The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 115

so covered the public highways that it became
a matter of grievous import to the King's party, for no one was safe in
the district who even so much as sympathized with the King's cause, and
many were the dead foreheads that bore the grim mark of the Devil of
Torn.

Though he had never formally espoused the cause of the barons, it now
seemed a matter of little doubt but that, in any crisis, his grisly
banner would be found on their side.

The long winter evenings within the castle of Torn were often spent in
rough, wild carousals in the great hall where a thousand men might sit
at table singing, fighting and drinking until the gray dawn stole in
through the east windows, or Peter the Hermit, the fierce majordomo,
tired of the din and racket, came stalking into the chamber with drawn
sword and laid upon the revellers with the flat of it to enforce the
authority of his commands to disperse.

Norman of Torn and the old man seldom joined in these wild orgies, but
when minstrel, or troubadour, or storyteller wandered to his grim lair,
the Outlaw of Torn would sit enjoying the break in the winter's dull
monotony to as late an hour as another; nor could any man of his great
fierce horde outdrink their chief when he cared to indulge in the
pleasures of the wine cup. The only effect that liquor seemed to have
upon him was to increase his desire to fight, so that he was wont to
pick needless quarrels and to resort to his sword for the slightest,
or for no provocation at all. So, for this reason, he drank but seldom
since he always regretted the things he did under the promptings of that
other self which only could assert its ego when reason was threatened
with submersion.

Often on these evenings, the company was entertained by stories from the
wild, roving lives of its own members. Tales of adventure, love, war
and death in every known corner of the world; and the ten captains told,
each, his story of how he came to be of Torn; and thus, with fighting
enough by day to keep them good humored, the winter passed, and spring
came with the ever wondrous miracle of awakening life, with soft
zephyrs, warm rain, and sunny skies.

Through all the winter, Father Claude had been expecting to hear from
Simon de Montfort, but not until now did he receive a message which
told the good priest that his letter had missed the great baron and
had followed him around

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