Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/49

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39
THE GLACIAL MAN IN AMERICA.

hands, after striking their breasts, refusing to trust themselves with the English until the latter had done the same, through one of their number appointed for the purpose, "who strooke his breast and poynted to the sunne after their order." Davis thus appears as dealing with descendants of the glacial man.

If we are correct in supposing that there was a glacial man, and that the Skrællings were descendants of such a glacial man, it follows that we have in the Sagas four of his words, which may be the oldest known words of human speech: "Vathelldi," "Uvæge," "Avalldania," and "Valldida," the names of the parents of the Skrælling boys and of the two kings. At least, in a recent note addressed to the writer, Professor Max Müller says that there is nothing in the language of the Esquimaux to prevent us from assigning it to an antiquity as high as that of the supposed glacial man.

During the eleventh century the red-man lived upon the North American Continent, while the eastern border of his territory could not have been situated far away from the Atlantic coast. In New England he must have succeeded the people known as Skrællings. Prior to that time, his hunting-grounds lay toward the interior of the continent. In course of time, however, he came into collision with the ruder people on the Atlantic coast, the descendants of an almost amphibious glacial man. Then the coast-dweller, unable to maintain his position, retreated toward the far north. The northward movement, however, may have been voluntary in part. During long ages passed in the companionship of the glacier, the race must have acquired that taste and fitness for boreal life which clings to the native of the north to-day, and which makes the Greenlander feel that his country is the most beautiful in the world.

The advance guard of the Skrællings had reached Greenland before Eric the Red arrived in 985. He found there, as we have seen, both houses and boats, but no inhabitants. It was inferred, at the time the Saga was committed to writing, that the remains belonged to a people of the same race as those seen in Vinland at the south. These early Skrælling visitors had either perished or retired from Greenland. The Icelanders do not appear to have met any Skrællings in Greenland until a late period—at least none are mentioned. But in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Skrællings crowded into Labrador and the regions bordering Baffin's Bay, preparatory to the movement across to Greenland, though many of them may have crossed to North Devon and entered at the northwest. It is probable that extreme necessity was all the while urging them on, the red-man crowding upon their rear with great energy. This is evident from the fact that, when the French entered Canada, the region north of the St. Lawrence was occupied by the Indians. The struggle between the Indians and the Skrællings was long continued, and one evidence of the contact may be found in the common use of a certain engine of