by Emily, Age 13
Based on "The Highwayman," a poem by Alfred Noyes
It was a cold, dark night. The near-full moon shone through the dark clouds, changing the land into a pit of shadows. The wind moaned through the trees, shaking the branches - along with anything else not fastened down - starting up a terrible din. A lone figure made his way along the winding path over the moor, a pitch-black silhouette surrounded by ghosts. His horse's hooves needed no muffling, for any sound they made would simply be added to the mistral's offenses. Should anyone see him, most likely they would think him a ghost or else decide they were mistaken, for who but a madman would be out on a night like this?
Actually, the Rider, whose name was Westley, knew of a certain profession for which this was the perfect night. After all, what better conditions could there be for a burglar? For one thing could Lady Amelia Grey's jewels wait, however, and that would take but a moment. And after this last job was done, he would have enough to leave for some far-off country and give up the life of a highwayman forever.
It wasn't long before he reached the old inn he was looking for, and, after making sure no one else was awake, he whistled an old love song that he'd heard once. Soon there was a soft creaking and he looked up into an open window. There was Bess, a crimson ribbon woven into her beautiful black hair. She looked radiant in the moonlight, and the cloud-shadows danced lightly across her face.
"You shouldn't have come, Westley!" she whispered worriedly, "My father grows suspicious, and even now he may be watching in the shadows! I am afraid for you. Soldiers are everywhere now, hunting for you. If they should capture you... I'm certain many would travel long distances to see the hanging of the notorious criminal who has stolen so much." Westley laughed softly. "I must make one last trip, for Lady Amelia Grey returns home tonight, but after that I beg you to come with me, for I shall leave this place forever and retire on what I have stolen. 'Tis enough for both of us, I think, but if it is not I will find some way to - "
"So long as you return safely, I will follow you anywhere. Only please, promise me that this is the last time!" Westley stood in the stirrups and grasped her hand. "Watch for me by the moonlight tomorrow eve, and be ready to leave as soon as I return. We shall escape, then, from the fears that have reigned over us for so very long."
Bess nodded, Frightened. Her braid fell over her shoulder, and Westley kissed the ribbon before turning to the west and galloping away. Even after the shadows had swallowed him up, she gazed in worried silence down the path she knew he would take
"What do you mean, you know how to catch the Highwayman? There are dozens of highwaymen all over England!"
The pale man certianly didn't look like the sort who was trustworty. His limp, stringy hair had no real color to it, and there was a madness to his eyes and voice that was disturbant. "I know how you can catch the highwayman who is off to steal Lady Amelia Grey's gold at this very moment!"
The soldier looked hard at the man, but could find no real reason to disbelieve him. He was disconcerting, to say the least, but other than that he seemed all right. "You say he's gone after Lady Grey?"
He nodded emphatically. "I saw him talking to the landlord's daughter, Bess, this very night. I came as fast as I could, but you shan't catch him now. He's coming back for the girl, though. Tomorrow night. You could use her as bait and get both him and the gold all at once!"
The man nodded, straightening his bright red coat distractedly. "I shall inform my superior at once, and then you must lead us to this girl's house."
"With pleasure, sir." And Tim smiled inwardly, for after tomorrow night, Bess would be his!
continue to part II of II