The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 4

peremptory authority and dignity, which
sat strangely upon one so tiny, caused the young woman at times to
turn her head from him that he might not see the smiles which she could
scarce repress.

Presently the boy took a ball from his tunic, and, pointing at a little
bush near them, said, "Stand you there, Lady Maud, by yonder bush. I
would play at toss."

The young woman did as she was bid, and when she had taken her place
and turned to face him the boy threw the ball to her. Thus they played
beneath the windows of the armory, the boy running blithely after the
ball when he missed it, and laughing and shouting in happy glee when he
made a particularly good catch.

In one of the windows of the armory overlooking the garden stood a grim,
gray, old man, leaning upon his folded arms, his brows drawn together in
a malignant scowl, the corners of his mouth set in a stern, cold line.

He looked upon the garden and the playing child, and upon the lovely
young woman beneath him, but with eyes which did not see, for De Vac was
working out a great problem, the greatest of all his life.

For three days, the old man had brooded over his grievance, seeking for
some means to be revenged upon the King for the insult which Henry had
put upon him. Many schemes had presented themselves to his shrewd
and cunning mind, but so far all had been rejected as unworthy of the
terrible satisfaction which his wounded pride demanded.

His fancies had, for the most part, revolved about the unsettled
political conditions of Henry's reign, for from these he felt he might
wrest that opportunity which could be turned to his own personal uses
and to the harm, and possibly the undoing, of the King.

For years an inmate of the palace, and often a listener in the armory
when the King played at sword with his friends and favorites, De Vac had
heard much which passed between Henry III and his intimates that could
well be turned to the King's harm by a shrewd and resourceful enemy.

With all England, he knew the utter contempt in which Henry held the
terms of the Magna Charta which he so often violated along with his
kingly oath to maintain it. But what all England did not know, De Vac
had gleaned from scraps of conversation dropped in the armory: that
Henry was even now negotiating with the leaders of foreign mercenaries,
and with Louis IX of France, for a sufficient

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