| 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 RETURNED TO HIS OWN LAND
 Proudly the Goths marched along with Beowulf in their
midst, until they reached Hart Hall. And there, still
carrying the hideous head of Grendel, they entered in
and greeted Hrothgar.
Great was the astonishment of the king and his nobles at
the sight of Beowulf. Never again had they thought to
see the daring warrior. So now they welcomed him with
much rejoicing, and their rejoicing was mingled with
wonder and awe as they gazed upon the awful head. The
queen, too, who sat beside the king, turned from it with
 Then when the noise of joyful greeting was stilled a
little, Beowulf spoke.
"Behold, O king!" he said, "we bring thee these
offerings in token of victory. From the conflict under
the water have I hardly escaped with my life. Had not
the All-wise shielded me, I had nevermore seen the sun
and the joyful light of day. For although Hrunting be a
mighty and good sword, in this fight it availed me
nothing. So I cast it from me and fought with mine hands
"But the Water Witch was strong and evil, and I had but
little hope of life, when it chanced that I saw on the
walls there of that grim cave an old and powerful sword.
"Quickly then I drew that weapon and therewith slew I
the dreadful foe. After that I espied the body of
Grendel which lay there and cut off his head, which now
I bring to thee. But even as I had done
 that, lo! a
marvel happened, and the blade did melt even as ice
under the summer sun. Such was the venom of that Ogre's
blood, that the hilt only of the sword have I borne away
"But now, I promise thee, henceforth mayest thou and thy
company of warriors sleep safe in Hart Hall. No longer
will the Demon folk trouble it."
Then Beowulf gave the golden hilt to the king, and he,
taking it, gazed on it in wonder. It was exceeding
ancient and of marvellous workmanship, a very treasure.
Upon the gold of it in curious letters was written for
whom that sword had been first wrought. The writing
told, too, how it had been made in days long past, when
giants stalked the earth in pride.
In the Hall there was silence as Hrothgar gazed upon the
relic. Then in the silence he spoke.
 "Thy glory is exalted through wide ways, O friend
Beowulf," he said. "Over every nation thy fame doth
spread. Yet thou bearest it modestly, true warrior-like.
Again I renew my plighted love to thee, and to thine own
people mayest thou long be a joy.
"I for half a hundred years had ruled my folk, and under
all the wide heaven there was no foe who stood against
me. Within my borders there was peace and joy. Then lo,
after joy came sadness, and Grendel became my foe, my
invader. But thanks be to the Eternal Lord I am yet in
life to see that fearful head besprent with gore.
"And now, O Great-in-war, go thou to thy seat, enjoy the
feast, and when it shall be morning, thou and I shall
deal together in many treasures."
Then at these words Beowulf was glad at heart, and went
straightway to his seat
 as the king commanded. And once
again the Dane folk and the Goths feasted together in
At length the day grew dim and darkness fell upon the
land. All the courtiers then rose, and the grey-bearded
king sought his couch. Beowulf, too, rejoiced greatly
at the thought of rest, for he was weary with his long
contest. So the king's servants, with every honour and
reverence, guided him to the room prepared for him.
Silence and peace descended upon the Hall and palace.
Hour after hour the night passed, and no demon foe
disturbed the sleep of Goth or Dane.
And when the morning sun shone again the Goths arose,
eager to see their own land once more.
Beowulf then called one of his thanes and bade him bear
the famous sword, Hrunting, back again to Hunferth.
 thanks he gave for it, nor spoke he word of blame
against the good blade. "Nay, 'twas a
good war friend," said the
Then, impatient to depart, with arms all ready, the
Goths came to bid King Hrothgar farewell.
"Now to thee we sea-farers would bid farewell," said
Beowulf, "for we would seek again our own king, Hygelac.
Here have we been kindly served. Thou hast entreated us
well. If I can now do aught more of warlike works on thy
behalf, O Hrothgar, I am straightway ready. If from far
over the sea I hear that to thy dwelling foes come
again, I will bring thousands of warriors to thine aid.
"For well I know that Hygelac, King of the Goths, young
though he be, will help me to fight for thee, and will
not refuse his thanes."
