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A CUP she gave him, with kindly greeting
and winsome words. Of wounden gold,
she offered, to honor him, arm-jewels twain,
corselet and rings, and of collars the noblest
that ever I knew the earth around.
Ne’er heard I so mighty, ’neath heaven’s dome,
a hoard-gem of heroes, since Hama bore
to his bright-built burg the Brisings’ necklace,
jewel and gem casket.—Jealousy fled he,
Eormenric’s hate: chose help eternal.
Hygelac Geat, grandson of Swerting,
on the last of his raids this ring bore with him,
under his banner the booty defending,
the war-spoil warding; but Wyrd o’erwhelmed him
what time, in his daring, dangers he sought,
feud with Frisians. Fairest of gems
he bore with him over the beaker-of-waves,
sovran strong: under shield he died.
Fell the corpse of the king into keeping of Franks,
gear of the breast, and that gorgeous ring;
weaker warriors won the spoil,
after gripe of battle, from Geatland’s lord,
and held the death-field.
Din rose in hall.
Wealhtheow sent a cup of mead to Beowulf. She also gave him a gift of gold jewelry and a suit of chainmail. In later years, Beowulf gave the necklace to his uncle Hygelac, who was wearing it when he died in battle against the Frisians. There was much applause at Wealhtheow’s gift.
Wealhtheow spake amid warriors, and said:—
“This jewel enjoy in thy jocund youth,
Beowulf lov’d, these battle-weeds wear,
a royal treasure, and richly thrive!
Preserve thy strength, and these striplings here
counsel in kindness: requital be mine.
Hast done such deeds, that for days to come
thou art famed among folk both far and near,
so wide as washeth the wave of Ocean
his windy walls. Through the ways of life
prosper, O prince! I pray for thee
rich possessions. To son of mine
be helpful in deed and uphold his joys!
Here every earl to the other is true,
mild of mood, to the master loyal!
Thanes are friendly, the throng obedient,
liegemen are revelling: list and obey!”
Went then to her place.—That was proudest of feasts;
flowed wine for the warriors. Wyrd they knew not,
destiny dire, and the doom to be seen
by many an earl when eve should come,
and Hrothgar homeward hasten away,
royal, to rest. The room was guarded
by an army of earls, as erst was done.
They bared the bench-boards; abroad they spread
beds and bolsters.—One beer-carouser
in danger of doom lay down in the hall.—
Wealhtheow then spoke to Beowulf. “Enjoy these gifts, our beloved Beowulf, and may they keep you safe. Be strong and be a good guide to my sons. Your deeds have ensured that you will be remembered forever. I pray for your continued success, dear prince. Treat my sons well. We are all good to each other here, and loyal to our king. They are friendly and they know their duty.” The queen went back to her seat. The feast was a grand one. The men gathered there did not know that fate was preparing another grim threat for them. Evening fell and Hrothgar headed home to sleep. The room was guarded as usual. The benches were pushed back and men made their beds on the floor. One reveler slept, no knowing that danger waited for him.
At their heads they set their shields of war,
bucklers bright; on the bench were there
over each atheling, easy to see,
the high battle-helmet, the haughty spear,
the corselet of rings. ’Twas their custom so
ever to be for battle prepared,
at home, or harrying, which it were,
even as oft as evil threatened
their sovran king.—They were clansmen good.
They slept with their shields and weapons nearby, so that they could be ready for battle whenever it came.