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XXXI. BEOWULF GIVES HROTHGAR’S GIFTS TO HYGELAC, OF THE DEATH OF HYGELAC AND OF HEARDRED HIS SON, AND HOW BEOWULF IS KING OF THE GEATS: THE WORM IS FIRST TOLD OF.
So therewith the folk-king far’d, living full seemly;
By those wages forsooth, ne’er a whit had I lost,
By the meed of my main, but to me treasure gave he,
The Healfdene’s son, to the doom of myself;
Which to thee, king of bold ones, will I be a-bringing,
And gladly will give thee; for of thee is all gotten,
Of favours along, and but little have I,
Of head-kinsmen forsooth, saving, Hygelac, thee.
Then he bade them bear, in the boar-shape, the head-sign,
The battle-steep war-helm, the byrny all hoary,
The sword stately-good, and spell after he said:
This raiment of war, Hrothgar gave to my hand,
The wise of the kings, and therewithal bade me,
That I first of all, of his favour should flit thee;
He quoth that first, had it King Heorogar of old,
The king of the Scyldings, a long while of time;
But no sooner would he give, it unto his son,
Heoroward the well-whet, though kind to him were he,
This weed of the breast. Do thou brook it full well.
On these fretworks, so heard I, four horses therewith,
All alike, close, followed after the track,
Steeds apple-fallow. Fair grace he gave him,
Of horses and treasures. E’en thus shall do kinsman,
And nowise a wile-net, shall weave for another,
With craft of the darkness, or do unto death,
His very hand-fellow. But now unto Hygelac,
The bold in the battle was, his nephew full faithful,
And either to other, of good deeds was mindful.
I heard that the neck-ring, to Hygd did he give,
E’en the wonder-gem well-wrought, that Wealh-theow gave him,
The king’s daughter; gave he three steeds therewithal,
Slender, and saddle-bright; sithence to her was,
After the ring-gift, the breast well beworthy’d.
Thus boldly he bore him, the Ecgtheow’s bairn,
The groom kenned in battle, in good deeds a-doing;
After due doom he did, and ne’er slew he the drunken,
Hearth-fellows of him: naught rough was his heart;
But of all men of mankind, with the greatest of might,
The gift fully and fast set, which had God to him given,
That war-deer did hold. Long was he contemned,
While the bairns of the Geats, naught told him for good,
Nor him on the mead-bench, worthy of mickle,
The lord of the war-hosts, would be a-making.
Weened they strongly, that he were but slack then,
An atheling unkeen; then came about change,
To the fame-happy man, for every foul harm.
Bade then the earls’ burg, in to be bringing,
The king battle-famed, the leaving of Hrethel,
All geared with gold; was not ‘mid the Geats then,
A treasure-gem better, of them of the sword-kind,
That which then on Beowulf’s, harm there he laid;
And gave to him there, seven thousand in gift,
A built house and king-stool; to both them together,
Was in that folkship, land that was kindly,
Father-right, home; to the other one rather,
A wide realm, to him, who was there the better.
But thereafter it went, so in days later worn,
Through the din of the battle, sithence Hygelac lay low,
And unto Heardred, swords of the battle,
Under the war-board, were for a bane;
When fell on him midst, of this victory-folk,
The hard battle-wolves, the Scyldings of war,
And by war overwhelmed, the nephew of Hereric;
That sithence unto Beowulf, turned the broad realm,
All into his hand. Well then did he hold it,
For a fifty of winters; then was he an old king,
An old fatherland’s warder; until one began,
Through the dark of the night-tide, a drake, to hold sway.
In a howe high aloft, watched over an hoard,
A stone-burg full steep; thereunder a path sty’d,
Unknown unto men, and therewithin wended,
Who of men do I know not; for his lust there took he,
From the hoard of the heathen, his hand took away,
A hall-bowl gem-flecked, nowise back did he give it,
Though the herd of the hoard, him sleeping beguil’d he,
With thief-craft; and this, then found out the king,
The best of folk-heroes, that wrath-bollen was he.