Stories of Beowulf Told to Children

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Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Categories: Traditional. Stories of Beowulf Told to Children. Marshall's story relates how Beowulf, the hero of the Anglo-Saxons, journeys to Daneland, and how he overcomes Grendel, the ogre, and his mother, the water witch, then returns to his own land to serve as king.

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.


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Grendel hath done this. In his prowlings he So when night fell they abode in the Hall. But in the morning, when day dawned, my fair house was red [22] with blood. And I needs must mourn the death of yet more gallant knights, must have fewer thanes to own my rule. 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.

Chapter 3 Beowulf Telleth How He Warred with the Sea-folk [23] Now among all the joyous company who feasted and made merry in the Hart Hall there was one who bore a gloomy face and angry heart. This was a knight named Hunferth. At Hrothgar's feet he sat in jealous wrath, for he could not bear that any knight in all the world should have greater fame than he himself. The praise of Beowulf was bitterness to him, and thus he spake in scoffing words: "Art thou that Beowulf who didst contend with Breca on the wide sea in a swimming match?

Art thou he who with Breca, out of vain pride swam [24] through the sea, and for foolhardiness ventured your lives in deep waters? No man, 'twas said, nor friend nor foe could turn ye from the foolish play. Yet for a week ye twain strove upon the waters. Then at morning-time the sea drave him to shore. Thence he departed to his own land where he owned a nation, a town, and much wealth. Yea, in that contest thou hadst not the better. Now although thou art so splendid in war, I expect a worse defeat for thee, if thou darest to abide here the coming of Grendel. Now will I tell thee the truth of the matter.

Rightly I claim to have [25] the greatest strength upon the sea, more skill than any man upon the waves. And even so we did. That was right needful to defend us against the whale-fishes. Strive as he might, he could not flee from me. And so for five nights upon the sea Then a great storm arose and drave us asunder. Fierce and cold were the waves, dark and terrible the night. The north wind drave upon us till the ocean boiled in madness of wrath. Glad was I then that my shirt of mail, gold adorned and trusty, wrapped [26] my body.

For a spotted monster seized me fast in his grim grip and dragged me to the floor of the sea. But I strove with him and my bright blade was dyed in the blood of the sea-brute. Yet, although one was slain, around me swarmed many another fearful foe. But my dear sword served me well. They did not have joy of their feast, the Evil-doers! They did not sit around on the floor of the sea to swallow me down. Nay rather, in the morning, put to sleep with the sword, they lay among the sea-weeds on the shore, cast up by the waves. And never since upon the great waters have they troubled the sailors.

Never have I heard of a fiercer fight by night under the arch of heaven.

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Never have I heard of a man more [27] wretched upon the waves. Yet I escaped. And when the sun at morning rose above the sea, the waves cast me upon the shore of Finland, spent Ye have not done such deeds. But in sooth I would not boast myself. Yet I say unto thee, Hunferth, that Grendel, the evil monster, had never done so many horrors against thy king, that he had never brought such shame upon this fair Hall, hadst thou been so battlefierce as thou vauntest that thou art.

Yea, he hath seen that he hath no need to fear the boasted courage of the Dane folk. So he warreth, and slayeth, and feasteth as he pleaseth. He looketh not for battle at the hands of the Danes. But I, a Goth, shall offer him [28] war, war fierce and long. And after that, he who will may go proudly to Hart Hall. The Hall rang with the sound of clashing armour and loud shouts as the Dane folk cheered the hero. But Hunferth abashed held his peace.

Then forth from the bower came Wealtheow, Hrothgar's queen. Stately and tall, and very beautiful she came, clothed in rich garments girdled with gold. A golden crown was upon her head, and jewels glittered In her hand she held a great golden cup set with gems. First to King Hrothgar she went and gave to him the beaker. Then through all the Hall Wealtheow moved, speaking gracious words, giving to each warrior, young and old, wine from the golden cup. At last she, the crowned queen, courteous and beautiful, came to Beowulf. Graciously Wealtheow smiled upon the Goth lord, holding the beaker to him.

He felt the joy of battle rise within him, and aloud he spake: "I sware it when I did set out upon the deep sea, as I stood by my comrades upon the ship. I sware that I alone would do the [30] As an earl I must fulfil my word, or here in the Hart Hall must I await my death-day.

