It was no longer necessary. He was already there. As if waiting for them. Sitting his stationary horse, the princess riding pillion.
The people were dumbstruck. Nobody moved. Face to face at ground level is something quite different than from high upon the wall. He was a dragon slayer, after all.
Now he slowly approached them. The people backed away. Through the open gate he entered the town. In the square he halted and, for a while, they stood facing each other, the people grimly.
Someone in the crowd dared hurl an abuse. The officer drew his sword and what the people expected, that he would hit out with it, didn’t happen. Instead, he turned its point downward and raised it high, right in front of him. Like a priest the Host. Here it was an image of the Cross.
Then the miracle happened.
From this cross a radiance jumped forth that all but dispelled from the town the brown breath of the monster, from its streets and from its dwellings and from the people, also. All of a sudden, every single one of them came to realise the full extent of the pitiful state of wickedness to which they had stooped, recalled how gay they had been before, how much they’d loved each other and they burst into tears of shame of themselves. And these same people, who only moments ago had been out to stone them, now wrung their hands in agony and sank to their knees in horror of what they had taken for profit and pleasure and their shameful tears melted into tears of joy because now they had been redeemed from it. They looked up to him as their saviour and to their eyes it seemed as if his whole armour was taking part in the radiance emitting from the cross.
One of the elders came forward and reverently kissed his stirrup.
The rider thereupon raised his voice and spoke, ‘Not to me thou ought to be grateful but to Jesus Christ, my Lord. His servant I am and in His name I have done this. Convert to His teachings of love and nevermore wilt thou fall into the state in which I have found thee.’
Everyone became a convert. Nobody stayed behind.
When the officer and his soldiers - he was in command of a border patrol that had pitched camp a little farther up the oasis and had been completely ignorant of the whole event - moved on, he left behind a penitent but happy people.
The royal family was reunited.
The prisons were turned into chapels.
English translation by Ronald Langereis © 2013
from the Dutch, "Sint Joris" by Belcampo, 1983