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


Fair winds were behind the two Viking ships, and it was not very long before they had drawn far away from the low-lying shores of Vinland. The rowers bent to the oars with a will, singing an old Norse song as they propelled the high-sided vessels towards the east. The boys stood in the stern of the Valhalla, and looked long and intently at the fast disappearing shore line.

"Biarne, we have had a good time in Vinland," said Eric. "But now it is all over."

"Yes, but when shall we warn Captain Leif of the mutiny that has been planned?"

"We will do that to-night."

When darkness had settled upon the blue Atlantic, and the boats were drowsing along under their spreading canvas, Eric crept to Leif's side.

"Sir," said he, "I have bad news to tell you."

"What is it, my son?"

"There is mutiny afloat. Biarne and I heard two of the sailors talking, Haldor and Avalldania, and they are preparing to kill you and your faithful followers, and take the whole treasure for themselves."

Leif started up from the cask upon which he had been sitting.


"Yes, what I tell you is the truth."

"Thank you, boy, for your information. I will see that these fellows are checkmated in their wild design."

Eric went back to his place in the center of the ship, and, while there, saw Captain Leif call several of his Vikings to his side. They were soon engaged in earnest conversation, and it was evident that Leif intended to be quite ready for any show of force upon the side of the mutineers.

Biarne had kept his eyes wide open and he had carefully hidden himself near Avalldania in order to see if he could not overhear the plans for seizing the Valhalla. That night he saw the treacherous Viking in conversation with several other Norsemen, and, from the expression upon their faces, he knew that they had decided to make an attempt at capturing the vessel before many days were over.

What would be the outcome of the battle? Biarne saw that Avalldania had a good many upon his side, but he also knew that those who would rally to Leif's banner were more numerous than those whom Avalldania could claim. There could be but one ending to the affair: the mutineers would be vanquished. So little Biarne felt fairly easy in his mind. He had the greatest confidence in Captain Leif.

The two ships sped onward. The mutineers obeyed all orders that were given them and seemed to bear no outward malice towards Leif and those whom they knew to be true to him. Day after day the vessels rose and fell upon the long, surging billows, as they plowed their way towards Greenland, and day after day the hardy Vikings plied the long, oaken sweeps. At last they neared that island of the Far North, whence they had come. It was now or never with the mutineers.

Biarne saw Haldor and Avalldania conversing very earnestly with one another and over-heard the whispered remark: "At seven o'clock to-morrow morning!" He guessed that this was the time set for the attack.

So he went to Leif and gave him warning.

"I will be ready when the time comes," said the Viking, laughing softly. "Avalldania had better beware."

The next day was a foggy one, and great banks of mist blew over the gray, surging ocean. Biarne and Eric had placed their shields where they could be easily reached, and waited for whatever might transpire. Nothing occurred until well after the time set by the mutineers. Then Avalldania, a sailor named Huriulf, and Haldor were seen to walk towards the bow. In a second they snatched up their shields and drew their swords, while Avalldania gave a great shout of battle.

Captain Leif was standing near the tiller, but, quicker than I can tell you, he had seized his own weapon. The shout had startled all the crew, and, in a moment more, those who were true to the staunch Viking, had ranged themselves by his side. Biarne and Eric, too, were ready for the fray.

"What means this, men?" shouted Leif, above the splashing of the waves. "Do you intend to attack your leader?"

Avalldania's eyes fell before the keen glance of the mighty Norseman, and, as he saw the men who ranged themselves by his side, he became less anxious to attempt to gain the mastery by force. But he had thrown down the gauntlet. What would Leif do to him should he now declare a truce, after he had made every show of an attack? Prompted by this thought, he threw himself upon the captain.

Leif met him with a sword thrust, which the mutineer parried, and then closed with the great Viking.

"To the rescue, friends!" shouted Avalldania, at this juncture. "If you do not come to my assistance, it will be all over with me!"

But the mutineers, although previously full of fight, had lost all their fire. Although those who had conspired to mutiny had seized their shields and other weapons, they hung back and made no effort to advance. Meanwhile it fared badly with Avalldania.

As he grappled with Leif and attempted to pull a dagger from his own belt in order to plunge it into the back of the noble Viking, he was seized upon either side by two stalwart Norsemen, who soon threw him to the deck and pinned him down. In a moment, his arms had been bound with ropes, and he lay there, glaring furiously into the laughing faces of those men of iron.

Meanwhile his followers had thrown down their arms, and had shouted out that they had meant no harm by this display of force, and that they surrendered. The mutiny had been short lived, indeed, but it was to the information furnished by Eric and Biarne that Leif and his followers owed their lives.

"Thank you, my boys, for what you told me," said Captain Leif, holding out a hand to each of the lads. "Had it not been for the notice which you gave me of the mutineers, I fear that they would have had their own way, and we would all have been slaughtered. You are good boys."

Both Biarne and Eric felt very proud at such praise from the great Leif Ericson.