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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 568 pages of information about Young Folks Treasury, Volume 2 (of 12).

His task being done Beowulf made haste to return to his own land that he might seek his own King, Hygelac, and lay before him the treasures that Hrothgar had given him.  With gracious words the old King thanked the young warrior, and bade him to come again right speedily.  Hygelac listened with wonder and delight to all that had happened in Daneland and graciously received the splendid gifts.

For many years Beowulf lived beloved of all, and when it befell that Hygelac died in battle, the broad realm of Gothland was given unto Beowulf to rule.  And there for fifty years he reigned a well-loved King.

II

HOW THE FIRE DRAGON WARRED WITH THE GOTH FOLK

And now when many years had come and gone and the realm had long time been at peace, sorrow came upon the people of the Goths.  And thus it was that the evil came.

It fell upon a time that a slave by his misdeeds roused his master’s wrath, and when his lord would have punished him he fled in terror.  And as he fled trembling to hide himself, he came by chance into a great cave.

There the slave hid, thankful for refuge.  But soon he had cause to tremble in worse fear than before, for in the darkness of the cave he saw that a fearful dragon lay asleep.  Then as the slave gazed in terror at the awful beast, he saw that it lay guarding a mighty treasure.

Never had he seen such a mass of wealth.  Swords and armor inlaid with gold, cups and vessels of gold and silver set with precious stones, rings and bracelets lay piled around in glittering heaps.

For hundreds of years this treasure had lain there in secret.  A great prince had buried it in sorrow for his dead warriors.  In his land there had been much fighting until he alone of all his people was left.  Then in bitter grief he gathered all his treasure and hid it in this cave.

“Take, O earth,” he cried, “what the heroes might not keep.  Lo! good men and true once before earned it from thee.  Now a warlike death hath taken away every man of my people.  There is none now to bear the sword or receive the cup.  There is no more joy in the battle-field or in the hall of peace.  So here shall the gold-adorned helmet molder, here the coat of mail rust and the wine-cup lie empty.”

Thus the sad prince mourned.  Beside his treasure he sat weeping both day and night until death took him also, and of all his people there was none left.

So the treasure lay hidden and secret for many a day.

Then upon a time it happened that a great dragon, fiery-eyed and fearful, as it flew by night and prowled seeking mischief, came upon the buried hoard.

As men well know, a dragon ever loveth gold.  So to guard his new-found wealth lest any should come to rob him of it, he laid him down there and the cave became his dwelling.  Thus for three hundred years he lay gloating over his treasure, no man disturbing him.

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