• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Frontispiece
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Preface
 The curtain rises and the play...
 Strong emotions are succeeded by...
 Dark war-clouds lower, but clear...
 Important events transpire, which...
 Freydissa shows her temper and...
 Changes in wind and weather produce...
 Songs and sagas - Vinland...
 A chapter of incidents and exploration,...
 The first night in Vinland
 Taking possession of the new home,...
 Settling down - Hake proves that...
 Sage converse between Hake and...
 A great but comparatively bloodless...
 The first American fur traders...
 Greenland again - Flatface turns...
 Joyful meetings and hearty...
 Treats of the friendship and adventures...
 Anxious times - A search organized...
 New experiences - Difficulties...
 Remarkable experiences of Olaf...
 Reinforcements sent off to Karlsefin...
 Hake makes a bold venture, but...
 Difficulties regarding intercommunication...
 The burning of the fortress - A...
 The first congress and the last...
 Changes in Brattalid - The Scots...
 Disappointment terminates in unlooked-for...
 Advertising
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: The Norsemen in the West , or , America before Columbus
Title: The Norsemen in the West, or, America before Columbus
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE TURNER PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00026254/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Norsemen in the West, or, America before Columbus
Alternate Title: America before Columbus
Physical Description: vi, 1, 406, 18 p., 3 leaves of plates : ill. ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Ballantyne, R. M ( Robert Michael ), 1825-1894
James Nisbet and Co. (London, England) ( Publisher )
T. and A. Constable ( Printer )
Publisher: James Nisbet & Co.
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: T. and A. Constable
Publication Date: 1872
 Subjects
Subject: Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Indians of North America -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Warfare -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Colonists -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fur traders -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Discovery and exploration -- Norse -- Juvenile fiction -- America   ( lcsh )
Bldn -- 1872
Genre: novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by R.M. Ballantyne ; with illustrations.
Funding: Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026254
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002391150
notis - ALZ6039
oclc - 12999386

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Frontispiece
        Frontispiece
    Half Title
        Half Title
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Preface
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
    The curtain rises and the play begins
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    Strong emotions are succeeded by supper, and followed by discussions on discovery, which end in a wild alarm!
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
    Dark war-clouds lower, but clear away without a shower - Voices and legs do good service
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Unnumbered ( 43 )
        Unnumbered ( 44 )
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Important events transpire, which end in a voyage of discovery
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
    Freydissa shows her temper and a whale checks it - Poetical and other touches
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    Changes in wind and weather produce changes in temper and feeling - Land discovered, and Freydissa becomes inquisitive
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
    Songs and sagas - Vinland at last!
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
    A chapter of incidents and exploration, in which a bear and a whale play prominent parts
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 104a
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
    The first night in Vinland
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 122a
        Page 123
    Taking possession of the new home, an event which is celebrated by an explosion and a reconciliation
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
    Settling down - Hake proves that his arms, as well as his legs, are good - A wonderful fishing incident, which ends in a scene between Freydissa and Krake
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
    Sage converse between Hake and Bertha - Biarne is outwitted - A monster is slain, and savages appear on the scene
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
        Page 168
    A great but comparatively bloodless fight, which ends peculiarly, and with singular results
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
        Page 175
        Page 176
        Page 177
        Page 178
        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
    The first American fur traders - Strange devices - Anxious times and pleasant discoveries
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
        Page 196
        Page 197
        Page 198
        Page 199
        Page 200
    Greenland again - Flatface turns up, also thorward, who becomes elequent and secure recruits for Vinland
        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
    Joyful meetings and hearty greetings
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
    Treats of the friendship and adventures of Olaf and Snorro, and of Sundry surprising incidents
        Page 226
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
        Page 235
        Page 236
        Page 237
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
    Anxious times - A search organized and vigorously carried out
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
        Page 254
        Page 255
        Page 256
        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
    New experiences - Difficulties encountered and overcome - Thorward and Tyrker make a joint effort, with humbling results
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
    Remarkable experiences of Olaf and Snorro - The former suffers the pangs of remorse
        Page 279
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 282a
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
    Reinforcements sent off to Karlsefin - Foes discovered in the woods - A night attack, and other warlike matters
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
    Hake makes a bold venture, but does not win - The Norsemen find that there is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
        Page 320
        Page 321
        Page 322
        Page 323
        Page 324
    Difficulties regarding intercommunication - The power of finery displayed - Also the power of song sentiment
        Page 325
        Page 326
        Page 327
        Page 328
        Page 329
        Page 330
        Page 331
        Page 332
        Page 333
        Page 334
        Page 335
        Page 336
        Page 337
        Page 338
        Page 339
    The burning of the fortress - A threatened fight ends in a feast, which leads to friendship - Happy reunion and proposed desertion
        Page 340
        Page 341
        Page 342
        Page 343
        Page 344
        Page 345
        Page 346
        Page 347
        Page 348
        Page 349
        Page 350
        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
        Page 358
    The first congress and the last farewell
        Page 359
        Page 360
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
        Page 366
        Page 367
        Page 368
        Page 369
        Page 370
        Page 371
    Changes in Brattalid - The Scots continue to plot and plan
        Page 372
        Page 373
        Page 374
        Page 375
        Page 376
        Page 377
        Page 378
        Page 379
        Page 380
        Page 381
        Page 382
        Page 383
    Disappointment terminates in unlooked-for success, and the saga comes to an end
        Page 384
        Page 385
        Page 386
        Page 387
        Page 388
        Page 389
        Page 390
        Page 391
        Page 392
        Page 393
        Page 394
        Page 395
        Page 396
        Page 397
        Page 398
        Page 399
        Page 400
        Page 401
        Page 402
        Page 403
        Page 404
        Page 405
        Page 406
    Advertising
        Page 407
        Page 408
        Page 409
        Page 410
        Page 411
        Page 412
        Page 413
        Page 414
        Page 415
        Page 416
        Page 417
        Page 418
        Page 419
        Page 420
        Page 421
        Page 422
        Page 423
        Page 424
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
Full Text











































The Baldwin Library
UnivCrsity
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KARLSEFIN AND HIS MEN MEET TYRKER.-PAGE 198.


(Frontispiece.)

















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THE


NORSEMEN


IN


THE


WEST


OR


AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS







BY R. M. BALLANTYNE,
AUTHOR OF "THE IRON HORSE, OR LIFE ON THE LINE ;" "THE FLOATING LIGHT OF THE
GOODWIN SANDS ;" THE LIFEBOAT: A TALE OF OUR COAST HEROES ; ERLING
THE BOLD ; SHIFTING WINDS : A TOUGH YARN ;" THE LIGHTHOUSE:
BEING THE STORY OF A GREAT FIGHT BETWEEN MAN AND THE
SEA;" GASCOYNE," ETC. ETC.



with IlUstatitonz.


LONDON :


JAMES NISBET & CO., 21 BERNERS STREET.
1872.


[All rights reserved.]







































EDINBURGH : T. AND A. CONSTABLE

PRINTERS TO THE QUEEN, AND TO THE UNIVERSITY.












PREFACE.


IT is an interesting historical fact that America
was discovered by the Norsemen about five hun-
dred years before Columbus crossed the Atlantic.
This is not stated with a view to depreciate the
fame of the great man who is, in the true sense
of the term, the discoverer of America, and whose
honoured name that land should have borne; for
Columbus not only re-discovered the New World
by the force of his genius and irrepressible energy,
long after its existence had been forgotten, but he
did so for a noble purpose-for the advancement of
geographical knowledge and the good of mankind;
while the Norsemen merely pitched upon it in the
course of their wayward wanderings, and cared
little, if at all, that the world should benefit by
their discovery.
Nevertheless, it is creditable to the "hardy Norse-
men" that they actually did discover America about






iv PREFACE.

the year 986, and settled on its western shores in
1006. The Icelandic Saga which relates the fact is
well authenticated. Those who desire full informa-
tion in regard to it may consult Mr. Laing's trans-
lation of the "Heimskringla, or Chronicles of the
Kings of Norway."
In this tale I have adhered as closely as possible
to the Saga in all matters of importance. In regard
to minor details I have drawn, to some extent, on
my own knowledge and personal experience of life
in the wildernesses of America.
R .M. B
EDINBURGH, 1872&












CONTENTS.


PAGE
CHAP. I.-THE CURTAIN RISES AND THE PLAY BEGINS, 1

II.-STRONG EMOTIONS ARE SUCCEEDED BY SUPPER AND
FOLLOWED BY DISCUSSIONS ON DISCOVERY, WHICH
END IN A WILD ALARM! 14

III.--DARK WAR-CLOUDS LOWER, BUT CLEAR AWAY WITHOUT


A SHOWER-VOICES AND LEGS DO GOOD SERVICE,


S27


IV.-IMPORTANT EVENTS TRANSPIRE, WHICH END IN A


VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY,


V.-FREYDISSA SHOWS HER TEMPER AND A WHALE CHECKS


IT-POETICAL AND OTHER TOUCHES,


VI.-CHANGES IN WIND AND WEATHER PRODUCE CHANGES
IN TEMPER AND FEELING-LAND DISCOVERED, AND


. 40


S 50


FREYDISSA BECOMES INQUISITIVE,


0 .


VII.--SONGS AND SAGAS-VINLAND AT LAST! .

VIII.-A CHAPTER OF INCIDENTS AND EXPLORATION, IN
WHICH A BEAR AND A WHALE PLAY PROMINENT


PARTS,


0 0 0 0


IX. -THE FIRST NIGHT IN INLAND,


X.-TAKING POSSESSION OF THE NEW HOME, AN EVENT
WHICH IS CELEBRATED BY AN EXPLOSION AND A


RECONCILIATION,


S. 124


XI.-SETTLING DOWN-HAKE PROVES THAT HIS ARMS, AS WELL
AS HIS LEGS, ARE GOOD-A WONDERFUL FISHING
INCIDENT, WHICH ENDS IN A SCENE BETWEEN FREY-


DISSA AND KRAKF,


XII.-SAGE CONVERSE BETWEEN HAKE AND BERTHA-BIARNE
IS OUTWITTED-A MONSTER IS SLAIN, AND SAVAGES


APPEAR ON THE SCENE,


. 155


0 0


82


. 95


S. 115


. 138





CONTENTS.


PAGE


XIII.-A GREAT BUT COMPARATIVELY BLOODLESS FIGHT, WHICH
ENDS PECULIARLY, AND WITH SINGULAR RESULTS,


169


XIV.-THE FIRST AMERICAN 'FUR-TRADERS-STRANGE DEVICES
-ANXIOUS TIMES AND PLEASANT DISCOVERIES,

XV.-GREENLAND AGAIN-FLATFACE TURNS UP, ALSO THOR-
WARD, WHO BECOMES ELOQUENT AND SECURES RE-
CRUITS FOR VINLAND, .


XVI.-JOYFUL MEETINGS AND HEARTY GREETINGS,


XVII.- TREATS OF THE FRIENDSHIP AND ADVENTURES OF OLAF
AND SNORRO, AND OF SUNDRY SURPRISING INCIDENTS,

6XVIII. -ANXIOUS TIMES-A SEARCH ORGANIZED AND VIGOROUSLY
CARRIED OUT, .
XIX.-NEW EXPERIENCES-DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED AND
OVERCOME-THORWARD AND TYRKER MAKE A JOINT
EFFORT, WITH HUMBLING RESULTS, .

XX.--REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES OF OLAF AND SNORRO-THE
FORMER SUFFERS THE PANGS OF REMORSE, .

XXI.--REINFORCEMENTS SENT OFF TO KARLSEFIN-FOES DIS-
COVERED IN THE WOODS-A NIGHT ATTACK, AND
OTHER WARLIKE MATTERS, .

XXII.-HARE MAKES A BOLD VENTURE, BUT DOES NOT WIN-
THE NORSEMEN FIND THAT THERE IS MANY A SLIP
TWIXTT THE CUP AND THE LIP, .
XXIII.--DIFFICULTIES REGARDING INTERCOMMUNICATION-THE
POWER OF FINERY DISPLAYED-ALSO THE POWER OF
SONG AND SENTIMENT, .

XXIV.-THE BURNING OF THE FORTRESS-A THREATENED FIGHT
ENDS IN A FEAST, WHICH LEADS TO FRIENDSHIP-
HAPPY REUNION AND PROPOSED DESERTION, .


XXV.-THE FIRST CONGRESS AND THE LAST FAREWELL,


XXVI.- CHANGES IN BRATTALID-THE SCOTS CONTINUE TO PLOT
AND PLAN, .. .

XXVII. -DISAPPOINTMENT TERMINATES IN UNLOOKED-FOR SUC-
CESS, AND THE SAGA COMES TO AN END, .


vi


186




201


.*


372


382


211


226


246




261


279




289




308




325




340

359


*



















LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



KARLSEFIN AND HIS MEN MEETING TYRKER


(p. 128),


VIGNETTE TITLE.


THE SKRAELINGERS APPROACHING,


A NATIVE OF THE LAND DISCOVERED,


THE FIRST NIGHT IN VINLAND, .


A NATIVE PAINTER,.


facing page 33


104

122


S a 0


0 0. 0 0 283


. 0'


0 0


Frontispiece










THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST;

OR

AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.



CHAPTER IL

THE CURTAIN RISES AND THE PLAY BEGINS.

