Front Matter Leif, the Lucky Spaniards Conquer Mexico Conquest of Peru The Fountain of Youth De Soto and the Mississippi Sir Walter Raleigh The Lost Colony Adventures of John Smith More about John Smith Pilgrims and Puritans Miles Standish Building a Canoe Roger Williams Old Silver Leg William Penn The Charter Oak Bloody Marsh Saving of Hadley Sir William Phips Hannah Dustin Israel Putnam A Young Surveyor Young Washington Indians and Major Putnam How Detroit was Saved Acadia Blackbeard the Pirate Daniel Boone Sunday in the Colonies The Salem Witches Traveling by Stage-coach King George and the Colonies Patrick Henry Paul Revere Green Mountain Boys Father of his Country Nathan Hale Elizabeth Zane Capturing the Hessians Lafayette Comes to America Lydia Darrah Captain Molly Pitcher The Swamp Fox Outwitting a Tory Supporting the Colors Nancy Hart Mad Anthony Execution of Major Andre How Schuyler was Saved An Indian Trick Winning the Northwest Benjamin Franklin Nolichucky Jack Eli Whitney Thomas Jefferson Burning of the Philadelphia Lewis and Clark Colter's Race for Life Pike Explores Arkansas Valley How Pumpkins Saved a Family Old Ironsides Tecumseh Star Spangled Banner Traveling by Canal Lafayette Returns Osceola, Seminole Chief Journey by Railroad Old Hickory Daniel Webster Henry Clay Plantation Christmas John C. Calhoun Heroes of the Alamo Freedom for Texas Electric Telegraph Gold in California Crossing Continent The Pony Express Boy Who Saved Village Rescue of Jerry Abraham Lincoln Robert E. Lee Stonewall Jackson Stealing a Locomotive Sam Davis Escape from Prison Running the Blockade Heart of the South Surrender of Lee Laying the Atlantic Cable The Telephone Thomas A. Edison Clara Barton Hobson and the Merrimac Dewey at Manila Bay Conquering Yellow Fever Sinking of Lusitania Private Treptow Frank Luke, Aviator Sergeant York

America First - Lawton Evans

Leif, The Lucky

Leif was a bold Norseman, and was called "Lucky" because he came safely through so many dangers. He was the bravest seaman of his race, and the sailors believed that whatever boat carried him would come safely into port, no matter how fierce the storm.

When voyagers from the far seas brought word to Iceland that fair lands covered with forests lay to the west, for they had seen them, Leif the Lucky called for thirty-five strong and true men. "Let us sail to this country, and get wood for our ships, and perhaps gold and silver to sell to the kings of Europe," he said. The men came forward and the ship set sail in the summer.

They went by way of Greenland, where they stopped for more news of the strange lands, and then sailed southwest for many days. The first place they saw was a land of ice and mountains. This was probably Newfoundland. Then they reached a level country covered with trees. This was probably Nova Scotia. Still sailing onward, the little ships with their brave crews came to a beautiful country abounding in trees, grass, and flowers. Here they landed, and carried all their baggage ashore with them. The place was so beautiful, they resolved to spend the winter there, and at once set about building houses. This was probably somewhere in Rhode Island.

When the Norsemen had built their houses, Leif said to his men, "Let us explore the land; some of us will stay to guard the houses, and the rest will find out what there is to see." So they set forth into the interior.

Soon they came upon an abundance of grapevines hanging from trees and covered with luscious fruit. Leif was delighted, and at once named the country Vinland, or the Land of Vines. So they gathered grapes, and cut wood for their ships, and built more houses, and settled down to spend the winter in this delightful spot. The cold came on, but the Norsemen did not mind it, for they had plenty of food and great fires; besides which, they were accustomed to cold weather.

In the spring they loaded their ships with timber, and sailed for home. Here they narrated their marvelous story of the new land. Leif offered his ship to his brother, Thorwald, and told him he might go and spend a winter in Vinland. So Thorwald fitted himself out and started for the new country, but he was not as lucky as his brother. He found the homes that had been built by those who had been before him; but the Indians attacked his party one night, and killed Thorwald with a poisoned arrow. He was buried on the shore, and his men set sail for home as soon as the weather allowed them to leave.

About eight hundred years after this, a skeleton clothed in armor was found buried in the earth at the head of Narragansett Bay. No one knew who it was; but we have every reason to believe that it was the remains of the brave old Norse warrior, Thorwald, or, maybe, of one of his followers. At any rate, the Skeleton in Armor has been the subject of much romance and poetry, and the traditions of the Norsemen have been handed down to us as sagas in the writing of the seafaring Icelanders.