The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 20

mailed rider lay quiet and still where he had fallen.

With raised visor, the black knight rode back to the side of his
vanquished foe. There was a cruel smile upon his lips as he leaned
toward the prostrate form. He spoke tauntingly, but there was no
response, then he prodded the fallen man with the point of his spear.
Even this elicited no movement. With a shrug of his iron clad shoulders,
the black knight wheeled and rode on down the road until he had
disappeared from sight within the gloomy shadows of the encircling
forest.

The little boy was spell-bound. Naught like this had he ever seen or
dreamed.

"Some day thou shalt go and do likewise, my son," said the little old
woman.

"Shall I be clothed in armor and ride upon a great black steed?" he
asked.

"Yes, and thou shalt ride the highways of England with thy stout lance
and mighty sword, and behind thee thou shalt leave a trail of blood and
death, for every man shalt be thy enemy. But come, we must be on our
way."

They rode on, leaving the dead knight where he had fallen, but always in
his memory the child carried the thing that he had seen, longing for the
day when he should be great and strong like the formidable black knight.

On another day, as they were biding in a deserted hovel to escape the
notice of a caravan of merchants journeying up-country with their wares,
they saw a band of ruffians rush out from the concealing shelter of some
bushes at the far side of the highway and fall upon the surprised and
defenseless tradesmen.

Ragged, bearded, uncouth villains they were, armed mostly with bludgeons
and daggers, with here and there a cross-bow. Without mercy they
attacked the old and the young, beating them down in cold blood even
when they offered no resistance. Those of the caravan who could,
escaped, the balance the highwaymen left dead or dying in the road, as
they hurried away with their loot.

At first the child was horror-struck, but when he turned to the little
old woman for sympathy he found a grim smile upon her thin lips. She
noted his expression of dismay.

"It is naught, my son. But English curs setting upon English swine. Some
day thou shalt set upon both--they be only fit for killing."

The boy made no reply, but he thought a great deal about that which
he had seen. Knights were cruel to knights--the poor were cruel to the
rich--and every day of the journey had forced upon his childish mind
that everyone

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