The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 109

as he feared, how was he to tell her that he loved only Bertrade de
Montfort?

"You need tell me nothing," interrupted Joan de Tany. "I have guessed
what you would tell me, Norman of Torn. 'The spell of moonlight and
adventure is no longer upon us'--those are your own words, and still I
am glad to call you friend."

The little emphasis she put upon the last word bespoke the finality of
her decision that the Outlaw of Torn could be no more than friend to
her.

"It is best," he replied, relieved that, as he thought, she felt no
love for him now that she knew him for what he really was. "Nothing good
could come to such as you, Joan, if the Devil of Torn could claim more
of you than friendship; and so I think that for your peace of mind and
for my own, we will let it be as though you had never known me. I thank
you that you have not been angry with me. Remember me only to think that
in the hills of Derby, a sword is at your service, without reward and
without price. Should you ever need it, Joan, tell me that you will send
for me--wilt promise me that, Joan?"

"I promise, Norman of Torn."

"Farewell," he said, and as he again kissed her hand he bent his knee
to the ground in reverence. Then he rose to go, pressing a little packet
into her palm. Their eyes met, and the man saw, in that brief instant,
deep in the azure depths of the girl's that which tumbled the structure
of his new-found complacency about his ears.

As he rode out into the bright sunlight upon the road which led
northwest toward Derby, Norman of Torn bowed his head in sorrow, for he
realized two things. One was that the girl he had left still loved him,
and that some day, mayhap tomorrow, she would suffer because she had
sent him away; and the other was that he did not love her, that his
heart was locked in the fair breast of Bertrade de Montfort.

He felt himself a beast that he had allowed his loneliness and the
aching sorrow of his starved, empty heart to lead him into this girl's
life. That he had been new to women and newer still to love did not
permit him to excuse himself, and a hundred times he cursed his folly
and stupidity, and what he thought was fickleness.

But the unhappy affair had taught him one thing for certain: to know
without question what love

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