The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 28

knights, at first taken back by this unexpected outbreak, finally
burst into uproarious laughter.

"Indeed," cried Paul of Merely, "spoken as one of the King's foreign
favorites might speak, and they ever told the good God's truth. But come
lad, we would not harm you--do as I bid."

"No man lives who can harm me while a blade hangs at my side," answered
the boy, "and as for doing as you bid, I take orders from no man other
than my father."

Beauchamp and Greystoke laughed aloud at the discomfiture of Paul of
Merely, but the latter's face hardened in anger, and without further
words he strode forward with outstretched hand to tear open the boy's
leathern jerkin, but met with the gleaming point of a sword and a quick
sharp, "En garde!" from the boy.

There was naught for Paul of Merely to do but draw his own weapon, in
self-defense, for the sharp point of the boy's sword was flashing in and
out against his unprotected body, inflicting painful little jabs,
and the boy's tongue was murmuring low-toned taunts and insults as it
invited him to draw and defend himself or be stuck "like the English pig
you are."

Paul of Merely was a brave man and he liked not the idea of drawing
against this stripling, but he argued that he could quickly disarm him
without harming the lad, and he certainly did not care to be further
humiliated before his comrades.

But when he had drawn and engaged his youthful antagonist, he discovered
that, far from disarming him, he would have the devil's own job of it to
keep from being killed.

Never in all his long years of fighting had he faced such an agile and
dexterous enemy, and as they backed this way and that about the room,
great beads of sweat stood upon the brow of Paul of Merely, for he
realized that he was fighting for his life against a superior swordsman.

The loud laughter of Beauchamp and Greystoke soon subsided to grim
smiles, and presently they looked on with startled faces in which fear
and apprehension were dominant.

The boy was fighting as a cat might play with a mouse. No sign of
exertion was apparent, and his haughty confident smile told louder than
words that he had in no sense let himself out to his full capacity.

Around and around the room they circled, the boy always advancing, Paul
of Merely always retreating. The din of their clashing swords and the
heavy breathing of the older man were the only sounds, except as they
brushed against a bench or

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