Leif the Lucky
By Ingrid & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire
This book is about a young boy named Leif, he was the youngest in his family. They lived 1000 years ago. His father was Erik the Red. He was called that because of his red hair. Erik the Red was a Viking leader. He was very strong and he had a quick temper. He was in a fight and was banned from Norway.
When he was banned from Norway he sailed to Iceland where he built a farm and got married. Soon he was fighting again and had to leave Iceland. He sailed to a new land. He did not know the name of it but we call it Greenland.
Erik built houses and he called the village Brattali. He had three sons the youngest was Leif. He grew up very strong as the cheiftan’s son. He learned from his father to hunt seals but sometimes he got so excited he forgot to whisper under his breath and he said “I’ll catch you” very loudly. Then he would scare seal away.
When Leif was older he liked to hear sailor stories and one time this man named Bjarne told everyone about how he sailed off course and he saw a land but he was too scared to go ashore and explore.
Leif then wanted to see the land for himself and explore it. He decided right then that someday he would go.
One night Leif had a dream about how he threw two spears at once. He could play with three swords and run along the blades of the oars while his men rowed them. He wanted to sail to the court of the glorious king.
When he was grown up he sailed to Norway to meet the king of his dream. When he got to the King’s hall everyone was eating. When the king stopped eating everyone was supposed to stop. A little fat man did not see the king stop and continued to eat. The king was very, very mad and told his servants to get a big bowl of porridge and the man had to eat it. The king wanted to kill him with overeating. The man ate until belt broke, his shoelaces broke and his cheeks turned blue. The little fat man begged to kill some other way. The king spared him. The king saw Leif then and told him to come into the hall.
Leif gave King Olav gifts. The king was pleased.
King Olav was Catholic and Leif was not so the king taught Leif about the Catholic faith. After King Olav taught Leif everything he knew about the faith he asked him to return to Greenland and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Leif sailed off to the West and got stuck in a fog. They were lost. When the fog lifted Leif saw land with trees and flowers. He got off the boat to explore the land. He sent Haig and Haigie to see if there were any people. Haig and Haigie were given to Leif by King Olav to help him.
They did not find any people but they found fruit trees and many good things to eat. Leif and his men stayed all through the summer.
When Leif started off home to Greenland he saw people stranded on a big glacier, so he sailed off course to go help those people. He saved them and then sailed back on course to Greenland. When he reached home his father came to greet him. Leif brought back wine, grapes, and lumber to his father.
Erik was angry that Leif was now a Catholic. He did not want to serve only one God he liked the old gods. Leif’s mother became a Catholic and he baptized her and almost everyone in the village of Brattali. After his mother was baptized she told all the new Christians to build a church in Brattali. They built a beautiful church with a cross on the roof.
Later he made another voyage to Vinland and his brothers Torvald and Torstein also made a voyage. Torstein was lost at sea and his widow Gudrid came to live at Brattali. She was a lovely lady. When a merchantman named Torfinn came to Brattali they fell in love and got married. They wanted to go to Vinland and Leif did all that he could to help them. He even gave them his house and Haig and Haigie. They sailed with 150 Norseman including Leif, cattle and household goods.
They sailed toward Vinland. First they stopped at an island they called Stone Slab Land. After leaving there they sailed along the shore for a very long time until they came into a fjord. There was a current and in the middle of the current was an island. The island had so many birds and eggs that they had to walk on their tip toes. Torfinn sent out Haig and Haigie to see what they could find. When they came back three days later they had grape vines and wisps of grain. Torfinn knew then that they weren’t far from Vinland so he put ashore his cattle to graze. They stayed through the winter and there was enough food.
That winter Torfinn and Gudrid had a baby boy. Torfinn named him Snorre. He was the first white person to be born in the Americas. In the spring Torfinn set sail for Vinland.
The native people of Vinland found the Norseman. The Norseman called them Skraellinger. They traded items and got along very well. The Norseman gave the Skraellinger red cloth to wear. The red cloth aggravated Torfinn’s big bull. The Skraellinger had never seen a bull before and they very afraid and ran away from the bull. The Norseman laughed at the Skraellinger left. Three weeks later the Skraellinger came back in great numbers to fight.
The Norseman no longer felt safe in Vinland so they left and on their way home to Greenland they saw Skraellinger whenever they came close to shore. They passed by Forest Land and Stone Slab Land as they sailed. They stopped once and caught two Skraellinger boys and took them onto the ship.
When they returned home everyone agreed that the Skraellinger made Vinland too dangerous to live in. The boys learned the language of the Norseman and told stories of their people.
Torfinn and Gudrid left for Iceland where they sold the fine furs and wood they found in Vinland. They became rich. Leif stayed in Greenland.
After his death the story of Leif the Lucky, the first white man to discover the Americas, lived on.
October 17, 2005