The House of the Wolfings
William Morris

Part 5 out of 5

driven to bay like the lone wood-wolf by the hounds, yet had he been
sore mishandled. His helm and shield were gone, his hauberk rent;
for it was no dwarf-wrought coat, but the work of Ivar's hand: the
blood was running down from his left arm, and he was hurt in many
places: he had broken Ivar's sword in the medley, and now bore in
his hand a strong Roman short-sword, and his feet stood bloody on the
worn earth anigh the Man's-door.

He looked into the scornful eyes of the Roman lord for a little
minute and then laughed aloud, and therewithal, leaping on him with
one spring, turned sideways, and dealt him a great buffet on his ear
with his unarmed left hand, just as the Roman thrust at him with his
sword, so that the Captain staggered forward on to the next man
following, which was Wolfkettle the eager warrior, who thrust him
through with his sword and shoved him aside as they all strode into
the hall together. Howbeit no sword fell from the Roman Captain as
he fell, for Thiodolf's side bore it into the Hall of the Wolfings.

Most wrathful were those men, and went hastily, for their Roof was
full of smoke, and the flames flickered about the pillars and the
wall here and there, and crept up to the windows aloft; yet was it
not wholly or fiercely burning; for the Roman fire-raisers had been
hurried and hasty in their work. Straightway then Steinulf and Grani
led the others off at a run towards the loft and the water; but
Thiodolf, who went slowly and painfully, looked and beheld on the
dais those men bound for the burning, and he went quietly, and as a
man who has been sick, and is weak, up on to the dais, and said:

"Be of good cheer, O brothers, for the kindreds have vanquished the
foemen, and the end of strife is come."

His voice sounded strange and sweet to them amidst the turmoil of the
fight without; he laid down his sword on the table, and drew a little
sharp knife from his girdle and cut their bonds one by one and loosed
them with his blood-stained hands; and each one as he loosed him he
kissed and said to him, "Brother, go help those who are quenching the
fire; this is the bidding of the War-duke."

But as he loosed one after other he was longer and longer about it,
and his words were slower. At last he came to the man who was bound
in his own high-seat close under the place of the wondrous Lamp, the
Hall-Sun, and he was the only one left bound; that man was of the
Wormings and was named Elfric; he loosed him and was long about it;
and when he was done he smiled on him and kissed him, and said to

"Arise, brother! go help the quenchers of the fire, and leave to me
this my chair, for I am weary: and if thou wilt, thou mayst bring me
of that water to drink, for this morning men have forgotten the mead
of the reapers!"

Then Elfric arose, and Thiodolf sat in his chair, and leaned back his
head; but Elfric looked at him for a moment as one scared, and then
ran his ways down the hall, which now was growing noisy with the
hurry and bustle of the quenchers of the fire, to whom had divers
others joined themselves.

There then from a bucket which was still for a moment he filled a
wooden bowl, which he caught up from the base of one of the hall-
pillars, and hastened up the Hall again; and there was no man nigh
the dais, and Thiodolf yet sat in his chair, and the hall was dim
with the rolling smoke, and Elfric saw not well what the War-duke was
doing. So he hastened on, and when he was close to Thiodolf he trod
in something wet, and his heart sank for he knew that it was blood;
his foot slipped therewith and as he put out his hand to save himself
the more part of the water was spilled, and mingled with the blood.
But he went up to Thiodolf and said to him, "Drink, War-duke! here
hath come a mouthful of water."

But Thiodolf moved not for his word, and Elfric touched him, and he
moved none the more.

Then Elfric's heart failed him and he laid his hand on the War-duke's
hand, and looked closely into his face; and the hand was cold and the
face ashen-pale; and Elfric laid his hand on his side, and he felt
the short-sword of the Roman leader thrust deep therein, besides his
many other hurts.