And so in splendour and high state she moved through the Hall till she came again to the Gift-seat, and there beside the king she sat. Then again in the Hall there was sound of laughter and merriment. The minstrels sang, and the earls told of mighty deeds until the evening shadows slanted along the wall. Then all arose. The sound of song and laughter was stilled.

It was time to be gone. Farewells were said. Man greeted man, not knowing what the morning might bring forth. But all knew that battle was making ready for those who waited in that great Hall. When the sun had [31] gone down, and dark night covered all the land, ghostly creatures would creep forth to war in the shadow. So with grave words Hrothgar bade Beowulf farewell. Never before did I commit it to any man. Keep it now right bravely.

Remember thy If thou overcome him, there is no desire of thine that shall be unfulfilled, so that it lieth in my power to give it thee. The beds were spread around the walls, and Beowulf prepared himself strangely for battle. His coat of mail, firmly wrought [32] with shining rings of steel, he cast aside.

He took his helmet from his head, and with his sword and shield, and all his glittering warharness, gave it to the keeping of a servant. And thus all unarmed, clad only in his silken coat, he proudly spake: "In war-craft I deem I am no worse than Grendel. Therefore not with the sword shall I put him to sleep, though that were easy.

Not thus shall I take his life, for he is not learned in the use of war-weapons. So without them we twain this night shall fight. And God the all-wise shall give victory even as it shall seem best to Him. None For they had heard of [33] the terrible death that had carried off so many of the Dane folk from Hart Hall. Little they thought to escape that death. Yet so reckless were they of life that soon they slept. Beowulf alone, watchful and waiting for the foe, impatiently longed for the coming battle.

Then out of the creeping mists that covered the moorland forth the Evil Thing strode. 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 [35] come he meant to leave no man of them alive. So loud he laughed.

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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 [36] 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. They fought right manfully for their master, their great leader.

But though they dealt swift and mighty blows, it was in vain.


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  7. 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.

    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 Grendel's gory [39] 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. 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 gladness. 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 [40] 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. 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. And he hath done the deed that all our wisdom was not able to perform. No wish of thine but I will grant it to thee, if it be in my power. 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. 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 [42] 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. 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. Chapter 5 How the Water Witch Warred with the Dane Folk [43] And now while the people came and went, marvelling and praising the skill of him who had overcome the Goblin, men and women hurried hither and thither making gay the Hall.

    The carving and gem work was much broken and destroyed by the fearful combat which had taken place within. The roof alone was quite unhurt. But beautiful tapestries gleaming with gold and colours were hung upon the walls, silken banners and embroideries were spread upon the benches, until the whole Hall glowed in splendour.

    Never was there more splendid banquet. Hart Hall from end to end was filled with friends, and laughter, and rejoicing sounded through it. Then when the feasting was over Hrothgar gave to Beowulf rich presents. A splendid banner he gave him richly sewed with gold, a helmet and coat of mail, a sword the hilt of which was all of twisted gold.

    Eight splendid horses, too, were led into the court about the Hall. Their harness was all of gold, and upon one was a saddle gaily decorated and finely adorned with silver. It was the saddle upon which Hrothgar himself rode when he went forth to battle. All these the king gave to Beowulf, and much wealth besides. Also for the man whom Grendel had slain Hrothgar ordered that much gold should be paid. Then when the present-giving was over, the minstrel took his harp and sang. He sang of love and battle, and of the mighty deeds of heroes.

    The singing ceased, and the noise of Around the board the cup-bearers carried the wine in vessels wondrously wrought. Then came Queen Wealtheow forth once more, clad in splendid robes, wearing a golden crown upon her head, bearing in her hand a golden cup.

    To the king she went where he sat with his sons and Beowulf beside him. Far and near now hast thou peace. Hart Hall is cleansed of the Evil One. At his feet she laid a rich dress with bracelets and a collar of fine gold. Long mayest thou wear them and enjoy life. A deed hast thou done this night that shall be remembered for all time. Far as the seas circle the land shall it be told of thee.

