The witch, with one soothing hand on the bristling mane of her Harold, lay on her front on the cloud she had chosen, and looked down through a little hole in it. It was practically the only cloud present that would have afforded reasonable cover; the others were mere wisps of sky-weed floating in the moonlight.
There was a greater chorus of aeroplanes below her now; the whole sky was ringing with it. The witch could hear a deep bass-voiced machine, a baritone, a quavering tenor, and—thin and sharp as a pin—a little treble sound that made Harold rear and struggle to be free.
“Another witch,” said the witch. “I was wondering why the Huns hadn’t got their magic organised by now.” She mounted her Harold and slipped off the cloud.
The guns were shouting now, and the shells wailed and burst not so very far below them, but Harold trembled no longer. More quickly than a falling star he swooped, and in a second the alien witch was in sight, an unwieldy figure whose broomstick sounded rather broken-winded, probably owing to the long-distance flight and to the fourteen stone of Teutonic magic on its back. There was a wicked-looking apparatus attached to the collar of the German broomstick, obviously designed to squirt unpleasant enchantments downward. This contrivance was apparently giving some trouble, for the German was so busy attending to it that at first she did not see or hear the approach of Harold and his rider. She was aroused to her danger by a heavy chunk of magic which struck and nearly unseated her. In a second, however, she was ready with a parrying enchantment, and the fight began. The two broomsticks reared and circled round each other, and over and under each other. From their riders’ finger-tips magic of the most explosive kind crackled, and incantations of such potency were exchanged that, I am told, the tiles and chimney-pots of the streets below suffered a good deal. Round and round and over and under whirled the broomsticks, till the very spaces went mad, and London seemed to rush down nightmare slopes into a stormy sky, while its lights swung from pole to pole and were entangled with the stars.
Both broomsticks were by now so uproariously excited that neither witch was able to aim her magic missiles very carefully, and indeed it was not long before Harold passed entirely beyond control. After bucking violently once or twice, he gave a wild high cry that was like the wind howling through the fierce forest past of his race, and fell upon the other broomstick, fixing his bristles into its throat. The shock of the collision was too much for both witches. Our witch—if I may call her so—was shot over Harold’s head, and landed on the ample breast of her adversary, who, in consequence, lost her balance. They fell together into space.