| 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 |
THE SEA FIGHT
ANY men felt as Solfi did. So when King Audbiorn and
King Arnvid sent out their war arrows, a great host
gathered. All men came by sea. Two hundred ships lay at
anchor in the fiord, looking like strange swimming
animals because of their high carved prows and bright
paint. There were red and gold dragons with long necks
and curved tails. Sea-horses reared out of the water.
Green and gold snakes coiled up. Sea-hawks sat with
spread wings ready to fly. And among all these curved
necks stood up the tall, straight masts with the long
yardarms swinging across them holding the looped-up
When the starting horn blew, and their sails were let
down, it was like the spreading of hundreds of curious
flags. Some were striped black and yellow or blue and
gold. Some were white with a black raven or a brown
bear embroidered on them, or blue with a white
 or black with a gold sun. Some were edged
with fur. As the wind filled the gaudy sails, and the
ships moved off, the men waved their hands to the women
on shore and sang:
"To the sea! To the sea!
The wind in our sail,
The sea in our face,
And the smell of the fight.
After ship meets ship,
In the quarrel of swords
King Harald shall lie
In the caves under the sea
And Norsemen shall laugh."
In the prow stood men leaning forward and sniffing the
salt air with joy. Some were talking of King Harald.
"Yesterday he had a hard fight," they said. "To-day he
will be lying still, dressing his wounds and mending
his ships. We shall take him by surprise."
They sailed near the coast. Solfi in his "Sea-hawk" was
ahead leading the way. Suddenly men saw his sail veer
and his oars flash out. He had quickly turned his boat
and was rowing back. He came close to King Arnvid and
 "He is there, ahead. His boats are ready in line of
battle. The fox has not been asleep."
King Arnvid blew his horn. Slowly his boats came into
line with his "Sea-stag" in the middle. Again he blew
his horn. Cables were thrown across from one prow to
the next, and all the ships were tied together so that
their sides touched. Then the men set their sails again
and they went past a tongue of land into a broad fiord.
There lay the long line of King Harald's ships with
their fierce heads grinning and mocking at the
new-comers. Back of those prows was what looked like a
long wall with spots of green and red and blue and
yellow and shining gold. It was the locked shields of
the men in the bows, and over every shield looked
fierce blue eyes. Higher up and farther back was
another wall of shields; for on the half deck in the
stern of every ship stood the captain with his
shield-guard of a dozen men.
Arnvid's people had furled their sails and were taking
down the masts, but the
 ships were still drifting on
with the wind. The horn blew, and quickly every man
sprang to his place in bow and stern. All were leaning
forward with clenched teeth and widespread nostrils.
They were clutching their naked swords in their hands.
Their flashing eyes looked over their shields.
Soon King Arnvid's ships crashed into Harald's line,
and immediately the men in the bows began to swing
their swords at one another. The soldiers of the
shield-guard on the high decks began to throw darts and
stones and to shoot arrows into the ships opposite
So in every ship showers of stones and arrows were
falling, and many men died under them or got broken
arms or legs. Spears were hurled from deck to deck and
many of them bit deep into men's bodies. In every bow
men slashed with their swords at the foes in the
opposite ship. Some jumped upon the gunwale to get
nearer or hung from the prow-head. Some even leaped
into the enemy's boat.
King Harald's ship lay prow to prow with King Arnvid's.
The battle had been
 going on for an hour. King Harald
was still in the stern on the deck. There was a dent in
his helmet where a great stone had struck. There was a
gash in his shoulder where a spear had cut. But he was
still fighting and laughed as he worked.
"Wolf meets wolf to-day," he said. "But things are
going badly in the prow," he cried. "Ivar fallen,
Thorstein wounded, a dozen men lying in the bottom of
He leaped down from the deck and ran along the gunwale,
shouting as he went:
"Harald and victory!"
So he came to the bow and stood swinging his sword as
fast as he breathed. Every time it hit a man of
Arnvid's men. Harald's own warriors cheered, seeing
"Harald and victory!" they shouted, and went to work
again with good heart.
Slowly King Arnvid's men fell back before Harald's
biting sword. Then Harald's men threw a great hook into
that boat and pulled it alongside and still pushed King
Arnvid's people back.
 "Come on! Follow me!" cried Harald.
Then he leaped into King Arnvid's boat, and his
warriors followed him.
"Then he leaped into King Arnvid's boat"
"He comes like a mad wolf," King Arnvid's men said, and
they turned and ran back below the deck.
Then Arnvid himself leaped down and stood with his
"Can this young Shockhead make cowards of you all?" he
But Harald's sword struck him, and he fell dead. Then a
big, bloody viking of King Arnvid leaped upon the edge
of the ship and stood there. He held his drinking-horn
and his sword high in his hands.
and not you, Shockhead, shall have them and me!"
he cried, and leaped laughing into the water and was
Many other warriors chose the same death on that
All along the line of boats men fought for hours. In
some places the cables had been cut, and the boats had
drifted apart. Ships lay scattered about two by two,
fighting. Many boats sank, many men
 died, some fled
away in their ships, and at the end King Harald had won
the battle. So he had King Arnvid's country and King
Audbiorn's country. Many men took the oath and became
his friends. All people were talking of his wonderful
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