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The Highwayman's Curse.
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The Highwayman's Curse
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By Alfred Noyes. The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,. The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door. A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin. They fitted with never a wrinkle. His boots were up to the thigh. His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jewelled sky. Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard.
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred. He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there. Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair. And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked. Where Tim the ostler listened. His face was white and peaked. His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like mouldy hay,. Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—.
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;. Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,. He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand,. But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand. As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;. O, sweet black waves in the moonlight! Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west. He did not come in the dawning. He did not come at noon;. And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,.
They said no word to the landlord. They drank his ale instead. But they gagged his daughter, and bound her, to the foot of her narrow bed. Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side! For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride. They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest. They had bound a musket beside her, with the muzzle beneath her breast! She heard the doomed man say—. Watch for me by moonlight;. She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good! She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years. The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!