The old women who always dropped coins in Dezdemona's cleavage during performances were scandalized!
The lord dabbed at his brow with a frilly handkerchief and gathered himself to try again. "The journey was difficult and it has taken its toll on my daughter. Surely after a good night's rest her fine sensibilities will return," he apologized.
"Then come inside," Sirius offered from the Inn's still-open door. "I've still got a few rooms to fill this evening."
The lord looked down at his feet. "I do appreciate that, good sir, but I fear I have been parted from my money--"
"They say that soon happens to fools!" someone in the crowd offered.
The lord blushed furiously.
Sirius pushed through the crowd, still drying a mug with the edge of his apron. "Were you robbed, good sir?"
There was a choking sound and a nod.
"I was robbed, too, " the girl volunteered gleefully, "But not of any money," she teased.
"Who did this--and where?" Sirius demanded. Theft was never good for business and if Sirius had to ride out and strangle someone with his own two hands he would do it. Joyfully. He prided himself on being a proactive businessman. "I'll--"
"On the road through Carter's Hollow-- a strange man in a dusk-colored hood and cloak--on a white horse with silver shoes in front and gold behind..." the man trailed off, seeing the fire had drained from Sirius's eyes and Sirius blanched, shaking his head.
"I'm very busy here at the Inn," he remarked. Shrugging, Sirius turned to walk back inside but then said over his thick shoulder, "But you're welcome to stay in a room--the three of you--tonight for nothing." Then muttering, "It's all I can do," he stepped back inside.
"You," the lord turned to McGregor. "Can't a group be organized to root the villain out?"
"The Dusty Rider's not just some villain, he's--he's..." McGregor searched for words to work. In Roxborough the Rider was so often a topic of conversation it seemed all the words had been used up. And describing him to a stranger? McGregor shook his head. The crowd began to dissipate having seen the better bits of the sudden street show. "Well, we don't exactly know who or what," he paused for emphasis, "he is. Some say he's just a wily thief who's eluded us for the better part of six years, and some, well they say he's not just any thief. There's some that say he's a thief from the Fae."
"A Faerie?" the lord's voice shrilled.
*Please tune in for the final installment of the prologue tomorrow morning...