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Now further it fell with the flight of years,
with harryings horrid, that Hygelac perished,
and Heardred, too, by hewing of swords
under the shield-wall slaughtered lay,
when him at the van of his victor-folk
sought hardy heroes, Heatho-Scilfings,
in arms o’erwhelming Hereric’s nephew.
Then Beowulf came as king this broad
realm to wield; and he ruled it well
fifty winters, a wise old prince,
warding his land, until One began
in the dark of night, a Dragon, to rage.
In the grave on the hill a hoard it guarded,
in the stone-barrow steep. A strait path reached it,
unknown to mortals. Some man, however,
came by chance that cave within
to the heathen hoard. In hand he took
a golden goblet, nor gave he it back,
stole with it away, while the watcher slept,
by thievish wiles: for the warden’s wrath
prince and people must pay betimes!
In later years, Hygelac was killed in battle, and Heardred, his heir, was unable to protect the people. So Beowulf became their king. For fifty years, he was a wise and good ruler. But then evil came to Beowulf’s land in the form of a dragon. The dragon had a vast treasure in its lair in the mountains. Somehow a man found his way into the lair and stole a goblet while the dragon was sleeping. For this crime, the people would all suffer.

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