ONE fine autumn evening, between eight and nine
hundred years ago, two large hairy creatures, bear-
ing some resemblance to polar bears, might have
been seen creeping slowly, and with much caution,
toward the summit of a ridge that formed a spur
to one of.the ice-clad mountains of Greenland. The
creatures went on all-fours. They had long bodies,
short legs, shorter tails, and large round heads.
Having gained the top of the ridge they peeped
over and beheld a hamlet nestled at the foot of a
frowning cliff, and at the head of a smiling inlet.
We use these terms advisedly, because the cliff, being
in deep shadow, looked unusually black and for-
bidding, while the inlet, besides being under the
A




2 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

influence of a profound calm, was lit up on all its
dimples by the rays of the setting sun.
The hamlet consisted of one large cottage and
half a dozen small cots, besides several sheds and
enclosures wherein were a few sleepy-looking sheep,
some lean cattle, and several half-starved horses.
There was active life there also. Smoke issued
from the chimneys ; fresh-looking women busied
themselves about household work; rosy children
tumbled in and out at the doors, while men in rough
garments and with ruddy countenances mended
nets or repaired boats on the shore. On a bench
in front of the principal cottage sat a sturdy man,
scarcely middle-aged, with shaggy fair and flowing
locks. His right foot served as a horse to a rap-
turous little boy, whose locks and looks were so like
to those of the man that their kinship was obvious
-only the man was rugged and rough in exterior;
the boy was round and smooth. Tow typified the
hair of the man; floss silk that of the boy.
Everything in and around the hamlet bore evi-
dence of peace and thrift. It was a settlement of
Norsemen-the first Greenland settlement, esta-
blished by Eric the Red of Iceland about the year
986-nearly twenty years before the date of the
opening of our tale-and the hairy creatures above
referred to had gone there to look at it.
Having gazed very intently over the ridge for




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


a considerable time, they crept backwards with
extreme caution, and, on getting sufficiently far
down the hill-side to be safe from observation, rose
on their hind legs and began to talk; from which
circumstance it may be concluded that they
were human beings. After talking, grinning,
and glaring at each other for a few minutes, with
gestures to correspond, as though on the point of
engaging in mortal combat, they suddenly wheeled
about and walked off at a rapid pace in the direction
of a gorge in the mountains, the head of which was
shut in by and filled up with cliffs and masses and
fields of ice that overtopped the everlasting hills,
and rested like a white crest on the blue sky. Vast
though it seemed, this was merely a tongue of those
great glaciers- of the mysterious North which have
done, and are still doing, so much to modify the
earth's economy and puzzle antiquarian philosophy;
-which form the fountain-head of influences that
promote the circulation of the great deep, and con-
stitute the cradle of those ponderous icebergs that
cover the arctic seas.
From out that gloomy gorge a band of more than
a hundred hairy creatures issued with wild shouts
and upraised arms to welcome back the adventurous
two. They surrounded them, and forthwith the
nation-for the entire nation was evidently there
-held a general assembly or parliament on the




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


spot. There was a good deal of uproar and con-
fusion in that parliament, with occasional attempts
on the part of several speakers to obtain a hearing
at one and the same time-in which respects this
parliament bore some resemblance to civilized assem-
blies of the present day. There was also an im-
mense amount of gesticulation and excitement.
At last there uprose a man clad in garments that
had once belonged to a seal, and with a face that
was quite as round and nearly as flat as a frying-
pan. He stood fully half a foot higher than the
tallest of his fellows. Like the adventurous two he
had a tail-a very short tail-to his coat; but in-
deed this might be said of all the men of the tribe.
The women's tails, however, were long. Perhaps
this was meant as a mark of distinction, for their
costume was so very similar to that of the men that
their smaller size and longer tails alone marked the
difference. To be sure there was additional pre-
sumptive evidence of their sex in the fact that most
of them carried babies in their hoods; which hoods
were made preposterously large for the express pur-
pose of containing the babies.
To the tall man with the flat face the assembly
listened with eager looks, bated breath, and open
mouths. What he said-who can tell ? His lan-
guage was unintelligible to civilized ears. Not so,
however, his actions, which were vigorous and full




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 5

of meaning, and comprehensible by all nations. If
there be any significance in signs at all he began by
saying, Hold your stupid tongues and I will speak."
This drew forth loud and prolonged applause-as
consummate impudence usually does. When he
pointed with both hands to the women and chil-
dren, and spoke in tender tones, instantly thereafter
growling in his speech, gnashing his teeth, glaring
fiercely, waving one hand at the surrounding hills
and shaking the other, clenched, at the unoffending
sea-he was obviously stating his grievances, namely,
that the white men had come there to wrest from
him his native hills and glaciers, and rob him of his
wife and children, and that he defied them to come
on and do their worst, seeing that, in regard to the
whole assembled white world in arms he did not
care a button-or a walrus-tusk, for buttons were
unknown to these creatures at that time. When,
suddenly changing his manner and tone, he seized a
spear, hissed his sentiments through his teeth with
great volubility, and made a furious plunge that
caused the assembly to gasp, and the man nearest
the spear point to shrivel up-what could be his
meaning save that nothing short of a hole right
through the body of a Norseman could appease the
spirit of indignation that caused his blood to boil ?
And when, finally, he pointed to the setting sun,
traced a line with his finger from it downward to




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


the centre of


the earth under


his feet, then shook


his spear wrathfully toward the sea and wound up


with a tremendous Ho!
the echoes of the place h


that would have startled
ad there been any there,


it was plain to the meanest capacity that an attack
-impetuous and overwhelming-was to be nade on
the strangers at midnight.


Whatever


were his


sentiments


the assembly


heartily appreciated, applauded, and approved them.


They cheered and shouted


" Hear,


hear "


after their


own fashion, and then the whole


band


rushed


into the mountain gorge,-doubtless with the intent


to gorge themselves with


raw blubber, prepare their


weapons, and snatch a little repose before
forth to battle.


But let us return to the


issuing


Norsemen, over whose


innocent heads such awful prospects were impending.


The sturdy man with


Leif, the son of


the fair shaggy


Eric the Red


of Iceland.


locks was
The boy


with the


silken curls, who


rode on his foot so


ously, was his son Olaf.
Eric had died several years before


the date


which our tale opens, and Leif


inherited


his cottage


and property at Brattalid


coast


of Greenland-the hamlet


in Ericsfiord, on the west


which we have al-


ready described.
Come now, Olaf,"


said Leif,


flinging


the child


his foot to his knee, and thence to the ground,


back


joy-


on.


from




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


" give me your hand; we shall go see how the boats
and nets get on.-Hey! there goes a puff of wind.
We shall have more presently. He paused and
scanned the seaward horizon with that intent abs-
tracted gaze which is peculiar to seafaring men.
So long did he gaze, and so earnestly, that the child
looked up in his face with an expression of surprise,
and then at the horizon, where a dark blue line
indicated the approach of a breeze.
"What do you see, father?" asked Olaf.
Methinks I see two ships," replied Leif.
At this there came a sweet musical voice from the
cottage :-" Ships, brother Did I not tell you that
I had a dream about two ships, and said I not that
I was sure something was going to happen ?"
The speaker appeared in the doorway, drying her
hands and arms on a towel,-for she had been wash-
ing dishes. She was a fair comely young woman,
with exceedingly deep blue eyes, and a bright colour.
in her cheeks,-for women of the richer class were
remarkably healthy and well-made in those days.
They did a great deal of hard work with their hands,
hence their arms were strong and well developed
without losing anything of their elegance.
"You are always dreaming, widow Gudrid," said
Leif, with a quiet smile,-for he was no believer in
dreams or superstitions, in which respect he differed
much from the men and women of his time; "never-




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


theless, I am bound to admit t
that 'something' was going to


.hat you did tell me
happen, and no one


can deny that something is about to occur just now.


But your dream


ago, and the


happened a month or six


'something,'


weeks


which you are pleased to


assume is these two ships, is only happening to-
day. See, now, I can be a more definite prophet than
thou: I will prophesy that Yule is coming,-and
it will surely come if you only wait long enough !"
"You are an unbeliever, brother-in-law," retorted


Gudrid,


reason with


with a laugh;


"but I have not time


you. These ships will


to


bring strangers,


and I must prepare to show them hospitality.-Come,
Olaf, help me to put the house in order."


Thus summoned, Olaf


followed


Gudrid


into the


house with alacrity, for he was passionately fond of


his pretty aunt, who


stood in the place of a mother


to him, his
an infant.


own mother having


died when he


aunt,"


said Olaf,


checking himself


in the


doorway and looking wistfully back,
the ships come in."


"You shall see that, my
you too long."


son;


"I want to see


will not keep


This was quite


lived


sufficient.


Olaf thoroughly


in his aunt's truthfulness and wisdom.


be-
He


set to work to assist in clearing away the confusion


-part of which,


in the shape of toys and


chips,


" But,


was




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


was of his


own creating-and


became so busy that


he almost forgot the ships-at least if he


member them they did
mind.


not weigh


did


heavily on


" Now,


Olaf,"


said Gudrid, going to


the window


when the preparations were nearly completed,


may run down to
be on the strand."


The boy waited


the shore, for the


no second


ships will


bidding, you


may


sure.


He flew out of the


surprise beheld the two ship
appeared like sea-birds on


grandly up the


house, and to his


great


)s-which so lately had
the horizon-coming


fiord, their great square sails bulg-


ing out before a smart breeze.
All the men of the little colony were assembled


on the shore-all, at least,


who chanced to be at


home


at the time;


but many of


the inhabitants


were absent-some fishing,


and others on viking-cruise.


some


gone to Iceland,


There were probably


about thirty men on the sands, besides a good many
women and children.


It must not be supposed, however, that


this was


the whole
the part
Ericsfiord.


of that Greenland colony.


of


it that had settled at


There was another portion,


It was only


Brattalid


in


a few miles


distant, named


Heriulfness, nearly as large as that


of Ericsfiord, which had been founded by Heriulf, a


friend and companion of Eric the Red.


Heriulf had


re-
his


Syou
soon


be


4




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


soon followed his friend


the management of
his son Biarne.


Eric to


the grave, leaving


the colony of Heriulfness


Biarne had not been present when the


to


two sails


were first observed, but he chanced to come over to
Brattalid just before their arrival.


" What,


of Heriulf


ho!


Biarne,"


shouted


went down to the


Leif,


beach,


as the
" come


hither."


Leif stood on an elevated


rock apart,


and Biarne,


a good deal excited, went up to him.
"Why, what ails thee ?" asked Leif.


"Nothing,"


replied


Biarne,


"but I think I know


whose ship that first one is."
Ay is it the ship of a friend or a foe ?"


"A friend," replied
friend when I knew h


Biarne-" at least he was a
im in Norway, nigh twenty


summers past, and I did not think
You and I, Leif, have often saile(


him changeable.
d these northern


seas together and apart, but I do not


think


that in


all our wanderings


either


of us has met before


since a finer man than Karlsefin, though


mere


he was a


stripling when I knew him."


The Norseman's eyes flashed as


he spoke


of his


friend, f
man, he
deed, he


for,


besides


being a strong and handsome


possessed a warm enthusiastic


had been noted in


heart.


In-


the settlement for the


strength of his
1 0-


affection for


his father


Heriulf, and


10


son
up


or




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


his dutiful
man lived.


conduct towards


him as long as the


Karlsefin," repeated Leif, musing; "I know him
not."


"Yet he knows you," said
him in Norway I told him all
of Vinland."


Biarne; when I met
about your discovery
pi


" Nay,
"Not


thine


so,))


own discovery of it," said Leif.


replied


the other,


with a blush,


which a frown mingled;


"I did


but look upon the


land-you went ashore and took possession."
Well, if I did so I have not retained it,"


replied


Leif, with a laugh; but


say, how


know you


this is


Karlsefin's ship ?"


I know by the cut of
colour of her sails. Karls


her figure-head


and the


-efin was always partial to


stripes of white and blue."
"Well, it may be as you say; we shall soon know."


Thus saying, Leif descended to the


beach as the


vessels approached and ran their keels straight


the sandy shores of


the bay.


There was great


bustle on board, and there were many men, besides
some women, who could be seen looking over the


bulwarks


with keen interest,


while


Leif's


brought planks with


whi ch


to make a gangway


from the ship to the shore.
The ships which had thus come to Greenland were


of the quaint build peculiar to the


Norse vessels


11

old


in


that


on


men




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


of those


days--a peculiarity


of build, by the way,


which has not altogether disappeared, for to this day


the great central mast, huge


square sail, and


prow may be seen in the fiords of Norway.


Each of the


vessels


which now lay beached


Ericsfiord


had a high


forecastle and


poop,


figure-heads
higher still.


benches


on stem and stern-posts that towered
The ships were only half-decked, with


for numerous rowers, and each had a crew


of sixty men.
When the gangway was laid to


the leading


ship


the first man who descended to the shore was of


striking


appearance.


It was not so much that


was tall and strong
0


enough to have been a worthy


foreman to the stoutest colonist


in Ericsfiord, as that


his demeanour was bland
was great intellectuality


countenance.


and courtly, while


there


in his dark handsome


Unlike most Norsemen, his hair and


beard were black and close-curling, and his costume,
though simple, was rich in quality.


The moment he landed, Biarne


stepped forward,


exclaiming,


" Karlsefin !"


The stranger's face lighted up with surprise and
pleasure.


" Biarne !"


he said, seizing


his hand, "I thought


you were in Iceland."


"So I


was,


but now I am in


Greenland,


right glad to be the first to welcome my friend."


12


high


in


with


he


and





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


13


Hereupon the two shook hands fervently; but,
not content with this, they seized each other in an
embrace, and their bearded mouths met with a
hearty masculine smack that did credit to their
hearts, and which it might have gratified the feel-
ings of an affectionate walrus to behold.













CIIAPTER II.

STRONG EMOTIONS ARE SUCCEEDED BY SUPPER, AND FOLLOWED BY DIS-
CUSSIONS ON DISCOVERY, WHICH END IN A WILD ALARM !