So Elfric knew that he was dead, and he cast the bowl to the earth,
and lifted up his hands and wailed out aloud, like a woman who hath
come suddenly on her dead child, and cried out in a great voice:

"Hither, hither, O men in this hall, for the War-duke of the Markmen
is dead! O ye people, Hearken! Thiodolf the Mighty, the Wolfing is

And he was a young man, and weak with the binding and the waiting for
death, and he bowed himself adown and crouched on the ground and wept

But even as he cried that cry, the sunlight outside the Man's-door
was darkened, and the Hall-Sun came over the threshold in her ancient
gold-embroidered raiment, holding in her hand her namesake the
wondrous Lamp; and the spears and the war-gear of warriors gleamed
behind her; but the men tarried on the threshold till she turned
about and beckoned to them, and then they poured in through the
Man's-door, their war-gear rent and they all befouled and disarrayed
with the battle, but with proud and happy faces: as they entered she
waved her hand to them to bid them go join the quenchers of the fire;
so they went their ways.

But she went with unfaltering steps up to the dais, and the place
where the chain of the Lamp hung down from amidst the smoke-cloud
wavering a little in the gusts of the hall. Straightway she made the
Lamp fast to its chain, and dealt with its pulleys with a deft hand
often practised therein, and then let it run up toward the smoke-
hidden Roof till it gleamed in its due place once more, a token of
the salvation of the Wolfings and the welfare of all the kindreds.

Then she turned toward Thiodolf with a calm and solemn face, though
it was very pale and looked as if she would not smile again. Elfric
had risen up and was standing by the board speechless and the passion
of sobs still struggling in his bosom. She put him aside gently, and
went up to Thiodolf and stood above him, and looked down on his face
a while: then she put forth her hand and closed his eyes, and
stooped down and kissed his face. Then she stood up again and faced
the Hall and looked and saw that many were streaming in, and that
though the smoke was still eddying overhead, the fire was well nigh
quenched within; and without the sound of battle had sunk and died
away. For indeed the Markmen had ended their day's work before
noontide that day, and the more part of the Romans were slain, and to
the rest they had given peace till the Folk-mote should give Doom
concerning them; for pity of these valiant men was growing in the
hearts of the valiant men who had vanquished them, now that they
feared them no more.

And this second part of the Morning Battle is called Thiodolf's

So now when the Hall-Sun looked and beheld that the battle was done
and the fire quenched, and when she saw how every man that came into
the Hall looked up and beheld the wondrous Lamp and his face
quickened into joy at the sight of it; and how most looked up at the
high-seat and Thiodolf lying leaned back therein, her heart nigh
broke between the thought of her grief and of the grief of the Folk
that their mighty friend was dead, and the thought of the joy of the
days to be and all the glory that his latter days had won. But she
gathered heart, and casting back the dark tresses of her hair, she
lifted up her voice and cried out till its clear shrillness sounded
throughout all the Roof:

"O men in this Hall the War-duke is dead! O people hearken! for
Thiodolf the Mighty hath changed his life: Come hither, O men, Come
hither, for this is true, that Thiodolf is dead!"


So when they heard her voice they came thither flockmeal, and a great
throng mingled of many kindreds was in the Hall, but with one consent
they made way for the Children of the Wolf to stand nearest to the
dais. So there they stood, the warriors mingled with the women, the
swains with the old men, the freemen with the thralls: for now the
stay-at-homes of the House were all gotten into the garth, and the
more part of them had flowed into the feast-hall when they knew that
the fire was slackening.

All these now had heard the clear voice of the Hall-Sun, or others
had told them what had befallen; and the wave of grief had swept
coldly over them amidst their joy of the recoverance of their
dwelling-place; yet they would not wail nor cry aloud, even to ease
their sorrow, till they had heard the words of the Hall-Sun, as she
stood facing them beside their dead War-duke.

Then she spake: "O Sorli the Old, come up hither! thou hast been my
fellow in arms this long while."

