38 BEOWULF, GRENDEL AND HIS MOTHER
with swords and other weapons, not knowing that they were of no avail against the monster. But the Jute yielded never a whit, he pressed Grendel harder and harder with that mighty hand-grip of his, and by sheer strength tore off the monster's hand, arm, and shoulder. Grendel fled; back to the lake he went, to the Nixes' mere, where the water for days afterwards was troubled and discoloured with blood.
As for Beowulf, the grateful King could hardly thank him enough. A feast was prepared, the walls of the great hall were covered with cloth of gold, and the hero received a war-banner, helmet, and breastplate, besides golden cups, a superb golden collar, and many other precious things. When the banquet was over they all retired to rest, as they supposed, in safety. But an avenger was at hand, Grendel's mother, a monstrous witch, ravenous, wrathful, and cruel as her son. She burst into Heorot, seized the man who was the King's favourite amongst all his nobles, and carried him off to the lake. She also took with her Grendel's blood-stained hand, which had been put up as a trophy. Beowulf was not in the Palace at the time, for another lodging had been given to him; but he was quickly summoned after this new disaster. ' Never fear,' said he, ' I promise thee she shall not escape, neither by water, nor into the earth, nor into the mountain forest, nor into the bottom of the sea, let her go where she will.' So they made ready at once to go to the lake, which was about a mile from the Palace ; a gloomy water it was, overhung with trees, and how deep none had ever found out; every night, men said, a strange fire was to be seen on its surface, so none cared about going there. However, the King's horse was now saddled, and his men-at-arms were ready; Beowulf put on armour to protect his body from the enemy's grip, and a white helmet guarded his head. One of Hrothgar's men lent him a short sword that had never