Quickly Wiglaf obeyed his wounded lord. Into the dark cave he descended, and there outspread before him was a wondrous sight. Treasure of jewels, many glittering and golden, lay upon the ground. Wondrous vessels of old time with broken ornaments were scattered round. Here, too, lay old and rusty helmets, mingled with bracelets and collars cunningly wrought.
Upon the walls hung golden flags. From one a light shone forth by which the whole cavern was made clear. And all within was silent. No sign was there of any guardian, for without lay the dragon, sleeping death’s sleep.
Quickly Wiglaf gathered of the treasures all that he could carry. Dishes and cups he took, a golden ensign and a sword curiously wrought. In haste he returned, for he knew not if he should find his lord in life where he had left him.
And when Wiglaf came again to where Beowulf sat he poured the treasure at his feet. But he found his lord in a deep swoon. Again the brave warrior bathed Beowulf’s wound and laved the stricken countenance of his lord, until once more he came to himself.
Then spake the King: “For this treasure I give thanks to the Lord of All. Not in vain have I given my life, for it shall be of great good to my people in need. And now leave me, for on this earth longer I may not stay. Say to my warriors that they shall raise a mound upon the rocky point which jutteth seaward. High shall it stand as a memorial to my people. Let it soar upward so that they who steer their slender barks over the tossing waves shall call it Beowulf’s mound.”
The King then took from his neck the golden collar. To Wiglaf, his young thane and kinsman, he gave it. He gave also his helmet adorned with gold, his ring and coat of mail, and bade the warrior use them well.
“Thou art the last of our race,” he said. “Fate hath swept away all my kinsmen, all the mighty earls. Now I too must follow them.”
That was the last word of the aged King. From his bosom the soul fled to seek the dwellings of the just. At Wiglaf’s feet he lay quiet and still.
ADAPTED BY E. EDWARDSON
King Arthur had just brought a great war to an end, and in honor of his victory he was holding a royal feast with the kings and princes that were his vassals and all the knights of the Round Table, when twelve grave and ancient men entered the banquet-hall where he sat at table. They bore each an olive-branch in his hand, to signify that they were ambassadors from Lucius the Emperor of Rome, and after they had reverently made obeisance to King Arthur, they delivered their message as follows: