XXXI

GIFT-GIVING IS MUTUAL

          "So the belovèd land-prince lived in decorum;
          I had missed no rewards, no meeds of my prowess,
          But he gave me jewels, regarding my wishes,
          Healfdene his bairn; I'll bring them to thee, then,
5       Atheling of earlmen, offer them gladly.
          And still unto thee is all my affection:
          But few of my folk-kin find I surviving
          But thee, dear Higelac!" Bade he in then to carry
          The boar-image, banner, battle-high helmet,
10      Iron-gray armor, the excellent weapon,
          In song-measures said: "This suit-for-the-battle
          Hrothgar presented me, bade me expressly,
          Wise-mooded atheling, thereafter to tell thee
          The whole of its history, said King Heregar owned it,
15      Dane-prince for long: yet he wished not to give then
          The mail to his son, though dearly he loved him,
          Hereward the hardy. Hold all in joyance!"
          I heard that there followed hard on the jewels
          Two braces of stallions of striking resemblance,
20      Dappled and yellow; he granted him usance
          Of horses and treasures. So a kinsman should bear him,
          No web of treachery weave for another,
          Nor by cunning craftiness cause the destruction
          Of trusty companion. Most precious to Higelac,
25      The bold one in battle, was the bairn of his sister,
          And each unto other mindful of favors.
          I am told that to Hygd he proffered the necklace,
          Wonder-gem rare that Wealhtheow gave him,
          The troop-leader's daughter, a trio of horses
30      Slender and saddle-bright; soon did the jewel
          Embellish her bosom, when the beer-feast was over.
          So Ecgtheow's bairn brave did prove him,
          War-famous man, by deeds that were valiant,
          He lived in honor, belovèd companions
35      Slew not carousing; his mood was not cruel,
          But by hand-strength hugest of heroes then living
          The brave one retained the bountiful gift that
          The Lord had allowed him. Long was he wretched,
          So that sons of the Geatmen accounted him worthless,
40      And the lord of the liegemen loth was to do him
          Mickle of honor, when mead-cups were passing;
          They fully believed him idle and sluggish,
          An indolent atheling: to the honor-blest man there
          Came requital for the cuts he had suffered.
45      The folk-troop's defender bade fetch to the building
          The heirloom of Hrethel, embellished with gold,
          So the brave one enjoined it; there was jewel no richer
          In the form of a weapon 'mong Geats of that era;
          In Beowulf's keeping he placed it and gave him
50      Seven of thousands, manor and lordship.
          Common to both was land 'mong the people,
          Estate and inherited rights and possessions,
          To the second one specially spacious dominions,
          To the one who was better. It afterward happened
55      In days that followed, befell the battle-thanes,
          After Higelac's death, and when Heardred was murdered
          With weapons of warfare 'neath well-covered targets,
          When valiant battlemen in victor-band sought him,
          War-Scylfing heroes harassed the nephew
60      Of Hereric in battle. To Beowulf's keeping
          Turned there in time extensive dominions:
          He fittingly ruled them a fifty of winters
          (He a man-ruler wise was, manor-ward old) till
          A certain one 'gan, on gloom-darkening nights, a
65      Dragon, to govern, who guarded a treasure,
          A high-rising stone-cliff, on heath that was grayish:
          A path 'neath it lay, unknown unto mortals.
          Some one of earthmen entered the mountain,
          The heathenish hoard laid hold of with ardor;
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