The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 65

lying tongue.

"Then will I starve you out," he cried at length.

"Gladly will I starve in preference to falling into thy foul hands,"
replied the girl. "But thy old servant here will starve first, for she
be very old and not so strong as I. Therefore, how will it profit you to
kill two and still be robbed of thy prey?"

Peter of Colfax entertained no doubt but that his fair prisoner would
carry out her threat and so he set his men to work with cold chisels,
axes and saws upon the huge door.

For hours, they labored upon that mighty work of defence, and it was
late at night ere they made a little opening large enough to admit a
hand and arm, but the first one intruded within the room to raise the
bars was drawn quickly back with a howl of pain from its owner. Thus
the keen dagger in the girl's hand put an end to all hopes of entering
without completely demolishing the door.

To this work, the men without then set themselves diligently while Peter
of Colfax renewed his entreaties, through the small opening they had
made. Bertrade replied but once.

"Seest thou this poniard?" she asked. "When that door falls, this point
enters my heart. There is nothing beyond that door, with thou, poltroon,
to which death in this little chamber would not be preferable."

As she spoke, she turned toward the man she was addressing, for the
first time during all those weary, hideous hours removing her glance
from the old hag. It was enough. Silently, but with the quickness of a
tigress the old woman was upon her back, one claw-like paw grasping the
wrist which held the dagger.

"Quick, My Lord!" she shrieked, "the bolts, quick."

Instantly Peter of Colfax ran his arm through the tiny opening in the
door and a second later four of his men rushed to the aid of the old
woman.

Easily they wrested the dagger from Bertrade's fingers, and at the
Baron's bidding, they dragged her to the great hall below.

As his retainers left the room at his command, Peter of Colfax strode
back and forth upon the rushes which strewed the floor. Finally he
stopped before the girl standing rigid in the center of the room.

"Hast come to thy senses yet, Bertrade de Montfort?" he asked angrily.
"I have offered you your choice; to be the honored wife of Peter of
Colfax, or, by force, his mistress. The good priest waits without, what
be your answer now?"

"The same as it has been these past two days," she

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