WHEN


Karlsefin


had been


introduced


to Leif


Ericsson, the former turned round and presented to


him and Biarne


his friend


Thorward, the captain


of the other


ship.


Thorward was not a tall man,


but was very broad and stout,


pleasing


cast of countenance.


and had a firm yet
Both Thorward and


Karlsefin were men of


age.
Are


about


thirty-five


you not on viking-cruise ?"


asked


years


of


Leif as


they walked up to the house together, while


members of


his household and the men of the


settlement assisted the crews to moor the ships.
"No; my friend Thorward and I are not men


of


war. We prefer the peaceful occupation of the mer-
chant, and, to say truth, it is not unprofitable."


"I would that more were of your way of


said Leif.
and glad


think-


"I do not love the bloody game


of


am I that we have got into a quiet


corner here in Greenland, where there is small occa-


male


the


inwr
war,




AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 15

sion for it. Biarne, too, is of our way of thinking,
as no doubt you already know."
"He has often told me so, and, if I mistake not,
has feathered his nest well by merchanting."
"He has," answered Biarne for himself, with a
laugh.
While they thus advanced, talking, little Olaf had
kept walking in front of the tall stranger, looking
up into his face with unbounded admiration. He
had never before seen any man so magnificent.
His father and Biarne, whom he had hitherto re-
garded as perfect specimens of mankind, were quite
eclipsed. Looking backward and walking forward
is an unsafe process at any time. So Olaf found
it on the present occasion, for he tripped over a
stone and in falling hit his little nose with such
violence that it soon became a big nose, and bled
profusely.
Karlsefin picked him up and set him on his legs.
"My poor boy, don't cry," he said.
"No fear of him crying," observed Leif; "he
never cries,-save when his feelings are hurt. When
you touch these he is addicted to blubbering.-Run,
lad, and Gudrid will wash you."
Olaf bounded into the house, where he was carried
off to a sleeping-room and there carefully sponged
by the sympathetic Gudrid. Oh !-" he exclaimed,
while his face was being washed.




16


THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


"Does it pain you much, dear?" said the pretty
aunt, interrupting him.
O'h he continued, enthusiastically, "I never
did see such a splendid man before."
"What splendid man, child ?"
Why, Karlsefin."
"And who is Karlsefin ?"
"The stranger who has come across the sea from
Norway."
"Indeed," said Gudrid.
Whether it was the sound of the stranger's voice
in the adjoining room, or anxiety to complete her
hospitable preparations, that caused Gudrid to bring
her operations on Olaf to an abrupt termination, we
cannot tell, but certain it is that she dried him
rather quickly and hastened into the outer hall,
where she was introduced to the two strangers in
due form as-widow Gudrid.
She had no difficulty in distinguishing which was
Olaf's "splendid man !" She looked at Karlsefin
and fell in love with him on the spot, but Gudrid
was modest, and not sentimental. It is only your
mawkishly sentimental people who are perpetually
tumbling into love, and out of it, and can't help
showing it. Cupid shot her right through the heart
with one powerful dart, and took her unawares too,
but she did not show the smallest symptom of
having been even grazed. She neither blushed nor




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


17


stammered, nor looked conscious, nor affected to
look unconscious. She was charmingly natural!
But this was not all: Karlsefin also fell in love
on the spot,-over head and ears and hair, and hat
to boot; neither did he show sign of it! After the
trifling ceremonies usual on an introduction were
over, he turned to continue his conversation with
Leif and paid no further attention to Gudrid, while
she busied herself in preparing supper. It is true
that he looked at her now and then, but of course
he looked at everybody, now and then, in the course
of the evening. Besides, it is well known what is
said about the rights of the feline species in refer-
ence to royalty. At supper Gudrid waited on the
guests, Karlsefin therefore, necessarily paid her some-
what more attention in accepting her civilities, but
Thorward was quite as attentive as he, so that the
most sharp-witted match-maker in the world would
have failed to note any symptom of anything what-
ever in regard to either of them.
Gudrid felt this a little, for she was accustomed
to admiration from the young men of Ericsfiord and
Heriulfness, and, you know, people don't like to
want what they are accustomed to. What Karlsefin
thought, he did not show and never mentioned,
therefore we cannot tell.
Now, good reader, pray do not run away with the
notion that this love affair is the plot on which the
B




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


story is to hinge !


Nothing of the kind.


It ran its


course much more rapidly, and terminated much


abruptly, than


you


probably


suppose-as the


sequel will show.


During


supper there was not much conversation,


for all were hungry, but afterwards, when cans of
home-brewed ale were handed round, the tongues


began to move.


Leif soon observed that Karlsefin


merely sipped his beer, but never once drank.


"You do not drink,"


he said,


pushing a


silver tankard towards him; come, fill i
"Thanks, I drink but sparingly," said


lp."


Karlsefin,


taking up the large tankard and admiring the work-
manship.


" In good sooth ye do," cried Biarne,


with a laugh;


" a mouse could hardly slake his thirst with all that
you have yet imbibed."


" I have been so long at sea,"


rejoined


Karlsefin,


smiling,


"that I have lost my relish for


had nothing but water with us.


beer.


Where got


this tankard, Leif, it is very massive and the work-


manship such as one seldom meets with
kings' houses ?"


" It belonged to a king! "


of pride.


replied Leif, with a look


" Good King Olaf Tryggvesson gave it to


me on an occasion when I chanced to do him some


small service.


Many


winters


have


passed


since


then."


18


more


large
C)


We
you


save


in




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


19


Indeed, Leif! then you must be a favourite with
King Olaf," exclaimed Karlsefin, "for I am the
bearer of another gift to you from his royal hand."
To me ?"
Ay. Hearing that I meant to sail over to Green-
land this summer, he asked me to bear you his re-
membrances, and gave me two slaves to present to
you in token of his continued friendship."
Leif's face beamed with satisfaction, and he imme-
diately filled and quaffed a bumper of ale to King
Olaf's health, which example was followed by Biarne
and the guests, as well as by the housecarles who sat
oifbenches in various parts of the hall drinking their
ale and listening to the conversation. Even little
Olaf-who had been named after the king of Nor-
way-filled his tankard to the brim with milk, and
quaffed it off with a swagger that was worthy of a
descendant of a long line of sea-kings, who could
trace their lineage back to Odin himself.
The slaves," continued Karlsefin, are from the
land of the Scots. Wouldst like to see a Scots-man,
Gudrid?" he added, turning to the widow who sat
near him.
I should like it much. I have heard of the Scots
in Iceland. 'Tis said they are a well-favoured race,
stout warriors, and somewhat fond of trading."
Leif and Biarne both laughed loud and long at
this.




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


"In good


truth


they are a stout race, and


like very wild-cats, as Biarne and I can testify;


as


to their being well-favoured, there can be no ques-
tion about that; though they are rather more rugged
than the people farther south, and-yes, they are good


traders, and exceedingly cautious men.


They think


well before they speak, and they speak slowly-some-


times they won't speak at all.


Ha! ha!


Here,


drink to the land


of the


Scot.


It is a grand


land, like our own dear old Norway."


"Brother-in-law,"


exclaimed


Gudrid, reproach-


fully,


" do you forget that you are an Icelander?"


"Forget !" exclaimed Leif, tossing back his yellow


locks, and


raising


the tankard


again


to pledge


native land; no, I shall


only forget Iceland when


forget to


live;


but I don't


forget, also, that


about


130


years


since my


great- grandfather


and his companions came over from


Norway to


Iceland.


Before that


it was


an unpeopled


in the Northern


Sea,


without name or history.-


'Twas
now."


as little known


then as


Vinland


is known


"By the way, Biarne," said


Karlsefin, turning to


his friend,
that, when


"the


mention


of Vinland reminds me


you and I met last, you did not give me


a full account of tl
omitted to mention


iat discovery,


seeing


that


your own share in it.


you
Tell


1 Iceland was colonized by Norsemen about the year 874.


20


fight


good


only


his


it is


rock




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


21


me how was it, and when and where was it? Nay,
have I unintentionally touched on a sore point?"
he added, on observing a slight shade of annoyance
pass over Biarne's usually cheerful countenance.
"He is a little sore about it," said Leif, laughing.
" Come, Biarne, don't be thin-skinned. You know
the saying, A dutiful son makes a glad father. You
had the best of reasons for acting as you did."
"Ay, but people don't believe in these best of
reasons," retorted Biarne, still annoyed, though
somewhat mollified by Leif's remarks.
"Never mind, 'tis long past now. Come, give us
the saga. 'Tis a good one, and will bear re-telling."
"Oh yes," exclaimed Olaf, with sparkling eyes,
for the boy dearly loved anything that bore the
faintest resemblance to a saga or story, "tell it,
Biarne."
"Not I," said Biarne; Leif can tell it as well as
I, if he chooses."
Well, I'll try," said Leif, laying his huge hand
on the table and looking earnestly at Karlsefin and
Thorward. The latter was a very silent man, and
had scarcely uttered a word all the evening, but he
appeared to take peculiar interest in Vinland, and
backed up the request that Leif would give an ac-
count of its discovery.
"About twenty summers ago," said Leif, "my
father, Eric the Red, and his friend Heriulf, Biarne's




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


over here from Iceland.'


very young man at the til
boy-but he was a man of


going


me-little


Biarne was a
more than a


enterprise, and


j


abroad, and possessed a merchant-ship


fond of
of his


own with which he gathered wealth, and, I will say
it, reputation also-though perhaps I should not say
that to his face.


"He was a good son, and used to be


by


turns


abroad


and


chanced to be away in


my


father


year with


his father.


Norway when Heriulf


Eric came over to Greenland.


On


He
and
re-


turning to Iceland he was so much disappointed to
hear of his father's departure that he would not


unload
custom
father.


his ship,
and take


but resolved


up


to follow


his winter abode


his old


with his


' Who will go with me to Greenland ?'


said


he to his men.


'Our expedition,'


'We will all


go,
b )?


said Biarne,


replied the men.


'will


be thought


foolish, as none of us have ever been on the Green-


land sea before.'


' We mind not that,' said the men


-so away they sailed for three


days and lost sight


of Iceland.


Then the wind


failed;


after that a


north


wind


and


a fog
ZD


set in,


and they knew not


where they were sailing


to; and this lasted many


days.


At length


the


knew the quarters of
day and a night, made


sun appeared.


the sky,
the land.


and,


Then they


after sailing


1 A.D. 986.


father, came


a year


22




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


23


"They saw that it was without mountains, was
covered with wood, and that there were small hills
inland. Biarne saw that this did not answer to the
description of Greenland; he knew he was too far
south, so he left the land on the larboard side, and
sailed two days and nights before they got sight of
land again. The men asked Biarne if this was
Greenland, but he said it was not, 'For on Green-
land,' he says, 'there are great snowy mountains,
but this is flat and covered with trees.' Here the
wind fell and the men wanted to go ashore, 'Be-
cause,' said they, 'we have need of wood and water.'
Biarne replied, 'Ye are not in want of either;' and
the men blamed him for this,-but the season was
far spent, he knew not how long it might take him
to find Greenland, so he had no time to spare.-
Was it not so ?" said Leif, appealing to his friend.
"It was so," replied Biarne, nodding gravely.
"Well then," continued Leif, "it must be told
that he ordered them to hoist the sail, which they
did, and, turning the bow from the land, kept the
sea for three days and nights, with a fine breeze
from the south-west, when a third time land was
seen, with high snowy mountains. Still Biarne
would not land, for it was not like what had been
reported of Greenland. They soon found it to be an
island, and, turning from it, stood out to sea, when
the breeze increased to a gale, forcing them to take




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


in a reef;


so they sailed


for three days and nights


more, and made land the fourth


time.


This turned


out to be Greenland, and quite close to Heriulf's


dwelling at Heriulfness.
faring, and dwelt with his


Biarne then gave up sea-


old father as long


as he


lived;


but since his death he has been sometimes at


sea and sometimes at home.


Now, these lands which


Biarne


discovered, were what I have since


called


Vinland."
"Yes," exclaimed Biarne, with a look of indigna-


tion;


"and when


afterwards


fared


to Norway


they blamed me for not going on shore and explor-
ing these lands-as if I, at the end of autumn, could


afford to put off time


in explorations, when it was


all I could do to make my port before


set in !"


the winter


He finished off by striking the table


with


his fist, seizing his
bottom.


tankard, and


draining


it to the


"I have often observed,"


said


Karlsefin,


quietly,


"that people who sit by their firesides at home, and
do nothing, are usually very severe and noisy in


their remarks on those who fare


abroad


and do


great things ; but that arises not so much from


ill-


will as ignorance."
But what of your own doings, Leif ?" said Thor-
ward, breaking in here impatiently.


"Well, I didn't do much," replied


took possession, and didn't


keep


it.


Leif.


" I only


This was the


24




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


25


way of it. Fourteen years after1 this voyage of
Biarne, I was seized with a desire to see these new
lands. I bought Biarne's ship from him, set sail
with a good crew, and found the lands, just as Biarne
had described them, far away to the south of Green-
land. I landed and gave names to some places. At
the farthest south point we built huts and spent the
winter, but returned home in spring. I called this
part Vinland, and this is the reason why: We had
a German with us named Tyrker, who is with me
Sphere still. One day Tyrker was lost; I was very
anxious about him, fearing that he had been killed
by wild beasts or Skraelingers,2 so I sent out parties
to search. In the evening we found him coming
home in a state of great excitement, having found
fruit which, he said, was grapes. The sight and
taste of the fruit, to which he was used in his own
land, had excited him to such an extent that we
thought he was drunk, and for some time he would
do nothing but laugh and devour grapes, and talk
German, which none of us understood. At last he
spoke Norse, and told us that he had found vines
and grapes in great abundance. We found that this
was true-at least we found a berry which was
quite new to us. We went off next day, and,
gathering enough to load our boat, brought them

1 About the year A.D. 1000.
2 Esquimaux or savages, probably Indians.
4





THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST.


away with us.


