The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 142

of the guard set them the example, and so they pushed
forward in a body toward Norman of Torn; twenty blades bared against
one.

There was no play now for the Outlaw of Torn. It was grim battle and
his only hope that he might take a fearful toll of his enemies before he
himself went down.

And so he fought as he never fought before, to kill as many and as
quickly as he might. And to those who watched, it was as though the
young officer of the Guard had not come within reach of that terrible
blade ere he lay dead upon the floor, and then the point of death
passed into the lungs of one of the men-at-arms, scarcely pausing ere it
pierced the heart of a third.

The soldiers fell back momentarily, awed by the frightful havoc of that
mighty arm. Before De Montfort could urge them on to renew the attack, a
girlish figure, clothed in a long riding cloak, burst through the little
knot of men as they stood facing their lone antagonist.

With a low cry of mingled rage and indignation, Bertrade de Montfort
threw herself before the Devil of Torn, and facing the astonished
company of king, prince, nobles and soldiers, drew herself to her full
height, and with all the pride of race and blood that was her right of
heritage from a French king on her father's side and an English king on
her mother's, she flashed her defiance and contempt in the single word:

"Cowards!"

"What means this, girl?" demanded De Montfort, "Art gone stark mad? Know
thou that this fellow be the Outlaw of Torn?"

"If I had not before known it, My Lord," she replied haughtily, "it
would be plain to me now as I see forty cowards hesitating to attack a
lone man. What other man in all England could stand thus against forty?
A lion at bay with forty jackals yelping at his feet."

"Enough, girl," cried the King, "what be this knave to thee?"

"He loves me, Your Majesty," she replied proudly, "and I, him."

"Thou lov'st this low-born cut-throat, Bertrade," cried Henry. "Thou,
a De Montfort, the daughter of my sister; who have seen this murderer's
accursed mark upon the foreheads of thy kin; thou have seen him flaunt
his defiance in the King's, thy uncle's, face, and bend his whole life
to preying upon thy people; thou lov'st this monster?"

"I love him, My Lord King."

"Thou lov'st him, Bertrade?" asked Philip of France in a low tone,
pressing nearer to the girl.

"Yes, Philip," she said, a little note

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