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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 487 pages of information about The Danish History, Books I-IX.

BOOK TWO

Hadding was succeeded by Frode, his son, whose fortunes were many and changeful.  When he had passed the years of a stripling, he displayed the fulness of a warrior’s prowess; and being loth that this should be spoilt by slothfulness, he sequestered his mind from delights and perseveringly constrained it to arms.  Warfare having drained his father’s treasury, he lacked a stock of pay to maintain his troops, and cast about diligently for the supplies that he required; and while thus employed, a man of the country met him and roused his hopes by the following strain: 

“Not far off is an island rising in delicate slopes, hiding treasure in its hills and ware of its rich booty.  Here a noble pile is kept by the occupant of the mount, who is a snake wreathed in coils, doubled in many a fold, and with tail drawn out in winding whorls, shaking his manifold spirals and shedding venom.  If thou wouldst conquer him, thou must use thy shield and stretch thereon bulls’ hides, and cover thy body with the skins of kine, nor let thy limbs lie bare to the sharp poison; his slaver burns up what it bespatters.  Though the three-forked tongue flicker and leap out of the gaping mouth, and with awful yawn menace ghastly wounds remember to keep the dauntless temper of thy mind; nor let the point of the jagged tooth trouble thee, nor the starkness of the beast, nor the venom spat from the swift throat.  Though the force of his scales spurn thy spears, yet know there is a place under his lowest belly whither thou mayst plunge the blade; aim at this with thy sword, and thou shalt probe the snake to his centre.  Thence go fearless up to the hill, drive the mattock, dig and ransack the holes; soon fill thy pouch with treasure, and bring back to the shore thy craft laden.”

Frode believed, and crossed alone to the island, loth to attack the beast with any stronger escort than that wherewith it was the custom for champions to attack.  When it had drunk water and was repairing to its cave, its rough and sharp hide spurned the blow of Frode’s steel.  Also the darts that he flung against it rebounded idly, foiling the effort of the thrower.  But when the hard back yielded not a whit, he noted the belly heedfully, and its softness gave entrance to the steel.  The beast tried to retaliate by biting, but only struck the sharp point of its mouth upon the shield.  Then it shot out its flickering tongue again and again, and gasped away life and venom together.

The money which the King found made him rich; and with this supply he approached in his fleet the region of the Kurlanders, whose king Dorn, dreading a perilous war, is said to have made a speech of the following kind to his soldiers: 

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