From this


circumstance I called it


Vinland.


Two years, after


that


my


brother


wald went to Vinland, wintered three years


Thor-
there,


was killed by the Skraelingers, and his men returned


to Greenland.


Then my youngest


brother, Thorstein,


who was Gudrid's husband, went off to Vinland to


fetch home the body of


our brother Thorwald, but


was driven back by stress of weather.


He was taken


ill soon after that,


and died.


Since then Gudrid


has dwelt with my household,


have her.


and glad we are


This is the whole story of Vinland;


if you want to know more about it you must
go on a voyage of discovery for yourself."


e


to


so
'en


"I should like nothing better,"
"if I could only-"


replied


Karlsefin,


At that moment


the door was burst violently


open, and a man with bloodshot eyes and labouring


breath rushed


in exclaiming,


"The


Skraelinger '


the Skraelinger are upon us !"
D~lyMrylMc


26













CHAPTER III.

DARK WAR-CLOUDS LOWER, BUT CLEAR AWAY WITHOUT A SHOWER-
VOICES AND LEGS DO GOOD SERVICE.

UP, caries, buckle on your war-gear !" cried Leif,


rising


hastily on hearing the announcement with


which the last chapter ended.
"Run, Thorward, call out our men," whispered
Karlsefin; I will stay tb learn what Leif means to


do.


Bring them all up to the door."


Thorward was gone almost before the sentence


was finished.


Leif and his housecarles, of


whom


there were ten present at the time, did not take


long to busk them for the fight.


The Norse


of old


were born, bred, and


buried-if


they escaped


being


killed and cut to pieces-in


the midst


of alarms.


Their armour was easily donned, and not very cum-


brous.
to his


Even while


men,


Gudrid


Leif was


giving


the first order


had run to the peg on which


hung his sword and helmet, and brought him these
implements of war.
My men and I shall be able to render you some




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


service, Leif," said


Karlsefin ;


"what do you intend


to do ?"


"Do !" exclaimed Leif with a grim


laugh, as


buckled on his sword, why, I shall give the Skrae-


lingers a tremendous fright,


that is all.


The rascals '


They


knew well that we were short-handed


now, and thought to take advantage of us;


just


but hah!


they do not seem to be aware that we chance to


have stout visitors with


us to-night.


So, lads, fol-


low me."


Biarne, meanwhile,


had darted


out on


the first


alarm,


and assembled all the men in the settlement,


so that when Leif,


Karlesfin, and


the


housemen


issued out of the cottage they found


about a dozen


men assembled, and others running up every moment


to join them.


Before these were put in array most


of the men of Karlsefin's ship, numbering forty, and


those


belonging to


Thorward,


numbering


thirty,


came up, so that when all were mustered they were
little if at all short of one hundred stout warriors.


The moon came out brightly at the time,


Leif chuckled as he watched Biarne


put the


and
men


hastily into marching order.


" Methought


you said that


war was


distasteful,"


observed Karlsefin, in some surprise.


"So it is, so it is,


friend," replied Leif, still laugh-


ing in a low tone; "but there will be no war to-


night.
0


Leave


your


bows


behind


you, lads,"


28


he


he





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


29


added, addressing the men; "you won't want them;
shield and sword will be enough. For the matter
of that, we might do without both. Now, lads,
follow my leading, and do as I bid you; advance
with as little noise as may be."
So saying, Leif led the way out of the little ham-
let towards the extremity of the ridge or spur of
the mountains that sheltered Ericsfiord from the
north-west.
Towards that same extremity another band of men
were hastening on the other side of the ridge. It
was a band of our hairy friends whom the Norsemen
called Skraelingers.
Truly there was something grand in the look and
bearing of the tall man with the flat face, as he led
his band to attack the warlike Norsemen, and there
was something almost sublime in the savage, reso-
lute aspect of the men who followed him-each
being armed with a large walrus spear, and each
being, moreover, an adept in the use of it.
Flatface (in default of a better, let that name
stick to him) had ascertained beyond a doubt that
the entire available force of Norsemen in Ericsfiord
had, in consequence of fishing and other expeditions,
been reduced to barely thirty fighting men. He
himself could muster a band of at least one hundred
and fifty good men and true-not to mention hairy,
a hundred and fifty seals having unwillingly contri-




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


buted their coats to cover these bloodthirsty Skrae-


lingers.


The Norsemen, Flatface knew,


men and bold, besides being large, but
to take them by surprise, and surely (he


were strong
he resolved
argued with


himself)


a hundred and fifty brave men with


will be more than a match for


thirty


spears


sleepy men


unarmed and in bed!


Flatface had screwed himself up with


such consi-


derations; made a few more inflammatory speeches


to his men,


by way of screwing them


then, a little before midnight, set forth
edition.


up also, and
on his expe-


Now it chanced that there was a man among
Norsemen who was a great hunter and trapper.


name was Tyrker-the same Tyrker mentioned by


Leif as


being the man who


had found grapes


Vinland.


Leif said he was a German, but he


so on no better authority than


said


the fact that he had


originally come to Norway from the south of Europe.


It is much more probable


that he was a Turk, for,


whereas the Germans are known to be a well-sized


handsome race


of fair men,


this Tyrker was an


dark wiry fellow, with


a high


forehead,


sharp eyes, and a small face;


but he was extremely


active, and, although an elderly man, few


of the


youths


in Ericsfiord could beat him at


feats requir-


ing dexterity.


whether


German or Turk,


Tyrker was an


the
His


in


10uly


little


But,


300




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


31


enthusiastic trapper of white, or arctic foxes. These
creatures being very numerous in that part of Green-
land, he was wont to go out at all hours, late and
early, to visit his traps. Hence it happened that,
on the night in question, Tyrker found himself in
company with two captured arctic foxes at the ex-
tremity of the mountain spur before referred to.
He could see round the corner of the spur into
the country beyond, but as the country there was
not attractive, even at its best, he paid no attention
to it. He chanced, however, to cast upon it one
glance after setting his traps, just as he was about
to return home. That glance called forth a steady
look, which was followed by a stare of surprise, and
the deep guttural utterance of the word "zz-gran-
dimaghowl!" which, no doubt, was Turkish, at that
ancient date, for "hallo !"
It was the band of hairy creatures that had met
his astonished sight. Tyrker shrank behind the
spur and peeped round it for a few seconds to make
quite sure. Then, turning and creeping fairly out
of sight, he rose and bounded back to the hamlet,
as though he had been a youth of twenty. As we
have seen, he arrived, gasping, in time to warn his
friends.
Between the hamlet and the spur where Tyrker's
traps were set there were several promontories, or
projections from the cliffs, all of which had to be




34 THE PIONEERS.

of being studied by Marshal Bernadotte, with the
view of enabling that warrior to devise a round-
about and unlooked-for attack on Canada,-in
rear as it were,-from the region of the northern
wilderness-a fact which is well worthy 'of re-
cord !'
None of these things loomed on the mind of
the modest though romantic and enterprising
man, for at that time he was only at the begin-
ning of his career of discovery.
It may not be out of place here to say a word
or two as to the early career of the hero whose
footsteps we are about to follow.
He was a Highlander, to begin with; and
possessed all the fire and determination peculiar
to that race. At an early period of life he was
led to engage in commercial enterprises in the
country north-west of Lake Superior, joined the
North-west Fur Company of Canada in 1784,
and went into the Indian country the following
spring. It is not necessary to say more than
that Alexander Mackenzie proved himself to be
a first-rate fur-trader at a time when the fur
1 See Appendix for an interesting letter on this subject.



































































































































S






































































S














































































































xc-- -_____

l-~~ -_





__________ /7 rqiu

Ii -, // fl/Ii
I, HR~L























S _____\- \ -N's


THE SKRAELINGERS APPROACHING.-PAGE 33.


___~
c
---- -
-------
~---- ---I
-- ----

----


------~--=--,1~
=~------r------
~-------
--------------


'---
r=------;




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


33


the hamlet. There was something quite awe-in-
spiring in the manner of their approach. Evidently
Flatface dreaded a surprise, for he put each leg very
slowly in advance of the other, and went on tip-toe,
glancing quickly on either side between each step.
His followers-in a compact body, in deep silence
and with bated breath-followed his steps and his
example.
When they came to the place where the men
crouched in ambush, Leif took up a large stone and
cast it high over their heads. So quietly was this
done that none even of his own party heard him
move or saw the stone, though they heard it fall
with a thud on the sand beyond.
The Skraelingers heard it too, and stopped
abruptly-each man on one leg, with the other leg
and his arms more or less extended, just as if he
had been suddenly petrified. So in truth he had
been-with horror !
To meet an open enemy, however powerful,
would have been a pleasure compared with that
slow nervous advance in the midst of such dead
silence! As nothing followed the sound, however,
the suspended legs began to descend slowly again
towards the ground, when-
Leif sneezed!
If Greenland's icy mountains had become one
monstrous polar bear, whose powers of voice, frozen
C




34 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

for prolonged ages, had at last found vent that night
in one concentrated roar, the noise could scarcely
have excelled that which instantly exploded from
the Norsemen.
The effect on the Skraelingers was almost miracu-
lous. A bomb-shell bursting in the midst of a hundred
and fifty Kilkenny cats could not have been more
effective, and the result would certainly have borne
some marks of resemblance. Each hairy creature
sprang nearly his own height into the air, and
wriggled while there, as if impatient to turn and fly
before reaching the ground. Earth regained, the
more active among them overshot and overturned
the clumsy, whereby fifty or sixty were instantly
cast down, but these rose again like spring-jacks
and fled, followed by a roar of laughter from their
foes, which, mingled as it was with howls and yells,
did infinitely more to appal the Skraelingers than
the most savage war-cry could have done.
But they were followed by more than laughter.
The Norsemen immediately gave chase-still yelling
and roaring as they ran, for Leif set the example,
and his followers remembered his threat.
Karlsefin and Biarne kept one on each side of
Leif, about a pace behind him.
"If they fight as well as they run," observed
the former, "they must be troublesome neigh-
bours."




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


35


"They are not bad fighters," replied Leif; "but
sometimes they deem it wise to run."
"Not unlike to other people in that respect," said
Biarne ; "but it 'seems to me that we might over-
haul them if we were to push on."
He shot up to Leif as he spoke, but the latter
checked him.
"Hold back, Biarne ; I mean them no harm, and
wish no bloodshed-only they must have a good
fright. The lads, no doubt, would like to run in
and make short work of them; but I intend to
breathe the lads, which will in the end do just as
well as fighting to relieve their feelings.-Enough.
It is ill talking and running."
They were silent after that, and ran thus for fully
an hour, at nearly the top of their speed. But Leif
sometimes checked his men, and sometimes urged
them on, so that they fancied he was chasing with
full intent to run the Skraelingers down. When
the fugitives showed signs of flagging, he uttered a
tremendous roar, and his men echoed it, sending
such a thrill to the hearts of the Skraelingers that
they seemed to recover fresh wind and strength;
then he pushed after them harder than ever, and so
managed that, without catching or killing one, he
terrified them almost out of their wits, and ran them
nearly to death.
At last they came to a place where there was an




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


abrupt bend in the mountains.


to let them go.
cliff round which


Here Leif resolved


When they were pretty near the
the path turned, he put on what,


in modern sporting phraseology, is termed a spurt,


and came up so close


those


in rear began


with the flying


to glance


band


despairingly


their shoulders.


Suddenly Leif gave vent to a roar,


into which


he threw all his,


remaining


strength.


It was taken up


and prolonged


by his men.


horror-struck Skraelingers


shrieked in reply, swept


like a torrent round the projecting


appeared!
Leif stopped at


cliff,


and dis-


once, and held up his hand.


his men stopped short also, and though


All


they heard


the Skraelingers


still howling


as they fled, no one


followed them any farther.


Indeed, most of


Norsemen were panting vehemently, and rather glad
than otherwise to be allowed to halt.
There were, however, two young men among them
-tall, strong-boned, and thin, but with broad shoul-


ders, and grave, earnest, though not exactly


hand-


some countenances-who appeared to be perfectly


cool and in good wind
noticed them at once.


after their


"Yonder youths seem to think
of thing," he said to Karlsefin.


little


of this


You
them.


L


are right, Leif;


it is


mere


child's


play to


These are the two Scots-the famous run-


36


that
over


The


the


long


run.


Leif


sort





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


37


ners-whom I was charged by King Olaf to pre-
sent to you. Why, these men, I'll engage to say,
could overtake the Skraelingers even yet, if they
chose."
Say you so?" cried Leif. "Do they speak
Norse ?"
"Yes; excellently well."
"Their names?"
"The one is Heika, the other Hake."
Ho Hake and Heika, come hither," cried Leif,
beckoning to the men, and hastening round the point,
where the Skraelingers could be seen nearly a mile
off, and still running as if all the evil spirits of the
North were after them.
See there, caries; think you that ye could over-
take these rascals ?"
The Scots looked at each other, nodded, smiled,
and said they thought they could.
"Do it, then. Let them see how you can use
your legs, and give them a shout as you draw near;
but have a care: do them no hurt, and see that they
do no injury to you. Take no arms; your legs
must suffice on this occasion.
The Scots looked again at each other, and laughed,
as if they enjoyed the joke; then they started off
like a couple of deer at a pace which no Norseman
legs had ever before equalled, or even approached.
Leif, Biarne, and the men gazed in speechless




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


wonder, much to the amusement of


Thorward, while Hake and


Karlsefin and


Heika made straight for


the flying


band and came up with them.


