| 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 |
KING HARALD GOES WEST-OVER-SEAS
OW many men hated King Harald. Many a man said:
"Why should he put himself up for king of all of us? He
is no better than I am. Am I not a king's son as well
as he? And are not many of us kings' sons? I will not
kneel before him and promise to be his man. I will not
pay him taxes. I will not have his earl sitting over
me. The good old days have gone. This Norway has become
a prison. I will go away and find some other place."
So hundreds of men sailed away. Some went to France and
got land and lived there. Big Rolf-go-afoot and all his
men sailed up the great French River and won a battle
against the French king himself. There was no way to
stop the flashing of his battle-axes but to give him
what he wanted. So the king made Rolf a duke, gave him
broad lands and gave him the king's own daughter for
 wife. Rolf called his country Normandy, for old Norway.
He ruled it well and was a great lord, and his sons'
sons after him were kings of England.
Other Norseman went to Ireland and England and
Scotland. They drew up their boats on the river banks.
The people ran away before them and gathered into great
armies that marched back to meet the vikings in battle.
Sometimes the Norseman lost, but oftener they won, so
that they got land and lived in those countries. Their
houses sat in these strange lands like warriors' camps,
and the Norsemen went among their new neighbors with
hanging swords and spears in hand, ever ready for
There are many islands north of Scotland. They are
called the Orkneys and the Shetlands. They have many
good harbors for ships. They are little and rocky and
bare of trees. Wild sea-birds scream around them. On
some of them a man can stand in the middle and see the
ocean all about him. Now the vikings sailed to these
islands and were pleased.
 "It is like being always in a boat," they said. "This
shall be our home."
So it went until all the lands round about were covered
with vikings. Norse carved and painted houses
brightened the hillsides. Viking ships sailed all the
seas and made harbor in every river. Norsemen's thralls
plowed the soil and planted crops and herded cattle,
and gold flowed into their masters' treasure-chests.
Norse warriors walked up and down the land, and no man
dared to say them nay.
These men did not forget Norway. In the summers they
sailed back there and harried the coast. They took gold
and grain and beautiful cloth back to their homes. In
Norway they left burning houses and weeping women.
"In Norway they left burning houses and weeping women"
Every summer King Harald had out his ships and men and
hunted these vikings. There are many little islands.
about Norway. They have crags and caves and deep woods.
Here the vikings hid when they saw King Harald's ships
coming. But Harald ran his boat into every creek and
fiord and hunted in every cave and through all the
 among the crags. He caught many men, but most
of them got away and went home laughing at Harald. Then
they came back the next summer and did the same deeds
over again. At last King Harald said:
"There is but one thing to do. I must sail to these
western islands and whip these robbers in their own
So he went with a great number of ships. He found as
brave men as he had brought from Norway. These vikings
had brought their old courage to their new homes. King
Harald's fine ships were scarred by viking stones and
scorched by viking fire. The shields of Harald's
warriors had dents from viking blows. Many of those men
carried viking scars all their lives. And many of King
Harald's warriors walked the long, hard road to
Valhalla, and feasted there with some of these very
vikings that had died in King Harald's battles. But
after many hard fights on land and sea, after many men
had died and many had fled away to other lands, King
Harald won, and he made the men that were yet
 in the
islands take the oath, and he left his earls to rule
over them. Then he went back to Norway.
"He has done more than he vowed to do," people said.
"He has not only whipped the vikings, but he has got a
new kingdom west-over-seas."
Then they talked of that dream that his mother had.
"King Harald was that great tree," they said. "The
trunk was red with the blood of his many battles, but
higher up the limbs were fair and green like this good
time of peace. The topmost branches were white because
Harald will live to be an old man. Just as that tree
spread out until all of Norway was in its shade, and
even more lands, so Harald is king of all this country
and of the western islands. The many branches of that
tree are the many sons of Harald, who shall be earls
and kings in Norway, and their sons after them, for
hundreds of years."
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