The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 31

him, but more often he rode alone.

On one occasion, he chanced upon a hut at the outskirts of a small
hamlet not far from Torn and, with the curiosity of boyhood, determined
to enter and have speech with the inmates, for by this time the natural
desire for companionship was commencing to assert itself. In all his
life, he remembered only the company of the old man, who never spoke
except when necessity required.

The hut was occupied by an old priest, and as the boy in armor pushed
in, without the usual formality of knocking, the old man looked up with
an expression of annoyance and disapproval.

"What now," he said, "have the King's men respect neither for piety nor
age that they burst in upon the seclusion of a holy man without so much
as a 'by your leave'?"

"I am no king's man," replied the boy quietly, "I am Norman of Torn, who
has neither a king nor a god, and who says 'by your leave' to no man.
But I have come in peace because I wish to talk to another than my
father. Therefore you may talk to me, priest," he concluded with haughty
peremptoriness.

"By the nose of John, but it must be a king has deigned to honor me with
his commands," laughed the priest. "Raise your visor, My Lord, I
would fain look upon the countenance from which issue the commands of
royalty."

The priest was a large man with beaming, kindly eyes, and a round jovial
face. There was no bite in the tones of his good-natured retort, and so,
smiling, the boy raised his visor.

"By the ear of Gabriel," cried the good father, "a child in armor!"

"A child in years, mayhap," replied the boy, "but a good child to own as
a friend, if one has enemies who wear swords."

"Then we shall be friends, Norman of Torn, for albeit I have few
enemies, no man has too many friends, and I like your face and your
manner, though there be much to wish for in your manners. Sit down and
eat with me, and I will talk to your heart's content, for be there one
other thing I more love than eating, it is talking."

With the priest's aid, the boy laid aside his armor, for it was heavy
and uncomfortable, and together the two sat down to the meal that was
already partially on the board.

Thus began a friendship which lasted during the lifetime of the good
priest. Whenever he could do so, Norman of Torn visited his friend,
Father Claude. It

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