So the old man came forth, and went slowly in his clashing war-gear
up on to the dais. But his attire gleamed and glittered, since over-
old was he to thrust deep into the press that day, howbeit he was
wise in war. So he stood beside her on the dais holding his head
high, and proud he looked, for all his thin white locks and sunken

But again said the Hall-Sun: "Canst thou hear me, Wolfkettle, when I
bid thee stand beside me, or art thou, too, gone on the road to

Forth then strode that mighty warrior and went toward the dais:
nought fair was his array to look on; for point and edge had rent it
and stained it red, and the flaring of the hall-flames had blackened
it; his face was streaked with black withal, and his hands were as
the hands of a smith among the thralls who hath wrought unwashen in
the haste and hurry when men look to see the war-arrow abroad. But
he went up on to the dais and held up his head proudly, and looked
forth on to the hall-crowd with eyes that gleamed fiercely from his
stained and blackened face.

Again the Hall-Sun said: "Art thou also alive, O Egil the messenger?
Swift are thy feet, but not to flee from the foe: Come up and stand
with us!"

Therewith Egil clave the throng; he was not so roughly dealt with as
was Wolfkettle, for he was a bowman, and had this while past shot
down on the Romans from aloof; and he yet held his bended bow in his
hand. He also came up on to the dais and stood beside Wolfkettle
glancing down on the hall-crowd, looking eagerly from side to side.

Yet again the Hall-Sun spake: "No aliens now are dwelling in the
Mark; come hither, ye men of the kindreds! Come thou, our brother
Hiarandi of the Elkings, for thy sisters, our wives, are fain of
thee. Come thou, Valtyr of the Laxings, brother's son of Otter; do
thou for the War-duke what thy father's brother had done, had he not
been faring afar. Come thou, Geirbald of the Shieldings the
messenger! Now know we the deeds of others and thy deeds. Come,
stand beside us for a little!"

Forth then they came in their rent and battered war-gear: and the
tall Hiarandi bore but the broken truncheon of his sword; and Valtyr
a woodman's axe notched and dull with work; and Geirbald a Roman
cast-spear, for his own weapons had been broken in the medley; and he
came the last of the three, going as a belated reaper from the acres.
There they stood by the others and gazed adown the hall-throng.

But the Hall-Sun spake again: "Agni of the Daylings, I see thee now.
How camest thou into the hard hand-play, old man? Come hither and
stand with us, for we love thee. Angantyr of the Bearings, fair was
thy riding on the day of the Battle on the Ridge! Come thou, be with
us. Shall the Beamings whose daughters we marry fail the House of
the Wolf to-day? Geirodd, thou hast no longer a weapon, but the
fight is over, and this hour thou needest it not. Come to us,
brother! Gunbald of the Vallings, the Falcon on thy shield is dim
with the dint of point and edge, but it hath done its work to ward
thy valiant heart: Come hither, friend! Come all ye and stand with

As she named them so they came, and they went up on to the dais and
stood altogether; and a terrible band of warriors they looked had the
fight been to begin over again, and they to meet death once more.
And again spake the Hall-Sun:

"Steinulf and Grani, deft are your hands! Take ye the stalks of the
war blossoms, the spears of the kindreds, and knit them together to
make a bier for our War-duke, for he is weary and may not go afoot.
Thou Ali, son of Grey; thou hast gone errands for me before; go forth
now from the garth, and wend thy ways toward the water, and tell me
when thou comest back what thou hast seen of the coming of the wain-
burg. For by this time it should be drawing anigh."

So Ali went forth, and there was silence of words for a while in the
Hall; but there arose the sound of the wood-wrights busy with the
wimble and the hammer about the bier. No long space had gone by when
Ali came back into the hall panting with his swift running; and he
cried out:

"O Hall-Sun, they are coming; the last wain hath crossed the ford,
and the first is hard at hand: bright are their banners in the sun."

