BEOWULF, GRENDEL AND HIS MOTHER 37
be said by seafaring men that this fearless warrior had in his grip the strength of thirty men.' When Beowulf came before Hrothgar, he told him, what the King already knew, that often before he had encountered sea-monsters, destroyed the Jotun tribe and slain night Nixes ; and that hitherto all his deeds of prowess had been successful. ' I hear,' he said, ' that Grendel, from the thickness of his hide, cares not for weapons; I therefore disdain to carry sword or shield into the combat, but with hand-grips will I lay hold on the foe, and fight for life, man to man.' Beowulf ended by asking that his ' garments of battle' might be sent back to his lord and kinsman Hygelac, if Grendel proved victorious in the fight. The King relied with steadfast faith upon his guest; there was now joy in the Palace of Heorot, and Queen Wal-theow herself, golden-wreathed, came forth to greet the men in the hall; to each she gave a costly cup—to each his several share—' until it befell that she, the neck-laced Queen, gentle in manners and mind, bare the mead-cup to Beowulf,' and thanked God that she might find any to trust to for relief in her troubles. They all retired to rest; but not one of Beowulf's comrades thought that they would escape alive, or get them thence in safety to their well-loved homes.
That night from the moor, under the misty slopes, came Grendel prowling; in the gloom he came to the Palace, where the men-at-arms slept, whose duty it was to guard the battlemented hall; they slept, all save one. With his vast strength the monster burst open the door, and strode forward, his eyes blazing like fire. With a grim smile of delight he saw the sleepers, seized one of them and devoured him all but the feet and hands. Then he reached out at Beowulf, but the warrior clasped the extended hand and firmly grappled with the enemy. A battle royal ensued ; the hall resounded with cries and shrieks, for the Danes were roused from their slumbers. They tried to help Beowulf