Our Little Viking Cousin of Long Ago - C. H. Johnston
This book tells the story of a Viking boy named Biarne who travels with Leif Erikson on his voyage to Vinland in North America around the year 1000. He lives the life of a Viking adventurer, building a boat, crossing the ocean and helping to establish a settlement on in the new land. Eventually the small tribe of Vikings is attacked by natives, which they call Skrellings, and have to return to their base settlement at Greenland, but not without many treasures from the new land.
Hark to the story of Vinland,
Vinland of grapes and wine,
Which Leif the Lucky discovered,
—the land of hemlock and pine.
He sailed o'er the dark, blue ocean,
with warriors thirty or more,
And planted his flag, with a cross and a shaft,
on the beauteous, curving shore.
Huzzah, then, for Leif the Lucky!
A hero may ever he be,
For his feet first trod on America's sod,
in the year one thousand A. D.
The story of Biarne is laid at the time when the first venturesome seafarers crossed the Atlantic to explore the new and wonderful country of America. Although it is generally believed that Columbus discovered America, in 1492, the old Norse sagas give very conclusive evidence that the Vikings from Norway and Iceland were the first Europeans to set foot upon the shores of the New World.
In the year 1000 A. D., Leif Ericson, known as Leif the Lucky, a son of Eric the Red—the discoverer of Greenland—made a voyage from Greenland to the coast of New England. He was a hardy mariner, who feared no perils of land and sea. As an old Norse ballad says:
"He scorns to rest 'neath the smoky rafter,
He plows with his boat the roaring deep;
The billows boil, and the storm howls after,
But the tempest is only a thing of laughter,
The sea-king loves it better than sleep!"
With thirty-five strong and adventuresome followers, he first cruised along the coast of Nova Scotia; then he sailed southward and went ashore at a place where a river flowed out from a lake into the sea. Here the ship was anchored; the men transported the luggage from the hold and built dwellings. They erected large buildings, and remained during the winter, and fared well upon the salmon with which the river abounded. In the spring they loaded their vessel with timber and set sail for Greenland. All of their friends were glad to see them again and eagerly heard tales of their good fortune. Two years later, Thorwald Ericson—Leif's brother—made a similar journey.
If this story gives you, my dear boys and girls, a clear idea of the experiences and tribulations of these stalwart adventurers, the purpose of the author will have been well fulfilled.
|CHARLES H. L. JOHNSTON|