    Take thou my thanks, and be thou a friend to my sons. Once more there was song and laughter throughout the Hall until the shadows of evening fell. Then the king and Beowulf [47] arose, and went forth to rest, each to his own chamber. But the Dane lords, as they had done so often before in days gone by, spread their beds and pillows upon the floor of the great Hall. For now that the Ogre was dead they had no more fear. At the head of his bed each man placed his shield. Upon the bench near him stood his helmet, his sword and spear and coat of mail.

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    Then each man lay down to rest secure and happy. For was not the terrible giant slain? No more was there need to watch and fear. So silence and darkness fell upon the Hall, and all men sank to sleep. But out on the wide moorland, far away in the Water Dragon's lake, there was one who waked and mourned. Over the dead body of her son Grendel's mother wept, desiring revenge. Almost as fearful as her wicked son she was.

    And as the darkness fell upon the land she crept forth across the moorland to Hart Hall. On and on she crept until she reached the Then in she rushed among the sleeping warriors, eager for slaughter. The fear and confusion were great. A wild cry rang through the Hall, and each man sprang to his feet seizing his sword and shield. Then the Water Witch, finding herself discovered, made haste to be gone. No mind had she to face these swords and spears.

    But ere she went she stretched forth her hand and seized a warrior, and tightly holding him, she carried him off to the moor. And though her haste to be gone was great she found yet time to seize the hand of Grendel and take it with her to her dark dwelling. For the warrior whom the Water Witch had carried off was a dear comrade of the king. He was the best beloved of all Hrothgar's thanes. Now when messengers came running in all haste to the old king with the direful news, he was filled with grief and anger. His joy at the death of Grendel was all dashed with grief for the loss of his friend.

    Then all men's thoughts turned to Beowulf. Quickly they ran to fetch him, and he, waked thus suddenly out of his sleep, came with his comrades wonderingly to the king where he awaited them. The sun had not yet risen, and all the Hall was dim in grey shadow, as Beowulf and his men marched through it, breaking [50] the stillness with the clang of their weapons and armour. Is some evil chance befallen that thy messengers seek me thus early? My dearest comrade is dead, my friend and counsellor. Thou didst slay Grendel yesternight, but one hath come to avenge him, even his mother.

    She it is who hath carried off my dear warrior to slay and devour him in her dwelling. Dank trees overshadow it and no man knoweth its depth, for all shun the gloomy place. Yet if thou durst, seek it out. Rid me of this Water Witch, avenge [51] there the To each of us must death come, and well for him then who hath done justice while he yet lived.

    Arise, O king, let us see quickly the track of Grendel's kin. I promise thee she shall not escape. Do thou but have patience this day, that only do I ask of thee. After them came a great train of warriors as across the moor they went, following the track of the Water Witch to her home. At length they came to the place where gloomy trees hung over red and troubled waters. Upon the bank lay the head of that Dane warrior, Hrothgar's dear friend, and at the sight of it the knights were again filled with woe. Upon the dark water there swam strange Sea Dragons, many kinds of snakes and savage worms.

    But when they saw the company of Danes upon the bank, and heard the blast of the war-horn, they fled swimming away, diving into the depths. Yet ere they vanished Beowulf drew his bow and shot one of them. Then quickly with boar-spears and hooks the warriors drew him to land, and as he lay there dead they gazed in wonder upon the grisly monster. He wore his trusty coat of steel, and upon his head was a wondrously wrought helmet, through which no sword might bite.

    Then as Beowulf made ready, Hunferth came to him. In his hand he bare an ancient and famous sword named Hrunting. The edge of it was stained with poisonous twigs and hardened in gore. Never had it failed a man, who carrying it went forth to ways of terror and war. Many valiant deeds had it wrought. And now Hunferth, remembering how he had taunted Beowulf, and in sorrow at the memory, brought the famous sword to the Goth hero.

    Hunferth himself durst not venture his life amid the waves to do the deed, and thus fame was lost to him. But he was now eager to aid Beowulf. And the Goth, [54] who thought no longer of Hunferth's taunting words, received the sword right gladly. Then Beowulf turned to King Hrothgar. Let me but first call to thy mind what we have already spoken. If I for thy need lose my life, be thou a friend to my fellow-thanes.

