∴ A Spur of the Moment ∴
“There’s neither Swallow, Dove, or Dade
Can soar more high or deeper wade
Nor show a reason from the stars
What causeth peace or civil wars”
Your voice sounds out, high and wavering on the early morning air. Singing comes easy on a day like this, with sunlight dappling through the trees onto the stony road. You feel each stone through the rattling seat, peppering your song with jolted off-notes – but you don’t mind. The rumbling wheels and clattering hooves mean you’re on your way again.
Suddenly you halt your verse, and coax the dun mare to a standstill. Were you only imagining a shape in the bushes? Is the road getting to you already? Then in an instant the man is upon you, small and wiry in an oil-reeking coat and well-worn boots. Hardly the dandy highwayman of tavern songs, you think absurdly as the scene unfolds.
The mare rears and whinnies as the stranger rounds it, making for the driver’s seat step. That dappled sunlight you admired only moments ago now illuminates a sharp needle of steel in his hand. Something tells you he doesn’t mean to bargain.
In an instant, the pistol is in your hand. The brigand’s eyes widen. He wouldn’t be the first to mistake you for a witless farmer’s son. A bang. A jolt. Another whinny from the foaming mare, and the highwayman falls away from the carriage, his mouth agape and ghastly.
Staring through pistol-smoke in mute wonder, your attention is caught by the dead man’s sword. Small, like the brigand himself, but much prettier you think. A pierced plate and swelling black bars; a raised thumb ring with a single cut-out heart.
Now there’s a sword worth a ballad, you think, snatching it up into your hand. With a fresh tune on your lips, you turn back to the carriage.