Reading the story An Egyptian Hornet by A.Blackwood, I am not sure what to make of the following sentence:
(for the context, a reverend hopes for a hornet to sting his enemy):
“May God forgive me!” ran subconsciously through his mind. And side by
side with the repentant prayer ran also a recognition of the tempter’s
eternal skill: “I hope the devil it will sting him!”
While I understand the words, it does not make much sense to me and would appreciate some help with understanding its true meaning. Thanks a lot
"Eternal skill" means exactly what a dictionary would tell you it means.
Eternal means ‘lasting forever’; in some cases ‘without beginning or end’. Infinite.
A skill is an ability that one possesses.
So an eternal skill would be an ability that someone has had forever, or will have forever into the future.
‘The Tempter’, mentioned in your quotation, is one of many names given to the Devil in the Bible. This is why he is spoken of as having an ‘eternal skill’, presumably of temptation, because of the belief that spirit beings are eternal.