The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 111

golden hair ornament set with precious stones,
and about it was wound a strand of her own silken tresses.

She looked long at the little trinkets and then, pressing them against
her lips, she threw herself face down upon an oaken bench, her lithe
young form racked with sobs.

She was indeed but a little girl chained by the inexorable bonds of
caste to a false ideal. Birth and station spelled honor to her, and
honor, to the daughter of an English noble, was a mightier force even
than love.

That Norman of Torn was an outlaw she might have forgiven, but that he
was, according to report, a low fellow of no birth placed an impassable
barrier between them.

For hours the girl lay sobbing upon the bench, whilst within her raged
the mighty battle of the heart against the head.

Thus her mother found her, and kneeling beside her, and with her arms
about the girl's neck, tried to soothe her and to learn the cause of
her sorrow. Finally it came, poured from the flood gates of a sorrowing
heart; that wave of bitter misery and hopelessness which not even a
mother's love could check.

"Joan, my dear daughter," cried Lady de Tany, "I sorrow with thee that
thy love has been cast upon so bleak and impossible a shore. But it be
better that thou hast learnt the truth ere it were too late; for, take
my word upon it, Joan, the bitter humiliation such an alliance must
needs have brought upon thee and thy father's house would soon have
cooled thy love; nor could his have survived the sneers and affronts
even the menials would have put upon him."

"Oh, mother, but I love him so," moaned the girl. "I did not know how
much until he had gone, and the King's officer had come to search for
him, and then the thought that all the power of a great throne and the
mightiest houses of an entire kingdom were turned in hatred against him
raised the hot blood of anger within me and the knowledge of my love
surged through all my being. Mother, thou canst not know the honor, and
the bravery, and the chivalry of the man as I do. Not since Arthur of
Silures kept his round table hath ridden forth upon English soil so true
a knight as Norman of Torn.

"Couldst thou but have seen him fight, my mother, and witnessed the
honor of his treatment of thy daughter, and heard the tone of dignified
respect in which he spoke of women thou wouldst have loved

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