    And do thou also send the treasure which thou hast given unto me to my king, Hygelac. Then by that gold may he know that I did fight manfully, and found in thee a noble rewarder.

    With his Hrunting I will work renown, or death shall take me. It seemed to him that he dived for a whole day's space ere he reached the bottom of that dark lake. But as soon as he touched the water, the grim and greedy Water Witch knew by the movement of the waves that a mortal man was coming.

    So she made ready to seize the daring one in her horrid clutches. No sooner then did Beowulf near the bottom than he was grasped by long and skinny fingers. The fingers crushed him, and tore at him, but so strong and trusty was his coat of mail that the Water Witch could in no wise hurt him. And so fast was Beowulf in her clutches that he could not unsheath his sword.

    As the Water Witch dragged Beowulf along, wondrous sea-brutes followed them. Beasts they were with terrible tusks, shining scales and sharp fins. With these they attacked the hero so fiercely that his armour was rent, yet was he unwounded. At last the Water Witch reached a great cave. Here there was no water, and a fire burned with a strange weird flame, lighting up the vast dim place.

    Then by the pale Beowulf saw that Grendel's mother, held him. And he battle had come. With a mighty effort he wrenched him- [57] self free. Then drawing the sword Hrunting which Hunferth had given him, he dealt with it many great blows. But all his strength was vain. Hrunting, so famous in many battles, was useless against the Water Witch.

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    No harm could the warrior do to her. Then in wrath Beowulf threw the shining blade upon the ground. He would trust no Seizing the Water Witch by the shoulders, he dragged her downwards. But she grappled with him fiercely. Then was there a fearful fight in that dim hall, deep under the water, far from all hope of help. Back and forth the two swayed, the strong warrior in armour and the direful Water Witch. So strong was she that at last she bore him to the ground and [58] kneeled upon his breast. She drew her dagger.

    Now she would avenge her son, her only son. The dagger shone and fell again and yet again. And then truly Beowulf's last hour had come had his armour not been of such trusty steel. But through it neither point nor edge of dagger might pierce. The blows of the Water Witch were all in vain, and again Beowulf sprang to his feet. And now among the many weapons with which the walls were hung, Beowulf saw a huge sword. It seemed the work of giants. Its edge was keen and bright, the hilt of glittering gold. Quickly Beowulf grasped the mighty weapon. And now fighting for his very life he swung it fiercely, and smote with fury.

    Down upon the floor sank the Water Witch, and from the red-dyed blade a [59] sudden flame shone out, and all the cave was lighted up. Curiously Beowulf gazed around him. Dead at his feet lay the Water Witch, and hard by on a couch lay the body of Grendel. Then Beowulf was minded to bear away with him some prize. So once more swinging the great sword, he smote off the Ogre's head.

    Meanwhile far up above beyond the waterwaves Hrothgar and his men and all Beowulf's comrades sat waiting and watching. And now as Beowulf smote off Grendel's head they saw the waves all dyed with blood. Then the old men shook their heads and spoke together. They talked sadly of the brave champion who had gone alone beneath that awful water. For now that they saw the waves red-dyed they [60] had no longer hope that he would ever return. Nay, these red and turgid waters seemed to prove to them that the Water Witch had overcome Beowulf and torn him in pieces.

    So as the hours passed, and Beowulf came no more, Hrothgar arose, and he and all his warriors sadly wended their way homeward. Nevermore did they hope to see the hero. But Beowulf's comrades would not go. Sad at heart they sat by the lake's edge gazing into the water, wishing, but hardly hoping, that they might see their dear lord again. And now far beneath the dark waves a strange thing happened. As Beowulf struck off the head of Grendel, the great sword began to melt away.

    More quickly than ice when the thaw is come melted the shining steel, until there was nothing [61] left but the golden hilt which Beowulf held in his hand. Such was the poison of the Ogre's blood. Beowulf gazed in wonder at the miracle. Then he made haste to be gone. All around him lay great treasure. This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title The brave warrior, Beowulf, comes to the aid of King Hrothgar when he hears that Grendel, a horrible monster, is terrorizing the inhabitants of Hart Hall.

    About the Author : A widely read author of history books for children a century ago, Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Buy New View Book. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Blurb, Softcover.

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