Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/64

This page needs to be proofread.

till she came to a cave. Now when she entered the cave there stood before her a man, who greeted Bera, the Cane's daughter, and she recognised him, for he was Björn, Hring's son. Overjoyed were they to meet. So they were together in the cave awhile, for she would not part from him when she had the chance of being with him; but he said that this was not proper that she should be there with him, for by day he was a beast and by night a man. Hring returned from his harrying, and was told how this Björn, his son, had vanished, and also how that a monstrous beast was up the country, and was destroying his flocks. The queen urged the king to have the bear slain.

One night as Bera and Björn were together, he said to her:

"Methinks tomorrow will be the day of my death, for they will hunt me down. But for myself I care not; it is little pleasure to live with this spell upon me, and my only comfort is that we are together; and now our union must be broken." He spoke to her of many other things, till the bear's form stole over him, and he went forth a bear. She followed him, and saw a great body of hunters come ovei the mountain ridges, and had a number of dogs with them. The bear rushed away from the cavern, but the dogs and the king's men came upon him, and there ensued a desperate struggle. They made a ring round him--he ranged about in it, but saw no means of escape. So he turned to where the king stood, and seized a man who stood next him, and rent him asunder. Then was the bear so exhausted that he cast himself down flat, and at once the men rushed in upon him and slew him.

The king now went home, and Bera was in his company. The queen now made a great feast, and had the bear's flesh roasted for the banquet. The queen came to Bera with a dish, quite unexpectedly, and on it was bear's flesh, and she bade Bera eat it. She would not do so. "Here is a marvel," said the queen; "you reject the offer which a queen herself