The moon rose full and bright on the night that John rode down the road
towards the Booreshead Inn. The

road stretched out over the hills clouded in shadow. The hills looked like
waves on the ocean forever

caught in upheaval.

Bess was the first to hear the horses hooves. Her head shot up from its
prone position and her eyes

searched the frosty silence out the window for the rider. Each time the
hooves fell it was like a hammer

pounding in her head and heart. Slowly she reached up as far as she could
and she felt the trigger beneath

her finger it was cold and hard. The barrel under her breast seemed to grow
and peirce her flesh.

Suddenly the men before her straightened. They heard it. They were, just
now readying their guns to fire

upon the rider they knew must be coming. Bess watched over the hill and
waited for him. Her face burned

like a light in the night darkness. Her eyes seemed hollow and filled with
longing and pain.

Suddenly over the hill she saw him. She watched and waited and then she
knew she must do it. She closed

her eyes and a single tear slipped from her eye and slid down her cheek.
She could picture his face in her

mind. His brown hair left down to flow freely in the breeze, his brown eyes
dancing much as they had the

night before. His smile was perfect.

She opened her eyes and smiled at him out of the window as her finger
tightened on the trigger. She felt the

kick of it against the floor and her feet and then there was a blinding
flash of pain as the lead bullet ripped

through her breast and into her heart and then she fell forward. Blood
spurted from the wound and drizzled

down her front to pool at her feet on the floor. Her hair hung down
shrouding her face, a dark red love knot

tied in her hair blew lightly in the wind coming from the window.

John pushed his horse as hard as it would go that last stretch. He was
almost there, almost to his love. He

felt the box in his jacket pocket weighting it down and hitting his leg as
he pushed the horse faster. The ring

inside was simple. A plain ring of silver with a silver strip in the middle
but he knew that it was perfect for

her. He smiled when he thought of how she would react when he asked her to
be his wife. Would she be

speechless? Would she cry and fall to her knee's beside him? Would she
confess her love for him and

throw her arms around him? A lighting strike of happiness shot through him
as he thought of his Bess. Bess

lockley, soon to be Bess Leach if all went as planned. Just one more hill
and he would be home with his

Bess.

As he topped the hill overlooking the Inn he saw her window above the door.
He would sneak up the outer
wall and tap on it waking her and then he would ask. A sudden gunshot
caused him to pull his horse up

short. Why had a gunshot come form the Inn? As John watched his eyes filled
with curious concern he saw

the yard of the Inn suddenly swarm to life. The door flew open and though
it was just a rectangle of light in

the night John could clearly see the red of the man's jacket. He turned his
spurs back to the East ridding

back the way he had come. It had been a warning. That shot. Bess's father
had shot it off to warn him about

the redcoats, most likely. He worried about Bess but he knew that her
father would not let anything happen

to her. He would return in a few days when he felt it was safe.

He rode to a small town about fifty miles from the Inn. He pulled his
frothing horse up outside the Inn of the

town. The poor animal had run like the wind and had not stopped till John
bade her to. John walked into the

Inn and told the man at the bar that he needed and room and stabling for
his horse.

"Sure." The man said. He called someone from the back and a small boy came
out. "This man's horse need's

stablin'." The boy nodded and started to walk out the door.

"Brush him down to will ya." John said handing the boy a silver penny. The
boy smiled wide and nodded

then ran out of the room.

"My wife will take ya to yer room." The man said. A small fat woman touched
his arm and smiled at him.

John smiled back and then followed her up the stairs down a long hall to a
small room at the end of the hall.

John thanked the woman and then gratefully fell onto the bed and slept
still wearing his boots and coat.

"Did you hear about the girl at the Booreshead?" A woman said at the table
next to John's the next morning.

Hearing this John perked up his ears to listen. "Heard from someone who
left there last night after it

happened that a bunch of red coats came and stayed there waitin' for
someone."

"Dirty red scoundrels." The man she talked with said.

