The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 2

the master
of fence drew the King into the position he wanted him, and with the
suddenness of lightning, a little twist of his foil sent Henry's weapon
clanging across the floor of the armory.

For an instant, the King stood as tense and white as though the hand of
death had reached out and touched his heart with its icy fingers.
The episode meant more to him than being bested in play by the best
swordsman in England--for that surely was no disgrace--to Henry it
seemed prophetic of the outcome of a future struggle when he should
stand face to face with the real De Montfort; and then, seeing in De
Vac only the creature of his imagination with which he had vested the
likeness of his powerful brother-in-law, Henry did what he should like
to have done to the real Leicester. Drawing off his gauntlet he advanced
close to De Vac.

"Dog!" he hissed, and struck the master of fence a stinging blow across
the face, and spat upon him. Then he turned on his heel and strode from
the armory.

De Vac had grown old in the service of the kings of England, but he
hated all things English and all Englishmen. The dead King John, though
hated by all others, he had loved, but with the dead King's bones De
Vac's loyalty to the house he served had been buried in the Cathedral of
Worcester.

During the years he had served as master of fence at the English Court,
the sons of royalty had learned to thrust and parry and cut as only
De Vac could teach the art, and he had been as conscientious in the
discharge of his duties as he had been in his unswerving hatred and
contempt for his pupils.

And now the English King had put upon him such an insult as might only
be wiped out by blood.

As the blow fell, the wiry Frenchman clicked his heels together, and
throwing down his foil, he stood erect and rigid as a marble statue
before his master. White and livid was his tense drawn face, but he
spoke no word.

He might have struck the King, but then there would have been left to
him no alternative save death by his own hand; for a king may not fight
with a lesser mortal, and he who strikes a king may not live--the king's
honor must be satisfied.

Had a French king struck him, De Vac would have struck back, and gloried
in the fate which permitted him to die for the honor of France; but an
English King--pooh! a dog;

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