Later by 200 years or more
I heard the bold robber’s call,
beneath my daughter’s window
as if no time had passed at all.
“I seek ‘ee out at midnight,
in moonlight shining clear,
no Devil from Hell will stop me,
damned, but how else to show I care.”
At that I stepped out of the shadows,
tried to look the ghost in the eye,
alas I smelt fresh blood, then heard,
my God, his deep anguished sigh.
Above my head shone the stars,
twinkling, giving out a little light,
and the pale moon did its best,
as on that first fateful night.
The rogue tossed me the leather reins,
I quivered as he landed on the ground,
his face and chest shot to pieces. Lord?
Was his blood that dripping sound?
Then the ghostly Highwayman stared,
a rattle, a hacking cough first he gave,
as loud came one crazy laugh,
that still haunts me from his grave.
I froze as I heard a strange sound,
deep from the stables, that awful creak.
But the clever spirit found a jug of ale,
so he drank with no need to speak.
Then a nod, his head fixed on the moor,
toward the grim drama of the night,
as I heard the sound of steady marching,
of Dead red-coats into the pale moonlight.
King George’s men all swaggering,
muskets sloped as grim as any grave
They marched to the Inn door to enter,
Blind or dead? No look at me they gave.
From the Inn came surreal music, voices
and poor Bess at a window, candle in hand,
trying to warn her endangered lover.
I thought now wasn’t that kinda grand?
I stood still like a statue, moved not one step,
made no noise at all or even tried to speak.
But come the tiny crack of first dawn light,
my legs filled with terror, I felt so very weak.
No landlord stays long in this cursed Inn place,
but me, as I’ve worked out all that before.
It’s because at night gallops the Highwayman,
as red-faced soldiers march across the moor.
Another rhythm of another time will see his
timeless face astride his phantom steed,
bringing to his beloved lover a bag of gold,
the coins forever tucked up his sleeve indeed.