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


"Yes, this is a good land to spend the winter in," said old Staumfroid. "The days are longer than in Greenland, and, because of the great quantities of salmon in the stream, we will not want for food."

"It is a good country, cried Volga, one of the sailors. "We will rest well throughout the winter months."

The tents were soon put up upon the beach. There was much dew upon the grass, and one of the Vikings lifted some of the water to his mouth.

"I swear, comrades," said he, "this dew is sweeter than any dew I ever tasted before. It is indeed a good country."

There is, in fact, a sort of "honey dew" to be found on the coast of New England, in America, which tastes very sweet, and this is what the Viking had lifted to his lips.

Leif Ericson now divided his crew into two divisions.

"We must explore the country," said he.

Biarne and Eric went with the party which Staumfroid was leading. As they journeyed inland, they found that the land which they had discovered was a rich and fertile one. The forests showed signs of game, and, also, of men; so it was plain that there were inhabitants in this new-found territory.

"Suppose we should run upon some of the people who dwell here," said Biarne, as they trudged along. "If they are a warlike race, we should fare ill."

"No danger!" answered Eric, smiling. believe that we could easily be a match them, for are we not Vikings?"

He looked very proud, as he said this, and Biarne could not help laughing at him.

Leif the Lucky's foster-father, named Tyrker, was in the party. Not long after this, he became separated from his companions, and apparently was lost in the woods. Leif, himself, was much worried over his disappearance.

"I fear me that my father will become much muddled in his mind as to our whereabouts," said he. "It is not good to be lost in a strange country where there are enemies about. Here, Eric! Here, Biarne, help me look for the old fellow!"

The boys hurried off into the woods, but did not go very far, as they, themselves, were in fear of being lost. Suddenly they heard Leif shouting, and, running back, found that his father had returned. The old gentleman seemed to be very much excited. He was grimacing and talking to himself in his own "south country "tongue.

"Pray be quiet, Father," said Leif. "What is it that disturbs you so?"

The old man looked at him with wide open eyes.

"I did not go very far, my son," said he. "Yet I found vines and grapes. Yes, as good vines as in our own land."

Leif smiled broadly.

"That is indeed good," said he. "This is certainly a fine land, if grapes are here, so that we can make the red wine. I shall have to call it Vinland."

"Well spoken," said Tyrker. "It is a splendid country and a fit place for our people to come to."

They all started back towards the beach where they had pitched their tents, seeing abundant signs of game on the way; and soon arrived at the curving shore of the river, where the Valhalla  lay gracefully at her anchorage.

"Men," said Captain Leif the Lucky, "we shall now have two things to do. We shall gather grapes and shall fell trees, in order to load our ship with lumber. But we must prepare for the cruel winter and must build ourselves a log house. Come, bestir yourselves. Eric and Biarne, get the axes ready and we will quickly go after the trees in the neighborhood, so that, when the cutting north wind blows, we shall have no cause for distress and suffering."

The boys paddled out to the Valhalla, found the axes, and returned to the land. Soon the chips were flying, the trees were falling, and the foundations of a large house were laid.

"Aren't you glad that you came along?" said Biarne to Eric, as they toiled over the timber cutting. "This promises to be a place where we can surely spend a pleasant winter."

"Indeed I am," said he. "We can have fine fishing in the bay, and we can go after deer and those big brown animals with spreading antlers which live in the deep woods."

The Vikings, in fact, had already caught many fine fish, which swam in the depths of the round basin, through which the blue and rippling waters of the river coursed into the sea. They were particularly pleased with the vast quantities of salmon which swam in the stream. They caught many of them; so many, in fact, that they grew tired of eating their flesh and longed for some other kind of diet. The log house progressed rapidly and it was not long before a magnificent structure stood upon the shore.

Was not this captain well named when they called him Leif the Lucky? He was the first man to find the great Western world, in spite of the fact that Christopher Columbus is supposed to be the first European to have ever visited America. None of the wise men of Europe had ever dreamed that there was a vast Continent far to the west of them, and was it not wonderful luck that Leif had discovered this country? Leif, himself, did not understand his own good fortune nor did he realize what he had found. "It is a good place," said he. "And we shall take a boatload of grapes and timber back with us to Greenland."

Eric and Biarne were assisting the sailors in the completion of their house when Leif strode up.

"We shall have a good winter here, boys," he said; "but I fear greatly that we shall be attacked by some of the people who live in this country."

Just then a loud and peculiar call echoed from the dense forest, and an arrow whizzed by the ear of the staunch Viking leader.