The Baldwin Library
KARLSEFIN AND HIS MEN MEET TYRKER.-PAGE 198.
NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
a Wat e.
BY R M. BALLANTYNE,
AUTHOR OF "POST HASTE ;" "IN THE TRACK OF THE TROOPS;" THE SETTLER 4ND
THE SAVAGE;" "UNDER THE WAVES;" "RIVERS OF ICE;" "BLACK IVORY;"'
THE PIRATE CITY;" ERLING THE BOLD;" THE IRON HORSE;
"THE FLOATING LIGHT;" FIGHTING THE FLAMES;" "SHIFTING
WINDS;" "DEEP DOWN;" "THE LIGHTHOUSE;" "THE
LIFEBOAT;" "GASCOYNE;" "THE GOLDEN
DREAM," ETC. ETC.
No. 33 EAST 17TH STREET (UNION SQUARE).
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
Nevertheless, it is creditable to the "hardy Norse-
men" that they actually did discover America about
the year 986, and settled on its eastern shores in
The Icelandic Saga which relates the fact is
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.
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.
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, 27
IV.--IMPORTANT EVENTS TRANSPIRE, WHICH END IN A
VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY, 40
V.-FREYDISSA SHOWS HER TEMPER AND A WHALE CHECKS
IT-POETICAL AND OTHER TOUCHES, 50
VI.-CHANGES IN WIND AND WEATHER PRODUCE CHANGES
IN TEMPER AND FEELING-LAND DISCOVERED, AND
FREYDISSA BECOMES INQUISITIVE, .64
VII.--SONGS AND SAGAS-VINLAND AT LAST 82
VIII. -A CHAPTER OF INCIDENTS AND EXPLORATION, IN
WHICH A BEAR AND A WHALE PLAY PROMINENT
PARTS,. .. 95
IX.--THE FIRST NIGHT IN INLAND, 115
X.-TAKING POSSESSION OF THE NEW HOME, AN EVENT
WHICH IS CELEBRATED BY AN EXPLOSION AND A
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 KRAKE, 138
XII.-SAGE CONVERSE BETWEEN HAKE AND BERTHA-BIARNE
IS OUTWITTED-A MONSTER IS SLAIN, AND SAVAGES
APPEAR ON THE SCENE, 155
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, 186
XV.-GREENLAND AGAIN-FLATFACE TURNS UP, ALSO THOR-
WARD, WHO BECOMES ELOQUENT AND SECURES RE-
CRUITS FOR VINLAND, 201
XVI.-JOYFUL MEETINGS AND HEARTY GREETINGS, 211
XVII.- TREATS OF THE FRIENDSHIP AND ADVENTURES OF OLAF
AND SNORRO, AND OF SUNDRY SURPRISING INCIDENTS, 226
XVIII.-ANXIOUS TIMES-A SEARCH ORGANIZED AND VIGOROUSLY
CARRIED OUT, 246
XIX.-NEW EXPERIENCES-DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED AND
OVERCOME--THORWARD AND TYRKER MAKE A JOINT
EFFORT, WITH HUMBLING RESULTS, 261
XX.--REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES OF OLAF AND SNORRO-THE
FORMER SUFFERS THE PANGS OF REMORSE, 279
XXI.--REINFORCEMENTS SENT OFF TO KARLSEFIN-FOES DIS-
COVERED IN THE WOODS-A NIGHT ATTACK, AND
OTHER WARLIKE MATTERS, 289
XXII.-HAKE MAKES A BOLD VENTURE, BUT DOES NOT WIN-
THE NORSEMEN FIND THAT THERE IS MANY A SLIP
TWIXTT THE CUP AND THE LIP, 308
" XXIII.-DIFFICULTIES REGARDING INTERCOMMUNICATION-THE
POWER OF FINERY DISPLAYED-ALSO THE POWER OF
SONG AND SENTIMENT, 325
XXIV.-THE BURNING OF THE FORTRESS-A THREATENED FIGHT
ENDS IN A FEAST, WHICH LEADS TO FRIENDSHIP-
HAPPY REUNION AND PROPOSED DESERTION, 340
XXV.-THE FIRST CONGRESS AND THE LAST FAREWELL, 359
XXVI.- CHANGES IN BRATTALID-THE SCOTS CONTINUE TO PLOT
AND PLAN, 372
XXVII.-DISAPPOINTMENT TERMINATES IN UNLOOKED-FOR SUC-
CESS, AND THE SAGA COMES TO AN END, 382
KARLSEFIN AND HIS MEN MEETING TYRKER
THE SKRAELINGERS APPROACHING,
A NATIVE OF THE LAND DISCOVERED,
THE FIRST NIGHT IN VINLAND, .
