"Now, Uncas!" cried the scout, drawing his long knife, while his quick eyes began to flash with ardor, "take the last of the screeching imps; of the other two we are sartain!" He was obeyed; and but two enemies remained to be overcome.
Or, to choose a wholly unsubstantial instance, purely addressed to the fancy, why, in reading the old fairy tales of Central Europe, does "the tall pale man" of the Hartz forests, whose changeless pallor unrustlingly glides through the green of the groves why is this phantom more terrible than all the whooping imps of the Blocksburg?
Behind their victims came the afflicted, a guilty and miserable band; villains who had thus avenged themselves on their enemies, and viler wretches, whose cowardice had destroyed their friends; lunatics, whose ravings had chimed in with the madness of the land; and children, who had played a game that the imps of darkness might have envied them, since it disgraced an age, and dipped a people's hands in blood.
At its entrance those Imps who had been sent to guard it still kept vigilant watch. None had ventured to sleep or to stir from his post, for though the time had been long, and no one had tried to pass them, they dared not be unfaithful to their trust. They feared the Wizard’s wrath and the punishment that would surely befall them, if anything should go amiss through fault of theirs.
Morning and evening, at the sound of the bell, there came rushing in some fifty young imps who, having shown themselves hopeless dunces with their Cornelius Nepos, had been relegated, in the phrase of the day, to 'a few good years of French. Those who had found mensa too much for them came to me to get a smattering of grammar.
Not satisfied with this alone, `Rude Boreas' sent one of his imps down the chimney to frighten poor Nellie, who lay trembling in bed, by flapping up and down the register of the grate; while another would every now and then boldly rush up and grip hold of the house, shaking it viciously and causing it to rock from roof to basement the rebuffed rascal then sailing away with a shriek of disappointed spite and rage, moaning and groaning like a creature in pain as it went off to vent its malice elsewhere!
And wherever these stories are told, elves and giants and witches and goblins and imps shall have no power." Then the goblin left the dead body by magic, and went where he wanted to. Then Shiva appeared there with all the little gods, and he was well pleased. When the king bowed before him, he said: "My son, you did well to kill this sham monk who tried by force to become king of the fairies.
"But," cried Anthony Hamilton, taking a pinch of snuff with the air of a man about to utter a witty thing, "but what have we we spirits of the world, not imps of the closet," and he glanced at Huet "to do with scholarship? All the waters of Castaly, which we want to pour into our brain, are such as will flow the readiest to our tongue."
It is as if the resistances were conscious imps, and as if their certainty of defeat in the case of their victim's entire "willingness " roused them to do their worst, and to hold on to their only possible means of power with all the more determination.
While I have been enjoying the pleasant task of writing this book which has been more agreeable than any literary work I have ever done I have continually been conscious of a plaintive voice at my shoulder, proceeding from one of the vigilant and embarrassing imps who sit there and do duty as conscience, inquiring if the time is not about ripe for introducing that historical sketch of Florence without which no account such as this can be rightly understood.