Kirtlan Chapter 42

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XLII

Then was it quite clear to them that the affair had not prospered with the monster,

who had hidden ornaments within the cave under the cliff.

The guardian thereof had slain some few in former days.

Then had the feud been wrathfully avenged.

And it is a mystery anywhere when a valiant earl reaches the end of his destiny,

when a man may no longer with his kinsman dwell in the mead-hall.

And thus was it

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with Beowulf when he sought out the guardian of the cavern and his cunning crafts.

And he himself knew not how his departure from this world would come about.

And thus famous chieftains uttered deep curses until the day of doom,

because they had allowed it to come to pass that the monster should be guilty of such crimes,

and,

accursed and fast with hell-bands,

as he was,

and tormented with plagues that he should plunder the plain.

He (Beowulf) was not greedy of gold,

and had more readily in former days seen the favour of God.

Wiglaf spake,

the son of Weohstan:

‘Often shall many an earl of his own only will suffer misery,

as is our fate.

Nor could we teach the dear lord and shepherd of the kingdom any wisdom so that he would fail to be meeting the keeper of the gold treasures (the dragon) or to let him stay where he had been long time dwelling in his

cavern until the world’s end.

But he held to his high destiny.

Now the hoard is seen by us,

grimly got hold of,

and at too great a cost was it yielded to the King

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of the people whom he enticed to that conflict.

I was within the cavern,

and looked upon all the hoard,

the decoration of the palace,

when by no means pleasantly,

room was made for me,

and a faring was granted to me in under the sea-cliff.

And in much haste I took a very great burden of hoard-treasures in my hand,

and bore it forth hither to my King.

He was still alive,

wise and witting well.

And he the ancient uttered many words in sadness,

and bade me greet you,

and commanded that ye should build after death of your friend a high grave-mound in the place of the funeral pyre,

a great and famous monument,

for he himself was the most worshipful of men throughout the earth,

while he was enjoying the wealth of his city.

Let us now go and see and seek yet once again the heap of treasures,

the wonder under the cliff.

I will direct you,

so that ye may look at close quarters upon the rings and the wealth of gold.

Let the bier be quickly made ready when we come forth again,

and then let us carry

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the dear man our lord when he shall enjoy the protection of the Ruler of all things.

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Then the son of Weohstan,

the battle-dear warrior,

ordered that commandment should be given to many a hero and householder that they should bring the wood for the funeral pyre from far,

they the folk-leaders,

to where the good man lay dead.

‘Now the war-flame shall wax and the fire shall eat up the strong chief among warriors,

him who often endured the iron shower,

when the storm of arrows,

strongly impelled,

shot over the shield-wall,

and the shaft did good service,

and all eager with its feather,

fear followed and aided the barb.

’ Then the proud son of Weohstan summoned from the troop the thanes of the King,

seven of them together,

and the very best of them,

and he the eighth went under the hostile roof.

And one of the warriors carried in his hand a torch which went on in front.

And no wise was it allotted who should plunder that hoard,

since they saw

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some part unguarded remaining in the Hall,

and lying there fleeting.

And little did any man mourn when full heartily they carried forth the costly treasures.

Then they shoved the dragon the worm over the cliff-wall,

and let the wave take him and the flood embrace that guardian of the treasures.

Then the twisted golden ornaments were loaded on a wagon,

an immense number of them.

And the noble Atheling,

the hoar battle-warrior,

was carried to Whales’ Ness.

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