A NATIVE PAINTER,.
facing page 33
THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST;
AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
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 eliff, being
in deep shadow, looked unusually black and for-
bidding, while the inlet, besides being under the
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 Icelahd 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. 3
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
/circutnstance 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
S 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-
.stitite 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
4 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
^u9 rr .- 'r -*- i *^P ~ ~L gV ~id eL~B
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
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
S' 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! that would have startled
the echoes of the place had there been any there,
it was plain to the meanest capacity that an attack
-impetuous and overwhelming-was to be made 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 back
Into the mountain gorge,-doubtless with the intent
to gorge themselves with raw blubber, prepare their
weapons, and snatch a little repose before issuing
forth to battle.
But let us return to the Norsemen, over whose
innocent heads such awful prospects were impending.
The sturdy man with the fair shaggy 'locks was
Leif, the son of Eric the Red of Iceland. The boy
with the silken curls, who rode on his foot so joy-
ously, was his son Olaf.
Eric had died several years before the date on
which our tale opens, and Leif inherited his cottage
and property at Brattalid in Ericsfiord, on the west
coast of Greenland--the hamlet which we have al-
S"Come now, Olaf," said Leif, flinging the child
from his foot to his knee, and thence to the ground,
R 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 pf 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 I 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 heeks,--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-
^ *\ -
S-' THE NORSEMEN IN ITHE WEST
theless, I am bound to admit that you did tell me
that something' was going to happen, and no one
can deny that something is about to occur just now.
But your dream haIpened a month or six weeks
ago, and the 'something,' 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, with a laugh; "but I have not time to
-reason with you. These ships will bring strangers,
and I must prepare to show them hospitality.-Come,
Olath 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 own mother having died when he was
"But, aunt," said Olaf, checking himself in the
doorway and looking wistfully back, "I want to see
the ships come in."
"You shall see that, my son; I will not keep
you too long."
This was quite sufficient. Olaf thoroughly be-
lieved in his aunt's truthfulness and wisdom. He
set to work to assist in clearing away the confusion
-part of which, in the shape of toys and chips,
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 9
was of his own creating-and became so busy that
he almost forgot the ships-at least if he did re-
member them they did not weigh heavily on his
"Now, Olaf," said Gudrid,.going to the window
when the preparations were nearly completed, "you
may run down to the shore, for the ships will soon
be on the strand."
The boy waited no second bidding, you may be
sure. He flew out of the house, and to his great
surprise beheld the two ships-which so lately had
appeared like sea-birds on the horizon-coming
grandly up the 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, some gone to Iceland,
and others on viking-cruise. 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 of that Greenland colony. It was only
the part of it that had settled at Brattalid in
Ericsfiord. There was another portion, 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
THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
soon followed his friend Eric to the grave, leaving
the management of the colony of Heriulfness to
his son Biarne.
Biarne had not been present when the two sails
were first observed, but he chanced to come over to
Brattalid just before their arrival.
"What, ho! Biarne," shouted Leif, as the son
of Heriulf went down to the beach, "come up
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 Biarne-" at least he was a
friend when I knew him in Norway, nigh twenty
summers past, and I did not think him changeable.