They


shouted wildly as they drew near.


looked


The Skraelingers


back, and seeing only two unarmed


1men,1


stopped to receive them.
"As the saying goes," remarked


Biarne,


" a stern


chase is a long one; but to-night proves the truth
of that other saying, that there is no rule without
an exception."
"What are they doing now ?" cried Leif, laughing.
"See-they are mad !"


Truly it seemed as


if they were;


for, after


sepa-


rating


and


coursing


twice completely


round


astonished natives, the two Scots performed a species
of war-dance before them, which had a sort of fling


about it, more easily conceived


than


described.


the middle of this they made a dart at the group


In
so


sudden and


swift


that Hake managed to overturn


Flatface


the same
energetic


with a tremendous


to his second


cuff.


buffet,


and


in command


The Skraelingers were


Heika


with


taken so


thoroughly by surprise


that the


Scots


had sheered


off and got


out of reach


before a spear could be


thrown.
Of course a furious rush was made at them, but
the hairy men might as well have chased the wind.


After tormenting


and tantalizing


them


a little


38


the


did


an





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


longer, the


friends
them,


Scots


returned at


full speed


, and the Skraelingers, glad
hastened to seek the shelter


to their


I to be rid of
of the gloomy


gorge


from which


they had originally issued,


"like


a wolf on the fold."


39













CHAPTER IV.

IMPORTANT EVENTS TRANSPIRE, WHICH END IN A VOYAGE OF
DISCOVERY.

SOME weeks afterwards, Karlsefin and Gudrid
went down to walk together on the sea-beach. It
would appear that lovers were as fond of rambling
together in those olden times as they are in these
modern days. It was evening when they went to
ramble thus-another evidence of similarity in taste
between the moderns and ancients.
Karlsefin," said Gudrid, stopping at the margin
of the fiord, and looking pensively towards the
horizon, where golden clouds and air and sea ap-
peared to mingle harmoniously, "I wonder that you,
with good ships and many stout men and plenty of
means, should choose to remain in this barren spot,
instead of searching out the famous Vinland and
making a settlement there."
"This barren spot is very bright to me, Gudrid;
I have no desire to leave it yet a while. Since you
and I were betrothed the ocean has lost its attrac-
40




AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


41


tions. Besides, would you have me set out on a
voyage of discovery at the beginning of winter ?"
"Nay; but you do not even talk about going
when spring comes round."
"Because I have other things to talk of, Gudrid."
"I fear me that you are 'a lazy man," returned the
widow, with a smile, "and will prove but a sorry
husband. Just think," she added, with sudden
animation, "what a splendid country it must be;
and what a desirable change for all of us. Thick
and leafy woods like those of old Norway, instead
of these rugged cliffs and snow-clad hills. Fields of
waving grass and rye, instead of moss-covered rocks
and sandy soil. Trees large enough to build houses
and merchant ships, instead of willow bushes that
are fit for nothing except to save our poor cattle
from starvation when the hay crop runs out; be-
sides, longer sunshine in winter and more genial
warmth all the year round, instead of howling winds
and ice and snow. Truly I think our adopted
home here has been wofully misnamed."
"And yet I love it, Gudrid, for I find the atmo-
sphere genial and the sunshine very bright."
"Foolish man !" said Gudrid, with a little laugh.
"And then," she added, recurring to her theme,
"there are grapes,-though, to be sure, I know not
what these are, never having tasted them. Biarne
says they are very good-do you think so too ?"




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


" They are magnificent," answered Karlsefin.


southern lands, where Tyrker comes from, they have


a process whereby they can make a drink


grapes,


which


maddens


youth and


quickens


pulse of age,-something like our own beer."


"It does not


please me to hear


that,"


replied


Gudrid gravely; some of our caries are too fond of


When old Heriulf was


sick,


a little


of it did


him good,


and when


Eric the Red was


in his last


days he seemed to gather a little strength and com-
6 0D


fort from


beer;


but I never could perceive


that it


ever did anything to


young men except make them


boast, and talk


nonsense,


and look


foolish,-or,


what is worse, quarrel and fight."
"Right, Gudrid, right," said Karlsefin; "my opinion


at least
or wrong
g-


is the same as yours, whether


There


.


it be right


is some reason in applying heat


to cold, but it seems to me unnecessary to add
to warmth, artificial strength to natural vigour,
b


it is dangerous sometimes to add fuel to fire.
6~~ ~ 3llVL113 U ULICL U 1~


heat
and


I am


glad


you think as I think


well that man and wife should


on this point, for it is
.d be agreed in matters


of importance.-But to return to Vinland:


I have


been
though]


thinking much about it


h


saying


little,-for


since


came


here,


it becomes a man to be


silent and circumspect in regard to unformed plans.


My mind is to go thither next spring,
one condition."


but only on


42


"In


from


the


beer.




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


And what may that be?" asked Gudrid, looking
up with a little surprise, and some interest.
That you shall go with me, Gudrid; for which
end it will be needful that you and I should wed
this winter."
Gudrid could not help blushing a little and look-
ing down, for Karlsefin, despite his suavity, had a
way with him, when thoroughly in earnest, that was
very impressive. She did not hesitate, however,
but answered with straightforward candour, I will
not say nay to that if my brother Leif is willing."
"It is settled then," replied Karlsefin decisively,
"for Leif has already told me that he is willing if
you are, and so-"
At this interesting point in the conversation they
were interrupted by a loud merry laugh not very
far from them, and next moment little Olaf, starting
out from behind a bush, ran shouting into Gudrid's
extended arms. Oh, what do you think?" he
exclaimed, "aunt Freydissa has come over from
Heriulfness, and is in such a rage because Biarne
has told her that Thorward has been making love
to his cousin Astrid, and-"
"Hush, boy," said Gudrid, covering his mouth
with her hand, "you should not talk so of your
aunt. Besides, you know that it is an evil thing to
get the name of a tale-bearer."
I did not think it was tale-bearing," replied the


43




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


lad, somewhat


abashed


"for it is no secret.


was there, and


Astrid


herself,


and all the house-


caries


in the hall must have


heard


her,


for she


spoke v
her give
in !"


ery loud.


And oh! you should have seen


Thorward the cold


shoulder when he came


" Well, well, Olaf, hold


your


noisy


tongue,"


Gudrid,


laughing,


"and come, tell me how would


you like to go to Vinland ?"
"Like to go to Vinland !"


echoed


ing an ardent gaze full on Karlsefin,


there, sir ?
Karlsefin
in jumping


the boy, turn-
"are you going


Will you take me ?"


laughed,


and said,


to conclusions,


" You are too quick


child.


Perhaps I may


go there;


but you have not yet answered


Gudrid's


question-would you like to go?"
I would like it well," replied Olaf, with a bright


look of hopeful


expectation that said far more than


words could have expressed.
Just then Thorward was seen approaching along


the beach.


His brows were knit,


his lips


pursed,


and his


eyes


grossed with
his friends.


" Here he


fixed on the ground.
his thoughts that he did


comes,"9


He was so en-
I not perceive


said Karlsefin-" in the blues


evidently, for he does not see us."


" We had


better


leave you to his company," said


Gudrid, laughing; a man i' the blues is no pleasure


44


Leif


said




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


45


to a woman.-Come, Olaf, you and I shall to the
dairy and see how the cattle fare."
Olaf's capacity for imbibing milk and cream
being unlimited, he gladly accepted this invitation,
and followed his aunt, while Karlsefin advanced to
meet his friend.
"How now, Thorward, methinks an evil spirit
doth possess thee !"
"An evil spirit !" echoed Thorward, with a wrath-
ful look; "nay, a legion of evil spirits possess me !
A plague on that fellow Biarne: he has poisoned
the ears of Freydissa with lies about that girl
Astrid, to whom I have never whispered a sweet
word since we landed."
"I trust you have not whispered sour words to
her," said Karlsefin, smiling.
"And Freydissa, forsooth, gives me the cold
shoulder," continued the exasperated Norseman, not
noticing the interruption, as if I were proved guilty
by the mere assertion."
"It is my advice to you, Thorward, that you re-
turn the compliment, and give the cold shoulder to
Freydissa. The woman has a shrewish temper;
she is a very vixen, and will lead you the life of a
dog if you marry her."
"I had rather," said Thorward between his teeth,
and stamping, live a dog's life with Freydissa than
live the life of a king without her !"




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


Karlsefin laughed at this, and Thorward, taking
offence, said fierily, and with some scorn-


"Thinkest thou that because thy


Gudrid


is so


smooth-tongued she is an angel?"
"That is what I am inclined to think," answered
Karlsefin, with a smile that still further exasperated
his friend.
"Perchance you may find yourself mistaken," said


Thorward.


" Since you are so free with your warn-


ings, let me remind you that although the course of


your courtship runs smooth,


there is an old proverb


-descended


from


Odin


himself,


believe-which


assures us that true love never did so run.


" Then I recall my words,


Thorward, and congratu-


late you on your true love-for assuredly your court-
ship runs in an uncommonly rugged course."


At this Thorward turned on


his heel


and walked


away in a towering passion.
It so happened that, on drawing near to Brattalid,


he met Biarne coming in the opposite


direction.


Nothing could have pleased him better-for in the
state of his mind at the time he would have turned
savagely on himself, had that been possible, in order
to relieve his feelings.


"So !"


he cried,


confronting


Biarne,


"well met!


Tell me, Biarne, didst thou poison the ears of


dissa


by telling


her that I had been courting


cousin Astrid ?"


46


rey-
thy


F




OR AM1ERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


47


Biarne, who was not aware of the consequences of
what he had said in jest, felt inclined to laugh, but
he checked himself and flushed somewhat, not being
accustomed to be addressed in such haughty tones.
Instead of explaining the matter, as he might other-
wise have done, he merely said, "I did."
"Liar !" exclaimed Thorward fiercely, for he was
a very resolute man when roused; "go, tell her that
the assertion was a falsehood. Go now, and come
back to tell me thou hast done it, else will I chop
thy carcase into mince-meat. Go; I will await
thee here."
He laid his hand upon his sword, but Biarne said
quietly, "I go, sir;" and, turning round, hastened
up to the hamlet.
Thorward could scarcely believe his eyes, for
Biarne was fully as stout as himself, and somewhat
taller, besides having the look of a courageous man.
He had issued his imperative mandate more as a
defiance and challenge than anything else, so that
he gazed after the retreating Biarne with mingled
feelings of surprise, contempt, and pity; but sur-
prise predominated. He had not long to wait, how-
ever, for in about ten minutes Biarne returned.
"Well, have you told her !"
"I have," replied Biarne.
"Hah!" exclaimed Thorward, very much per-
plexed, and not knowing what to say next.




48 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

But, Thorward," said Biarne, after a momentary


pause,


" methinks that you and I must fight now.


"With all my heart," answered Thorward, much
relieved, and again grasping his sword.


" Nay, not with such weapons,"


said Biarne,


ping up
ship."


to him,


" but


with


the weapons


of friend-


With


that he bestowed


such a hearty buffet


Thorward's left ear that it turned the irascible man


head over heels,


and laid him at


full length on the


sand.
Thorward rose slowly, being somewhat stunned,


with a confused


impression


that there was some-


thing
Z:


wrong with


his head.


Before


he had quite


recovered, Biarne burst into a laugh and seized
by the hand.


him


Freydissa
paused.


bids me tell


you-" he said,


The pause was intentional.


He saw that Thor-


ward was on the point of snatching away his


hand


and returning
he restrained


the blow or drawing


himself


his sword;


but


in order to hear Freydissa's


message.
I~eS l0e


" She


bids me tell


you,"


repeated Biarne,


" that


you are a goose.R
This was not calculated to soothe an angry man,


but Thorward


reflected that


the epithet was figura-


tive, and bore a peculiar signification when uttered


step-


on


and




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


49


by a woman; he therefore continued his self-re-
straint and waited for more.
"She also said," added Biarne, "that she never
for a moment believed my statement (which, by the
way, was only made in jest), and that she thinks
you deserve a good buffet on the ear for taking the
thing up so hotly. Agreeing with her entirely in
this, I have fulfilled her wish and given you your
deserts. Moreover, she expects you to accompany
her to Heriulfness to-night. So now," said Biarne,
releasing Thorward's hand and touching his sword
hilt, if you are still inclined-."
"Well, well," said Thorward, whose visage, while
his friend was speaking, had undergone a series of
contortions indicative of a wild conflict of feelings
in his breast, well, well, I am a goose, and deserved
the buffet. After all, I did call you a liar, so we are
quits, Biarne-tit for tat. Come, let us shake hands
and go up to Leif's cottage. You said Freydissa
was there, I think."
During that winter Karlsefin married Gudrid and
Thorward Freydissa, and, in the following spring,
they embarked in Karlsefin's ship-with a large
party of men, women, children, and cattle-and set
sail for Vinland.



D












CHAPTER V.

FREYDISSA SHOWS HER TEMPER AND A WHALE CHECKS IT-POETICAL
AND OTHER TOUCHES.

