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sea, a great store of precious things—drinking cups, and armor inlaid with gold, helmets, and coats of mail, with famous swords, wrought by cunning smiths of old and richly ornamented. Now, it came to pass that these men, as the years went on, were slain in battle, till at 5 last one only of them was left alive. This man took the treasure and hid it away. In a tomb he hid it wherein some famous chief of the old time had been buried. Close to the sea was the mound, at the foot of a great cliff. The man laid it open even to the 10 chamber of the dead, and there he stored the precious things, rejoicing his eyes for a while with the sight of them. "Hold thou, O earth," he said, "that which mighty men have not been able to hold. They have passed away, and I only am left alive. The helmet 15 that has borne many a blow must perish, and the stout coat of mail and the shield that were proof against the bite of the sword must decay, even as the warrior that bore them in the battle." Thus did the last of that brave company lament over his treasures, until the 20 time came when he also was overtaken by death.
It chanced that one of the dragons that haunt the burial places of the dead lighted upon the place and saw the treasure, for it was open to the sky. And the creature took possession of it and guarded it, for such it is their 25 delight to do. For three hundred years he watched it, nor was ever disturbed. But at the end of the three
hundred years, a certain man who had come into ill favor with his lord fled into the wilderness and chanced to come upon this hoard, and he thought to himself: "If I stay here, I perish. I will take, therefore, one of 5 these precious things, and therewith will I reconcile myself to my lord." This he did; he took from the hoard a golden tankard and gave it to his lord as a peace offering, and won his favor.
Now all this time the dragon was asleep in an inner 10 chamber of the mound. And when the creature woke, he discovered the deed that had been done. So he issued from the mound and searched diligently every place round about, but no one could he see. Then once again he went back and examined the hoard, counting over the 15 precious things, till at last he knew for certain that some one had plundered it. it. Great was his anger, and scarce could he endure to tarry till night before he began to take vengeance for this wrong. But when the darkness fell he went forth and wasted all the land with 20 fire. Night after night he issued forth, carrying desolation with him. He caused houses and farmsteads to blaze up, and spread ruin far and wide. When the day came, he returned to his dwelling place, but every night he went abroad to destroy.
Tidings came to King Beowulf himself that his hall, which the people of the Goths had given him for his own, had been burnt with fire. Great was the wrath
in his heart when he heard it, so great that he was well-nigh ready to murmur against God in his heart, though this was not the good King's wont. Now, he scorned to go against the destroyer with a great host of men, nor did he fear the creature for himself. His 5 valor and his strength had borne him safely through many perils by land and sea, nor did he fear that they would fail him now. So he, with only a few chosen comrades, went to the mound, where it stood alone hard by the waves of the sea. The King then bade farewell 10 to each of his followers man by man, and when he had ended his words he said: "Even as I did in the olden time with huge sea monsters, so I would now do with. this dragon; I would not use sword or other weapon. But I know not how without these I could hold out 15 against him. Likewise, as I must encounter fire, venomous and deadly, when I grapple with him, so I must also carry shield and coat of mail. Thus will I go prepared, but not one foot's space will I yield to him. On this mound will we fight, and meet such end as 20 He who orders all things shall decree. Do ye, my comrades, abide here in the mountain, with your coats of mail about you, to see which of us twain shall come victorious out of this fray. But to grapple with the monster is not for you or for any man, but for me only. 25 One of these two things must be either I will carry away this treasure, or death shall take me."
Then he rose up from his place. With helmet on head and clad in coat of mail he went his way among the cliffs till he beheld an arch of rock and beneath it the burial mound, and all the face of the stream was 5 alight with flame. And when Beowulf saw these things, he stood and shouted aloud. Clear as a battle cry was the shout, and it reached to the dragon where he lay in the depth of the mound. And when he heard it, he knew that it was the speech of man, and that the time 10 for battle was come. So he rose from his place and before him there went a stream of fiery breath, that was, as it were, a defiance of his enemy. Then the King of the Goths swung his shield against his adversary, and drew his sword, a famous weapon that had come to him. 15 by inheritance from his ancestors in days gone by. So the two stood over against each other, and there was fear in the heart of both. Steadfast stood the King with his shield before him on the one side, and on the other was the dragon, curved into a bow, in readiness 20 to spring. Quickly he sprang against the King. So mighty was the attack that the shield availed not to keep him away. And when the King swung his great sword and smote the dragon, then the edge was turned upon the bony covering of the beast and wounded him. 25 not. Now was Beowulf in a great strait, for fierce beyond measure was the dragon's assault.
-A. J. CHURCH: Heroes of Chivalry and Romance.
wrought, worked; rec'oncile, to make peace with; ven'geance, revenge; ad'ver sa ry, enemy; in her'i tance, the descent of property from an ancestor; strait, a narrow place, a difficult position; as sault', attack.
1. Who was Beowulf? To what race did the Goths belong? 2. What other story in this collection tells about a hidden hoard? Who was the guardian of the treasure in the other story? Who is in this? 3. Where was this hoard hidden? How was it discovered? 4. Notice the two sentences: Though this was not the King's wont. It was hard by the sea. What unusual words are used? Rewrite the sentences, using more familiar words.
Sentence Study. Rewrite the following sentences, making two short ones in place of each one given. Begin each sentence with a capital letter and end it with the proper punctuation mark.
1. Beowulf, a king of the Goths in ancient times, is also celebrated in song and story. 2. Tidings came to King Beowulf that his hall, which the Goths had given him for his own, had been burned with fire. 3. He was so angry when he heard this that he determined to go and seek the destroyer and rid the land of him. 4. The creature that had brought about the destruction was a dragon that for years had guarded a hidden treasure.
BEOWULF AND THE DRAGON (Concluded)
THUS it fared with them in their first grapple and in the second also, and the King was sore distressed. And as for his comrades, nobles though they were, they stood not behind him, but slunk away into the wood, for they feared for their lives, lest the dragon should slay them 5 with his breath of fire. So they fled, Beowulf's comrades,