You and I, Leif, have often sailed these northern
seas together and apart, but I do not think that in
all our wanderings either of us has met before or
since a finer man than Karlsefin, though he was a
mere stripling when I knew him."
The Norseman's eyes flashed as he spoke of his
friend, for, besides being a strong and handsome
man, he possessed a warm enthusiastic heart. In-
deed, he had been noted in the settlement for the
strength of his affection for his father Heriulf, and
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
his dutiful conduct towards him as long as the old
"Karlsefin," repeated Leif, musing; "I know him
"Yet he knows you," said Biarne; "when I met
him in Norway I told him all about your discovery
"Nay, thine own discovery of it," said Leif.
"Not so," replied the other, with a blush, in
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 that
this is Karlsefin's ship ?"
"I know by the cut of her figure-head and the
colour of her sails. Karlsefin 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 on
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 men
brought planks with which 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 vessel
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 high
prow may be seen in the fiords of Norway.
Each of the vessels which now lay beached in
Ericsfiord had a high forecastle and poop, with
figure-heads on stem and stern-posts that towered
higher still. The ships were only half-decked, with
benches 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 he
was tall and strong enough to have been a worthy
foreman to the stoutest colonist in Ericsfiord, as that
his demeanour was bland and courtly, while there
was gr4t intellectuality in his dark handsome
countenance. 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
"Biarne !" he said, seizing his hand, "I thought
you were in Iceland."
So I was, but now I am in Greenland, and
right glad to be the first to welcome my friend."
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.
C TAPTER II.
BTRONG 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, and had a firm yet
pleasing cast of countenance. Both Thorward and
Karlsefin were men of about thirty-five years of
"Are you not on viking-cruise,?" asked Leif as
they walked up to the house together, while the
male 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 think-
ing," said Leif. "I do not love the bloody game of
war, and glad am I that we have got into a quiet
corner here in Greenland, where there is small occa-
AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBU. 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
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
lad 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
Karlsefin picked him up and set him on his legs.
"My poor boy, don't cry," he said.
"No fear of hinm 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.
THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
"Does it pain you much, dear ?" said the pretty
aunt, interrupting him.
"Oh!" he continued, enthusiastically, "I never
did see such a splendid man before."
"What splendid man, child ?"
And who is Karlsefin ?"
"The stranger who has come across the sea from
"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 COLUMBIUS. 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 I 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
THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
story is to hinge Nothing of the kind. It ran its
course much more rapidly, and terminated much
more 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 large
silver tankard towards him; come, fill up."
"Thanks, I drink but sparingly," said Karlsefin,
taking up the large tankard and admiring the work-
"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 beer. We
had nothing but water with us. Where got you
this tankard, Leif, it is very massive and the work-
manship such as one seldom meets with save in
It belonged to a king!" replied Leif, with a look
pf pride. 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
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."
Leifs 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
on benches 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
"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
. THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
"In good truth they are a stout race, and fight
like very wild-cats, as Biarne and I can testify; a.i
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, I
drink to the land of the Scot. It is a grand good
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 his
native land; "no, I shall only forget Iceland when
I forget to live; but I don't forget, also, that it is
only about 130 years since my great-grandfather
and his companions came over from Norway to
Iceland. Before that it was an unpeopled rock
in the Northern Sea, without name or history.'
'Twas as little known then as Vinland is known
"By the way, Biarne," said Karlsefin, turning to
his friend, "the mention of Vinland reminds me
that, when you and I met last, you did not give, me
a full account of that discovery, seeing that you
omitted to mention your own share in it. Tell
Iceland was colonized by Norsemen about the year 874.
OE AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS, 21
xme 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 Leit, laughing.
