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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,And the highwayman came riding— Riding—riding—
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 thereBut the landlord’s black-eyed daughter, Bess, the landlord’s daughter,Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.
“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night, 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, Then look for me by moonlight, Watch for me by moonlight, I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”
He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon; And out o’ the tawny sunset, before the rise o’ the moon, When the road was a gipsy’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.
Back, he spurred like a madman, shrieking a curse to the sky, With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high! Blood-red were his spurs i’ the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat, When they shot him down on the highway, Down like a dog on the highway, And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.
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