The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 40

all the rest than he, the
peasants worshipped him as a deliverer from the lowborn murderers who
had been wont to despoil the weak and lowly and on whose account the
women of the huts and cottages had never been safe.

Few of them had seen his face and fewer still had spoken with him, but
they loved his name and his prowess and in secret they prayed for him
to their ancient god, Wodin, and the lesser gods of the forest and the
meadow and the chase, for though they were confessed Christians, still
in the hearts of many beat a faint echo of the old superstitions of
their ancestors; and while they prayed also to the Lord Jesus and to
Mary, yet they felt it could do no harm to be on the safe side with the
others, in case they did happen to exist.

A poor, degraded, downtrodden, ignorant, superstitious people, they
were; accustomed for generations to the heel of first one invader and
then another and in the interims, when there were any, the heels of
their feudal lords and their rapacious monarchs.

No wonder then that such as these worshipped the Outlaw of Torn, for
since their fierce Saxon ancestors had come, themselves as conquerors,
to England, no other hand had ever been raised to shield them from

On this policy of his toward the serfs and freedmen, Norman of Torn and
the grim, old man whom he called father had never agreed. The latter was
for carrying his war of hate against all Englishmen, but the young man
would neither listen to it, nor allow any who rode out from Torn to
molest the lowly. A ragged tunic was a surer defence against this wild
horde than a stout lance or an emblazoned shield.

So, as Norman of Torn rode down from his mighty castle to visit Father
Claude, the sunlight playing on his clanking armor and glancing from
the copper boss of his shield, the sight of a little group of woodmen
kneeling uncovered by the roadside as he passed was not so remarkable
after all.

Entering the priest's study, Norman of Torn removed his armor and lay
back moodily upon a bench with his back against a wall and his strong,
lithe legs stretched out before him.

"What ails you, my son?" asked the priest, "that you look so
disconsolate on this beautiful day?"

"I do not know, Father," replied Norman of Torn, "unless it be that I
am asking myself the question, 'What it is all for?' Why did my father
train me ever to prey upon my

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