Then said the Hall-Sun: "O warriors, it is fitting that we go to
meet our banners returning from the field, and that we do the Gods to
wit what deeds we have done; fitting is it also that Thiodolf our
War-duke wend with us. Now get ye into your ordered bands, and go we
forth from the fire-scorched hall, and out into the sunlight, that
the very earth and the heavens may look upon the face of our War-
duke, and bear witness that he hath played his part as a man.

Then without more words the folk began to stream out of the Hall, and
within the garth which the Romans had made they arrayed their
companies. But when they were all gone from the Hall save they who
were on the dais, the Hall-Sun took the waxen torch which she had
litten and quenched at the departure of the host to battle, and now
she once more kindled it at the flame of the wondrous Lamp, the Hall-
Sun. But the wood-wrights brought the bier which they had made of
the spear-shafts of the kindred, and they laid thereon a purple cloak
gold-embroidered of the treasure of the Wolfings, and thereon was
Thiodolf laid.

Then those men took him up; to wit, Sorli the Old, and Wolfkettle and
Egil, all these were of the Wolfing House; Hiarandi of the Elkings
also, and Valtyr of the Laxings, Geirbald of the Shieldings, Agni of
the Daylings, Angantyr of the Bearings, Geirodd of the Beamings,
Gunbald of the Vallings: all these, with the two valiant wood-
wrights, Steinulf and Grani, laid hand to the bier.

So they bore it down from the dais, and out at the Man's-door into
the sunlight, and the Hall-Sun followed close after it, holding in
her hand the Candle of Returning. It was an hour after high-noon of
a bright midsummer day when she came out into the garth; and the
smoke from the fire-scorched hall yet hung about the trees of the
wood-edge. She looked neither down towards her feet nor on the right
side or the left, but straight before her. The ordered companies of
the kindreds hid the sight of many fearful things from her eyes;
though indeed the thralls and women had mostly gleaned the dead from
the living both of friend and foe, and were tending the hurt of
either host. Through an opening in the ranks moreover could they by
the bier behold the scanty band of Roman captives, some standing up,
looking dully around them, some sitting or lying on the grass talking
quietly together, and it seemed by their faces that for them the
bitterness of death was passed.

Forth then fared the host by the West gate, where Thiodolf had done
so valiantly that day, and out on to the green amidst the booths and
lesser dwellings. Sore then was the heart of the Hall-Sun, as she
looked forth over dwelling, and acre, and meadow, and the blue line
of the woods beyond the water, and bethought her of all the familiar
things that were within the compass of her eyesight, and remembered
the many days of her father's loving-kindness, and the fair words
wherewith he had solaced her life-days. But of the sorrow that wrung
her heart nothing showed in her face, nor was she paler now than her
wont was. For high was her courage, and she would in no wise mar
that fair day and victory of the kindreds with grief for what was
gone, whereas so much of what once was, yet abided and should abide
for ever.

Then fared they down through the acres, where what was yet left of
the wheat was yellowing toward harvest, and the rye hung grey and
heavy; for bright and hot had the weather been all through these
tidings. Howbeit much of the corn was spoiled by the trampling of
the Roman bands.

So came they into the fair open meadow and saw before them the wains
coming to meet them with their folk; to wit a throng of stout carles
of the thrall-folk led by the war-wise and ripe men of the Steerings.
Bright was the gleaming of the banner-wains, though for the lack of
wind the banners hung down about their staves; the sound of the
lowing of the bulls and the oxen, the neighing of horses and bleating
of the flocks came up to the ears of the host as they wended over the

They made stay at last on the rising ground, all trampled and in
parts bloody, where yesterday Thiodolf had come on the fight between
the remnant of Otter's men and the Romans: there they opened their
ranks, and made a ring round about a space, amidmost of which was a
little mound whereon was set the bier of Thiodolf. The wains and
their warders came up with them and drew a garth of the wains round
about the ring of men with the banners of the kindreds in their due

There was the Wolf and the Elk, the Falcon, the Swan, the Boar, the
Bear, and the Green-tree: the Willow-bush, the Gedd, the Water-bank
and the Wood-Ousel, the Steer, the Mallard and the Roe-deer: all
these were of the Mid-mark. But of the Upper-mark were the Horse and
the Spear, and the Shield, and the Daybreak, and the Dale, and the
Mountain, and the Brook, and the Weasel, and the Cloud, and the Hart.

