View Full Version : Stirring Excerpt from "The Marsh King"

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006, 01:15 PM
Heathen literature of a different sort :thumbsup

Here is a little excerpt from a book by C.Walter Hodges called "The Marsh King" that I always liked and found stirring, so I typed it out here for others to read.

Excerpt from "The Marsh King" by C.Walter Hodge
p.116 ch.19

(Alfred's Huscarles desperate stand allows their Lord to escape. Their heroic sacrifice had but one outcome, but how noble it was. The Danes set the Hall on fire, but the Saxons remained to fight until the last Man)

Now at the blazing Dragon Hall a part of the roof fell inwards, and the fire leaped out of the hole it made, still higher into the black sky, carrying upwards a cloud of whirling sparks.

The Heathen had all drawn back out of the heat in the yard.

The great thorn hedge itself was singeing and smoking, ready to burn. The Saxons all lay within, now to the last man dead or dying. But one final scene remained.

From over the fallen gateway, with the glaring fire behind him, old Britnoth came, his sword still in his hand. he walked forward with painful steps, bening, supporting himself on the sword, till he stood within the wide semi-circle of the silent heathen. not one of them moved. Britnoth halted. He stood himself upright with great difficulty. His shield arm, though shieldless, he lifted now firmly before him. His sword in his right hand he raised, but very slowly, till he had it high over his head, the point upwards. And then, there and thus died old Britnoth, and pitched forward like a tree, his whole upright length fallen upon his face.

In the wide circle of the heathen Danes there began a tapping noise. It spread around the circle, growing louder and louder above teh rushing and spitting noise of the fire, till it was like a great battering of iron drums. The heathen were beating with their weapons upon their shields. This was their salute to Britnoth, at his life's end.