The light filtered down through the tree as through water, moving gently
as the leaves moved. He shared his ambush with a host of birds who came
and went continuously, shrieking and flashing their vivid wings. Now and
then travelers would pass by in groups, raising puffs of dust. A sharp
envy would sometimes stab Banshee's heart as he heard their easy laughter
and their song. Then his envy would turn to anger and his fingers would
tighten on his dagger and his eyes grow fierce like the eyes of a falcon.
But he would remain motionless, knowing better than to pit his strength,
fine as it was, against that of. more than one. A
good bandit is not a fool, he would tell himself. Wait,
As the day wore on and he grew more and more hungry, a despair began
to rise in him lest there be no solitary traveler carrying food or money.
It would have been better, perhaps, to have spent this day trapping birds
an occupation he often fell back on in times such as this. But even as
he was thinking thus, intent upon his sad plight and not watching the road,
there appeared, almost abreast of his ambush, a solitary man, carrying
on his back a bundle and in his hand a staff. As far as Buckshee could make
out, he was unarmed and also, as far as he could make out, had come in
answer to a prayer. Shiva, Shiva,
he whispered in acknowledgement. Then without rustling a leaf or snapping
a twig, he rose to his feet. Holding his knife in his right hand, he quietly
slipped through the hanging branches of the tree and stepped out into the
road a few feet behind the traveler.