Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
- The speaker really draws out the highwayman's approach. We hear the sound of the hooves again and again, the only sound in the cold night.
- He comes closer and closer, and Bess's face shines in the darkness. We're not totally sure why it's shining. Scared? Sweaty?
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death.
- Now Bess makes her move. She opens her eyes, takes a breath, pulls the trigger, and shoots herself in the chest.
- It's a desperate move, but she did it for love, to warn the highwayman about the waiting soldiers. She gave her life to try to save him.