasp. Nevertheless he left with me his hand and arm and
shoulder. It is certain that now he lieth dead and will
never more trouble the land."
There was joy among the heroes as Beowulf spoke. But
Hunferth hung his head, and bit his lip in silence. He
no longer had desire to taunt the hero, or make boast of
his own war-craft. Shame held him speechless.
And so through all that day the crowd came and went
before the door of Hart Hall. Greatly did all men marvel
at the fearful sight, at the war-hand of the Ogre. The
nails were like steel, the fingers like daggers, and the
whole hide so hard that no sword, however finely welded,
might pierce it through.
It was indeed a great marvel.
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