Of the Nether-mark were the Salmon, and the Lynx, and the Ling worm,
the Seal, the Stone, and the Sea-mew; the Buck-goat, the Apple-tree,
the Bull, the Adder, and the Crane.

There they stood in the hot sunshine three hours after noon; and a
little wind came out of the west and raised the pictured cloths upon
the banner-staves, so that the men could now see the images of the
tokens of their Houses and the Fathers of old time.

Now was there silence in the ring of men; but it opened presently and
through it came all-armed warriors bearing another bier, and lo,
Otter upon it, dead in his war-gear with many a grievous wound upon
his body. For men had found him in an ingle of the wall of the Great
Roof, where he had been laid yesterday by the Romans when his company
and the Bearings with the Wormings made their onset: for the Romans
had noted his exceeding valour, and when they had driven off the
Goths some of them brought him dead inside their garth, for they
would know the name and dignity of so valorous a man.

So now they bore him to the mound where Thiodolf lay and set the bier
down beside Thiodolf's, and the two War-dukes of the Markmen lay
there together: and when the warriors beheld that sight, they could
not forbear, but some groaned aloud, and some wept great tears, and
they clashed their swords on their shields and the sound of their
sorrow and their praise went up to the summer heavens.

Now the Hall-Sun holding aloft the waxen torch lifted up her voice
and said:

"O warriors of the Wolfings, by the token of the flame
That here in my right hand flickers, ye are back at the House of the
And there yet burneth the Hall-Sun beneath the Wolfing Roof,
And the flame that the foemen quickened hath died out far aloof.
Ye gleanings of the battle, lift up your hearts on high,
For the House of the War-wise Wolfings and the Folk undoomed to die.
But ye kindreds of the Markmen, the Wolfing guests are ye,
And to-night we hold the high-tide, and great shall the feasting be,
For to-day by the road that we know not a many wend their ways
To the Gods and the ancient Fathers, and the hope of the latter days.
And how shall their feet be cumbered if we tangle them with woe,
And the heavy rain of sorrow drift o'er the road they go?
They have toiled, and their toil was troublous to make the days to
Use ye their gifts in gladness, lest they grieve for the Ancient
Now are our maids arraying that fire-scorched Hall of ours
With the treasure of the Wolfings and the wealth of summer flowers,
And this eve the work before you will be the Hall to throng
And purge its walls of sorrow and quench its scathe and wrong."

She looked on the dead Thiodolf a moment, and then glanced from him
to Otter and spake again:

"O kindreds, here before you two mighty bodies lie;
Henceforth no man shall see them in house and field go by
As we were used to behold them, familiar to us then
As the wind beneath the heavens and the sun that shines on men;
Now soon shall there be nothing of their dwelling-place to tell,
Save the billow of the meadows, the flower-grown grassy swell!
Now therefore, O ye kindreds, if amidst you there be one
Who hath known the heart of the War-dukes, and the deeds their hands
have done,
Will not the word be with him, while yet your hearts are hot,
Of our praise and long remembrance, and our love that dieth not?
Then let him come up hither and speak the latest word
O'er the limbs of the battle-weary and the hearts outworn with the

She held her peace, and there was a stir in the ring of men: for
they who were anigh the Dayling banner saw an old warrior sitting on
a great black horse and fully armed. He got slowly off his horse and
walked toward the ring of warriors, which opened before him; for all
knew him for Asmund the old, the war-wise warrior of the Daylings,
even he who had lamented over the Hauberk of Thiodolf. He had taken
horse the day before, and had ridden toward the battle, but was
belated, and had come up with them of the wain-burg just as they had
crossed the water.


