Beowulf: Beowulf's Triumph

This story is part of the Beowulf unit. Story source: The Story of Beowulf by Strafford Riggs with illustrations by Henry Pitz (1933).

Beowulf's Triumph

ON THE shore of the lake into which Beowulf had plunged, Hrothgar and his retainers had stayed for some time, but, at last, giving up all hope of ever beholding the hero again, they returned to their homes. Only the thirteen Geatish earls remained, waiting for their lord. Some of these, it is true, wished to go back, saying that their leader had drowned in the lake or that some demon had destroyed him. But these sad doubts were not held by all, and they finally agreed to remain for the longest possible time, in accordance with their lord's request.

Then suddenly one of their number, who had been watching the surface of the lake more hopefully than the others, cried out: "See, my comrades, the water is stained with blood! What can it be? Is this the blood of Beowulf, or of some monster with whom he has fought?"

And as all the earls gathered at the lakeside, a great heaving of the reddened water now took place, and under the astonished gaze of those who watched, the waters parted, and Beowulf rose to the surface with a tremendous shout of joy.

When he reached the shore, they clustered about him, eager to hear what had happened. But he would tell them nothing, save that he had slain the monster-mother, and he showed them the hilt of the magic sword and the gory head of Grendel. The rest of the story, he told them, they would hear in Hrothgar's presence, and he urged them to make ready and post quickly thither with their glad news.

They mounted their horses, and, singing the songs of conquerors, they rode toward the hall of Heorot.

There was great rejoicing when at last they arrived at the great hall, and a banquet was prepared, such a banquet as had never before been seen in all the land of the Danes or throughout the North.

The feasting and drinking went on far into the night, and many were the speeches made praising the courage and strength of Beowulf. And loudest of all praise came from the lips of Black Unferth, and all the earls marveled at his shining words.

Dawn broke upon the vast company, and at last Beowulf declared that now his mission in the land of the Danes was over and that he and his earls must take their departure for their own shore.

Then Hrothgar the king rose in his place and said: "Beowulf, my adopted son, you have accomplished great things for me and my countrymen. We thank the gods for your sending, and we wish to make some return to you and your earls for your valorous deeds."

And he commanded his servants and they came forward bearing rich presents of armor and harness for horses. There were goodly swords for the lords of Geatsland, and coffers of gold and silver and rare jewels, more than each man could carry on his own back, for himself. There were carven drinking-horns for the King of Geatsland and fleecy woolens for Hygd the queen, stout shields of hide bound with precious metal, helmets of beautiful workmanship and plumed with great wings, belts studded with gems, and many other gifts of surpassing value.

Later that morning Beowulf, together with his earls and all the great treasure that Hrothgar had bestowed on him, set sail.

A vast multitude collected upon the shore of the sea to see the noble earls embark, and among them was none happier than that ancient Guardian of the Beach who had watched over their boat in their absence.

As the sails filled with the fresh wind, the shouts from those upon the beach thundered out with immense good-will. Banners fluttered in the morning breeze, and Beowulf's ship was turned toward distant Geatsland.

And thus ended, in surpassing joy and thanksgiving, Beowulf's adventures among the Danes.

(600 words)

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