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The Thrall of Leif the Lucky - A Story of Viking Days

101 pages
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Ajouté le : 08 décembre 2010
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Project Gutenberg's The Thrall of Leif the Lucky, by Ottilie A. Liljencrantz This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: The Thrall of Leif the Lucky Author: Ottilie A. Liljencrantz Posting Date: August 14, 2009 [EBook #4581] Release Date: October, 2003 First Posted: February 11, 2002 Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE THRALL OF LEIF THE LUCKY *** Produced by A. Elizabeth Warren. HTML version by Al Haines. THE THRALL OF LEIF THE LUCKY A Story of Viking Days By Ottilie A. Liljencrantz CONTENTS FOREWORD CHAPTER I Where Wolves Thrive Better than Lambs CHAPTER II The Maid in the Silver Helmet CHAPTER III A Gallant Outlaw CHAPTER IV In a Viking Lair CHAPTER V The Ire of a Shield-Maiden CHAPTER VI The Song of Smiting Steel CHAPTER VII The King's Guardsman CHAPTER VIII Leif the Cross-Bearer CHAPTER IX Before the Chieftain CHAPTER X The Royal Blood of Alfred CHAPTER XI The Passing of the Scar CHAPTER XII Through Bars of Ice CHAPTER XIII Eric the Red in His Domain CHAPTER XIV For the Sake of the Cross CHAPTER XV A Wolf-Pack in Leash CHAPTER XVI A Courtier of the King CHAPTER XVII The Wooing of Helga CHAPTER XVIII The Witch's Den CHAPTER XIX Tales of the Unknown West CHAPTER XX Alwin's Bane CHAPTER XXI The Heart of a Shield-Maiden CHAPTER XXII In the Shadow of the Sword CHAPTER XXIII A Familiar Blade in a Strange Sheath CHAPTER XXIV For Dear Love's Sake CHAPTER XXV "Where Never Man Stood Before" CHAPTER XXVI Vinland the Good CHAPTER XXVII Mightier than the Sword CHAPTER XXVIII "Things that are Fated" CHAPTER XXIX The Battle to the Strong CHAPTER XXX From Over the Sea CONCLUSION FOREWORD THE Anglo-Saxon race was in its boyhood in the days when the Vikings lived. Youth's fresh fires burned in men's blood; the unchastened turbulence of youth prompted their crimes, and their good deeds were inspired by the purity and wholeheartedness and divine simplicity of youth. For every heroic vice, the Vikings laid upon the opposite scale an heroic virtue. If they plundered and robbed, as most men did in the times when Might made Right, yet the heaven-sent instinct of hospitality was as the marrow of their bones. No beggar went from their doors without alms; no traveller asked in vain for shelter; no guest but was welcomed with holiday cheer and sped on his way with a gift. As cunningly false as they were to their foes, just so superbly true were they to their friends. The man who took his enemy's last blood-drop with relentless hate, gave his own blood with an equally unsparing hand if in so doing he might aid the cause of some sworn brother. Above all, they were a race of conquerors, whose knee bent only to its proved superior. Not to the man who was king-born merely, did their allegiance go, but to the man who showed himself their leader in courage and their master in skill. And so it was with their choice of a religion, when at last the death-day of Odin dawned. Not to the God who forgives, nor to the God who suffered, did they give their faith; but they made their vows to the God who makes men strong, the God who is the neverdying and all-powerful Lord of those who follow Him. The Thrall of Leif the Lucky CHAPTER I WHERE WOLVES THRIVE BETTER THAN LAMBS Vices and virtues The sons of mortals bear In their breasts mingled; No one is so good That no failing attends him, Nor so bad as to be good for nothing. Ha'vama'l (High Song of Odin). It was back in the tenth century, when the mighty fair-haired warriors of Norway and Sweden and Denmark, whom the people of Southern Europe called the Northmen, were becoming known and dreaded throughout the world. Iceland and Greenland had been colonized by their dauntless enterprise. Greece and Africa had not proved distant enough to escape their ravages. The descendants of the Viking Rollo ruled in France as Dukes of Normandy; and Saxon England, misguided by Ethelred the Unready and harassed by Danish pirates, was slipping swiftly and surely under Northern rule. It was the time when the priests of France added to their litany this petition: "From the fury of the Northmen, deliver us, good Lord." The old, old Norwegian city of Trondhjem, which lies on Trondhjem Fiord, girt by the river Nid, was then King Olaf Trygvasson's new city of Nidaros, and though hardly more than a trading station, a hamlet without streets, it was humming with prosperity and jubilant life. The shore was fringed with ships whose gilded dragon-heads and purple-and-yellow hulls and azure-and-scarlet sails were reflected in the waves until it seemed as if rainbows had been melted in them. Hillside and river-bank bloomed with the gay tents of chieftains who had come from all over the North to visit the powerful Norwegian king. Traders had scattered booths of tempting wares over the plain, so that it looked like fair-time. The broad roads between the estates that clustered around the royal residence were thronged with clanking horsemen, with richly dressed traders followed by covered carts of precious merchandise, with beautiful fair-haired women riding on gilded chair-like saddles, with monks and slaves, with white-bearded lawmen and pompous landowners. Along one of those roads that crossed the city from the west, a Danish warrior came riding, one keen May morning, with a young English captive tied to his saddle-bow. The Northman was a great, hulking, wild-maned, brute-faced fellow, capped by an iron helmet and wrapped in a mantle of coarse gray, from whose folds the handle of a battle-axe looked out suggestively; but the boy was of the handsomest Saxon type. Though barely seventeen, he was man-grown, and lithe and well-shaped; and he carried himself nobly, despite his clumsy garments of white wool. His gold-brown hair had been clipped close as a mark of slavery, and there were fetters on his limbs; but chains could not restrain the glance of his proud gray eyes, which flashed defiance with every look. Crossing the city northward, they came where a trading-booth stood on its outskirts—an odd looking place of neatly built log walls tented over with gay striped linen. Beyond, the plain rose in gentle hills, which were overlooked in their turn by pine-clad snow-capped mountains. On one side, the river hurried along