Cardeen crouched low on his steed’s broad neck. Flecks of foam escaped from her wide, flaring nostrils and hung in long, white streams from her sweat-soaked mane.
He knew that she could not continue at this furious pace for much longer. Her eyes wide and bloodshot, her hooves thundering on the hard baked earth of the forest path.
Cardeen smiled, behind them there was no sign of his pursuers but he could not afford to slacken her pace. They would be safe only after crossing the bridge which he knew could not be far ahead.
The sun had set and evening was jut beginning to close in as dusk came down and as they rounded a bend, ahead of him between the trees he spotted the bridge ahead. The border between Devon and Cornwall, the river Tamar which raged below.
Taking one hand off of the reins but keeping the pressure on so that she would not slacken her pace he adjusted the leather bag slung from his shoulder.
With only fifty yards between he and the bridge he caught a movement in the corner of his eye. His heart sank as from between the trees emerged the red tunics and white waistcoats of a small group of soldiers. Two had muskets raised. He tried to coax one last effort from his already exhausted companion. A puff of smoke showed that one shot had been fired. The first one missed but hearing another report he instantly felt a blow on his chest.
He felt a damp stain below his throat and his grip on the reins loosened. The horse started to slow and came to a halt about ten yards from the bridge. Cardeen felt himself sliding off the saddle to one side.
As his feet landed on the ground he wrenched the leather bag from his neck and swinging it around his head managd to throw it with it’s precious cargo into the middle of the fast flowing stream.
A smile of satisfaction passed over his face as he realised that the documents in the bag would no longer be legible even if they were retrieved. The evidence of treason against his Lord, the Duke of Cornwall would not be found despite his having failed in his attempt to bring the letters back to the castle as his master required.
His eyes closed and sinking to lie on the damp soil Cardeen passed away knowing that he had done his duty.