Because once upon a time, well over a thousand years ago, people told the story of Beowulf. And then time passed and it was forgotten. It was like an animal that no one had noticed had gone extinct, or almost extinct. Forgotten in oral lore, it was preserved by only one manuscript. Manuscripts are fragile and easily destroyed by time or by fi re. The Beowulf manuscript has scorch marks on it. But it survived . . .