Days of the Discoverers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 311 pages of information about Days of the Discoverers.
Then said the Icelander, ’I think that you should come up into the ship and let me go down into the boat.’  And indeed no other way might be found for him to live.  Then answered Bjarni making light of the matter, ’Let it be so, since I see that you are so anxious to live and so afraid of death; I will return to the ship.’  This was done, and the men rowing away looked back and saw the ship go down in a great swirl of waves with Bjarni and those who remained.

“This tale my grandmother heard from her father, and he from his, and so on until the time of that Thorolf Erlandsson who sailed with Bjarni Grimulfsson and went down into the sea by his side singing, for he feared nothing but to be a coward.”

Thorolf’s eyes were as proud and his head as high as were his Viking forefather’s when the worm-riddled galley went to her grave with more than half her crew, three hundred and forty years before.  In the little silence which followed the fire crackled and whistled, the gusty rain-drenched wind beat upon the little hut.  And then Nils repeated musingly the ancient saying from the Runes of Odin,

    “’Cattle die, Kings die,
    Kindred die, we also die,—­
    One thing never dies,
    The fair fame of the valiant.’”

Some one knocked at the door.  A real Viking in winged helmet and scale-armor would hardly have surprised them just then.  But it was only a tall man in a traveler’s cloak and hat, and they made quickly room for him to dry himself by the fire, and brought food and drink for him to refresh himself.

“I thought that I knew the way to the old place,” he said, looking about, “but in this tempest I nearly lost myself.  Which of you is Thorolf Erlandsson?”

The stranger was Syvert Thorolfson, a merchant of Iceland, Thorolf’s uncle.  He brought messages from Nikolina’s grandmother in Stavanger, and from the Bishop, who was ready to see that all the children who had no relatives should be taken care of in Bergen.  Within three days Asgard the Beautiful was left to the lemming and the raven.  Yet the long bright summer lived always in the hearts of the children.  Years after Thorolf remembered the words of the Wind-wife,—­

“Make friends with the Skroelings—­make friends.  Friendship is a rock to stand on; hatred is a rock to split on.  In the land of Klooskap shall you be Klooskap’s guest.”


[1] In old Norse families names alternated from father to son.  For example, Thorolf Erlandsson (Thorolf the son of Erland) would name his son after his own father, and the boy would be known as Erland Thorolfsson.  A daughter was known by her given name and her father’s, as Sigrid Erlandsdatter.  In the case of the farm being of sufficient importance for a surname the name might be added, as “Elsie Tharaldsdatter Ormgrass.”

[2] Northern sailors regard the Finns as wizards.

[3] Fladbrod is the coarse peasant-bread of Norway, made from an unfermented dough of barley and oatmeal rolled out into large thin cakes and baked.  It will keep a long time.

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Days of the Discoverers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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