The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 120

The old man eyed his
companion narrowly through the eye slit in his helm.

"'Tis passing strange," said Norman of Torn but that was his only
comment. And so they joined the column which moved slowly down toward
the valley and as they passed the cottage of Father Claude, Norman of
Torn saw that the door was closed and that there was no sign of life
about the place. A wave of melancholy passed over him, for the deserted
aspect of the little flower-hedged cote seemed dismally prophetic of a
near future without the beaming, jovial face of his friend and adviser.

Scarcely had the horde of Torn passed out of sight down the east edge of
the valley ere a party of richly dressed knights, coming from the south
by another road along the west bank of the river, crossed over and drew
rein before the cottage of Father Claude.

As their hails were unanswered, one of the party dismounted to enter the
building.

"Have a care, My Lord," cried his companion. "This be over-close to the
Castle Torn and there may easily be more treachery than truth in the
message which called thee thither."

"Fear not," replied Simon de Montfort, "the Devil of Torn hath no
quarrel with me." Striding up the little path, he knocked loudly on the
door. Receiving no reply, he pushed it open and stepped into the dim
light of the interior. There he found his host, the good father Claude,
stretched upon his back on the floor, the breast of his priestly robes
dark with dried and clotted blood.

Turning again to the door, De Montfort summoned a couple of his
companions.

"The secret of the little lost prince of England be a dangerous burden
for a man to carry," he said. "But this convinces me more than any words
the priest might have uttered that the abductor be still in England, and
possibly Prince Richard also."

A search of the cottage revealed the fact that it had been ransacked
thoroughly by the assassin. The contents of drawer and box littered
every room, though that the object was not rich plunder was evidenced by
many pieces of jewelry and money which remained untouched.

"The true object lies here," said De Montfort, pointing to the open
hearth upon which lay the charred remains of many papers and documents.
"All written evidence has been destroyed, but hold what lieth here
beneath the table?" and, stooping, the Earl of Leicester picked up
a sheet of parchment on which a letter had been commenced. It was
addressed to him, and he read it aloud:

Lest some unforeseen

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