The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 7

far intervals by an occasional
smoky lantern, until he came to a squalid tenement but a short distance
from the palace.

A narrow alley ran past the building, ending abruptly at the bank of the
Thames in a moldering wooden dock, beneath which the inky waters of the
river rose and fell, lapping the decaying piles and surging far beneath
the dock to the remote fastnesses inhabited by the great fierce dock
rats and their fiercer human antitypes.

Several times De Vac paced the length of this black alley in search of
the little doorway of the building he sought. At length he came upon it,
and, after repeated pounding with the pommel of his sword, it was opened
by a slatternly old hag.

"What would ye of a decent woman at such an ungodly hour?" she grumbled.
"Ah, 'tis ye, my lord?" she added, hastily, as the flickering rays of
the candle she bore lighted up De Vac's face. "Welcome, my Lord, thrice
welcome. The daughter of the devil welcomes her brother."

"Silence, old hag," cried De Vac. "Is it not enough that you leech me
of good marks of such a quantity that you may ever after wear mantles
of villosa and feast on simnel bread and malmsey, that you must needs
burden me still further with the affliction of thy vile tongue?

"Hast thou the clothes ready bundled and the key, also, to this gate
to perdition? And the room: didst set to rights the furnishings I had
delivered here, and sweep the century-old accumulation of filth and
cobwebs from the floor and rafters? Why, the very air reeked of the dead
Romans who builded London twelve hundred years ago. Methinks, too, from
the stink, they must have been Roman swineherd who habited this sty with
their herds, an' I venture that thou, old sow, hast never touched broom
to the place for fear of disturbing the ancient relics of thy kin."

"Cease thy babbling, Lord Satan," cried the woman. "I would rather hear
thy money talk than thou, for though it come accursed and tainted from
thy rogue hand, yet it speaks with the same sweet and commanding voice
as it were fresh from the coffers of the holy church.

"The bundle is ready," she continued, closing the door after De Vac, who
had now entered, "and here be the key; but first let us have a payment.
I know not what thy foul work may be, but foul it is I know from the
secrecy which you have demanded, an' I dare say there will be some who
would pay well

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