And again he towered in his wrath.
The Demon drew his tail between his legs, and threw the forked, fleshy, quivering end over his shoulder. He then nodded cheerfully, pointed his feet, and finicked a few steps away, saying: ’I hope we shall meet again.’
Upon that he shot out his wings, that were like the fins of the wyver-fish, sharpened in venomous points.
‘Commands for your people below?’ he inquired, leering with chin awry. ’Desperate ruffians some of those cowls. You are right not to acknowledge them.’
Farina beheld the holy man in no mood to let the Enemy tamper with him longer.
The Demon was influenced by a like reflection; for, saying, ’Cologne is the city your Holiness inhabits, I think?’ he shot up rocket-like over Rhineland, striking the entire length of the stream, and its rough-bearded castle-crests, slate-ledges, bramble-clefts, vine-slopes, and haunted valleys, with one brimstone flash. Frankfort and the far Main saw him and reddened. Ancient Trier and Mosel; Heidelberg and Neckar; Limberg and Lahn, ran guilty of him. And the swift artery of these shining veins, Rhine, from his snow cradle to his salt decease, glimmered Stygian horrors as the Infernal Comet, sprung over Bonn, sparkled a fiery minute along the face of the stream, and vanished, leaving a seam of ragged flame trailed on the midnight heavens.
Farina breathed hard through his teeth.
‘The last of him was awful,’ said he, coming forward to where the Monk knelt and grasped his breviary, ‘but he was vanquished easily.’
‘Easily?’ exclaimed the holy man, gasping satisfaction: ’thou weakling! is it for thee to measure difficulties, or estimate powers? Easily? thou worldling! and so are great deeds judged when the danger’s past! And what am I but the humble instrument that brought about this wondrous conquest! the poor tool of this astounding triumph! Shall the sword say, This is the battle I won! Yonder the enemy I overthrow! Bow to me, ye lords of earth, and worshippers of mighty acts? Not so! Nay, but the sword is honoured in the hero’s grasp, and if it break not, it is accounted trusty. This, then, this little I may claim, that I was trusty! Trusty in a heroic encounter! Trusty in a battle with earth’s terror! Oh! but this must not be said. This is to think too much! This is to be more than aught yet achieved by man!’
The holy warrior crossed his arms, and gently bowed his head.
‘Take me to the Sisters,’ he said. ’The spirit has gone out of me! I am faint, and as a child!’
Farina asked, and had, his blessing.
‘And with it my thanks!’ said the Monk. ’Thou hast witnessed how he can be overcome! Thou hast looked upon a scene that will be the glory of Christendom! Thou hast beheld the discomfiture of Darkness before the voice of Light! Yet think not much of me: account me little in this matter! I am but an instrument! but an instrument!—and again, but an instrument!’