Now while all looked on, he went to the place where lay the bodies of
the War-dukes, and looked down on the face of Otter and said:

"O Otter, there thou liest! and thou that I knew of old,
When my beard began to whiten, as the best of the keen and the bold,
And thou wert as my youngest brother, and thou didst lead my sons
When we fared forth over the mountains to meet the arrowy Huns,
And I smiled to see thee teaching the lore that I learned thee erst.
O Otter, dost thou remember how the Goth-folk came by the worst,
And with thee in mine arms I waded the wide shaft-harrowed flood
That lapped the feet of the mountains with its water blent with
And how in the hollow places of the mountains hidden away
We abode the kindreds' coming as the wet night bideth day?
Dost thou remember, Otter, how many a joy we had,
How many a grief remembered has made our high-tide glad?
O fellow of the hall-glee! O fellow of the field!
Why then hast thou departed and left me under shield?
I the ancient, I the childless, while yet in the Laxing hall
Are thy brother's sons abiding and their children on thee call.

"O kindreds of the people! the soul that dwelt herein,
This goodly way-worn body, was keen for you to win
Good days and long endurance. Who knoweth of his deed
What things for you it hath fashioned from the flame of the fire of
But of this at least well wot we, that forth from your hearts it came
And back to your hearts returneth for the seed of thriving and fame.
In the ground wherein ye lay it, the body of this man,
No deed of his abideth, no glory that he wan,
But evermore the Markmen shall bear his deeds o'er earth,
With the joy of the deeds that are coming, the garland of his worth."

He was silent a little as he stood looking down on Otter's face with
grievous sorrow, for all that his words were stout. For indeed, as
he had said, Otter had been his battle-fellow and his hall-fellow,
though he was much younger than Asmund; and they had been standing
foot to foot in that battle wherein old Asmund's sons were slain by
his side.

After a while he turned slowly from looking at Otter to gaze upon
Thiodolf, and his body trembled as he looked, and he opened his mouth
to speak; but no word came from it; and he sat down upon the edge of
the bier, and the tears began to gush out of his old eyes, and he
wept aloud. Then they that saw him wondered; for all knew the
stoutness of his heart, and how he had borne more burdens than that
of eld, and had not cowered down under them. But at last he arose
again, and stood firmly on his feet, and faced the folk-mote, and in
a voice more like the voice of a man in his prime than of an old man,
he sang:

"Wild the storm is abroad
Of the edge of the sword!
Far on runneth the path
Of the war-stride of wrath!
The Gods hearken and hear
The long rumour of fear
From the meadows beneath
Running fierce o'er the heath,
Till it beats round their dwelling-place builded aloof
And at last all up-swelling breaks wild o'er their roof,
And quencheth their laughter and crieth on all,
As it rolleth round rafter and beam of the Hall,
Like the speech of the thunder-cloud tangled on high,
When the mountain-halls sunder as dread goeth by.

"So they throw the door wide
Of the Hall where they bide,
And to murmuring song
Turns that voice of the wrong,
And the Gods wait a-gaze
For that Wearer of Ways:
For they know he hath gone
A long journey alone.
Now his feet are they hearkening, and now is he come,
With his battle-wounds darkening the door of his home,
Unbyrnied, unshielded, and lonely he stands,
And the sword that he wielded is gone from his hands -
Hands outstretched and bearing no spoil of the fight,
As speechless, unfearing, he stands in their sight.

"War-father gleams
Where the white light streams
Round kings of old
All red with gold,
And the Gods of the name
With joy aflame.
All the ancient of men
Grown glorious again:
Till the Slains-father crieth aloud at the last:
'Here is one that belieth no hope of the past!
No weapon, no treasure of earth doth he bear,
No gift for the pleasure of Godhome to share;
But life his hand bringeth, well cherished, most sweet;
And hark! the Hall singeth the Folk-wolf to greet!'

