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.
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."