The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 17

building, and with her was a little boy who never went abroad
alone, nor by day. And upon his left breast was a strange mark which
resembled a lily. When the bent old woman was safely in her attic room,
with bolted door behind her, she was wont to straighten up, and discard
her dingy mantle for more comfortable and becoming doublet and hose.

For years, she worked assiduously with the little boy's education. There
were three subjects in her curriculum; French, swordsmanship and hatred
of all things English, especially the reigning house of England.

The old woman had had made a tiny foil and had commenced teaching the
little boy the art of fence when he was but three years old.

"You will be the greatest swordsman in the world when you are twenty,
my son," she was wont to say, "and then you shall go out and kill many
Englishmen. Your name shall be hated and cursed the length and breadth
of England, and when you finally stand with the halter about your neck,
aha, then will I speak. Then shall they know."

The little boy did not understand it all, he only knew that he was
comfortable, and had warm clothing, and all he required to eat, and that
he would be a great man when he learned to fight with a real sword,
and had grown large enough to wield one. He also knew that he hated
Englishmen, but why, he did not know.

Way back in the uttermost recesses of his little, childish head, he
seemed to remember a time when his life and surroundings had been very
different; when, instead of this old woman, there had been many people
around him, and a sweet faced woman had held him in her arms and kissed
him, before he was taken off to bed at night; but he could not be sure,
maybe it was only a dream he remembered, for he dreamed many strange and
wonderful dreams.

When the little boy was about six years of age, a strange man came to
their attic home to visit the little old woman. It was in the dusk of
the evening but the old woman did not light the cresset, and further,
she whispered to the little boy to remain in the shadows of a far corner
of the bare chamber.

The stranger was old and bent and had a great beard which hid almost
his entire face except for two piercing eyes, a great nose and a bit
of wrinkled forehead. When he spoke, he accompanied his words with many
shrugs

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