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




The Plot

The winter was not as severe as Leif had expect d. The Vikings were all well and healthy. One thing alone marred the pleasure of their stay, and that was the fact that the pirates, whom they had captured, seemed to be very quarrelsome, and it was difficult to keep them in order.

Eric was growing in strength and in vigor, but he was looking forward to the spring sea-son, when it would be possible for them to hoist the sails on both the Valhalla and the pirate ship and coast back to Greenland and Norway. Biarne, too, looked forward to the time when they could all be off again.

But exciting events were to occur, for dissentions had already arisen over the treasure which had been captured from the pirates.

Late, one afternoon, Eric had left the hut and wandered down the beach for quite a distance. He was looking at a reddish glow in the sky and wondering how far away the great North Pole might be, when he heard two voices in earnest conversation.

Carefully stealing up the beach, he hid himself behind a rock and saw that the voices were those of a sailor called Haldor and a man named Avalldania. Haldor, who had a red beard, and a scar on his forehead, was speaking quite loudly.

"I know," said he, "that those two boys have hidden their part of the treasure, and in a place not so far away. You and I must search the beach, comrade, and I am sure that we can find where it lies buried."

"How do you know this?" asked the second.

"Why, man, I have looked into all their belongings, when they have been off hunting in the woods, and I have found nothing of the treasure. Where, then, have they placed it?"

Eric's heart began to beat loudly against his ribs. So their prized possessions had been searched, had they? This was why he had often found his bedding disarranged; some one had been looking for his share of the treasure. He was glad, very glad, that he had buried it.

"I think that the place cannot be far away," continued Haldor. "We must search the beach well. Perhaps we can find some sign on a rock; some sign which will tell us where we can unearth this gold."

Again Eric's heart pumped against his side. What if they were to run upon the cross which he and Biarne had made?

The voices now arose again.

"I'll tell you what, comrade," Haldor remarked, "we will not only look for this treasure, but we will gather other stout souls to our way of thinking; we will mutiny on the way home; and all the treasure will be ours before we reach the coast of Greenland."

"Comrade, will this be possible?"

Eric shuddered.

"Yes," replied Haldor, "and it will be a great thing for both of us. We will live in peace and comfort forever!"

"We will do it."

Eric crouched behind the rock, as he saw the burly forms of Haldor and Avalldania rise from the sandy beach. What if they should see him? He was breathless with excitement and fear.

But they did not see him. Instead of this they wandered along the beach, looking for something—Eric well knew what—and, when he saw them near the place where the treasure was buried, he watched them very eagerly indeed. They had keen eyes, but they were not keen enough to see the cross which Biarne had chiseled on the rock.

Eric watched closely, and when he saw that the two Vikings had gone safely by the place where the treasure lay hid, he turned and ran back to the hut.

"Biarne," he whispered, when he had found his comrade nestled down in his sleeping bag. "Biarne, I have bad news to tell you."

"What can it be, Eric? Your face seems to be very red."

"Yes, there are persons looking for our treasure. And a plot to mutiny is on foot."

"To mutiny?"

"Yes, and to steal all of the treasure on the return trip home."

"You must tell Captain Leif, at once."

"Would you?"

"No, stay! I would not tell him now. We will wait until the danger threatens, and then we will warn him so that he will be well prepared."

"That is sensible advice. I will do as you say."

"Leif will be quite ready for these fellows and I'll warrant that they will rue the day that they ever attempted to mutiny against our captain."

As he ceased speaking Leif, himself, entered the room, rosy with health, his flaxen locks streaming over his shoulders. Such a picture of manly strength and vigor the boys had never seen before.

"Well, boys," said he, "the spring is here."

"We must soon bid good-by to Vinland. And very sorry I'll be to go, for we have had a merry time of it."

"You are right, good Captain," said Eric. "We shall bring good news to our friends in Greenland."

"Good and great news," Leif answered. "News of a new country with grapes, wild savage inhabitants, and glorious salmon in the streams. I'll warrant that it will not be long before other Vikings hasten to plant homes in beautiful Vinland."