The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 119

only elapsed before the
little, grim, gray man emerged from the darkened interior and hastened
upward upon the rocky trail into the hills, a cold smile of satisfaction
on his lips.

The castle of Torn was filled with the rush and rattle of preparation
early the following morning, for by eight o'clock the column was to
march. The courtyard was filled with hurrying squires and lackeys. War
horses were being groomed and caparisoned; sumpter beasts, snubbed to
great posts, were being laden with the tents, bedding, and belongings of
the men; while those already packed were wandering loose among the other
animals and men. There was squealing, biting, kicking, and cursing as
animals fouled one another with their loads, or brushed against some
tethered war horse.

Squires were running hither and thither, or aiding their masters to don
armor, lacing helm to hauberk, tying the points of ailette, coude, and
rondel; buckling cuisse and jambe to thigh and leg. The open forges of
armorer and smithy smoked and hissed, and the din of hammer on anvil
rose above the thousand lesser noises of the castle courts, the shouting
of commands, the rattle of steel, the ringing of iron hoof on stone
flags, as these artificers hastened, sweating and cursing, through the
eleventh hour repairs to armor, lance and sword, or to reset a shoe upon
a refractory, plunging beast.

Finally the captains came, armored cap-a-pie, and with them some
semblance of order and quiet out of chaos and bedlam. First the sumpter
beasts, all loaded now, were driven, with a strong escort, to the downs
below the castle and there held to await the column. Then, one by one,
the companies were formed and marched out beneath fluttering pennon and
waving banner to the martial strains of bugle and trumpet.

Last of all came the catapults, those great engines of destruction which
hurled two hundred pound boulders with mighty force against the walls of
beleaguered castles.

And after all had passed through the great gates, Norman of Torn and the
little old man walked side by side from the castle building and mounted
their chargers held by two squires in the center of the courtyard.

Below, on the downs, the column was forming in marching order, and as
the two rode out to join it, the little old man turned to Norman of
Torn, saying,

"I had almost forgot a message I have for you, my son. Father Claude
sent word last evening that he had been called suddenly south, and
that some appointment you had with him must therefore be deferred
until later. He said that you would understand."

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