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259
BEOWULF

water of such fiery heat that the blade melted as he rose, and only the hilt, with strange runes engraved upon it, remained in his hand.

Where he left them, his followers, and the Danes who went with them, remained, watching, waiting, ever growing more hopeless as night turned into day, and day faded into night, and they saw the black waters of the lonely fen bubbling up, terrible and blood-stained. But when the waters cleared, hope returned to their hearts, and when, at length, Beowulf uprose from the water of the mere and they saw that in his hand he bore the head of the Grendel, there was no lonely scaur, nor cliff, nor rock of the land of the Danes that did not echo the glad cry of "Beowulf! Beowulf!"

Well-nigh overwhelmed by gifts from those whom he had preserved was the hero, Beowulf. But in modest, wise words he spoke to the King:

"Well hast thou treated us.
If on this earth I can do more to win thy love,
O prince of warriors, than I have wrought as yet.
Here stand I ready now weapons to wield for thee.
If I shall ever hear o'er the encircling flood
That any neighbouring foes threaten thy nation's fall,
As Grendel grim before, swift will I bring to thee
Thousands of noble thanes, heroes to help thee."

Then, in their ship, that the Warden of the Coast once had challenged, Beowulf and his warriors set sail for their own dear land.

Gaily the vessel danced over the waves, heavy though it was with treasure, nobly gained. And when Beowulf had come in safety to his homeland and had