King Sheave / Prose Version

The first draft:

To the shore the ship came and strode upon the sand, grinding upon the broken shingle. In the twilight as the sun sank men came down to it, and looked within. A boy lay there, asleep. He was fair of face and limb, dark-haired, white-skinned, but clad in gold. The inner parts of the boat were gold-adorned, a vessel of gold filled with clear water was at his side, [added: at his right was a harp,] beneath his head was a sheaf of corn, the stalks and ears of which gleamed like gold in the dusk. Men knew not what it was. In wonder they drew the boat high upon the beach, and lifted the boy and bore him up, and laid him sleeping in a wooden house in their burh. They set guards about the door.

In the morning the chamber was empty. But upon a high rock men saw the boy standing. The sheaf was in his arms. As the risen sun shone down, he began to sing in a strange tongue, and they were filled with awe. For they had not yet heard singing, nor seen such beauty. And they had no king among them, for their kings had perished, and they were lordless and unguided. Therefore they took the boy to be king, and they called him Sheaf; and so is his name remembered in song. For his true name was hidden and is forgotten. Yet he taught men many new words, and their speech was enriched. Song and verse-craft he taught them, and rune- craft, and tillage and husbandry, and the making of many things; and in his time the dark forests receded and there was plenty, and corn grew in the land; and the carven houses of men were filled with gold and storied webs. The glory of King Sheaf sprang far and wide in the isles of the North. His children were many and fair, and it is sung that of them are come the kings of men of the North Danes and the West Danes, the South Angles and the East Gothfolk. And in the time of the Sheaf-lords there was peace in the isles, and ships went unarmed from land to land bearing treasure and rich merchandise. And a man might cast a golden ring upon the highway and it would remain until he took it up again.

Those days songs have called the golden years, while the great mill of Sheaf was guarded still in the island sanctuary of the North; and from the mill came golden grain, and there was no want in all the realms.

But it came to pass after long years that Sheaf summoned his friends and counsellors, and he told them that he would depart. For the shadow of old age was fallen upon him (out of the East) and he would return whence he came. Then there was great mourning. But Sheaf laid him upon his golden bed, and became as one in deep slumber; and his lords obeying his commands while he yet ruled and had command of speech set him in a ship. He lay beside the mast, which was tall, and the sails were golden. Treasures of gold and of gems and fine raiment and costly stuffs were laid beside him. His golden banner flew above his head. In this manner he was arrayed more richly than when he came among them; and they thrust him forth to sea, and the sea took him, and the ship bore him unsteered far away into the uttermost West out of the sight or thought of men. Nor do any know who received him in what haven at the end of his journey. Some have said that that ship found the Straight Road. But none of the children of Sheaf went that way, and many in the beginning lived to a great age, but coming under the shadow of the East they were laid in great tombs of stone or in mounds like green hills; and most of these were by the western sea, high and broad upon the shoulders of the land, whence men can descry them that steer their ships amid the shadows of the sea.

HoMeV - The Lost Road - The unwritten chapters

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