’Twas a coal-black horse, and the man wore a scarlet coat all powdered with pilm; and as he opened the gate and came over the graves, father saw that ’twas the dashing dragoon. His face was still a slaty-grey, and clammy with sweat; and when he spoke, his voice was all of a whisper, with a shiver therein.
“Bedman,” says he, “go to the hedge and look down the road, and tell me what you see.”
My father went, with his knees shaking, and came back again.
“I see a woman,” says he, “not fifty yards down the road. She is dressed in black, an’ has a veil over her face; an’ she’s comin’ this way.”
“Bedman,” answers the dragoon, “go to the gate an’ look back along the Plymouth road, an’ tell me what you see.”
“I see,” says my father, coming back with his teeth chattering, “I see, twenty yards back, a naked child comin’. He looks to be callin’, but he makes no sound.”
“Because his voice is wearied out,” says the dragoon. And with that he faced about, and walked to the gate slowly.
“Bedman, come wi’ me an’ see the rest,” he says, over his shoulder.
He opened the gate, unhitched the bridle and swung himself heavily up in the saddle.
Now from the gate the bank goes down pretty steep into the road, and at the foot of the bank my father saw two figures waiting. ’Twas the woman and the child, hand in hand; and their eyes burned up like coals: and the woman’s veil was lifted, and her throat bare.
As the horse went down the bank towards these two, they reached out and took each a stirrup and climbed upon his back, the child before the dragoon and the woman behind. The man’s face was set like a stone. Not a word did either speak, and in this fashion they rode down the hill towards Ruan sands. All that my father could mind, beyond, was that the woman’s hands were passed round the man’s neck, where the rope had passed round her own.
No more could he tell, being a stricken man from that hour. But Aunt Polgrain, the house-keeper up to Constantine, saw them, an hour later, go along the road below the town-place; and Jacobs, the smith, saw them pass his forge towards Bodmin about midnight. So the tale’s true enough. But since that night no man has set eyes on horse or riders.
HOW I DINED AT THE “INDIAN QUEENS.”
The sensation was odd; for I could have made affidavit I had never visited the place in my life, nor come within fifty miles of it. Yet every furlong of the drive was earmarked for me, as it were, by some detail perfectly familiar. The high-road ran straight ahead to a notch in the long chine of Huel Tor; and this notch was filled with the yellow ball of the westering sun. Whenever I turned my head and blinked, red simulacra of this ball hopped up