SCome, Biarne, don't be thin-skinned. You know
the saying, A dtiiful 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 Leifs 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,
"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
father, came over here from Iceland.1 Biarne was a
very young man at the time-little more than a
boy-but he was a man of enterprise, and fond of
going abroad, and possessed a merchant-ship 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
a year abroad and a year with his father. He
chanced to be away in Norway when Heriulf and
my father Eric came over to Greenland. On re-
turning to Iceland he was so much disappointed to
hear of his father's departure that he would not
unload his ship, but resolved to follow his old
custom and take up his winter abode with his
father. 'Who will go with me to Greenland ?' said
he to his men. 'We will all go, replied the men.
'Our expedition,' said Biarne, '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 set in, and they knew not
where they were sailing to; and this lasted many
days. At length the sun appeared. Then they
knew the quarters of the sky, and, after sailing a
day and a night, made the land.
1 A.D. 98(
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS,
"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
24 1 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. Biarne then gave up sea-
faring, and dwelt with his 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
"Yes," exclaimed Biarne, with a look of indigna-
tion; "and when I 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 the winter
set in !" He finished off by striking the table with
his fist, seizing his 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 Leif. "I only
took possession, and didn't keep it. This was the
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
here still. One day Tyrker was lost; I was very
anxious about him, fearing that he had been killed
by wild beasts or Skraelingers, 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.
Esq;ximaux or savages, probably Indians.
26 THE NORSEMEN IN f~E WEST.
away with us. From this circumstance I called it
Vinland. Two years after that my brother Thor-
wald went to Vinland, wintered three years 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, and glad we are to
have her. This is the whole story of Vinland; so
if you want to know more about it you must e'en
go on a voyage of discovery for yourself."
"I should like nothing better," replied Karlsefin,
"if I could only--"
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 1'
DAIK WAR-CLOUDS LOWER, BUT CLEAR AWAY WITHOUT A SHOWER-
VOICES AND LEGS DO GOOD SERVICE.
UP, cares, 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 to 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. Even while Leif was giving the first order
to his men,. Gudrid 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 he
buckled on his sword, why, I shall give the Skrae-
lingers a tremendous fright, that is all. The rascals S
They knew well that we were short-handed just
now, and thought to take advantage of us; but hah!
they do not seem to be aware that we chance to
have stout visitors with us to-night. So, lads, fol-
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, and
Leif chuckled as he watched Biarne put the 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. Leave your bows behind you, lads," 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
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
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,
4 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, were strong
men and- bold, besides being large, but he resolved
to take them by surprise, and surely (he argued with
himself) a hundred and fifty brave men with spears
will be more than a match for thirty 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 up also, and
then, a little before midnight, set forth on his expe-
Now it chanced that there was a man among the
Norsemen who was a great hunter and trapper. His
name was Tyrker--the same Tyrker mentioned by
Leif as being the man who had found grapes in
Vinland. Leif said he was a German, but he said
so on no better authority than 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
ugly little 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-
But, whether German or Turk, Tyrker was an
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
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
3-2 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST"
passed before the spur came in view. Leif led his
men past the first and second of these at a run.
Then, believing that he had gone far enough, he
ordered his band to draw close up under the .cliffs,
where the shadow was deepest, saying that he would
go alone in advance to reconnoitre.
"And mark me, lads," he said, "when I give a
loud sneeze, do you give vent to a roar that will
only stop short of splitting your lungs; then give
chase, and yell to your hearts' content as you run;
but see to it that ye keep together and that no
man runs past me. There is plenty of moonlight to
let you see what you 're about. If any man tries to
overshoot me in the race I '1 hew off his head."
This last remark was' no figure of speech. In
those days men were but too well accustomed to
hewing off heads. Leif meant to have his orders
attended to, and the men understood him.
On reaching the second projection of cliff after
leaving his men, Leif peepqd round cautiously and
beheld the advancing Skraelingers several hundred
yards off. He returned at once to his men and took
up a position at their head in the deep shadow of
Although absolutely invisible themselves, the
Norsemen could see the Skraelingers quite plainly
in the moonlight, as they came slowly and with great
caution round each turn of the footpath that led tq
THE SKRAELINGERS APPROACHING.-PAGE 33.
