Leopold sat alone in the dark, stark carriage. His body shivered from the biting cold as the potholes and rocks strewn across the road sent judders through the entire vehicle. He glanced out of the open window.
“Why do they build roads through such foreboding woods?” He thought idly to himself. “The trees call, ‘danger’ to any and all who venture in. It’s almost as if those who build these roads are in cahoots with the highway men.”
The steady pace of the carriage abruptly changed. From comfortable canter to a jarring stop in the blink of an eye.
Leopold craned his head through the window to ascertain what was happening. All he saw was the body of his driver slumped on the leaf strewn ground beside the bedraggled carriage. Slowly Leopold took his position back in the centre of the bench seat and sighed.
“I should have listened to the trees; now I’m being robbed.”
Leopold didn’t like being robbed because he didn’t like where it was destined to lead. He straightened out his over-jacket and waited for the inevitable intrusion into his carriage.
“Ya money or yer life!” Came the snarled threat accompanied by a slender blade protruding through the window.
“What an odd request. I hardly imagine that if I offer you my life that you’d leave my money with my corpse. Excuse me for saying but you don’t seem a very reputable chap.”
There was a short, confused silence before an identical threat was made, “I said ya money or yer life!”
“My dear sir, what makes you think I have sufficient funds to guarantee my own life or indeed the life of anyone else? I have no great riches in my life, least of all about my present person. The only thing of value I posses is my man servant who I am now quite sure is dead.” None of this was a bluff. Leopold’s nature was to be as direct and truthful as possible in such situations.
“Stop ya messin’ with me ya pompous windbag and fetch yer wallet out before I run you through like yer mate over there.”
Leopold sighed once more. His hand reaching gently for the door of his carriage, coming to rest a mere inch from the threatening blade. He gave a small push and the door swung open. The thief took a step backward. As Leopold alighted his carriage he grasped inside his under-jacket and produced a tired old brown wallet. Confused, the thief simply stood motionless, his jaws ajar.
Leopold decided to rain the contents of his wallet in the thief’s face; it was mainly coins.
What followed was a series of expertly delivered blows and strikes that left the thief collapsed, gasping for air and motioning for clemency on the heavily trodden floor. Leopold gathered himself and once again straightened out his over-jacket.
“As I informed you, my personal wealth at present amounts to little more than a few coppers. Not nearly the value of a life like mine.”
Taking the thief’s blade he ran it through his own wallet before skewering it through the thief’s hand and into the ground. “People with sufficient wealth normally pay people such as me, with sufficient skills, to protect them from people such as you.”
Leopold leapt up to the drivers seat of the carriage and continued his journey, leaving the thief with his poultry ransom and a scare he wouldn’t soon forget.