A tale of adventure and evangelism, Ballantyne transforms into engaging historical fiction the well-known facts of the Icelandic Saga--stories of exploration and adventure, blessed marriage, alternating turmoil and peace with indigenous people--all sprinkled with delightful and humorous stories of day-to-day life surrounding the first European ground breaking in America. The Norsemen in the West carries readers back nearly a thousand years in time, to the days of Leif Ericsson and the early settlements of the seafaring Norsemen. Journey from the shores of Greenland to earliest-recorded America, a plentiful land of lush forests, crystal clear lakes and rivers and abundant fish and game.
One fine autumn evening, between eight and nine hundred years ago, two large hairy creatures, bearing some resemblance to polar bears, might have been seen creeping slowly, and with much caution, toward the summit of a ridge that formed a spur to one of the ice–clad mountains of Greenland. The creatures went on all–fours. They had long bodies, short legs, shorter tails, and large round heads. Having gained the top of the ridge they peeped over and beheld a hamlet nestled at the foot of a frowning cliff; and at the head of a smiling inlet. We use these terms advisedly, because the cliff, being in deep shadow, looked unusually black and forbidding, while the inlet, besides being under the influence of a profound calm, was lit up on all its dimples by the rays of the setting sun. The hamlet consisted of one large cottage and half a dozen small cots, besides several sheds and enclosures wherein were a few sleepy–looking sheep, some lean cattle, and several half–starved horses. There was active life there also. Smoke issued from the chimneys; fresh–looking women busied themselves about household work; rosy children tumbled in and out at the doors, while men in rough garments and with ruddy countenances mended nets or repaired boats on the shore. On a bench in front of the principal cottage sat a sturdy man, scarcely middle–aged, with shaggy fair and flowing locks. His right foot served as a horse to a rapturous little boy, whose locks and looks were so like to those of the man that their kinship was obvious—only the man was rugged and rough in exterior; the boy was round and smooth. Tow typified the hair of the man; floss silk that of the boy.