"As the rain of May
On earth's happiest day,
So the fair flowers fall
On the sun-bright Hall
As the Gods rise up
With the greeting-cup,
And the welcoming crowd
Falls to murmur aloud.
Then the God of Earth speaketh; sweet-worded he saith,
'Lo, the Sun ever seeketh Life fashioned of death;
And to-day as he turneth the wide world about
On Wolf-stead he yearneth; for there without doubt
Dwells the death-fashioned story, the flower of all fame.
Come hither new Glory, come Crown of the Name!'"

All men's hearts rose high as he sang, and when he had ended arose
the clang of sword and shield and went ringing down the meadow, and
the mighty shout of the Markmen's joy rent the heavens: for in sooth
at that moment they saw Thiodolf, their champion, sitting among the
Gods on his golden chair, sweet savours around him, and sweet sound
of singing, and he himself bright-faced and merry as no man on earth
had seen him, for as joyous a man as he was.

But when the sound of their exultation sank down, the Hall-Sun spake

"Now wendeth the sun westward, and weary grows the Earth
Of all the long day's doings in sorrow and in mirth;
And as the great sun waneth, so doth my candle wane,
And its flickering flame desireth to rest and die again.
Therefore across the meadows wend we aback once more
To the holy Roof of the Wolfings, the shrine of peace and war.
And these that once have loved us, these warriors images,
Shall sit amidst our feasting, and see, as the Father sees
The works that menfolk fashion and the rest of toiling hands,
When his eyes look down from the mountains and the heavens above all
And up from the flowery meadows and the rolling deeps of the sea.
There then at the feast with our champions familiar shall we be
As oft we are with the Godfolk, when in story-rhymes and lays
We laugh as we tell of their laughter, and their deeds of other days.

"Come then, ye sons of the kindreds who hither bore these twain!
Take up their beds of glory, and fare we home again,
And feast as men delivered from toil unmeet to bear,
Who through the night are looking to the dawn-tide fresh and fair
And the morn and the noon to follow, and the eve and its morrow morn,
All the life of our deliv'rance and the fair days yet unborn."

So she spoke, and a murmur arose as those valiant men came forth
again. But lo, now were they dight in fresh and fair raiment and
gleaming war-array. For while all this was a-doing and a-saying,
they had gotten them by the Hall-Sun's bidding unto the wains of
their Houses, and had arrayed them from the store therein.

So now they took up the biers, and the Hall-Sun led them, and they
went over the meadow before the throng of the kindreds, who followed
them duly ordered, each House about its banner; and when they were
come through the garth which the Romans had made to the Man's-door of
the Hall, there were the women of the House freshly attired, who cast
flowers on the living men of the host, and on the dead War-dukes,
while they wept for pity of them. So went the freemen of the Houses
into the Hall, following the Hall-Sun, and the bearers of the War-
dukes; but the banners abode without in the garth made by the Romans;
and the thralls arrayed a feast for themselves about the wains of the
kindreds in the open place before their cots and the smithying booths
and the byres.

And as the Hall-Sun went into the Hall, she thrust down the candle
against the threshold of the Man's-door, and so quenched it.

Long were the kindreds entering, and when they were under the Roof of
the Wolfings, they looked and beheld Thiodolf set in his chair once
more, and Otter set beside him; and the chiefs and leaders of the
House took their places on the dais, those to whom it was due, and
the Hall-Sun sat under the wondrous Lamp her namesake.

Now was the glooming falling upon the earth; but the Hall was bright
within even as the Hall-Sun had promised. Therein was set forth the
Treasure of the Wolfings; fair cloths were hung on the walls, goodly
broidered garments on the pillars: goodly brazen cauldrons and fair-
carven chests were set down in nooks where men could see them well,
and vessels of gold and silver were set all up and down the tables of
the feast. The pillars also were wreathed with flowers, and flowers
hung garlanded from the walls over the precious hangings; sweet gums
and spices were burning in fair-wrought censers of brass, and so many
candles were alight under the Roof, that scarce had it looked more
ablaze when the Romans had litten the faggots therein for its burning
amidst the hurry of the Morning Battle.