THE expedition which now set out for Vinland
was on a much larger scale than any of the expe-
ditions which had preceded it. Biarne and Leif had
acted the part of discoverers only-not colonizers
-and although previous parties had passed several
winters in Vinland, they had not intended to take'
up a permanent abode there-as was plain from
the fact that they brought neither women nor flocks
nor herds with them. Karlsefin, on the contrary,
went forth fully equipped for colonization.
His ship, as we have said, was 'a large one, with a.
decked poop and forecastle, fitted to brave the most
tempestuous weather-at least as well fitted to do
so as were the ships of Columbus-and capable of
accommodating more than a hundred people. He
took sixty men with him and five women, besides
his own wife and Thorward's. Thorward himself,
and Biarne, accompanied the expedition, and also
Olaf-to his inexpressible joy, but Leif preferred to
t0 -W




AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


51


'remain at hOme, and promised to take good care of
Thorward's ship, which was left behind. Astrid
was one of the five women who went with this
expedition; the other four were Gunhild, Thora,
Sigrid, and Bertha. Gunhild and Sigrid were wives
to two of Biarne's men. Thora was handmaiden,
to Gudrid; Bertha handmaid to Freydissa. Of all
the women Bertha was the sweetest and most beau-
tiful, and she was also very modest and good-tem-
pered, which was a fortunate circumstance, because
her mistress Freydissa had temper enough, as Biarne
used to remark, for a dozen women. Biarne was
fond of teasing Freydissa; but she liked Biarne, and
sometimes took his pleasantries well-sometimes
ill.
It was intended that, when the colony was fairly
established, the ship should be sent back to Green-
land to fetch more of the men's wives and children,
A number of cattle, horses, and sheep were also
carried on this occasion to Vinland. These were
stowed in the waist or middle of the vessel, between
the benches where the rowers sat when at work.
The rowers did not labour much at sea, as the
vessel was at most times able to advance under
sail. During calms, however, and when going into
Creeks, or on landing -also in doubling capes
when the wind was not suitable-the oars were
of the greatest- value. Karlsefin and the principal




52 THE NORSEMLN IN THE WEST

people slept under the high poop. A number of
the men slept under the forecastle, and the rest lay
in the waist near the cattle-sheltered from the
weather by tents or awnings which were called tilts.
It may perhaps surprise some readers to learn
that men could venture in such vessels to cross the
northern seas from Norway to Iceland, and thence
to Greenland; but it is not so surprising when we
consider the small size of the vessels in which
Columbus afterwards crossed the Atlantic in safety,
and when we reflect that those Norsemen had been
long accustomed, in such vessels, to traverse the
ocean around the coasts of Europe in all directions
-round the shores of Britain, up the Baltic, away
to the Faroe Islands, and up the Mediterranean even
as far as the Black Sea. In short, the Norsemen of
old were magnificent seamen, and there can be no
question that much of the ultimate success of Bri-
tain on the sea is due not only to our insular posi-
tion but also to the not-sufficiently-appreciated fact
that the blood of the hardy and adventurous vikings
of Norway still flows in our veins.
It was a splendid spring morning when Karlsefin
hoisted his white-and-blue sail, and dropped down
Ericsfiord with a favouring breeze, while Leif and
his people stood on the stone jetty at Brattalid, and
waved hats and shawls to their departing friends.
For Olaf, Thora, and Bertha it was a first voyage,




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


53


and as the vessel gradually left the land behind, the
latter stood at the stern gazing wistfully towards the
shore, while tears flowed from her pretty blue eyes
and chased each other over her fair round face-for
Bertha left an old father behind her in Greenland.
"Don't cry, Bertha," said Olaf, putting his fat
little hand softly into that of the young girl.
"Oh I shall perhaps never see him again," cried
Bertha, with another burst of tears.
Yes, you will," said Olaf, cheerily. "You know
that when we get comfortably settled in Vinland we
shall send the ship back for your father, and mine
too, and for everybody in Ericsfiord and Heriulfness.
Why, we're going to forsake Greenland altogether
and never go back to it any more. Oh I am so glad."
"I wish, I wish I had never come," said Bertha,
with a renewed flow of tears, for Olaf's consolations
were thrown away on her.
It chanced that Freydissa came at that moment
upon the poop, where Karlsefin stood at the helm,
and Gudrid with some others were still gazing at
the distant shore.
Freydissa was one of those women who appear
to have been born women by mistake-who are
always chafing at their unfortunate fate, and endea-
vouring to emulate-even to overwhelm-men; in
which latter effort they are too frequently suc-
cessful. She was a tall elegant woman of about




THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


thirty


years


of


age,


with


a decidedly


handsome


face, though somewhat sharp- of feature.


She


pos-


sessed a powerful will, a shrill voice and a vigorous
frame, and was afflicted with a short, violent temper.


She was decidedly a masculine woman.


not which


We know


is the more disagreeable of the -two-a


masculine woman or an effeminate man.
But perhaps the most prominent feature


character was


in her


her volubility when enraged,-the


copiousness of her vocabulary and the tremendous
force with which she shot forth her ideas and abuse
in short abrupt sentences.
Now, if there was one thing more than another


that roused the ire


of Freydissa, it was the exhibi-


tion of feminine weakness in


the shape of


tears.


She appeared to think that


reference
promised


the credit of her sex


in


to firmness and self-command was corn-


by such


weakness.


She herself


never


by


any chance, and she was always


when she saw any other woman relieve


in that way.


and found


When, therefore,


she


her own handmaid with


enraged


her feel-
came on


her pretty


face swelled, or, as she expressed it,


grutten," and heard her express a wish that she had


never left home, she lost command


of herself-a


loss that she always found it easy to come by-and,


seizing


Bertha


by


the shoulder, ordered


her down


into the cabin instantly.


54


wept


ings
deck
little


"be-




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


Bertha sobbingly obeyed, and Freydissa followed.
"Don't be hard on her, poor soul," murmured Thor-
ward.
Foolish fellow! How difficult it is for man-
ancient or modern-to learn when to hold his
tongue! That suggestion would have fixed Frey-
dissa's determination if it had not been fixed before,
and poor Bertha would certainly have received "a
hearing," or a "blowing-up," or a "setting down,"
such as she had not enjoyed since the date of
Freydissa's marriage, had it not been for the fortu-
nate circumstance that a whale took it into its great
thick head to come up, just then, and spout mag-
nificently quite close to the vessel.
The sight was received with a shout by the men,
a shriller shout by the women, and a screech of sur-
prise and delight by little Olaf, who would certainly
have gone over the side in his eagerness, had not
Biarne caught him by the skirts of his tunic.
This incident happily diverted the course of
Freydissa's thoughts. Curiosity overcame indig-
nation, and Bertha was reprieved for the time
being. Both mistress and maid hastened to the
side of the ship; the anger of the one evaporated
and the tears of the other dried up when they saw
the whale rise not more than a hundred yards from
the ship. It continued to do this for a considerable
time, sometimes appearing on one side, sometimes




56


THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


on the other; now at the stern, anon at the bow.
In short it seemed as if the whale had taken the
ship for a companion, and were anxious to make its
acquaintance. At last it went down and remained
under water so long that the voyagers began to think
it had left them, when Olaf suddenly gave a shriek
of delight and surprise:-" Oh Oh! OH !" he ex-
claimed, looking and pointing straight down into the
water, here is the whale-right under the ship !"
And sure enough there it was, swimming slowly
under the vessel, not two fathoms below the keel-
its immense bulk being impressively visible, owing
to the position of the observers, and its round eyes
staring as if in astonishment at the strange creature
above.' It expressed this astonishment, or whatever
feeling it might be, by coming up suddenly to the
surface, thrusting its big blunt head, like the bow
of a boat, out of the sea, and spouting forth a column
of water and spray with a deep snort or snore-to
the great admiration of the whole ship's crew, for,
although most of the men were familiar enough
with whales, alive and dead, they had never, in all
probability, seen one in such circumstances before.
Four or five times did the whale dive under the
vessel in this fashion, and then it sheered off with a
contemptuous flourish of its tail, as if disgusted with

1 The author has seen a whale in precisely similar circumstances in
a Norwegian fiord.




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 57

the stolid unsociable character of the ship, which
seen from a submarine point of view must have
looked uncommonly like a whale, and quite as
big !
This episode, occurring so early in the voyage, and
trifling though it was, tended to create in the minds
of all-especially of the women and the younger
people-a feeling of interest in the ocean, and an
expectation of coming adventure, which, though not
well defined, was slightly exciting and agreeable.
Bertha, in particular, was very grateful to that
whale, for it had not only diverted her thoughts a
little from home-leaving and given her something
new to think and talk about, but it had saved her
from Freydissa and a severe scold.
The first night at sea was fine, with bright moon-
light, and a soft wind on the quarter that carried
them pleasantly over the rippling sea, and every-
thing was so tranquil and captivating that no one felt
inclined to go to rest. Karlsefin sat beside the helm,
guiding the ship and telling sagas to the group of
friends who stood, sat, or reclined on the deck and.
against the bulwarks of the high poop. He repeated
long pieces of poetry, descriptive of the battles and
adventures of their viking forefathers, and also gave
them occasional pieces of his own composing, in
reference to surrounding circumstances and the
enterprise in which they were then embarked,-for




58


THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


Karlsefin was himself a skald or poet, although he
pretended not to great attainments in that way.
From where they sat.the party on the poop could
see that the men on the high forecastle were similarly
engaged, for they had gathered together in a group,
and their heads were laid together as if listening
intently to one of their number who sat in the
centre of the circle. Below, in the waist of the
ship, some humorous character appeared to be
.holding his mates enchained, for long periods of
comparative silence-in which could be heard the
monotonous tones of a single voice mingled with
occasional soft lowing from the cattle-were suddenly
broken by bursts of uproarious laughter, which, how-
ever, quickly subsided again, leaving prominent the
occasional' lowing and the prolonged monotone.
Everything in and around the ship, that night,
breathed of harmony and peace-though there was
little knowledge among them of Him who is the
Prince of Peace. We say "little knowledge, be-
cause Christianity had only just begun to dawn
among the Norsemen at that time, and there were
some on board of that discovery-ship who were tinged
with the first rays of that sweet light which, in the
person of the Son of God, was sent to lighten the world
and to shine more and more unto the perfect day.
Now," said Karlsefin, at the conclusion of one
of his stories, that is the saga of Halfdan the Black





OR AMERICA BEFORE'COLUMBUS. 5 9

-at least it is part of his saga; but, friends, it
seems to me that we must begin a saga of our own,
for it is evident that if we are successful in this
venture we shall have something to relate when we
return to Greenland, and we must all learn to tell
our saga in the same words, for that is the only way
in which truth can be handed down to future gener-
ations, seeing that when men are careless in learning
the truth they are apt to distort it so that honest
men are led into telling lies unwittingly. They say
that the nations'of the south have invented a process
whereby with a sharp-pointed tool they fashion
marks on skins to represent words, so that once put
down in this way a saga never changes. Would
that we Norsemen understood that process!" said
Karlsefin meditatively.
"It seems to me," said Biarne, who reclined on
the deck, leaning against the weather bulwarks and
running his fingers playfully through Olaf's fair
curls, It seems to me that it were better to bestow
the craft of the skald on the record of our voyage,
for then the measure and the rhyme would chain
men to the words, and so to the truth-that is, sup-
posing they get truth to start with! Come, Karlsefin,
begin our voyage for us."
All present seemed to agree to that proposal, and
urged Karlsefin to begin at once.
The skipper-for such indeed was his position in





60 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

the ship-though a modest man, was by no means
bashful, therefore, after looking round upon the moon-
lit sea for a few minutes, he began as follows:-

When western waves were all unknown,
And western fields were all unsown,
When Iceland was the outmost bound
That roving viking-keels had found-
Gunbiorn then-Ulf Kraka's son-
Still farther west was forced to run
By furious gales, and there saw land
Stretching abroad on either hand.
Eric of Iceland, called the Red,
Heard of the news and straightway said-
'This western land I '11 go and see;
Three summers hence look out for me.'
He went; he landed; stayed awhile,
And wintered first on Eric's Isle;'
Then searched the coast both far and wide,
Then back to Iceland o'er the tide.
'A wondrous land is this,' said he,
And called it Greenland of the sea.
Twenty and five great ships sailed west
To claim this gem on Ocean's breast.
With man and woman, horn and hoof,
And bigging for the homestead roof.
Some turned back-in heart but mice-
Some sank amid the Northern ice.
Half reached the land, in much distress,
At Ericsfiord and Heriulfness.
Next, Biarne-IHeriulf's doughty son-
Sought to trace out the aged one.1
From Norway sailed, but missed his mark;
Passed snow-topped Greenland in the dark
And came then to a new-found land-
But did not touch the tempting strand;

1 His father.





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


61


For winter winds oppressed him sore
And kept him from his father's shore.
Then Leif, the son of Eric, rose
And straightway off to Biarne goes,
Buys up his ship, takes all his men,
Fares forth to seek that land agen.
Leif found the land ; discovered more,
And spent a winter on the shore;
Cut trees and grain to load the ship,
And pay them for the lengthened trip.
Named Hella-land' and Markland' too,
And saw an island sweet with dew!
And grapes in great abundance found,
So named it Vinland all around.
But after that forsook the shore,
And north again for Greenland bore.
And now-we cross the moonlit seas
To search this land of grapes and trees.
Biarne, Thorward, Karlsefin-
Go forth this better land to win,
With men and cattle not a few,
And household gear and weapons too;
And, best of all, with women dear,
To comfort, counsel, check, and cheer.
Thus far we 've made a prosperous way,
God speed us onward every day!"

They all agreed that this was a true account of
the discovery of Vinland and of their own expedi-
tion as far as it had gone, though Gudrid said it was
short, and Freydissa was of opinion that there was
very little in it.
But hold !" exclaimed Biarne, suddenly raising
himself on his elbows; Karlsefin, you are but a
sorry skald after all."




62. THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

"How so?" asked the skipper.
"Why, because you have made no mention of the
chief part of our voyage."
"And pray what may that be ?"
"Stay, I too am a skald; I will tell you."
Biarne, whose poetical powers were not of the
highest type, here stretched forth his hand and
said :-
"' When Biarne, Thorward, Karlsefin,
This famous voyage did begin,
They stood upon the deck one night,
And there beheld a moving sight,
It made the very men grow pale,
Their shudder almost rent the sail !
For lo they saw a mighty whale !
"It drew a shriek from Olaf brave,
Then plunged beneath the briny wave,
And, while the women loudly shouted,
Up came its blundering nose and spouted.
Then underneath our keel it went,
And glared with savage fury pent,
And round about the ship it swum,
Striking each man and woman dumb.
Stay-one there was who found a tongue
And still retained her strength of lung.
Freydissa, beauteous matron bold,
Resolved to give that whale a scold!
But little cared that monster fish
To gratify Freydissa's wish;
He shook his tail, that naughty whale,
And flourished it like any flail,
And, ho! for Vinland he made sail !"
"Now, friends, was not that a great omission on
the part of Karlsefin?"





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


63


If the whale had brought his flail down on your
pate it would have served you right, Biarne," said
Freydissa, flushing, yet smiling in spite of herself.
"I think it is capital," cried Olaf, clapping his
hands-" quite as good as the other poem."
Some agreed with Olaf, and some thought that it
was not quite in keeping with Karlsefin's composi-
tion, but, after much debate, it was finally ruled that
it should be added thereto as part and parcel of
the great Vinland poem. Hence it appears in this
chronicle, and forms an interesting instance of the
way in which men, for the sake of humorous effect,
mingle little pieces of fiction with veritable history.
By the time this important matter was settled it
was getting so late that even the most enthusiastic
admirer among them of moonlight on a calm sea
became irresistibly desirous of going to sleep. They
therefore broke up for the night; the women re-
tired to their cabin, and none were left on, deck
except the steersman and the watch. Long before:
this the saga-tellers on the forecastle had retired;
the monotone and the soft lowing of the cattle had
ceased; man and beast had sought and found re-
pose, and nothing was heard save the ripple of the
water on the ship's sides as she glided slowly but
steadily over the sleeping sea,













CHAPTER VI.
CHANGES IN WIND AND WEATHER PRODUCE CHANGES IN TEMPER AND
FEELING-LAND DISCOVERED, AND FREYDISSA BECOMES INQUISI-
TIVE.

THERE are few things that impress one more
at sea than the rapidity of the transitions which
frequently take place in the aspect and the con-
dition of vessel, sea, and sky. At one time all may
be profoundly tranquil on board; then, perhaps, the
necessity for going "about ship arises, and all is
bustle; ropes rattle, blocks clatter and chirp, yards
creak, and seamen's feet stamp on the deck, while
their voices aid their hands in the hauling of ropes;
and soon all is quiet as before. Or, perhaps, the
transition is effected by a squall, and it becomes
more thorough and lasting. One moment every-
thing in nature is hushed under the influence of
what is appropriately enough termed a dead calm."
In a few seconds a cloud-bank appears on the
horizon and one or two cats-paws are seen shooting
over the water. A few minutes more and the sky
is clouded, the glassy sea is ruffled, the pleasant
64




AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


6i65


light sinks into a dull leaden grey, the wind whistles
over the ocean, and we are-as far as feeling is con-
cerned-transported into another, but by no means
a better, world.
Thus it was with our adventurers. The beautiful
night merged into a dirty" morning, the calm into
a breeze so stiff as to be almost a gale, and when
Olaf came out of the cabin, holding tight to the
weather-bulwarks to prevent himself from being
thrown into the lee-scuppers, his inexperienced
heart sank within him at the dreary prospect of the
grey sky and the black heaving sea.
But young Olaf came of a hardy seafaring race.
He kept his feelings to himself, and staggered to-
ward Karlsefin, who still stood at his post. Olaf
thought he had been there all night, but the truth
was that he had been relieved by Biarne, had taken
a short nap, and returned to the helm.
Karlsefin was now clad in a rough-weather suit.
He wore a pair of untanned sealskin boots and a
cap of the same material, that bore a strong re-
semblahce in shape and colour to the sou'-westers of
the present day, and his rough heavy coat, closed up
to the chin, was in texture and form not unlike to
the pilot-cloth jackets of modern seamen-only it
had tags and loops instead of buttons and button-
holes. With his legs wide apart, he stood at the
tiller, round which there was a single turn of a
E




66 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

rope from the weather-bulwarks to steady it and
himself. The boy was clad in miniature costume of
much the same cut and kind, and proud was he to
stagger about the deck with his little legs ridicul-
ously wide apart, in imitation of Thorward and
Biarne, both of whom were there, and had, -he ob-
served, a tendency to straddle.
Come hither, Olaf, and learn a little seaman-
ship," said Karlsefin, with a good-humoured smile.
Olaf said he would be glad to do that, and made
a run towards the tiller, but a heavy plunge of the
ship caused him to sheer off in quite a different
direction, and another lurch would have sent him
head-foremost against the lee-bulwarks had not
Biarne, with a laugh, caught him by the nape of the
neck and set him against Karlsefin's left leg, to
which he clung with remarkable tenacity.
"Ay, hold on tight to that, boy," said the leg's
owner, "and you'll be safe. A few days will put
you on your sea-legs, lad, and then you won't want
to hold on."
"Always hold your head up, Olaf, when you
move about aboard ship in rough weather," said
Biarne, pausing a minute in his perambulation of
the deck to give the advice, "and look overboard, or
up, or away at the horizon-anywhere except at
your, feet. You can't see how the ship's going to
roll, you know, if you keep looking down at the deck."





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


67


Olaf acted on this advice at once, and then be-
gan to question Karlsefin in regard to many nautical
matters which it is not necessary to set down here,
while Biarne and Thorward leaned on the bul-
warks and looked somewhat anxiously to wind-
ward.
Already two reefs of the huge sail had been taken
in, and Biarne now suggested that it would be wise
to take in another.
Let it be done," said Karlsefin.
Thorward ordered the men to reef, and the head
of the ship was brought up to the wind so as to
empty the sail while this was being done.
Before it was quite accomplished some of the
women had assembled on the poop.
"This is not pleasant weather," observed Gudrid,
as she stood holding on to her husband.
"We must not expect to have it all plain sailing
in these seas," replied Karlsefin; but the dark days
will make the bright ones seem all the brighter."
Gudrid smiled languidly at this, but made no
reply.
Freydissa, who scorned to receive help from man,
had vigorously laid hold of the bulwarks and gradu-
ally worked her way aft. She appeared to be very
much out of sorts-as indeed all the women were.
There was a greenish colour about the parts of their
cheeks that ought to have been rosy, and a whitey-




68 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

blue or frosted appearance at the points of their
noses, which damaged the beauty of the prettiest
among them. Freydissa became positively plain-
and she knew it, which did not improve her temper.
Astrid, though fair and exceedingly pretty by nature,
had become alarmingly white; and Thora, who was
dark, had become painfully yellow. Poor Bertha,
too, had a washed-out appearance, though nothing in
the way of lost colour or otherwise could in the least
detract from the innocent sweetness of her counte-
nance. She did not absolutely weep, but being cold,
sick, and in a state of utter wretchedness, she had
fallen into a condition of chronic whimpering, which
exceedingly exasperated Freydissa. Bertha was one
of those girls who are regarded by some of their own
sex with a species of mild contempt, but who are
nevertheless looked upon with much tenderness by
men, which perhaps makes up to them for this to
some extent. Gudrid was the least affected among
them all by that dire malady, which appears to have
been as virulent in the tenth as it is in the nine-
teenth century, and must have come in with the
Flood, if not before it.
Why don't you go below," said Freydissa testily,
"instead of shivering up here ?"
"I get so sick below," answered Bertha, endeavour-
ing to brighten up, that I thought it better to try
what fresh air-would do for me."




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


69


H'm it doesn't appear to do much for you,"
retorted Freydissa.
As she spoke a little spray broke over the side of
the ship and fell on the deck near them. Karlsefin
had great difficulty in preventing this, for a short
cross-sea was running, and it was only by dint of
extremely good and careful steering that he kept
the poop-deck dry. In a few minutes a little more
spray flew inboard, and some of it striking Bertha
on the head ran down her shoulders. Karlsefin
was much grieved at this, but Freydissa laughed
heartily.
Instead of making Bertha worse, however, the
shock had the effect of doing her a little good, and
she laughed in a half-pitiful way as she ran down
below to dry herself.
"It serves you right," cried Freydissa as she
passed; I wish you had got more of it."
Now Karlsefin was a man whose temper was not
easily affected, and he seldom or never took offence
at anything done or said to himself, but the unkind-
ness of Freydissa's speech to poor Bertha nettled
him greatly.
"Get behind me, Gudrid," he said quickly.
Gudrid obeyed, wondering at the stern order, and
Karlsefin gave a push to the tiller with his leg.
Next moment a heavy sea struck the side of the
ship, burst over the bulwarks, completely over-




TIE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


whelmed


Freydissa,


and swept


the deck


fore and


aft-wetting every one more or less except Gudrid,


who had been almost completely sheltered


behind


her husband.


A sail which


had been spread


the waist of


the ship prevented much damage


being


done to the men, and


of course all the water that


fell on the forecastle and poop ran out at the scup-
per-holes.
This unexpected shower-bath at once cleared the


poop of the women. Fortuna
had been standing to leeward


ward, and


tely Thora and Astrid


of Biarne


had received comparatively little


and Thor-


of the


shower, but Freydissa went below
hair and garments,-as Biarne ren


with streaming


larked,-like


an


elderly mermaid!
"You must have been


asleep


when


that hap-


opened said Thorward to Karlsefin in surprise.


" He must have been sleeping, then,


with


eyes open," said Biarne, with an amused look.


Karlsefin gazed sternly towards the


and appeared to be
helm, but there w.
he said-


ship's head,


attending with great care to the


as a slight


twinkle in his


"Well, it was my intention to wash the decks a
little, but more spray came inboard than I counted


on. 'Tis as dangerous to
times, as with fire."


play with water, some-


" There


is truth


in that,"


said Biarne, laughing;


70
70O


over


his


eye


as




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


71


"and I fear that this time water will be found to
have kindled fire, for when Freydissa went below
she looked like the smoking mountain of Iceland--
as if there was something hot inside and about to
boil up."
Karlsefin smiled, but made no reply, for the gale
was increasing every moment, and the management
of the ship soon required the earnest attention of all
the seamen on board.
Fortunately it was a short-lived gale. When it
had passed away and the sea had returned to some-
thing like its former quiescent state, and the sun
had burst through and dissipated the grey clouds,
our female voyagers returned to the deck and to
their wonted condition of health.
Soon after that they came in sight of land.
"Now, Biarne," said Karlsefin, after the look-out
on the forecastle had shouted "Land ho !" "come,
give me your opinion of this new land that we have
made.-Do you mind the helm, Thorward, while we
go to the ship's head."
The-two went forward, and on the forecastle they
found Olaf, flushed with excitement, and looking as
if something had annoyed him.
"Ho, Olaf! you're not sorry to see land, are
you ?" said Biarne.
Sorry no, not I; but I'm sorry to be cheated
of my due."




72


THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


How so, boy ?"
SWhy, I discovered the land first, and that fellow
there," pointing to the man on look-out, shouted
before me."
But why did you not shout before him ?" asked
Karlsefin, as he and Biarne surveyed the distant
land with keen interest.
"Just because he took me unawares," replied
the boy indignantly. "When I saw it I did not
wish to be hasty. It might have turned out to be
a cloud, or a fog-bank, and I might have given a
false alarm; so I pointed it out to him, and asked
what he thought; but instead of answering me he
gaped with his ugly mouth and shouted 'Land ho !'
I could have kicked him."
"Nay, Olaf, that is not well said," observed Karl-
sefin, very gravely; "if you could have kicked him
you would have kicked him. Why did you not do
it ?"
"Because he is too big for me," answered the boy
promptly.
SSo, then, thy courage is only sufficient to make
thee kick those who are small enough," returned
Karlsefin, with a frown. "Perhaps if you were as
big as he you would be afraid to kick him."
"That would not I," retorted Olaf.
It is easy for you to say that, boy, when you
know that he would not strike you now, and that




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 73

there is small chance of your meeting again after
you have grown up to prove the truth of what you
say. It is mere boasting, Olaf; and, mark me, you
will never be a brave man if you begin by being a
boastful boy. A truly brave and modest man-for
modesty and bravery are wont to consort together
-never says he will strike until he sees it to be
right to do so. Sometimes he does not even go the
length of speaking at all; but, in any case, having
made up his mind to strike, he strikes at once, with-
out more ado, let the consequences be what they
will. But in my opinion it is best not to strike
at all. Do you know, Olaf, my boy, some of the
bravest men I ever knew have never struck a blow
since they came to manhood, excepting, of course,
when compelled to do so in battle; and then they
struck such blows as made shields and helmets fly,
and strewed the plain with their foes."
"Did these men never boast when they were
boys ?" asked Olaf, with a troubled air.
Karlsefin relaxed into a smile as he said, "Only
when they were very little boys, and very foolish;
but they soon came to see how contemptible it is to
threaten and not perform; so they gave up threat-
ening, and when performance came to be necessary
they found that threats were needless. Now, Olaf,
I want you to be a bold, brave man, and I must
pull you through the foolish boasting period as




74 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

quickly as possible, therefore I tell you these things.
Think on them, my boy."
Olaf was evidently much relieved by the conclud-
ing remarks. While Karlsefin was speaking he had
felt ashamed of himself, because he was filled with
admiration of the magnificent skipper, and wanted
to stand well in his opinion. It was therefore
no small comfort to find that his boasting had
been set down to his foolishness, and that there
was good reason to hope he might ultimately grow
out of it.
But Olaf had much more of the true metal in
him than he himself was aware of. Without say-
ing a word about it, he resolved not to wait for the
result of this slow process of growth, but to jump,
vault, or fly out of the boastful period of life, by
hook or by crook, and that without delay. And he
succeeded Not all at once, of course. He had
many a slip; but he persevered, and finally got out
of it much sooner than would have been the case
if he had not taken any trouble to think about the
matter, or to try.
Meanwhile, however, he looked somewhat crest-
fallen. This being observed by the look-out, that
worthy was prompted to say-
"I'm sure, Olaf, you are welcome to kick me if
that will comfort you, but there is no occasion to do
so, because I claim not the honour of first seeing the





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 75

land-and if I had known the state of your mind I
would willingly have let you give the hail."
"You may have been first to discover it at this
time, Olaf," said Biarne, turning round after he had
made up his mind about it, and no doubt you were,
since the look-out admits it; nevertheless this is the
land that I discovered twenty years ago. But we
shall make it out more certainly in an hour or two if
this breeze holds."
The breeze did hold, and soon they were close
under the land.
"Now am I quite certain of it," said Biarne, as
he stood on the poop, surrounded by all his friends,
who gazed eagerly at the shore, to which they had
approached so close that the rocks and bushes were
distinctly visible; that is the very same land which
I saw before."
"What, Vinland ?" asked Freydissa.
Nay, not Vinland. Are you so eager to get at
the grapes that ye think the first land we meet is
Vinland ?"
A truce to your jesting, Biarne; what land is it ?"
"It is the land I saw last when leaving this coast
in search of Greenland, so that it seems not un-
natural to find it first on coming back to it. Leif,
on his voyage, went on shore here. He named it
Helloland, which, methinks, was a fitting name, for
it is, as you see, a naked land of rocks."




