The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 45

dead knight lying where it
had fallen.

"Ride on," he called to Bertrade de Montfort, "I will join you in an
instant."

Again dismounting, he returned to the side of his late adversary, and
lifting the dead knight's visor, drew upon the forehead with the point
of his dagger the letters NT.

The girl turned to see what detained him, but his back was toward her
and he knelt beside his fallen foeman, and she did not see his act.
Brave daughter of a brave sire though she was, had she seen what he
did, her heart would have quailed within her and she would have fled in
terror from the clutches of this scourge of England, whose mark she
had seen on the dead foreheads of a dozen of her father's knights and
kinsmen.

Their way to Stutevill lay past the cottage of Father Claude, and here
Norman of Torn stopped to don his armor. Now he rode once more with
lowered visor, and in silence, a little to the rear of Bertrade de
Montfort that he might watch her face, which, of a sudden, had excited
his interest.

Never before, within the scope of his memory, had he been so close to a
young and beautiful woman for so long a period of time, although he had
often seen women in the castles that had fallen before his vicious and
terrible attacks. While stories were abroad of his vile treatment of
women captives, there was no truth in them. They were merely spread by
his enemies to incite the people against him. Never had Norman of Torn
laid violent hand upon a woman, and his cut-throat band were under oath
to respect and protect the sex, on penalty of death.

As he watched the semi-profile of the lovely face before him, something
stirred in his heart which had been struggling for expression for years.
It was not love, nor was it allied to love, but a deep longing for
companionship of such as she, and such as she represented. Norman of
Torn could not have translated this feeling into words for he did not
know, but it was the far faint cry of blood for blood and with it,
mayhap, was mixed not alone the longing of the lion among jackals for
other lions, but for his lioness.

They rode for many miles in silence when suddenly she turned, saying:

"You take your time, Sir Knight, in answering my query. Who be ye?"

"I am Nor--" and then he stopped. Always before he had answered that
question with haughty pride. Why should he hesitate, he thought.

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