Our Little Viking Cousin of Long Ago - C. H. Johnston

Buried Treasure

"And, who are these warlike strangers?"

Eric, who had spoken, with head bruised and battered from a sword-thrust, was peering into the hold of the conquered ship.

"At least they did not run away?" said Biarne. "I believe that they are pirates." "Pirates?"

"Yes, even as we might become if we had to. These fellows have been preying on their weaker comrades on the sea."

The hold, in fact, was full of boxes, bales, and a valuable cargo of ivory. The strangers had either bartered with some natives upon the coast of Africa, or else had intercepted some vessel traveling overseas from the tropic land.

Leif Ericson had suffered no injury from the encounter. He was now seated near the center of the ship while his men held a few of the prisoners before him. He was questioning them as to their nationality, and their purpose in visiting this strange and unexplored country.

The strangers, it seems, were from the coast of Spain. Driven westward by a series of storms, they had fallen in with some traders from France; had captured them; had seized all of the most valuable part of their cargo; and had put all of their captives to death in order to avoid trouble of carrying them upon their own vessel. The treasure in the hold of the staunch craft was worth a large sum of money.

What would the Vikings do with it? Should it be divided, or should it go, for the most part, to Leif the Lucky?

Eric and Biarne were much interested in the inspection of the pirate ship, which was a trifle smaller than the Valhalla. Also, it was built of lighter timber, and had a great, high stern.

The deck was soon cleared of all signs of the recent affray, and the two boys aided in binding up the wounds of the prisoners. They were fierce-looking fellows, with tanned skins and great masses of coal black hair. They seemed to be resigned to their fate, and took matters with calmness.

Leif appeared to be much gratified at the result of his attack.

"Here," said he, "is a great treasure,—a fitting reward for all of our exertions. We are well repaid for our tremendous battling with this pirate crew. We will sail back to our mooring and to-morrow will decide what will be done with this valuable cargo."

The Valhalla  had dropped astern, by now, and, with sail well filled, had started to return to her moorings in front of the place, on the beach, where the Vikings had built their house.

The sail was hoisted on the pirate ship and it was soon driven by the wind and oars towards the sandy shore. Leif and his men were certainly well pleased with their venture, and all sang lustily as the boat surged through the blue water. Finally they neared the Valhalla, which was at anchor; but, by Leif's orders, the bow of the pirate ship was driven on the beach.

"Now, lads," said the bold Viking to the two youngsters, "we will have to decide what is to be done with this treasure. It is more than I can claim for my own share, as all of my gallant men aided and assisted me in its capture."

"Yes," said Biarne, "but I feel sure that it will be safe here in Vinland, and that no one will touch it until we are ready to take it away."

No sooner had the pirate ship been beached, than she was securely fastened to the bank by means of long ropes. The Vikings sprang ashore, and were soon busily engaged in landing the jars of gold coin; the bales of valuable silk; and the numberless silver and jeweled ornaments which the pirates had captured from many a weak and unsuspecting crew. These were placed in a great pile and the Vikings gathered about their leader to hear what he had to say.

"My gallant Norsemen," cried Leif, "a portion of this treasure belongs to me, of course. The rest shall be divided amongst all of you. I feel that I should have at least a third; the remaining two-thirds should be apportioned amongst those who assisted in the taking of this vessel."

"That is fair," said old Thorwald, quite loudly.

"Yes, that is certainly fair," said Biarne also.

But a few of the Norsemen shook their heads.

"I put two of the pirates out of the way, bold Captain," said one stout fellow, called Huriulf, "certainly I should be entitled to more of the treasure than those who did little."

"Yes, and I, too, fought as hard as Huriulf," spoke another: Hake by name. "I should have a share proportionate to the work that I have done."

Thus dissention began.

Leif looked grave as he pondered over the matter. His followers stood around him in a half circle. They were a hardy-looking set, with their high helmets, their steel breast-plates and their long pikes in their hands.

"Well, my bold friends," said he, at length, "I cannot see that you should have more than the rest, but we will put it to the vote of all. What say you, men? Shall these two have more than the rest of you?"

"No! No!" came from all sides.

Leif smiled.

"You see, my lads," said he, "your friends and companions do not think that you should get what you wish."

The two Vikings looked sullen, but, as they made no remark, it was apparent that they were satisfied with the verdict which their mates had rendered.

Boys with treasure


The division of the treasure now went on. Leif Ericson, who had certainly been rightly christened "The Lucky," took one-third, as near as he could reckon. The rest was divided into equal portions, Eric and Biarne each receiving their proper share. But what was now to be done with the treasure?

"I'll tell you what I am going to do with my portion, Eric," said Biarne. "I am going to bury it."

"An excellent idea," answered Eric. "Where?"

"Up on the beach, up near those hemlock trees. No one will ever know it, if we put it there at night."

"You are right."

"We'll do it right away."

So, that very night Eric and Biarne carried their share of the treasure far up the beach, and, beneath a great rock where a single pine seemed to grow as a sentinel, they buried their portions of the pirate gold. They marked the rock with a cross and a number six, just opposite the spot where the treasure lay, and, trudging back to the hut, were soon fast asleep.