The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 19

old woman. "Thou hast a toothache,
and so thy face must be wrapped in many rags. And listen, should any ask
thee upon the way why thy face be so wrapped, thou art to say that thou
hast a toothache. And thou do not do as I say, the King's men will take
us and we shall be hanged, for the King hateth us. If thou hatest the
English King and lovest thy life do as I command."

"I hate the King," replied the little boy. "For this reason I shall do
as thou sayest."

So it was that they set out that night upon their long journey north
toward the hills of Derby. For many days they travelled, riding upon
two small donkeys. Strange sights filled the days for the little boy
who remembered nothing outside the bare attic of his London home and the
dirty London alleys that he had traversed only by night.

They wound across beautiful parklike meadows and through dark,
forbidding forests, and now and again they passed tiny hamlets of
thatched huts. Occasionally they saw armored knights upon the highway,
alone or in small parties, but the child's companion always managed to
hasten into cover at the road side until the grim riders had passed.

Once, as they lay in hiding in a dense wood beside a little open glade
across which the road wound, the boy saw two knights enter the glade
from either side. For a moment, they drew rein and eyed each other in
silence, and then one, a great black mailed knight upon a black charger,
cried out something to the other which the boy could not catch. The
other knight made no response other than to rest his lance upon his
thigh and with lowered point, ride toward his ebon adversary. For a
dozen paces their great steeds trotted slowly toward one another, but
presently the knights urged them into full gallop, and when the two iron
men on their iron trapped chargers came together in the center of the
glade, it was with all the terrific impact of full charge.

The lance of the black knight smote full upon the linden shield of his
foeman, the staggering weight of the mighty black charger hurtled upon
the gray, who went down with his rider into the dust of the highway. The
momentum of the black carried him fifty paces beyond the fallen horseman
before his rider could rein him in, then the black knight turned to view
the havoc he had wrought. The gray horse was just staggering dizzily to
his feet, but his

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