THE BRIGANDS
Josh Mitteldorf

It was a cold and stormy night, and the brigands were waiting in the dell, and the Captain of the brigands said to Antonio, "Antonio, tell us a story that we may pass the time." Antonio took a deep breath. Pass the time was exactly what he intended to do, and his voice twittered a bit for he knew that the life of his beloved depended upon it. And so Antonio began:

It was a cold and stormy night, and the brigands were waiting in the dell, and the Captain of the brigands cast a glance at Antonio, noted the way he started and twitched. For Antonio was awaiting his opportunity to slip away from the band, to steal his beloved from the passing caravan and save her from the ambush his friends had plotted. But the Captain, too, was cunning. Certain he was that Antonio wasn't going anywhere, or warning anyone. He winked his eye the one without the patch. "Tell us a story, Antonio," he said, "that we may pass the time." Antonio dared not let on that he had other plans for the evening. He swallowed hard and began the story:
It was a cold and stormy night, and the brigands were waiting in the dell, and the Captain of the brigands said, "Tell us a story, Antonio .... Antonio? ... Antonio, are you here?" He counted the shadowy outlines as they stood silhouetted in the moonlight against the wispy clouds. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve. Twelve only. Antonio was missing gone to what mischief the Captain thought he knew. But the time would come to take care of that. In the meanwhile, the Captain himself filled in for Antonio, and recounted his tale:
Antonio concluded his tale with these words. A silence hung over the spellbound band. It had been a long and stormy night, but now the rain had passed, and the dawn's first rays reddened the eastern sky. only Antonio's eyes were turned to the west. He watched the last wagons of the caravan disappear unnoticed over the horizon. For so involved had the brigands been in his narrative that they had allowed the caravan to enter the valley below and pass by unharmed.

As the men built up the fire for their morning meal, Antonio mounted his horse in silence and slipped away, down into the valley, and westward to rejoin his beloved.