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And the highwayman came riding— Riding—riding—
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 Till, now, on the stroke of midnight, Cold, on the stroke of midnight, The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!
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, But he loved the landlord’s daughter, The landlord’s red-lipped daughter. Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horsehoofs ringing clear; Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear? Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill, The highwayman came riding— Riding—riding— The red coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still.
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, When the road was a gypsy’s ribbon, looping the purple moor, A red-coat troop came marching— Marching—marching— King George’s men came marching, up to the old inn-door.
Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night! Nearer he came and nearer. Her face was like a light. Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath, Then her finger moved in the moonlight, Her musket shattered the moonlight, Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.
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