--;f-- =------- ---~
__ ,- ---
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 33
the hamlet. There was something quite awe-inu
spring 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
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
abriuptly-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
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-
If Greenland's icy mountains 'had become one,
monstrous polar bear, whose powers of voice, frozen,
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 effect on the Skraelingers was almost miracu-
lous. A bomb-shell bursting in the midst of a hundred
and fifty Kilkenny cats could not hdve 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-
Ol0 AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 3
SThey 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
"Hold back, Biarnel ; 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 HORSEMEN IN THE WEST
abrupt bend in the mountains. Here Leif resolved
to let them go. When they were pretty near the
cliff round which the path turned, he put on what,
in modern sporting phraseology, is termed a spurt,
and came up so close with the flying band that
those in rear began to glance despairingly over
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. The
horror-struck Skraelingers shrieked in reply, swept
like a torrent round the projecting cliff, and dis-
Leif stopped at once, and held up his hand. All
his men stopped short also, and though they heard
the Skraelingers still howling as they fled, no one
followed them any farther. Indeed, most of the
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 after their long run. Leif
noticed them at once.
"Yonder youths seem to think little of this sort
of thing," he said to Karlsefin.
"You are right, Leif; it is mere child's play to
them. These are the two Scots-the famous run-
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUM US. 3 7
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
"Say you so ?" cried Leif. "Po they speak
"Yes; excellently wel."'
"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 2"
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
t 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
38 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
wonder, much to the amusement of Karlsefin and
Thorward, while Hake and Heika made straight for
the flying band and came up with them. They
shouted wildly as they drew near. The Skraelingers
looked back, and seeing only two unarmed men,
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
"What are they doing now ? cried Leif, laughing.
SSee--they are mad !"
Truly it seemed as if they were; for, after sepa-
rating and coursing twice completely round the
astonished natives, the two Scots performed a species
of war-dance before them, whichhad a sort of fling
about it, more easily conceived than described. In
the middle of this they made a dart at the group so
sudden and swift that Hake managed to overturn
Ylatface with a tremendous buffet, and Heika did
the same to his second in command with an
energetic cuff. The Skraelingers were taken so
thoroughly by surprise that the Scots had sheered
off and got out of reach before a spear could be.
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 httle
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 39
longer, the Scots returned at full speed to their
friends, and the Skraelingers, glad to be rid of
them, hastened to seek the shelter of the gloomy
gorge from which they had originally issued, "like
. wolf on the fold."
IMPORTANT EVENTS TRANSPIRE, WHICH END IN A VOYAGE OP
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-
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. "In
southern lands, where Tyrker comes from, they have
a process whereby they can make a drink from
grapes, which maddens youth and quickens. the
pulse of age,-something like our own beer."
"It does not please me to hear that," replied
Gudrid gravely; some of our cares are too fond of
beer. When old Heriiulf 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-
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 is the same as yours, whether it be right
or wrong. There is some reason in applying heat
to cold, but it seems to me unnecessary to add heat
to warmth, artificial strength to natural vigour, and
it is dangerous sometimes to add fuel to fire. I am
glad you think as I think on this point, for it is
well that man and wife should be agreed in matters
of importance.-But to return to Vinland: I have
been thinking much about it since I came here,
though saying little,-for it becomes a man to be
silent and circumspect in regard to unformed plans.
My mind is to go thither next spring, but only on
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 43
": And yhat 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
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 knqw that it is an evil thing to
get the name of a tale-bearer."
I did not think it was tale-bearing," replied the
44 THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
lad, somewhat abashed, "for it is no secret. Leif
Swas there, and Astrid herself, and all the house-
caries in the hall must have heard her, for she
spoke very loud. And oh! you should have seen
her give Thorward the cold shoulder when he came
"Well, well, Olaf, hold your noisy tongue," said
Gudrid, laughing, "and come, tell me how would
you like to go to Vinland?"
