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




The Treasure Discovered

Next day Biarne's mind began to revolve about the treasure which they had lost, and, going up to Eric, he said:

"Let's go below and look around among the things stored there. Perhaps we can find some trace of the stolen treasure."

"Why, Biarne," Eric answered, "isn't it strange? I was thinking the same thing. Come on! Let's go below!"

The boys climbed down to the place where the Vikings had packed away most of their belongings, and, with keen eyes, began to look at everything which might possibly contain their lost treasure. They pried in between bales of furs, stacks of dried fish, and pieces of sawed lumber; but, for a long time, it was a pretty hollow search. Finally Biarne climbed up in the bow, where it was so dark that he could only just see; but, Eric, who was behind him, heard him whisper.

"Eric! Eric! Come here, for I believe that I have unearthed something which will be of interest to you."

Eric scrambled up to the place where Biarne was kneeling, and found him with his hand upon a bag of deer skin. "Feel that!" said he.

Eric put his hand down and clutched the bag. There was something hard beneath it which felt like large, golden coins.

"Can it be the treasure?" he whispered. "I think so."

"Hurray! Then we have it on board, just as I thought."

As he spoke, a shadow darkened the hold, and the boys saw Haldor peering in their direction. Both of them crouched down low, behind a bale of fox skins.

"Comrade," said Haldor, turning to a second Norseman who had come to his side, "I thought that I heard something stirring."

"Hist!" answered the other, a sailor named Thor. "We must be careful what we say. You remember that the treasure is there."

"Yes."

"And it is buried well beneath the fox skins and lumber?"

"Yes."

"And no one suspected it. No one saw you stow it away?"

"Yes, Tellfroid did."

"Did he suspect what it was?"

"He questioned me."

"What did you say?"

"I told him that we had put a rock in there for ballast."

"A sorry answer!"

Haldor winced. "I admit it."

"Well, I certainly heard a noise! Are there any rats aboard?"

"None that I know of."

"Well, perhaps it was that tame fox which Tellfroid brought with him. The beast is a nuisance!"

The boys could not help chuckling. Eric snickered so loudly that he thought they heard him.

Apparently satisfied that no one was there, the two Vikings withdrew, while the boys wriggled from their hiding place and finally climbed on deck. Both were smiling broadly, for they knew that they would secure what really belonged to them when they should reach home.

The two ships plunged onward, and, as the sinewy Vikings swung the great oaken oars through the water, they sang a wild song of the Norseland. They passed the shores of Newfoundland, saw many whales spouting and playing in the water as they left that land of flat stones far behind, and then, as they plowed their way toward Greenland, great schools of porpoises jumped and frolicked around them.

A dense fog now encompassed the ships, and, for fully a day they plowed through a sheet of white mist, but, at last the sun burned through the fog bank and the ships sped onward towards their goal. The white gulls went careening by, the massive billows surged and tossed, but the brave ships plowed onward, until—in the far distance—a thin, bluish-brown line upon the horizon told them that they were nearing Greenland.

Both Eric and Biarne were delighted to think that they would soon be back in their old home and would see their parents again, for Leif had promised to send them home in the first ship that left Greenland for Norway. They stood in the bow eagerly gazing at the nearing shore, and, occasionally they would help one of the men with an oar.

As they stood thus, old Staumfroid came up behind them and laid a hand upon either shoulder.

"Boys!" said he, "are you glad to get back after all your many adventures in Vinland?"

"Yes," said Eric, smiling. "But, Staumfroid, we have something that we want to tell you.

"Go ahead, my son, what is it?"

"You remember the treasure that Captain Leif captured from the pirates?"

"I certainly do."

"You remember that we both received a certain part of it?"

"Yes, what did you young rascals do with it?"

"We buried it on the beach."

"Near the camp?"

"Yes, near the camp."

"Well! well!" Old Staumfroid grew interested.

"And it was stolen from us by some men on this very ship."

"W-h-a-a-t?"

"Yes, and it is now down below in some sacks. Will you help us get it back?"

"Why, certainly, I will, if you can prove that it is yours."

"That we can do quite easily."

"All right. I will help you do it when we get to land."

Soon the ships entered the harbor of Bratthalia, and their anchors were lowered in the quiet waters of the little bay. All the townsfolk came out and shouted a welcome to them. They blew horns, waved banners, and cried out in loud tones: "Skoal to Leif Ericson! Skoal to Leif Ericson and his brave Vikings! Welcome home to Greenland!"