Beowulf eText - Chapter XVII

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Chapter XVII

“THEN WARRIORS HASTENED to their homes; bereft of friends, they returned to the Frisian land, the homesteads and high fortresses. Hengest yet remained with Finn during that bloodstained winter, honoring the pact and thinking of his home. He was powerless to drive the ring-covered prow of his ship over the waters, as now the waves rolled fiercely with lashing winds or stood locked in winter's icy chains. Then another year came upon the dwellings of man, as even now it continues to do—skies bright with sun always come in their season. Winter was driven far off, and the earth's bosom was fair. That adventurer was up and ready to depart, leaving where he had been guest.

“However, he thought more upon revenge than on sea-roving, and how to hasten hot encounters with the sons of the Frisians. And so he, too, was doomed when Hunlafing gave the scintillating blade of battle to him, the best of blades; its edges were feared among enemies. And in this manner, the sword-death fell upon the fierce-hearted Finn while he was at home; after their sea-voyage, Guthlaf and Oslaf recounted many tales of woe, and so Finn's wild spirit stayed not within his breast. The fortress was red with the blood of enemies, and Finn was slain, the king amid his guards; the queen was taken. The Scylding warriors carried to their ship all the king's possessions and anything of gems and jewels they found in Finn's domain. The gentle wife was carried back over the sea-paths to the Danes.”

The lay, that bardic ballad, was sung to its end. Then the glad feast rose, and the sound of merriment grew bright. Cup-bearers poured wine from their wondrous flagons. Wealtheow then came forward, moving beneath her golden diadem to where the two brave men sat, uncle and nephew, each true to the other in kindred affection. Unferth the orator sat at the feet of the Scylding lord; men had faith in Unferth's spirit and the might of his courage, although in swordfighting he had been disloyal to his kin.

The Scyldings' lady spoke: “Drink of this cup, my lord, giver of rings! Be you merry, oh magnanimous friend of men, and speak gentle words to the Geats, as men should do! Be glad with them and mindful of those gifts you've received from near and far. Men say that you wish to receive this hero as your son. Heorot has been purged; enjoy that bright hall of riches while you can, and give many treasures, leaving folk and land to your children when you must away to your fate. For I deem that my gracious Hrothulf will rule honorably over the young ones if you quit the world earlier than he does, Scyldings' friend. I believe he will repay good to our children if he remembers well all the comfort and gifts of honor that we bestowed on him when he was helpless.” She then turned to the seat where her sons were placed, Hrethric and Hrothmund, the two young sons of heroes; the Geat also sat there, brave Beowulf, between the brothers.