When they returned again, the flaming monster was once more sailing majestically upon its way and down the accustomed left-hand path!
Indeed the sacrifice was not in vain. The world shook—but Yva had saved the world!
I lay still a while, on my back as I had fallen, and beneath the shield-like defence which Yva had given to me. Notwithstanding the fire-resisting, metalised stuff of which it was made, I noted that it was twisted and almost burnt through. Doubtless the stored-up electricity or earth magnetism, or whatever it may have been that had leapt out of that hole, being diffused by the resistance with which it was met, had grazed me with its outer edge, and had it not been for the shield and cloak, I also should have been burned up. I wished, oh! how I wished that it had been so. Then, by now all must have finished and I should have known the truth as to what awaits us beyond the change: sleep, or dreams, or perchance the fullest life. Also I should not have learned alone.
Lying there thus, idly, as though in a half-sleep, I felt Tommy licking my face, and throwing my arm about the poor little frightened beast, I watched the great world-balance as it retreated on its eternal journey. At one time its vast projecting rim had overshadowed us and almost seemed to touch the cliff of rock against which we leant. I remember that the effect of that shining arch a thousand feet or so above our heads was wonderful. It reminded me of a canopy of blackest thunder clouds supported upon a framework of wheeling rainbows, while beneath it all the children of the devil shouted together in joy. I noted this effect only a few seconds before Yva spoke to me and leapt into the path of the flash.
Now, however, it was far away, a mere flaming wheel that became gradually smaller, and its Satanic voices were growing faint. As I have said, I watched its disappearance idly, reflecting that I should never look upon its like again; also that it was something well worth going forth to see. Then I became aware that the humming, howling din had decreased sufficiently to enable me to hear human voices without effort. Bastin was addressing Bickley— like myself they were both upon the ground.
“Her translation, as you may have noticed, Bickley, if you were not too frightened, was really very remarkable. No doubt it will have reminded you, as it did me, of that of Elijah. She had exactly the appearance of a person going up to Heaven in a vehicle of fire. The destination was certainly the same, and even the cloak she wore added a familiar touch and increased the similarity.”
“At any rate it did not fall upon you,” answered Bickley with something like a sob, in a voice of mingled awe and exasperation. “For goodness’ sake! Bastin, stop your Biblical parallels and let us adore, yes, let us adore the divinest creature that the earth has borne!”