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 Farina 62 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!’ 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 George Meredith 63 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.