Farina drew the arms of the holy combatant across his shoulders and descended Drachenfels.
The tempest was as a forgotten anguish. Bright with maiden splendour shone the moon; and the old rocks, cherished in her beams, put up their horns to blue heaven once more. All the leafage of the land shook as to shake off a wicked dream, and shuddered from time to time, whispering of old fears quieted, and present peace. The heart of the river fondled with the image of the moon in its depths.
‘This is much to have won for earth,’ murmured the Monk. ’And what is life, or who would not risk all, to snatch such loveliness from the talons of the Fiend, the Arch-foe? Yet, not I! not I! say not, ’twas I did this!’
Soft praises of melody ascended to them on the moist fragrance of air. It was the hymn of the Sisters.
‘How sweet!’ murmured the Monk. ‘Put it from me! away with it!’
Rising on Farina’s back, and stirruping his feet on the thighs of the youth, he cried aloud: ’I charge ye, whoso ye be, sing not this deed before the emperor! By the breath of your nostrils; pause! ere ye whisper aught of the combat of Saint Gregory with Satan, and his victory, and the marvel of it, while he liveth; for he would die the humble monk he is.’
He resumed his seat, and Farina brought him into the circle of the Sisters. Those pure women took him, and smoothed him, lamenting, and filling the night with triumphing tones.
Farina stood apart.
‘The breeze tells of dawn,’ said the Monk; ’we must be in Cologne before broad day.’
They mounted horse, and the Sisters grouped and reverenced under the blessings of the Monk.
‘No word of it!’ said the Monk warningly. ‘We are silent, Father!’ they answered. ‘Cologne-ward!’ was then his cry, and away he and Farina, flew.
Morning was among the grey eastern clouds as they rode upon the camp hastily formed to meet the Kaiser. All there was in a wallow of confusion. Fierce struggles for precedence still went on in the neighbourhood of the imperial tent ground, where, under the standard of Germany, lounged some veterans of the Kaiser’s guard, calmly watching the scramble. Up to the edge of the cultivated land nothing was to be seen but brawling clumps of warriors asserting the superior claims of their respective lords. Variously and hotly disputed were these claims, as many red coxcombs testified. Across that point where the green field flourished, not a foot was set, for the Kaiser’s care of the farmer, and affection for good harvests, made itself respected even in the heat of those jealous rivalries. It was said of him, that he would have camped in a bog, or taken quarters in a cathedral, rather than trample down a green blade of wheat, or turn over one vine-pole in the empire. Hence the presence of Kaiser Heinrich was never hailed as Egypt’s plague by the peasantry, but welcome as the May month wherever he went.