There then they fell to feasting, hallowing in the high-tide of their
return with victory in their hands: and the dead corpses of Thiodolf
and Otter, clad in precious glistering raiment, looked down on them
from the High-seat, and the kindreds worshipped them and were glad;
and they drank the Cup to them before any others, were they Gods or

But before the feast was hallowed in, came Ali the son of Grey up to
the High-seat, bearing something in his hand: and lo! it was Throng-
plough, which he had sought all over the field where the Markmen had
been overcome by the Romans, and had found it at last. All men saw
him how he held it in his hand now as he went up to the Hall-Sun and
spake to her. But she kissed the lad on the forehead, and took
Throng-plough, and wound the peace-strings round him and laid him on
the board before Thiodolf; and then she spake softly as if to
herself, yet so that some heard her:

"O father, no more shalt thou draw Throng-plough from the sheath till
the battle is pitched in the last field of fight, and the sons of the
fruitful Earth and the sons of Day meet Swart and his children at
last, when the change of the World is at hand. Maybe I shall be with
thee then: but now and in meanwhile, farewell, O mighty hand of my

Thus then the Houses of the Mark held their High-tide of Returning
under the Wolfing Roof with none to blame them or make them afraid:
and the moon rose and the summer night wore on towards dawn, and
within the Roof and without was there feasting and singing and
harping and the voice of abundant joyance: for without the Roof
feasted the thralls and the strangers, and the Roman war-captives.

But on the morrow the kindreds laid their dead men in mound betwixt
the Great Roof and the Wild-wood. In one mound they laid them with
the War-dukes in their midst, and Arinbiorn by Otter's right side;
and Thiodolf bore Throng-plough to mound with him.

But a little way from the mound of their own dead, toward the south
they laid the Romans, a great company, with their Captain in the
midst: and they heaped a long mound over them not right high; so
that as years wore, and the feet of men and beasts trod it down, it
seemed a mere swelling of the earth not made by men's hands; and
belike men knew not how many bones of valiant men lay beneath; yet it
had a name which endured for long, to wit, the Battle-toft.

But the mound whereunder the Markmen were laid was called Thiodolf's
Howe for many generations of men, and many are the tales told of him;
for men were loth to lose him and forget him: and in the latter days
men deemed of him that he sits in that Howe not dead but sleeping,
with Throng-plough laid before him on the board; and that when the
sons of the Goths are at their sorest need and the falcons cease to
sit on the ridge of the Great Roof of the Wolfings, he will wake and
come forth from the Howe for their helping. But none have dared to
break open that Howe and behold what is therein.

But that swelling of the meadow where the Goths had their overthrow
at the hands of the Romans, and Thiodolf fell to earth unwounded, got
a name also, and was called the Swooning Knowe; and it kept that name
long after men had forgotten wherefore it was so called.

Now when all this was done, and the warriors of the kindreds were
departed each to his own stead, the Wolfings gathered in wheat-
harvest, and set themselves to make good all that the Romans had
undone; and they cleansed and mended their Great Roof and made it
fairer than before, and took from it all signs of the burning, save
that they left the charring and marks of the flames on one tie-beam,
the second from the dais, for a token of the past tidings. Also when
Harvest was over the Wolfings, the Beamings, the Galtings, and the
Elkings, set to work with the Bearings to rebuild their Great Roof
and the other dwellings and booths which the Romans had burned; and
right fair was that house.

But the Wolfings throve in field and fold, and they begat children
who grew up to be mighty men and deft of hand, and the House grew
more glorious year by year.

The tale tells not that the Romans ever fell on the Mark again; for
about this time they began to stay the spreading of their dominion,
or even to draw in its boundaries somewhat.



{1} Welsh with these men means Foreign, and is used for all people of
Europe who are not of Gothic or Teutonic blood.

{2} i.e. Foreigners: see note {1}


Back to Full Books