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Abandoning Vinland

The Icelandic Roots Writers Group used an exercise to create a dialogue between two people planning to emigrate.


By Bryndís Víglundsdóttir

 

Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir and Þorfinnur Karlsefni, her husband sailed with a group of settlers around the year 1000 to Vinland the good (now Newfoundland in North America.) The land was good, and the settlers lived well there for three years. The relations with the people who were there before the Nordic people arrived were good in the beginning but soon they soured. These two groups didn't understand the languages spoken, there was a lack of understanding and soon people were killing each other.


Guðríður and Þorfinnur are standing in their long house having a serious and difficult conversation.


Þorfinnur, I cannot forget your words about leaving this country. When did you begin thinking about returning to Iceland? Have you forgotten our dreams when we were talking about sailing to the wonderful land Leifur told us about. You remember he was the one who called the land “the good one”, Vinland the good one. I do agree with Leifur, this is such a good land. We have enough food, the summers have been warm, and the winters are not long.


You are right about all you say, my wife but I am worried about your safety. Staying here is not safe. The people who have always lived here seem not to like us.


Are you surprised? answered Guðríður in a low voice. We have not been friendly or good neighbors. Your men have already killed many Skrælings who approached our settlement.


You saw and heard the last group that came sailing in their strange boats and how threatening they were, yelling war cries, shaking their bows and arrows. We had to meet them with our swords.


Maybe they were angry and wanted revenge because you had killed their brothers, even those you found sleeping. I never understood why you killed them. Wish you would change your thinking and adopt my custom. My master, “the White Christ,” said we should love each other.


Maybe one day we will all love each other but now I think we must get ready to leave this good land and go back to Iceland. We can farm with my mother in Skagafjörður. I leave this land with a heavy heart. I had really looked forward to beginning to cultivate the fields and as soon as our Snorri would be a little older, I intended to teach him to hunt in the woods and fish in the rivers. In this land there is certainly enough food for everyone!


Yes, that was our wonderful dream. You are probably right, Þorfinnur. We will return to Iceland and make our living there.

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