"Like to go to Vinland!" echoed the boy, turn-
ing an ardent gaze full on Karlsefin, are you going
there, sir? Will you take me?."
'Karlsefin laughed, and said, "You are too quick
in jumping to conclusions, 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 fixed on the ground. He was so en-
grossed with his thoughts that he did not perceive
"Here he comes," 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
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
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 t"
46 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
"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, I 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 Frey-
dissa by telling her that I had been courting thy
cousin Astrid ?"
OR AMERICA 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 1" 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
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.
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, step-
ping up to him, but with the weapons of friend-
With that he bestowed such -a hearty buffet on
Thorward's left ear that it turned the irascible man
head over heels, and laid him at full length on the
Thorward rose slowly, being somewhat stunned,
with a confused impression that there was some-
thing wrong with his head. Before he had quite
recovered, Biarne burst into a laugh and seized him
by the hand.
"Freydissa bids me tell you-" he said, and
The pause was intentional. He saw that Thor-
ward was on the point of snatching away his hand
and returning the blow or drawing his sword; but
he restrained himself in order to hear Freydissa's
"She bids me tell you," repeated Biarne, "that
you are a goose."
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
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
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, 1 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.
FREYDISSA SHOWS HER TEMPER AND A WHALE CHECKS IT-POETICOA
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
AMERICA BEFORE COLfUMBUTS. 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
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
THE NORSEMEN 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 vikinogs
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 overwhelnm-men; in
which latter effort they are too frequently suc-
cessful. She was a tall elegant woman of about
54 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. We know
notwhich is the more disagreeable of the two-a
masculine woman or an effeminate man.
But perhaps the most prominent feature in her
character was 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 the credit of her sex in
reference to firmness and self-command was com-
promised by such weakness. She herself never
wept by any chance, and she was always enraged
when she saw any other woman relieve her feel-
ings in that way. When, therefore, she came on
deck and found her own handmaid with her pretty
little face swelled, or, as she expressed it, "be-
grutten," and heard her express a wish that she had
never left home, .she lost command of herself--p
loss that she always found it easy to come by-and,
seizing Bertha by the shoulder, ordered her down
into the cabin instantly.
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
Bertha sobbingly obeyed, and Freydissa followed.
SDon't be hard on her, poor soul," murmured Thor-
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
66 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.1 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.
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
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. 59
--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
"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 posigon in
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 'l 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- Heriulf'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 UHis father.
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
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."
162 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
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 I
SIt drew a shriek from Olaf brave,
Then plunged Leneath 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 tongug
And still retained her strength of lung.
Freydissa, beauteous matron bold,
Resolved to give that whale a scold t
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!"
S"Now, friends, was not that a great omission 0n
the part of Karlsefin ?"
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
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.
"1 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.
CHANGES IN WIND AND WEATHER PRODUCE CHANGES IN TEMPER AND
FEELING-LAND DISCOVERED, AND FREYDISSA BECOMES INQUISI-
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
AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 65
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-
semblance 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
IHE 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
r1AI, 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-
Already two reefs of the huge sail had been taken
in, and Biarne now suggested that it would bewise
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
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-
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
mUen, 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.
T'm! it doesn't appear to do much for you,"
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
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
"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-
THE 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 over
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-
This unexpected shower-bath at once cleared the
poop of the women. Fortunately Thora and Astrid
had been standing to leeward of Biarne and Thor-
ward, and had received comparatively little of the
shower, but Freydissa went below with streaming
hair and garments,-as Biarne remarked,-like an
"You must have been asleep when that hap-
pened," said Thorward to Karlsefin in surprise.
"He must have been sleeping, then, with his
eyes open," said Biarne, with an amused look.