 With gracious words the old king thanked the young
warrior. Rich presents, too, he gave to him, of gold and
gems, and splendidly wrought armour. Then he bade him
seek his own people, but come again right speedily.
As Hrothgar said farewell he put his arms round
Beowulf's neck and kissed him. Then as he watched the
hero march away across the fields of summer green, his
eyes filled with tears. It was to the king as if he
parted from a beloved son.
Proudly and gladly the Goths marched on until they came
to the shore where the warden watched who had met them
at their first landing. Now as he saw them come he rode
towards them with words of welcome. For already the tale
of Beowulf's great deeds had been told to him.
And thus at length the Goths reached their ship where it
lay by the shore awaiting
 their coming. Into it was
piled all the treasure with which Hrothgar had loaded
the heroes. The horses were led on board, the glittering
shields were hung along the sides, the sails were
Then from out his treasure hoard Beowulf chose a
splendid sword and gave it to the thane who had watched
by the ship, and kept it safe. And he, greatly
rejoicing, departed to his fellows, and was by them ever
after held in honour by reason of the sword that Beowulf
had given to him.
Now at length all was ready. The last man leaped on
board, the sails shook themselves to the wind, and out
upon the waves floated the foam-necked vessel.
Bounding over the sea went the Goths, listening to the
song of the wind and the waves, until they came to the
shore of their beloved land.
 The ship touched the shore. Right joyously the warriors
sprang to earth, greeting their kinsmen who welcomed
them from the far land.
Beowulf then bade his servants bring the great load of
treasure, while he and his comrades set out along the
sandy shore to Hygelac's palace.
Quickly before them ran messengers bearing to the king
the joyous news that Beowulf, his loved comrade, had
returned alive and unhurt. Unwounded from the game of
war he had returned, and was even now marching towards
Gladly the king greeted the hero; joyful words he spake.
Then he made Beowulf to sit beside him while Hygd, his
fair queen, bare the mead-cup through the hall.
Hygelac was eager to hear all that had befallen his
friend. "Tell it unto me," he
 cried, "how befell it with
thee on the way, dear Beowulf? How hath it fared with
thee since thou didst on a sudden resolve to seek
conflict afar? Sorrow and care have possessed my mind. I
have grieved for thee, my friend, lest evil should come
to thee. Therefore this day I thank the All-wise that I
see thee safe and whole."
"It is no secret, my Lord Hygelac," answered Beowulf,
"how I met and overcame the Ogre. None of Grendel's
kinsmen who may yet dwell upon earth have any cause to
boast of that twilight meeting."
And then from the beginning of the adventure to the end
of it Beowulf told. Sitting beside the king he told of
all that had befallen him and his comrades since first
they set sail from Gothland. He told of the friendly
greeting of the king, of the fight with Grendel, and
with Grendel's mother, the foul Water Witch. And at
he told of all the rewards and thanks that had been
heaped upon him.
To all the tale Hygelac listened with wonder and
delight, for he joyed to hear of the great deeds of his
When Beowulf had finished telling the tale, he bade his
servants bring in the treasure. Then turning to the king
he spoke again.
"To thee, O warrior-king," he said, "I gladly give these
riches. For all my joy in life cometh from thee. Save
thee, O Hygelac, few kinsmen have I."
Then to the king he gave a splendid suit of armour,
helmet and sword, four steeds all with their rich
harness, and much treasure beside.
To Hygd, the queen, Beowulf gave the collar which
Wealtheow had bestowed upon him. Also he gave to her
 black steeds saddled and harnessed with gold and
And the king, on his part, gave Beowulf a sword of
honour, a palace, and much land. Thus was the mighty
warrior brought to great honour.
Then for many years Beowulf lived happy and beloved. For
although he was strong and mighty in battle, he was
gentle and courteous in peace. His was no savage soul
delighting in slaughter; he held himself ever in battle
but as a good soldier should.
Indeed Beowulf was so gentle in peace that in his youth
the great warriors of the Goths had thought little of
him. But now that he had proved that though in peace his
words were smooth, in battle his arm was strong, all men
And thus it befell that when Hygelac died in battle, and
afterward his son also,
 the broad realm of Gothland was
given unto Beowulf to rule. And there for fifty years he
reigned a well-loved king, and all the land had peace.
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