The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 58

setting out
upon such a dismal day and without sufficient escort, but Bertrade de
Montfort was firm.

"Already have I overstayed my time three days, and it is not lightly
that even I, his daughter, fail in obedience to Simon de Montfort. I
shall have enough to account for as it be. Do not urge me to add even
one more day to my excuses. And again, perchance, my mother and my
father may be sore distressed by my continued absence. No, Mary, I must
ride today." And so she did, with the five knights that could be spared
from the castle's defence.

Scarcely half an hour had elapsed before a cold drizzle set in, so that
they were indeed a sorry company that splashed along the muddy road,
wrapped in mantle and surcoat. As they proceeded, the rain and wind
increased in volume, until it was being driven into their faces in such
blinding gusts that they must needs keep their eyes closed and trust to
the instincts of their mounts.

Less than half the journey had been accomplished. They were winding
across a little hollow toward a low ridge covered with dense forest,
into the somber shadows of which the road wound. There was a glint of
armor among the drenched foliage, but the rain-buffeted eyes of the
riders saw it not. On they came, their patient horses plodding slowly
through the sticky road and hurtling storm.

Now they were half way up the ridge's side. There was a movement in the
dark shadows of the grim wood, and then, without cry or warning, a band
of steel-clad horsemen broke forth with couched spears. Charging at full
run down upon them, they overthrew three of the girl's escort before a
blow could be struck in her defense. Her two remaining guardians wheeled
to meet the return attack, and nobly did they acquit themselves, for it
took the entire eleven who were pitted against them to overcome and slay
the two.

In the melee, none had noticed the girl, but presently one of her
assailants, a little, grim, gray man, discovered that she had put spurs
to her palfrey and escaped. Calling to his companions he set out at a
rapid pace in pursuit.

Reckless of the slippery road and the blinding rain, Bertrade de
Montfort urged her mount into a wild run, for she had recognized the
arms of Peter of Colfax on the shields of several of the attacking
party.

Nobly, the beautiful Arab bent to her call for speed. The great beasts
of her pursuers, bred in Normandy and Flanders, might have been tethered
in their

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