Read CONCLUSION of The Thrall of Leif the Lucky, free online book, by Ottilie A. Liljencrantz, on ReadCentral.com.

As the sun’s last beams were fading from the mountain tops, the exploring vessel dropped anchor before Eric’s ship-sheds and the eager groups that had gathered on the shore at the first signal. Not only idlers made up the throng, but the Red One himself was there, and Thorwald and every soul from Brattahlid; and with them half the high-born men of Greenland, who had lived for the last month as Eric’s guests, that they might be on hand for this occasion. They shoved and jostled each other like schoolboys, as they crowded down to meet the first boat-load.

The ten sailors who stepped ashore were a prosperous looking band. Their arms were full of queer pets; their pouches were stuffed with samples of wood and samples of wheat, and with nuts and with raisins. All were sleek and fat with a year’s good living, and all jubilant with happiness and a sense of their own importance. Even while their arms were clasping their sweethearts’ necks, they began to hint at their brave adventures and to boast of the grain and the timber and the wine. The home-keepers heard just enough to set their curiosity leaping and dancing with eagerness for more. And each succeeding boat-load of burly heroes worked their enthusiasm to a higher pitch.

Then, gradually, the song ran into a minor key, as Thorir’s pitiful crew landed upon the sand. Haggard and worn and almost too weak to walk, they clung to the brawny arms of their rescuers; and the horrors of their privations were written in pitiless letters on Gudrid’s fair white face. The rejoicing and laughter sank into wondering questions and pitiful murmuring.

While Thorir told the Red One briefly of their sufferings, the throng listened as to their favorite ballad, and shuddered and suffered with him. Then, in words that still rang with joy and gratitude, Thorir told of their rescue by Leif Ericsson.

Strongly speeding arrows need only aim to make them reach their target. Flights of wildest enthusiasm had been going up on every side. Now Thorir gave these a mark and an aim. Curiosity and triumph, pity and rejoicing, all merged into one great impulse and rose in a passion of hero-worship. Toward the boat that was bringing the Lucky One to land, they turned, face and heart, and laid their homage at his feet. Never had Greenland glaciers heard such a tumult of acclaim as when the throng cheered and stamped and clashed their weapons.

It was a supreme moment. Leif’s bronzed face was white, as he stood waiting for the noise to subside that he might answer them. Yet never had his bearing been statelier than when at last he stepped forward and faced them.

“I give you many thanks for your favor, friends,” he said, courteously. “It is more than I could have expected, and I give you many thanks for it. But I think it right to remind you that I am not one of those men who trust in their own strength alone. What I have done I have been able to do by the help of my God whom you reject. To Him I give the thanks and the glory.”

In that humility which is higher than pride, he raised the silver crucifix from his breast and bent his head before it. Out of the hush that followed, a man’s voice rang strongly, the voice of one of Greenland’s foremost chiefs.

“Hail to the God of Leif Ericsson! The God that helped him must be all-powerful. Henceforth I will believe that He and no one else is the only God. Hail to the Cross!”

Before he had finished, another voice had taken up the cry and another and another; until there were not ten men who were not shouting it over and over, in a delirium of excitement. Eric turned his face away and made over his breast the hammer sign of Thor, but there was only pride in his look when he turned back.

Leif stood motionless amid the tumult; looking upward with that strange absent look, as though his eyes would pierce the clouds that veiled Valhalla’s walls and search for one beloved face among the warriors upon the benches.

Under his breath he said to his English squire, “I pray God that Olaf Trygvasson hears this now, and knows that I have been as faithful to him in his death as I was in his life.”

He did not feel it when Alwin bent and touched the scarlet cloak-hem with his lips, nor did he hear the fervent murmur, “So faithful will I be to you hereafter.”