- Beowulf - Thomas Bulfinch
- Beowulf's Monsters
- The Story of Beowulf - Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall
- Beowulf - Robert Huntington Fletcher
HROTHGAR, King of the Spear Danes, was a mighty man in war, and when he had fought and conquered much, he bethought him that he would build a great and splendid hall, wherein he might feast and be glad with his people.
And so it was done. And when the hall was built, there night by night the thanes gathered and rejoiced with their King; and there, when the feast was over, they lay them down to sleep.
Within the hall all was gladness, but without on the lone moorland there stalked a grim monster, named Grendel, whose dark heart was filled with anger and hate. To him the sound of song and laughter was deep pain, and he was fain to end it.
"He, the Grendel, set off then after night was come to seek the lofty house, to see how the Ring Danes had ordered it after the service of beer. He found them therein, a troup of nobles sleeping after the feast. They knew not sorrow, the wretchedness of men, they knew not aught of misfortune.
"The grim and greedy one was soon prepared, savage and fierce, and in sleep he seized upon thirty of the thanes, and thence he again departed exulting in his prey, to go home with the carcases of the slain, to reach his own dwelling.
"Then was in the morning twilight, at the breaking of day, Grendel's war-craft revealed to men. Then was lamentation upraised after the feast, a great noise in the morning.
"The mighty prince, a noble of old goodness, sat unblithe; the strong in armies suffered, the thanes endured sorrow, after they beheld the track of the hated one, the accursed spirit."
But in spite of all their grief and horror, when night came the thanes again lay down to rest in the great hall. And there again the monster returned and slew yet more thanes, so that in horror all forsook the hall, and for twelve long years none abode in it after the setting of the sun.
And now far across the sea a brave man of the Goths, Beowulf by name, heard of the doings of Grendel, and he made up his mind to come to the aid of King Hrothgar.
"He commanded to make ready for him a good ship; quoth he, he would seek the war-king over the swan's path; the renowned prince since he had need of men.
"The good chieftain had chosen warriors of the Geatish people, the bravest of those who he could find. With fifteen men he sought the sea-wood. A warrior, a man crafty in lakes, pointed out the boundaries of the land.
"The time passed on, the ship was on the waves, the boat beneath a mountain, the ready warriors stept upon the prow. The men bore into the bosom of the bark bright ornaments, their ready warlike appointments.
"The men shoved forth the bounden wood, the men upon the journey they desired.
"The likest to a bird the foam-necked ship, propelled by the wind, started over the deep waves of the sea, till that about one hour of the second day, the wreathed prowed ship had sailed over, so that the traveller saw the land.
"Then quickly the people of the Westerns stepped upon the plain. They tied the sea-wood, they let down their shirts of mail, their war-weeds. They thanked God because that the waves had been easy to them."
And now these new-come warriors were led to King Hrothgar. He greeted them with joy, and after feasting and song the Danes and their King departed and left the Goths to guard the hall. Quietly they lay down to rest, knowing that ere morning stern battle would be theirs.
"Then under veils of mist came Grendel from the moor; he bare God's anger. The criminal meant to entrap some one of the race of men in the high hall. He went under the welkin, until he saw most clearly the wine hall, the treasure house of men, variegated with vessels. That was not the first time that he had sought Hrothgar's home. Never he, in all his life before or since found bolder men keepers of the hall.
"Angry of mood he went, from his eyes, likest to fire, stood out a hideous light. He saw within the house many a warrior sleeping, a peaceful band together. Then his mood laughed. The foul wretch meant to divide, ere day came, the life of each from his body."
Quickly then he seized a warrior and as quickly devoured him. But as he stretched forth his hand to seize another, Beowulf gripped him in his awful grasp.
Then began a terrible combat. The hall echoed with cries and sounds of clashing steel. The Goths awoke, joining in the fight, but all their swords were of no avail against the ogre. With his bare hands alone Beowulf fought, and thought to kill the monster. But Grendel escaped, though wounded to death indeed, and leaving his hand, arm, and shoulder behind in Beowulf's grip.
When morning came there was much rejoicing. Hrothgar made a great feast, at which he gave rich gifts to Beowulf and his friends. The evening passed in song and laughter, and when darkness fell the Danes lay down to rest in the hall as of old.