Through the hall then went the Helmings’ Lady,
to younger and older everywhere
carried the cup, till come the moment
when the ring-graced queen, the royal-hearted,
to Beowulf bore the beaker of mead.
She greeted the Geats’ lord, God she thanked,
in wisdom’s words, that her will was granted,
that at last on a hero her hope could lean
for comfort in terrors. The cup he took,
hardy-in-war, from Wealhtheow’s hand,
and answer uttered the eager-for-combat.
Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow:—
“This was my thought, when my thanes and I
bent to the ocean and entered our boat,
that I would work the will of your people
fully, or fighting fall in death,
in fiend’s gripe fast. I am firm to do
an earl’s brave deed, or end the days
of this life of mine in the mead-hall here.”
Well these words to the woman seemed,
Beowulf’s battle-boast.—Bright with gold
the stately dame by her spouse sat down.
Again, as erst, began in hall
warriors’ wassail and words of power,
the proud-band’s revel, till presently
the son of Healfdene hastened to seek
rest for the night; he knew there waited
fight for the fiend in that festal hall,
when the sheen of the sun they saw no more,
and dusk of night sank darkling nigh,
and shadowy shapes came striding on,
wan under welkin. The warriors rose.
Man to man, he made harangue,
Hrothgar to Beowulf, bade him hail,
let him wield the wine hall: a word he added:—
“Never to any man erst I trusted,
since I could heave up hand and shield,
this noble Dane-Hall, till now to thee.
Have now and hold this house unpeered;
remember thy glory; thy might declare;
watch for the foe! No wish shall fail thee
if thou bidest the battle with bold-won life.”
|Then she took the cup from man to man so that each could drink. At last she arrived at Beowulf. She welcomed him and thanked God that her prayers were answered. Beowulf took the cup and spoke to everyone. “When my men and I set out for this place, I told myself that I would do my best for you and your people or die trying. I am determined to prove my bravery or end my life here in this hall.” Beowulf’s speech pleased Wealtheow, who went and sat down next to her husband. A festive mood returned to the hall. The joyful atmosphere lasted until Hrothgar got up and prepared to leave for the night. Grendel would be coming soon. The foul monster had waited all day to return for his nightly horror, but tonight he would have a fight waiting for him. The warriors stood up as Beowulf and Hrothgar said goodnight. “I have never entrusted my hall to anyone else before tonight,” Hrothgar said, “but I believe in you. Protect this great hall, watch for your enemy, and remember that you fight for eternal glory. If you are victorious, you will have everything that you desire.”|
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