"The bows, you understand, will be slung by the straps across the backs of the men, while they steer and push with their poles."
"Certainly, General," said Marcus, with another salute.
"All right, General," answered Marcus, with a third salute.
And now began the battle. The East-Siders, fearing that a stratagem was intended, when they saw the enemy moving up the stream, made haste to follow their example, capturing on their way every stray log that came along. They sent ineffectual showers of arrows into the water, while the brave General Viggo, striding two big logs which he had tied together with a piece of rope, and with a boat-hook in his hand, pushed proudly at the head of his army into the middle of the wide basin.
Halvor Reitan was clever enough to see what it meant, and he was not going to allow the West-Siders to gain the heights above him, and attack him in the rear. He meant to prevent the enemy from landing, or, still better, he would meet him half-way, and drive him back to his own shore.
The latter, though not the wiser course, was the plan which Halvor Reitan adopted. To have a tussle with the high-nosed Viggo in the middle of the basin, to dislodge him from his raft--that seemed to Halvor a delightful project. He knew that Viggo was a good swimmer, so he feared no dangerous consequences; and even if he had, it would not have restrained him. He was so much stronger than Viggo, and here was his much-longed-for opportunity.
With great despatch he made himself a raft of two logs, and seating himself astride them, with his legs in the water, put off from shore. He shouted to his men to follow him, and they needed no urging. Viggo was now near the middle of the basin, with twenty or thirty picked archers close behind him. They fired volley after volley of arrows against the enemy, and twice drove him back to the shore.
But Halvor Reitan, shielding his face with a piece of bark which he had picked up, pushed forward in spite of their onslaught, though one arrow knocked off his red-peaked cap, and another scratched his ear. Now he was but a dozen feet from his foe. He cared little for his bow now; the boat-hook was a far more effectual weapon.