|Painting Name||Tom o' the Roads|
|Painter Name||Sidney H. Sime|
|Current Location||Public collection|
The very first glance at the illustration creates certain despair in our thoughts as the hanging figure captures our heart at the moment we look at it as it arises many speculations in our minds. As we are staggering at the hanging man, the three figures in thieves’ attire at the bottom-right corner make our thoughts more suspicious. They are with a ladder and a sword, and the hanging man is dead apparently with nothing precious to steal from. Then what is the strong intention which made them laboring to come near an unworthy corpse at a stormy night. What is the gain to these selfish thieves for such toil?
This is an illustration from much revered Irish writer Lord Dunsany’s story The Highwaymen. It is based on the real ‘highwaymen’ in Great Britain and Ireland who robbed travelers until 19th century. The story tells of three friends who are thieves and sinners through-out their lives. And they are trying to give a death ritual to their friend Tom, who was hanged by the king for his inept deeds. But the thieves are very much scared to be caught by the king’s soldiers as they decided to keep their lantern ignited. And there is also a fright of the dwelling phantoms at the nearby graveyard.
In this interestingly told story Lord Dunsany makes us wonder about the feelings of these murderers. Despite they kill people as their pass-time; they still cared for their friend’s corpse and risked their lives, to free the dead friend’s soul from the corpse. It is not an appraisal for the sinners but it tells about the still-remained human feelings in those killers. Did they chose to become killers or the circumstances forced them? Who knows? Lord Dunsany has told us an allegory with ambiguous interpretations.