فصل 02

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فصل 02

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CHAPTER TWO

The watchman led the Geat soldiers to Heorot Hall. They were amazed when they saw the huge building. Now the watchman left them, saying that he had to go back to his duty on the coast.

The Geat warriors approached the Hall. Their armour shone in the sun as they walked. When they entered the building, they sat in the Hall.

The Danes were curious about the newcomers, and asked them questions:

‘Who are you, and why have you come here carrying your weapons?’

The Geat warrior gave this answer:

‘We are Hygelac’s men. Beowulf is my name. I will tell your king the purpose of our visit if he will see me.’

A Wendel chief called Wulfgar agreed to take Beowulf’s message to the king. He said that a group of people from Geatland had come ashore, led by a warrior called Beowulf, who seemed a strong man.

Hrothgar replied:

‘I know Beowulf. I remember him as a young boy. They say he has the strength of thirty men. God has sent him here to defend us against Grendel. I’ll give him a large reward. Now go and ask the Geats to come in, and be sure to tell them they are welcome in Denmark.’

The Geat warriors went into the throne room, and Beowulf spoke to the king:

‘I am Beowulf. I have had great victories against my enemies, and now I have heard the story of Grendel and the destruction he has brought to Denmark. Travellers have told us how Heorot Hall has been abandoned by its people because they are afraid of the demon. Hygelac’s advisers encouraged me to come here to help you, because they know how strong I am. They know I have fought against men and sea-monsters, and have always avenged the Geats. I want to fight Grendel in single combat. I ask you to let me fight him like that, I have also heard that Grendel does not use any weapons. I won’t use any weapons, either. We will fight with our hands only. God will decide who wins. I know that it will be terrible if Grendel wins. The demon will eat my body, and I won’t have a proper burial. Then he’ll kill my soldiers. If I die, please send this armor of mine back to King Hygelac. That’s all I ask.’

Now King Hrothgar replied to Beowulf:

‘You have come here to help us and to fight for us. I remember your father well, and how I helped him once when his people drove him away because of a feud. I am sorry to ask anyone for help in our troubles with Grendel, but he is destroying my soldiers. Only God can stop him! Our men discuss the demon when they are drinking, and they promise to protect Heorot Hall. Often they have waited for him in the night with their swords. But in the morning their blood is found everywhere in the Hall. That’s how they have died, and I have lost many soldiers.’

Hrothgar invited the Geats to dine in the Hall, and they sat together. They ate well, and a minstrel sang for them.

One man was not happy that the Geats had come to Denmark. This was Unferth. He was jealous of Beowulf’s courage and his fame. Now he spoke challengingly to the Geat warrior: ‘Are you the same Beowulf who had a famous swimming match against Breca? That was just vanity; you wanted to win even though people warned you of the danger. You went into the water and it was cold and rough. You struggled for seven nights, but Breca was stronger than you. He reached the land one morning, and proved that he was a better swimmer than you. It will be the same with Grendel. No one has lasted an entire night against that demon.’

Now Beowulf smiled at Unferth as he answered him:

‘That swimming match came about because we had drunk a lot. What really happened was this. Breca and I were good friends. We had known each other all our lives, and we were always challenging each other. Both of us swam with a sword, to protect ourselves from the sea-monsters. I was stronger than him, and could always swim further out to sea than he could. We went on for five days in that dreadful cold, swimming side by side. Then the wind drove us apart. Sea-monsters attacked me all the time, but I killed nine of them with my sword. In the end I landed safely.’

Beowulf stared hard into Unferth’s eyes, and then he continued: ‘I can’t remember any struggle of yours like that, Unferth. You’ve killed your own people, and so you’ll go to Hell when you die. Anyway, if you were really as brave as you say, you would have done something about Grendel. But he knows that he needn’t be afraid of you - or any Dane, come to that. But he’ll soon learn that I am different. I’ll show him what a Geat can do in battle. Heorot Hall will then be safe for you Danes again.’

King Hrothgar listened to Beowulf’s words with pleasure. He relied on the hero’s courage and strength.

Now the noise of talking and happy laughter filled the Hall. Queen Wealhtheow entered. She greeted everyone and offered the king something to drink. Then she went round the Hall offering everyone a drink, as the custom was. When she came to Beowulf, she welcomed him to Denmark. She told him that God had answered her prayer by sending him. Beowulf took the cup from the queen, and replied to her words: ‘I had a clear intention when I got into my boat with my men. That intention was to help your people or to die in battle with Grendel. I shall be true to that intention.’

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