The Red Book Of Animal Stories - online children's book

Stories of Animals, Fantastic and Mundane, Edited By Andrew Lang

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adversary; from its body and mouth issued many coloured flames, which burnt up Wiglaf's wooden shield, so that for protection he crouched under the iron shield of Beowulf. The King now struck with all his force at the dragon, but, alas! his good old sword shivered in pieces ; and now for the third time the monster rushed at him, and succeeded in encircling his neck in its horrid coils. Still, the King's hands were free, so that he could draw a dagger which he bore on his corselet; Wiglaf, meanwhile, was also hewing at the creature, and before long Beowulf was able to stab it to death. Thus they slew the Fire Drake ; but Beowulf had received a deadly wound, which soon began to burn and swell, and though Wiglaf 'brought him water and tended him with all affection, the King felt his end to be near. Anxious to know of what the treasure consisted, he sent Wiglaf into the cave to explore it. Biches of all descriptions were discovered— jewels, gold, handsome bowls, helmets, armlets, and, most curious of all, a gilded standard, which was flapping over the hoard. From this standard there came a ray of bright light, by which Wiglaf could easily see around him. Nothing was to be seen of the dead Fire Drake, so Beowulf's messenger plundered the hoard at will. He piled up bowls and dishes in his bosom, took the standard, and a sword shod with brass, hastening with them back to the King, who, he was half afraid, might die during his absence. Beowulf was alive, however, though in sorry plight, so Wiglaf fetched more water wherewith to refresh him. Then spake the brave old King his last words on earth, the while he looked sadly on the gold : ' I give thanks for these beautiful things, which here I gaze on, to the Lord of all, to the King of Glory, the eternal Lord, for that I have been able before my death-day to gain so much for my people. Fulfil ye now with this hoard my people's needs, for here I may no longer be. Let the warriors build a mound at the headland which juts out into the sea. Bear it that it may tower
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