The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 62

call of their mighty chieftains for
the oath of fealty.

Her wandering eyes took in the dozen benches and the few rude, heavy
chairs which completed the rough furnishings of this rough room, and
she shuddered. One little foot tapped sullenly upon the disordered floor
which was littered with a miscellany of rushes interspread with such
bones and scraps of food as the dogs had rejected or overlooked.

But to none of these surroundings did Bertrade de Montfort give but
passing heed; she looked for the man she sought that she might quickly
have the encounter over and learn what fate the future held in store for
her.

Her quick glance had shown her that the room was quite empty, and that
in addition to the main doorway at the lower end of the apartment, where
she had entered, there was but one other door leading from the hall.
This was at one side, and as it stood ajar she could see that it led
into a small room, apparently a bedchamber.

As she stood facing the main doorway, a panel opened quietly behind her
and directly back of where the thrones had stood in past times. From the
black mouth of the aperture stepped Peter of Colfax. Silently, he closed
the panel after him, and with soundless steps, advanced toward the girl.
At the edge of the raised dais he halted, rattling his sword to attract
her attention.

If his aim had been to unnerve her by the suddenness and mystery of his
appearance, he failed signally, for she did not even turn her head as
she said:

"What explanation hast thou to make, Sir Peter, for this base treachery
against thy neighbor's daughter and thy sovereign's niece?"

"When fond hearts be thwarted by a cruel parent," replied the
pot-bellied old beast in a soft and fawning tone, "love must still find
its way; and so thy gallant swain hath dared the wrath of thy great
father and majestic uncle, and lays his heart at thy feet, O beauteous
Bertrade, knowing full well that thine hath been hungering after it
since we didst first avow our love to thy hard-hearted sire. See, I
kneel to thee, my dove!" And with cracking joints the fat baron plumped
down upon his marrow bones.

Bertrade turned and as she saw him her haughty countenance relaxed into
a sneering smile.

"Thou art a fool, Sir Peter," she said, "and, at that, the worst species
of fool--an ancient fool. It is useless to pursue thy cause, for I will
have none of thee. Let me hence, if thou be a gentleman, and no

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