My man was shot for his sheep coat.

It was a chilly winter night on the moors when it happened. He crunched his way across frost-paralyzed, browned grass, all the while swearing under his breath and thinking of home. A harvest moon hung above him: a bloodied eye staring fixedly at the hapless earth below. A few blackened wisps of cloud wrapped themselves around the moon and hung themselves from the burning stars.

His breath misted as it hit the chilled air hanging on the windless moors. The sound of a wolf drifted to his ears from regions unknown. My man pulled his sheep coat around him nervously: 'twas too cold to walk home tonight, I had told him. Bloody stupid to go to the pub tonight, when we had not even a draft-horse to carry 'im cros't the moors and back to me again. But he need'd a drink, he said, he needed to be wit' t'lads, he said. So I let him go. Just take yer wool coat, I told him. Aye, he said, seizing it and his wide-brimmed hat in great, work-worn, meaty hands before stomping out the door.

He was tall, my man. Broad, too, though not fat. Close-cropped blond hair topped his grinning, somehow boyish face, though deep-seated lines enclosed his forest-green eyes and mouth and nose. He had a mole on his left cheek. When he smiled, it seemed to smile too. His ears stuck out from the side of his head, great lumps of flesh like fat wings. I loved them. I loved all of him. And he was shot for his sheep coat.

It happened like this: in the light of his lantern, he saw a horse silhouetted beneath the moon. Enterprising as he was, he thought perhaps he could take it. Skipping across the moors, he reached the horse, a big black beauty. Grinning, he was about to climb onto the horse when he looked to his left. There, another man stood, dressed in an impeccable uniform, rifle in hand. The man told him to leave his coat and cash and be on his way. An argument ensued: my man was always a brave one. And the man, that rifleman in a blue uniform, who haunts the winter moors searching for something to keep him warm at night, shot my man for his sheep coat, and rode away on his black horse.

It was nothing to him, that misbegotten soldier of wintry nights. My man's sobbing as he lay on the cool earth, breathing his last. His hoarse yells for his girl, who waited for him in vain. His blood, staining the shirt I knitted for him as he died. All for nothing.

And so I sit alone in my kitchen, waiting for my man to come home.

One day, he will, and we shall live together in happiness.

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