King Olaf

Annie Klingensmith June 26, 2022
5 min read
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A great army of men came into the Northland. They overcame all the warriors of that land, killed the king, and took possession of the kingdom.

The queen fled away through the mountains with her little son, to the home of one of her old vassals.

But soon the soldiers came to find and kill the little prince. Again the queen fled, but her enemies always found her.

At last she was afraid to stay in any part of her own country. So she sailed away to another land.

On the way the ship was attacked by pirates. The little prince was taken and sold as a slave.

One day the king of the country in which he was a slave saw him and bought him. He was given to the queen for a page.

The little Olaf was brave and handsome. The king had no son, so he made the little slave his son.

Olaf was taught to be courteous and truthful. He was trained to fight with sword and spear.

He could hunt, and skate, and swim, and walk on snow-shoes.

When he was at sea, he could run outside the ship on the oars. He could stand on the ship rail when the sea was the roughest.

He could use his sword with either hand and throw two spears at once.

When he was grown to be a man, the king gave him ships and an army so that he might go and get back his kingdom.

At that same time another king was going with a great army to conquer Olaf’s kingdom.

Olaf went into the church to pray for a blessing on his journey. While he was praying, one of his warriors hurried in to tell him that the other king had set sail.

But Olaf would not go until he had finished his prayer. Then he set sail. He could see the ships far ahead.

Soon they came in sight of Olaf’s kingdom. Then Olaf prayed the sea to roll over the land and make a shorter way for him.

The sea swept over the land and Olaf sailed on. As the water covered the ground, the hill trolls ran out and cursed him.

Olaf said, “Be turned into stones till I return.” The trolls changed to pebbles and rolled down the hillsides into the valleys, where they are found even yet.

Olaf reached his kingdom first. The people received him gladly. They made him king and drove out the army that had come against the kingdom.

Then Olaf called his vassals to a great feast. They feasted all day long. Suddenly the door swung open. On the doorstep stood a tall man, wrapped in a blue cloak.

King Olaf called the stranger to sit beside him. All night long he told them wonderful tales of the gods and of heroes.

The night was almost over before they went to bed.

In the morning the guest was gone. The doors were locked. The guard had seen no one.

Then the king and his men whispered, “It was Odin himself.”

Away to the north lived a warlock called Rand the Strong. He worshiped the storm fiends, who often made storms to wreck ships for him.

When Olaf came into his kingdom, he determined to punish Rand. He sailed away to the north. When it was dark Olaf’s ship crept softly up the bay.

Olaf and his men rushed in and overcame Rand the Strong before he was awake.

Then they sailed southward taking his dragon-ship with them. Never had such a ship been seen in the kingdom.

But Olaf wanted a finer ship. He called Thorberg Skafting, the master-builder, and told him to build a dragon-ship twice as wide and twice as long.

Thorberg Shafting whistled and sang for joy. His men too laughed and sang when they heard him.

All day long they hammered and hewed. The noise sounded like music to Thorberg Skafting.

At last the ship was finished, and Olaf and his warriors came to see it.

When they came into the shipyard the workmen stood staring. Some one had cut the sides of the ship from end to end.

The king’s face grew red with anger and he vowed to kill the man who did the deed.

Thorberg Skafting smiled and said, “I am the man.” Then he smoothed the sides of the ship until Olaf said she was more beautiful than before.

The ship was bright with gilding, and the figurehead was a golden dragon.

Olaf named her the Long Serpent. He sailed the sea in the Long Serpent many years. No king was strong enough to overcome him in battle.

But at last three kings came against him at once. Olaf sailed with his fleet to meet them.

When he came in sight he ordered his sails to be struck so that his ships could not sail away. He lashed his ships three together and let them drift toward the enemy.

Then he ordered his warhorns to be played and the music sounded far out across the water.

King Olaf stood on the front of the ship. His shield and his armor were of gold and he carried his bow and arrows in his hand.

A sailor said, “The Long Serpent lies too far ahead. We will have too hard a fight.”

Olaf drew his bow to shoot him, but the sailor said. “Shoot at the enemy. You need me.”

When the ships of the enemy struck against Olaf’s ships, Eric, one of the three kings, cut the ropes that bound Olaf’s ships together and they drifted apart.

Einar, one of Olaf’s warriors, aimed all his arrows at King Eric. But Eric held his shield in front of him.

The arrows flew faster and faster. Eric called one of his men to shoot the brave bow-man.

An arrow broke Einar’s bow in his hands, but he only laughed.

Olaf said, “Take my bow and shoot Eric.”

Einar drew the arrow over its head the first time he bent the bow.

Then he threw the bow down and sprang on board Eric’s ship with his sword in his hand.

All day long the battle raged until the decks were red, and Olaf’s ships were only wrecks. Then Eric’s men boarded them.

Olaf stood on the deck with the spears flying about him.

As Eric’s men rushed across the deck, Olaf’s captain sprang to his side and held his shield in front of the king.

For a moment the captain whispered in the king’s ear.

Then the two men sprang over the side of the ship. Eric’s men only saw the flash of their golden hair. Then they were gone, and there was nothing left but two shields floating on the water.

The people thought that Olaf stripped off his armor as he swam beneath the water, and that some time he would come again.

But he never came back, and the people called him St. Olaf.

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