Viggo saw at a glance that he meant to pull his raft toward him, and, relying upon his greater strength, fling him into the water.
His first plan would therefore be to fence with his own boat- hook, so as to keep his antagonist at a distance.
When Halvor made the first lunge at the nose of his raft, he foiled the attempt with his own weapon, and managed dexterously to give the hostile raft a downward push, which increased the distance between them.
"Take care, General!" said a respectful voice close to Viggo's ear. "There is a small log jam down below, which is getting bigger every moment. When it is got afloat, it will be dangerous out here."
"What are you doing here, Sergeant?" asked the General, severely. "Did I not tell you to be the last to leave the shore?"
"You did, General," Marcus replied, meekly, "and I obeyed. But I have pushed to the front so as to be near you."
"I don't need you, Sergeant," Viggo responded, "you may go to the rear."
The booming of the cataract nearly drowned his voice and Marcus pretended not to hear it. A huge lumber mass was piling itself up among the rocks jutting out of the rapids, and a dozen men hanging like flies on the logs, sprang up and down with axes in their hands. They cut one log here and another there; shouted commands; and fell into the river amid the derisive jeers of the spectators; they scrambled out again and, dripping wet, set to work once more with a cheerful heart, to the mighty music of the cataract, whose thundering rhythm trembled and throbbed in the air.