Karlsefin gazed sternly towards the ship's head,
and appeared to be attending with great care to the
helm, but there was a slight twinkle in his eye as
Well, it was my intention to wash the decks a
little, but more spray came inboard than I counted
on. 'Tis as dangerous to play with water, some-
times, as with fire."
There is truth in that," said Biarne, laughing;
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
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."
THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
"How so, boy ?"
"Why, Idiscovered the land first, and that fellow
there," pointing to the man on look-out, shouted
"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 heithought; 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
"Because he is too big for me," answered the boy
"So, then, thy courage is only sufficient to make
thee kick those who are small enough," returned
Karhlefin, 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
UA 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
THE NORSEMEN Il 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 lie 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 tie
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.
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
"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."
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
"You are too hasty, sister," said Gudrid.
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS. 77
"Oh! of course, always too hasty," retorted Frey-
"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
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-
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
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLMUBUS.
"I am told that your home is in the Scottish
land," said Freydissa.
"It is," answered Hake, with a kindling eye.
"How come you to be so far from home ?" asked
"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 T4E 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 th4 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
"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
"We love it better," replied Heika.
"But is it better ?" asked Freydissa.
"We would rather dwell in it than in Norway,"
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
"Then I suppose ye will rest ill content with
"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
@0~GS AND SAGAS.-VINLANDf 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
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-
wardcs 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-
*ersations and in story-telling. The two Scots were
also there, but they were very quiet, and talked
little; nevertheless, they were interested and at-
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
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 'll 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.
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! Game Norge,"1 said Swend with enthusi-
asm, "there is no country like that under the
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
Ich boiling fountains, ten feet thick and a hundred
feet high, as we have in Iceland ?"
"That's true," observed Krake, who was an Ice-
"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.
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
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.
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.
Chlorus-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
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 sollong 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 tc
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.
THE NORSEMEN IN THE WEST
"At that time King Harald, one of the sons of
Eric, reigned in Norway, after the death of King
Hakon the Good. He and my father were great
friends, but they had not met for some time; and
not since Harald had come to his dignity. My
father sailed to Hardanger, intending to dispose of
his pelts there if he could. Now, King Harald
generally had his seat in Hordaland and Rogaland,
and some of his brothers were usually with him; but
it chanced that year that they went to Hardanger, so
my father and the king met, and had great doings,
drinking beer and talking about old times when they
were boys together.
"My father then went to the place where the
greatest number of people were met in the fiord,
but nobody would buy any of his skins. He
couldn't understand this at all, and was very much
mnnooed at it, and at night when he was at supper
with the king he tells him about it. The king was
in a funny humour that night. He had dashed his
beard with beer to a great extent, and laughed
heartily sometimes without my father being able to
see what was the joke. But my father was a know-
ing man. He \knew well enough that people are
sometimes given to hearty laughter without troubling
themselves much about the joke-especially when
they are beery,-so he laughed too, out of friendli-
ness, and was very sociable.
OR AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS.
When my father went away the king promised
to pay him a visit on board of his ship next day,
which he did, sure enough; and my father took care
to let it be known that he was coming, so there was
no lack of the principal people thereabouts. They
had all come down together, by the merest chance,
to the place where the ship lay, just to enjoy the
fresh air-being fresher there that day than at most
other places on the fiord, no doubt!
"King Harald came with a fully-manned boat, and
a number of followers. He was very condescending
and full of fun, as he had been the night before.
When he was going away he looked at the skins,
and said to my father, 'Wilt thou give me a present
of one of these wolf-skins ?'
"'Willingly,' says my father, 'and as many more
as you please.'
On this, the king wrapped himself up in a wolf-
skin and went back to his boat and rowed away.
Immediately after, all the boats in his suite came
alongside and looked at the wolf-skins with great
admiration, and every man bought just such another
wolf-skin as the king had got. In a few days so
many people came to buy skins, that not half of
them could be served with what they wanted, and
the upshot was that my father's vessel was cleared
out down to the keel, and thereafter the king went,
as you know, by the name of Harald Greyskin.