"Oh I agree." She said. " Blasted people done drove those poor travelers
right out of their rooms in the

middle of the night."

"They do that to anyone they think is hiding a yank." Another man said.
John began to grow impatient.

What about the girl?

"And I heard they was travelin' this way next." Someone said butting in on
the conversation. A gasp went

up from the woman sitting around. "So ya'd better lock all yer doors and
winders or they might barge in on

ya." Agreement from several other people was hear at once. John leaned
around so that he caught the

woman's view.

"Excuse me ma'am." He said. She nodded at him. " What about the girl? The
one ya were talking about

before?"

"Oh that's right." She said. "The poor dear." John's heart froze at those
words. "I heard from Molly Ross

who took one of the travelers in this morning that a young girl, the
Innkeepers daughter if I'm correct, died.

Was shot."

John heard the words and all other noise fell away.

'Was shot." Rang through his head like a bell. The shot the night before.
The red coats. He pushed himself

away from the table and headed to the door.

" ... and if I hear things right she done it herself." The woman continued.
"The red coats tied her to the bed

with a rifle and she shot herself to warn someone away." John stopped dead
at that. She had died. Killed

herself. For him. No longer would her beautiful face grace the world of
men. No longer would he see her

smile or feel her soft hair run through his hands like strands of silk. The
ring in his pocket became dead

weight. It felt like his pocket was filled with horse shoes.

"Ma'am." He turned again. "Yer sure she's dead?"

"Why yes." She said. "Got from one of the people who stayed there that the
father sat in the yard till the last

of the people left rockin' his daughter in his arms covered with her blood.
What a gruesome story isn't it."

She seemed thrilled to be the center of attention even if every word she
spoke drove a knife deeper into

John's heart. He turned and blindly fled the Inn. He walked to barn and
saddled his horse and then he rode

out. The town passed him by though he saw nothing. His red coat looked dull
and his hair looked tousled.

He thought of what he had heard and slowly rage melted the ice of pain
around his heart and slowly he

started to push his horse harder and faster. Red filled his vision, he
pulled his rapier from its scabbard and

drove his spurs into his horses flanks. A wail as erie and haunting as a
damned souls filled the air around

him and he rode with no thought to anything but killing whoever had killed
his heart.

He did not see the flash of red at the side of the road ahead of him. He
did not see that red coat raise his rifle

and take aim. He did not hear the shot that was fired, but he felt the slug
rip through his chest and lung and

exit his back. He flew backwards from his horse and landed on the ground
rolling twice before he came to

rest in the dirt. He leg was turned at an odd angle and pain ripped through
his body from every point.

"Bess." He whispered, his voice raspy for the blood that was slowly filling
his lung. "Where are you Bess? I

need you. I need your love now." He heard footsteps near him and saw white
leg covers near his head. A

voice said something above him but he heard nothing. The sun shone down
into his face but he saw

nothing but he sweet face of Bess. Her long black hair fell around his
face as she leaned over him. A red

ribbon was tied in a love knot in her hair. He perfect mouth, so soft and
sweet and warm, was turned up in a

smile.

"Bess." John whispered then coughed. He reached up and trailed one finger
down her creamy white cheek.

Her smiled grew wider and as he dropped his hand from her face she leaned
down to kiss him.

The red coats that stood above looked down at him in confusion as he
called the name of a woman and then

reached up to touch nothing. He whispered the woman's name again and let
his hand drop. He closed his eyes. His

chest rose one last time and then he lay still. The red coats looked
between each other for a moment in

wonder then they quickly dragged him to the side of the road and left him
to fade away to nothing there.

Though many years have passed since that awful time and the Innkeeper has
since left the Boores head, it

is said that on clear summer nights when the moon is bright and full and
the music fast and gay, that if you

look very close you see the pale outline of a beautiful woman dancing in
the arms of the man she loved, a

red love knot tied in her hair and a silver ring on her finger.