What is it about the roguish Highwayman that kindles our imaginations?
Perhaps it has something to do with Alfred Noyes’s romantic poem, The Highwayman.
Do you remember reading that poem in school? “The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas…” Sigh.
I do. I fancied myself the innkeeper’s daughter leaning out my window, “plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.”
If you haven’t read it in a year or two--you must! You really must. Here is a link to it on my website: Alfred Noyes Poem.
Oh, the mystery and romance of the Midnight Rider and his dark deeds. My latest traditional Regency novella is a tribute to that poem, with a fun twist. I’m sure you’ll guess what it is from this excerpt.
His mouth was a pawn’s length from hers. She held her breath, unmoving. Afraid to hope. Afraid not to hope. Heaven above! Where was her sword when she needed it? If she had her sword, she might hold him hostage and extract everything she desired from him, all the lost words and missed touches. She would rob him of every kiss he owned, if only she had her sword. Instead, she was his hostage. Held captive by his nearness, his lips, his intoxicatingly masculine smell, and startlingly blue eyes that made long dead flames burn again.
His lips moved in a husky whisper. “I believe I will collect, now.”
“Collect?” She gulped air, breaking the simple word into too many throaty syllables. Heat crawled up her neck and blazed onto her cheeks.
“Yes.” His dimples deepened. “On your part of the bargain, of course.”
He did not give her a chance to debate. He covered her mouth with his, softly stealing away four years of want. She opened to him, allowing him to fill her miserly heart with warmth. And now, she would have one more memory with which Lucifer would taunt her when she made her final journey to Hades.
Trace hugged her to his chest. “Lizzy, Lizzy, how I’ve missed you.”
A tear escaped its mooring and glided down her cheek, sliding, falling, like the last leaf of autumn. Glistening, it twirled down to crumble and rot beneath the tree, alongside the dreams that had fallen there four years ago.
She’d made her choice, chosen a path that would divide them forever. Good from evil. He was an honest man. A gentleman of his word. She was a criminal. A thief. A liar. She had no future, save that which rightfully belonged to a hangman.
Okay, well that excerpt was pretty serious. But can highwaymen be funny? I hope so. As with all my stories, I tackle the subject with tongue in cheek and a cast of characters fit to inhabit an Oscar Wilde play.
Back to our original Question. What is it about pirates and highwaymen that makes our pulse gallop with them across the purple moor, and inspires poets and writers to romanticize them?
I think it is his untamed nature that we find so intriguing. He is fearless. The highwayman is not bound to anything except the open road. He roams the forests and byways completely unfettered by responsibilities. The pirate or roguish sea captain is much the same. He belongs to the sea. These reckless rogues blow a wistful wind across our staid everyday lives, awakening our own desire for freedom on an almost mystical level.
Here’s a music video that aptly captures this mystical romanticism. The Highwayman sung by The Highwaymen (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristopherson)
What about you? Have you read Alfred Noyes’s poem. Fess up. Did you ever daydream about the mysterious highwayman and the innkeeper’s daughter who loved him?
I’ll be giving a FREE eBook of The Highwayman novella to everyone who comments today.PS: If your blogger profile doesn’t include your email be sure to post it in your comment if you would like the gift Amazon eBook.
Until then, Happy Reading!