The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 54

welcome.

"Greetings, my son," said the priest.

"And to thee, Father," replied the outlaw, "And what may be the news of
Torn. I have been absent for several days. Is all well at the castle?"

"All be well at the castle," replied Father Claude, "if by that you mean
have none been captured or hanged for their murders. Ah, my boy, why
wilt thou not give up this wicked life of thine? It has never been my
way to scold or chide thee, yet always hath my heart ached for each
crime laid at the door of Norman of Torn."

"Come, come, Father," replied the outlaw, "what dost I that I have not
good example for from the barons, and the King, and Holy Church. Murder,
theft, rapine! Passeth a day over England which sees not one or all
perpetrated in the name of some of these?

"Be it wicked for Norman of Torn to prey upon the wolf, yet righteous
for the wolf to tear the sheep? Methinks not. Only do I collect from
those who have more than they need, from my natural enemies; while they
prey upon those who have naught.

"Yet," and his manner suddenly changed, "I do not love it, Father. That
thou know. I would that there might be some way out of it, but there is
none.

"If I told you why I wished it, you would be surprised indeed, nor can I
myself understand; but, of a verity, my greatest wish to be out of
this life is due to the fact that I crave the association of those very
enemies I have been taught to hate. But it is too late, Father, there
can be but one end and that the lower end of a hempen rope."

"No, my son, there is another way, an honorable way," replied the good
Father. "In some foreign clime there be opportunities abundant for such
as thee. France offers a magnificent future to such a soldier as Norman
of Torn. In the court of Louis, you would take your place among the
highest of the land. You be rich and brave and handsome. Nay do not
raise your hand. You be all these and more, for you have learning far
beyond the majority of nobles, and you have a good heart and a true
chivalry of character. With such wondrous gifts, naught could bar your
way to the highest pinnacles of power and glory, while here you have no
future beyond the halter. Canst thou hesitate, Norman of Torn?"

The young man stood silent for a moment, then he drew

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