76


THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


Now, then," said Karlsefin, "lower the sail, heave
out the anchor, and let two men cast loose the little
boat. Some of us will land and see what we shall
see; for it must not be said of us, Biarne, as it was
unfairly said of you, that we took no interest in
these new regions."
The little boat was got ready. The Scottish
brothers, Hake and Heika, were appointed to row.
Karlsefin, Biarne, Thorward, Gudrid, Freydissa, and
Olaf embarked and proceeded to the shore.
This land, on which the party soon stood, was not
of an inviting aspect. It was sterile, naked, and
very rocky, as Biarne had described it, and not a
blade of grass was to be seen. There was a range
of high snow-capped mountains in the interior, and
all the way from the coast up to these mountains
the land was covered with snow. In truth, a more
forbidding spot could not easily have been found,
even in Greenland.
"It seems to me," said Freydissa, that your new
land is but a sorry place-worse than that we have
left. I wonder at your landing here. It is plain
that men see with flushed eyes when they look upon
their own discoveries. Cold comfort is all we shall
get in this place. I counsel that we return on board
immediately."
"You are too hasty, sister," said Gudrid.




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS, 77

Oh! of course, always too hasty," retorted Frey-
dissa sharply.
"And somewhat too bitter," growled Thorward,
with a frown.
Thorward was not an ill-natured man, but his
wife's sharp temper tried him a good deal
"Your interrupting me before you heard all I
had to say proves you to be too hasty, sister," said
Gudrid, with a playful laugh. "I was about to add
that it seems we have come here rather early in
the spring. Who knows but the land may wear
a prettier dress when the mantle of winter is gone ?
Even Greenland looks green and bright in summer."
"Not in those places where the snow lies all the
summer," objected Olaf.
"That's right, Olaf," said Biarne; stick up for
your sweet aunt. She often takes a stick up for you,
lad, and deserves your gratitude.-But come, let's
scatter and survey the land, for, be it good or bad,
we must know what it is, and carry with us some re-
port such as Karlsefin may weave into his rhymes."
This land would be more suitable for your
rhymes, Biarne, than for mine," said Karlsefin, as
they started off together, "because it is most
dismal."
After that the whole party scattered. The three
leaders ascended the nearest heights in different




78 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

directions, and Gudrid with Olaf went searching
among the rocks and pools to ascertain what sort of
creatures were to be found there, while Freydissa
sat down and sulked upon a rock. She soon grew
tired of sulking, however, and, looking about her,
observed the brothers, who had been left in charge
of the boat, standing as if engaged in earnest con-
versation.
She had not before this paid much attention to
these brothers, and was somewhat struck with their
appearance, for, as we have said before, they were
good specimens of men. Hake, the younger of the
two, had close curling auburn hair, and bright blue
eyes. His features were not exactly handsome, but
the expression of his countenance was so winning that
people were irresistibly attracted by it. The elder
brother, Heika, was very like him, but not so attrac-
tive in his appearance. Both were fully six feet
high, and though thin, as has been said, their limbs
were beautifully moulded, and they possessed much
greater strength than most people gave them credit
for. In aspect, thought, and conversation, they were
naturally grave, and very earnest; nevertheless, they
could be easily roused to mirth.
Going up to them, Freydissa said-
"Ye seem to have earnest talk together."
We have," answered Heika. Our talk is about
honale."




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLMUBUS.


79


"I am told that your home is in the Scottish
land," said Freydissa.
SIt is," answered Hake, with a kindling eye.
"How come you to be so far from home ?" asked
Freydissa.
"We were taken prisoners two years ago by vik-
ings from Norway, when visiting our father in a
village near the Forth fiord."
"How did that happen ? Come, tell me the
story; but, first, who is your father ?
"He is an earl of Scotland," said Heika.
"Ha! and I suppose ye think a Scottish earl is
better than a Norse king ?"
Heika smiled as he replied, I have never thought
of making a comparison between them."
"Well-how were you taken ?"
We were, as I have said, on a visit to our father,
who dwelt sometimes in a small village on the shores
of the Forth, for the sake of bathing in the sea
-for he is sickly. One night, while we slept, a
Norse long-ship came to land. Those who should
have been watching slumbered. The Norsemen
surrounded my father's house without awaking any
one, and, entering by a window which had not been
securely fastened, overpowered Hake and me before
we knew where we were. We struggled hard, but
what could two unarmed men do among fifty ? The
noise we made, however, roused the village and pre-




80 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST

vented the vikings from discovering our father's
room, which was on the upper floor. They had to
fight their way back to the ship, and lost many
men on the road, but they succeeded in carrying us
two on board, bound with cords. They took us
over the sea to Norway. There we became slaves
to King Olaf Triggvisson, by whom, as you know,
we were sent to Leif Ericsson."
"No doubt ye think," said Freydissa, "that if
you had not been caught sleeping ye would have
given the Norsemen some trouble to secure you."
They both laughed at this.
"We have had some thoughts of that kind," said
Hake brightly, "but truly we did give them some
trouble even as it was."
"I knew it," cried the dame rather sharply;
"the conceit of you men goes beyond all bounds!
Ye always boast of what valiant deeds you would
have done if something or other had been in your
favour."
"We made no boast," replied Heika gravely.
"If you did not speak it, ye thought it, I doubt
not.-But, tell me, is your land as good a land as
Norway ?"
"We love it better," replied Heika.
"But is it better ?" asked Freydissa.
"We would rather dwell in it than in Norway,"
said Hake.




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


"Then I


suppose ye will rest ill content with


Greenland."


" We hope not.


But we would prefer to be in our


own land," replied the elder brother, sadly, "for there
is no place like home."
At this point Karlsefin and the rest of the party
came back to the shore and put an end to the con-


versation.


Returning on board they


drew up the


anchor, hoisted sail, and again put out to sea.


81














CHAPTER VII.
SONGS AND SAGAS,-VINLAND AT LAST I

IN days of old, just as in modern times, tars,
when at sea, were wont to assemble on the "fog'sl,'
or forecastle, and spin yarns-as we have seen-
when the weather was fine and their work was
done.
One sunny afternoon, on the forecastle of Karl-
sefin's ship-which, by the way, was called "The
Snake," and had a snake's head and neck for a fig-
ure-head-there was assembled a group of seamen,
among whom were Tyrker the Turk, one of Thor-
ward's men named Swend, who was very stout and
heavy, and one of Karlsefin's men called Krake, who
was a wild jocular man with a peculiar twang in his
speech, the result of having been long a prisoner in
Ireland. We mention these men particularly, be-
cause it was they who took the chief part in con-
versations and in story-telling. The two Scots were
also there, but they were very quiet, and talked
little; nevertheless, they were interested and at-
82





AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 83

tentive listeners. Olaf was there 'also, all eyes and
ears,-for Olaf drank in stories, and songs, and jests,
as the sea-sand drinks water-so said Tyrker; but
Krake immediately contradicted him, saying that
when the sea-sand was full of water it drank no
more, as was plain from the fact that it did not
drink up the sea, whereas Olaf went on drink-
ing and was never satisfied.
"Come, sing us a song, Krake," cried Tyrker,
giving the former a slap on the shoulder; "let us
hear how the Danish kings were served by the Irish
boys."
Not I," said Krake, firmly. "I 've told ye two
stories already. It's Hake's turn now to give us a
song, or what else he pleases."
"But you '11 sing it after Hake has sung, won't
you, Krake ?" pleaded several of the men.
"I '11 not say 'No' to that."
Hake, who possessed a soft and deep bass voice
of very fine quality, at once acceded to the request
for a song. Crossing his arms on his chest, and
looking; as if in meditation, towards the eastern
horizon, he sang, to one of his national airs, "The
Land across the Sea."
The deep pathos of Hake's voice, more than the
words, melted these hardy Norsemen almost to tears,
and for a few minutes effectually put to flight the
spirit of fun that had prevailed.




84


THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


"That's your own composin', I '11 be bound," said
Krake, an', sure it's not bad. It's Scotland you
mean, no doubt, by the land across the sea. Ah!
I 've heard much of that land. The natives are
very fond of it, they say. It must be a fine country.
I 've heard Irishmen, who have been there, say that
if it wasn't for Ireland they'd think it the finest
country in the world."
"No doubt," answered Hake with a laugh, "and
I dare say Swend, there, would think it the finest
country in the world after Norway."
Ha! Gamle Norge,"' said Swend with enthusi-
asm, "there is no country like that under the
sun."


"Except Greenland," said Olaf, stoutly.
"Or Iceland," observed Biarne, who had joined
the group. "Where can you show such mountains
-spouting fire, and smoke, and melted stones,-or
such boiling fountains, ten feet thick and a hundred
feet high, as we have in Iceland ?"
That's true," observed Krake, who was an Ice-
lander.
"Oh !" exclaimed Tyrker, with a peculiar twist
of his ugly countenance, "Turkey is the land that
beats all others completely."
At this there was a general laugh.
"Why, how can that be?" cried Swend, who
1 Old Norway.





OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


85


was inclined to take up the question rather hotly.
"What have you to boast of in Turkey ?"
Eh What have we not, is the question. What
shall I say ? Ha! we have grapes there; and we
do make such a drink of them-Oh !-"
Here Tyrker screwed his face and figure into
what was meant for a condition of ecstasy.
"'Twere well that they had no grapes there,
Tyrker," said Biarne, for if all be true that Karl-
sefin tells us of that drink, they would be better
without it."
"I wish I had it !" remarked Tyrker, pathetically.
"Well, it is said that we shall find grapes in
Vinland," observed Swend, "and as we are told
there is everything else there that man can desire,
our new country will beat all the others put to-
gether,-so hurrah for Vinland "
The cheer was given with right good-will, and
then Tyrker reminded Krake of his promise to sing
a song. Krake, whose jovial spirits made him
always ready for anything, at once struck up to a
rattling ditty :-


THE DANISH KINGS.
ONE night when one o' the Irish KingS
Was sleeping in his bed,
Six Danish Kings-so Sigvat sings-
Came an' cut off his head.




86


THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST


The Irish boys they heard the noise,
And flocked unto the shore;
They caught the kings, and put out their oyes,
And left them in their gore.
Chorus-Oh! this is the way we served the kings,
An' spoiled their pleasure, the dirty things,
When they came to harry and flap their wings
Upon the Irish shore-ore,
Upon the Irish shore.

Next year the Danes took terrible pains
To wipe that stain away;
They came with a fleet, their foes to meet,
Across the stormy say.
Each Irish carl great stones did hurl
In such a mighty rain,
The Danes went down, with a horrible stoun,
An' never came up again !
Oh this is the way, etc.

The men were still laughing and applauding
Krake's song when Olaf, who chanced to look over
the bow of the vessel, started up and shouted Land,
ho !" in a shrill voice, that rang through the whole
ship.
Instantly, the poop and forecastle were crowded,
and there, on the starboard bow, they saw a faint
blue line of hills far away on the horizon. Olaf got
full credit for having discovered the land first on
#this occasion; and for some time everything else
was forgotten in speculations as to what this new
land would turn out to be; but the wind, which had
been getting lighter every hour that day, died away




OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.


87


almost to a calm, so that, as there was no prospect
of reaching the land for some hours, the men gradu-
ally fell back to their old places and occupation.
"Now, then, Krake," said Tyrker, "tell us the
story about that king you were talking of the other
day; which was it ? Harald-"
"Ay, King Harald," said Krake, "and how he
came to get the name of Greyskin. Well, you must
know that it's not many years ago since my father,
Sigurd, was a trader between Iceland and Norway.
He went to other places too, sometimes-and once
to Ireland, on which occasion it was that I was
taken prisoner and kept soilong in the country, that
I became an Irishman. But after escaping and
getting home I managed to change back into an
Icelander, as ye may see! Well, in my father's
younger days, before I was born-which was a pity,
for he needed help sorely at that time, and I would
have been just the man to turn myself handy to
any sort of work; however, it wasn't my fault,-in
his younger days, my father one summer went over
from Iceland to Norway,-his ship loaded till she
could hardly float, with skins and peltry, chiefly
grey wolves. It's my opinion that the reason she
didn't go down was that they had packed her so
tight there was no room for the water to get in and
sink her. Anyway, over the sea she went and got
safe to Norway.




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