The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 55

his hand across
his eyes as though to brush away a vision.

"There be a reason, Father, why I must remain in England for a time at
least, though the picture you put is indeed wondrous alluring."

And the reason was Bertrade de Montfort.




CHAPTER IX

The visit of Bertrade de Montfort with her friend Mary de Stutevill
was drawing to a close. Three weeks had passed since Roger de Conde had
ridden out from the portals of Stutevill and many times the handsome
young knight's name had been on the lips of his fair hostess and her
fairer friend.

Today the two girls roamed slowly through the gardens of the great
court, their arms about each other's waists, pouring the last
confidences into each other's ears, for tomorrow Bertrade had elected to
return to Leicester.

"Methinks thou be very rash indeed, my Bertrade," said Mary. "Wert my
father here he would, I am sure, not permit thee to leave with only the
small escort which we be able to give."

"Fear not, Mary," replied Bertrade. "Five of thy father's knights be
ample protection for so short a journey. By evening it will have been
accomplished; and, as the only one I fear in these parts received such
a sound set back from Roger de Conde recently, I do not think he will
venture again to molest me."

"But what about the Devil of Torn, Bertrade?" urged Mary. "Only
yestereve, you wot, one of Lord de Grey's men-at-arms came limping to
us with the news of the awful carnage the foul fiend had wrought on his
master's household. He be abroad, Bertrade, and I canst think of naught
more horrible than to fall into his hands."

"Why, Mary, thou didst but recently say thy very self that Norman
of Torn was most courteous to thee when he sacked this, thy father's
castle. How be it thou so soon has changed thy mind?"

"Yes, Bertrade, he was indeed respectful then, but who knows what
horrid freak his mind may take, and they do say that he be cruel beyond
compare. Again, forget not that thou be Leicester's daughter and Henry's
niece; against both of whom the Outlaw of Torn openly swears his hatred
and his vengeance. Oh, Bertrade, wait but for a day or so, I be sure
my father must return ere then, and fifty knights shall accompany thee
instead of five."

"What be fifty knights against Norman of Torn, Mary? Thy reasoning is on
a parity with thy fears, both have flown wide of the mark.

"If I am to meet with this wild ruffian, it were better that

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