The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 41

fellows? I like to fight, but there is
plenty of fighting which is legitimate, and what good may all my stolen
wealth avail me if I may not enter the haunts of men to spend it? Should
I stick my head into London town, it would doubtless stay there, held by
a hempen necklace.

"What quarrel have I with the King or the gentry? They have quarrel
enough with me it is true, but, nathless, I do not know why I should
have hated them so before I was old enough to know how rotten they
really are. So it seems to me that I am but the instrument of an old
man's spite, not even knowing the grievance to the avenging of which my
life has been dedicated by another.

"And at times, Father Claude, as I grow older, I doubt much that the
nameless old man of Torn is my father, so little do I favor him, and
never in all my life have I heard a word of fatherly endearment or felt
a caress, even as a little child. What think you, Father Claude?"

"I have thought much of it, my son," answered the priest. "It has ever
been a sore puzzle to me, and I have my suspicions, which I have held
for years, but which even the thought of so frightens me that I shudder
to speculate upon the consequences of voicing them aloud. Norman of
Torn, if you are not the son of the old man you call father, may God
forfend that England ever guesses your true parentage. More than this, I
dare not say except that, as you value your peace of mind and your life,
keep your visor down and keep out of the clutches of your enemies."

"Then you know why I should keep my visor down?"

"I can only guess, Norman of Torn, because I have seen another whom you
resemble."

The conversation was interrupted by a commotion from without; the sound
of horses' hoofs, the cries of men and the clash of arms. In an instant,
both men were at the tiny unglazed window. Before them, on the highroad,
five knights in armor were now engaged in furious battle with a party of
ten or a dozen other steel-clad warriors, while crouching breathless on
her palfry, a young woman sat a little apart from the contestants.

Presently, one of the knights detached himself from the melee and rode
to her side with some word of command, at the same time grasping
roughly at her bridle rein. The girl raised her riding whip

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