| Viking Tales|
|by Jennie Hall|
|We follow the fortunes of Harald from the time he is given his own thrall at the cutting of his first tooth, through his exploits as a viking adventurer, to his crowning as King of Norway. Then population pressures at home and eagerness for adventure and booty from other lands combine to drive some of the bolder Vikings to set forth from their native land. Sailing ever westward across the Atlantic, they hop along the chain of islands that loosely connects Norway with America in search of home and adventure. Ages 6-9 |
VERY day the boy Harald heard some such story of war
or of the gods, until he could see Thor riding among
the storm-clouds and throwing his hammer, until he knew
that a brave man has many wounds, but never a one on
his back. Many nights he dreamed that he himself walked
into Valhalla, and that all the heroes stood up and
"Welcome! Harald Halfdanson!"
"Ah! the bite of the sword is sweeter than the kiss of
your mother," he said to Olaf one day. "When shall I
stand in the prow of a dragon and feast on the fight? I
am hungry to see the world. Ivar the Far-goer tells me
of the strange countries he has seen. Ah! we vikings
are great folk. There is no water that has not licked
our boats' sides. This cape of mine came in a viking
boat from France. These cloak-pins came from a far
country called Greece. In my father's house are
cups from Rome, away on the southern sea. Every land
pours rich things into our treasure-chest. Ivar has
been to a strange country where it is all sand and is
very hot. The people call their country Arabia. They
have never heard of Thor or Odin. Ivar brought
beautiful striped cloth from there, and wonderful,
sweet-smelling waters. Oh! when shall the white horses
of the sea lead me out to strange lands and glorious
But Harald did something besides listen to stories.
Every morning he was up at sunrise and went with a
thrall to feed the hunting dogs. Thorstein taught him
to swim in the rough waters of the fiord. Often he went
with the men a-hunting in the woods and learned to ride
a horse and pull a bow and throw a lance. Ivar taught
him to play the harp and to make up songs. He went much
to the smithy, where the warriors mended their helmets
and made their spears and swords of iron and bronze. At
first he only watched the men or worked the bellows,
but soon he could handle the tongs and hold the red-hot
iron, and after a long
 time he learned to use the
hammer and to shape metal. One day he made himself a
spear-head. It was two feet long and sharp on both
edges. While the iron was hot he beat into it some
runes. When the men in the smithy saw the runes they
opened their eyes wide and looked at the boy, for few
Norsemen could read.
"What does it say?" they asked.
"It is the name of my spear-point, and it says,
'Foes'-fear,' " Harald said. "But now for a handle."
It was winter and the snow was very deep. So Harald put
on his skees and started for a wood that was back from
shore. Down the mountains he went, twenty, thirty feet
at a slide, leaping over chasms a hundred feet across.
In his scarlet cloak he looked like a flash of fire.
The wind shot past him howling. His eyes danced at the
"It is like flying," he thought and laughed. "I am an
eagle. Now I soar," as he leaped over a frozen river.
He saw a slender ash growing on top of a high rock.
 "That is the handle for 'Foes'-fear,' " he said.
The rock stood up like a ragged tower, but he did not
stop because of the steep climb. He threw off his skees
and thrust his hands and feet into holes of the rock
and drew himself up. He tore his jacket and cut his
leather leggings and scratched his face and bruised his
hands, but at last he was on the top. Soon he had
chopped down the tree and had cut a straight pole ten
feet long and as big around as his arm. He went down,
sliding and jumping and tearing himself on the sharp
stones. With a last leap he landed near his skees. As
he did so a lean wolf jumped and snapped at him,
snarling. Harald shouted and swung his pole. The wolf
dodged, but quickly jumped again and caught the boy's
arm between his sharp teeth. Harald thought of the
spear-point in his belt. In a wink he had it out and
was striking with it. He drove it into the wolf's neck
and threw him back on the snow, dead.
"He drove it into the wolf's neck"
"You are the first to feel the tooth of 'Foes'-fear,' "
he said, "but I think you will not be the last."
 Then without thinking of his torn arm he put on his
skees and went leaping home. He went straight to the
smithy and smoothed his pole and drove it into the haft
of the spear-point. He hammered out a gold band and put
it around the joining place. He made nails with
beautiful heads and drove them into the pole in
"If it is heavy it will strike hard," he said.
Then he weighed the spear in his hand and found the
balancing point and put another gold band there to mark
Thorstein came in while he was working.
"A good spear," he said.
Then he saw the torn sleeve and the red wound beneath.
''Hello!" he cried. "Your first wound?"
"Oh, it is only a wolf-scratch," Harald answered.
"By Thor!" cried Thorstein, "I see that you are ready
for better wounds. You bear this like a warrior."
"I think it will not be my last," Harald said.
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