III

Princely Baronstown

 

The carriage came rightly belting in

and on it went ‘til it came to the Inn.

No rooms for the night, nor stable bare,

were nowhere near the peak of her care

as the woman in the driver’s seat

jumped down, figuring her story complete:

 

‘We were attacked by outlaws on the road,’

she told the Keeper as he called boys to unload.

‘Our driver and a friend of mine

were killed outright. We had not time

to prepare ourselves for much defence.

I fear there shall be no recompense,

for they galloped hard when they didst come to see

the man they did kill; the man with me.’

 

‘Why, who is this man?’ the Keeper gasped.

‘A man of the crown,’ the passenger rasped

as he alighted on the graciously bloodless ground.

The woman’s gaze, with silent sound,

warned the man to keep his peace.

There was a story to tell where the truth had ceased

to be an ingredient of hope for this hapless pair.

But the man of the crown understood the stare:

 

‘We were travelling together – us, all three –

and bringing some business for the King to see.

As my lady friend tells, a trap was sprung.

Had they not been such cowards, we might surely have hung.’

 

The Keeper grinned a crooked grin

and said, ‘That oft be the way of sin.

Yet thou should praise God that all of those fellows

favoured in the rainbow the colour of yellow.’

He winked at the woman, ‘pon whom the humour was lost:

‘We want these two buried no matter the cost.

Have it done tonight, now, do it with haste,

lest the fare of thy Inn have a deathly taste.’

 

He held her cold and sapphire glare,

and found not compassion nor grief in there.

‘I shall do what thou ask, because thy friend here has died,

but be not thou expectant that I do this with pride.’

 

Her laugh then was of a beast at its prey:

‘A simple thing for a simple man to say.

Be not thou so vocal of thy nobility.

Just do that which I say afore others can see.’

 

As the dead were taken from the uncouth hearse,

a man who was watching muttered a curse

as he turned his sharp eyes away from this disaster.

He left his tower lookout and hurried to his master.

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