The Danish History, Books I-IX eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 572 pages of information about The Danish History, Books I-IX.
valour, balance with courage thy lack of ancestry, requite by bravery thy detriment of blood.  Power won by daring is more prosperous than that won by inheritance.  Boldness climbs to the top better than inheritance, and worth wins power better than birth.  Moreover, it is no shame to overthrow old age, which of its own weight sinks and totters to its fall.  It shall be enough for my father to have borne the sceptre for so long; let the dotard’s power fall to thee; if it elude thee, it will pass to another.  Whatsoever rests on old age is near its fall.  Think that his reign has been long enough, and be it thine, though late in the day, to be first.  Further, I would rather have my husband than my father king—­would rather be ranked a king’s wife than daughter.  It is better to embrace a monarch in one’s home, than to give him homage from afar; it is nobler to be a king’s bride than his courtier.  Thou, too, must surely prefer thyself to thy wife’s father for bearing the sceptre; for nature has made each one nearest to himself.  If there be a will for the deed, a way will open; there is nothing but yields to the wit of man.  The feast must be kept, the banquet decked, the preparations looked to, and my father bidden.  The path to treachery shall be smoothed by a pretence of friendship, for nothing cloaks a snare better than the name of kindred.  Also his soddenness shall open a short way to his slaughter; for when the king shall be intent upon the dressing of his hair, and his hand is upon his beard and his mind upon stories; when he has parted his knotted locks, either with hairpin or disentangling comb, then let him feel the touch of the steel in his flesh.  Busy men commonly devise little precaution.  Let thy hand draw near to punish all his sins.  It is a righteous deed to put forth thy hand to avenge the wretched!”

Thus Ulfhild importuned, and her husband was overcome by her promptings, and promised his help to the treachery.  But meantime Hadding was warned in a dream to beware of his son-in-law’s guile.  He went to the feast, which his daughter had made ready for him with a show of love, and posted an armed guard hard by to use against the treachery when need was.  As he ate, the henchman who was employed to do the deed of guile silently awaited a fitting moment for his crime, his dagger hid under his robe.  The king, remarking him, blew on the trumpet a signal to the soldiers who were stationed near; they straightway brought aid, and he made the guile recoil on its deviser.

Meanwhile Hunding, King of the Swedes, heard false tidings that Hadding was dead, and resolved to greet them with obsequies.  So he gathered his nobles together, and filled a jar of extraordinary size with ale, and had this set in the midst of the feasters for their delight, and, to omit no mark of solemnity, himself assumed a servant’s part, not hesitating to play the cupbearer.  And while he was passing through the palace in fulfilment of his office, he stumbled and fell into the jar, and, being choked by the liquor, gave up the ghost; thus atoning either to Orcus, whom he was appeasing by a baseless performance of the rites, or to Hadding, about whose death he had spoken falsely.  Hadding, when he heard this, wished to pay like thanks to his worshipper, and, not enduring to survive his death, hanged himself in sight of the whole people.

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The Danish History, Books I-IX from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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