The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 88

a sharp retort was on her
tongue when suddenly she realized the folly of such a useless quarrel.
Instead she put her arms about Joan and kissed her.

"I do not love him," she said, "and I be glad that you do not, for
I know that Bertrade does, and that but a short year since, he swore
undying love for her. Let us forget that we have spoken on the subject."

It was at this time that the King's soldiers were harassing the lands of
the rebel barons, and taking a heavy toll in revenge for their stinging
defeat at Rochester earlier in the year, so that it was scarcely safe
for small parties to venture upon the roadways lest they fall into the
hands of the mercenaries of Henry III.

Not even were the wives and daughters of the barons exempt from the
attacks of the royalists; and it was no uncommon occurrence to find them
suffering imprisonment, and something worse, at the hands of the King's
supporters.

And in the midst of these alarms, it entered the willful head of Joan de
Tany that she wished to ride to London town and visit the shops of the
merchants.

While London itself was solidly for the barons and against the King's
party, the road between the castle of Richard de Tany and the city of
London was beset with many dangers.

"Why," cried the girl's mother in exasperation, "between robbers and
royalists and the Outlaw of Torn, you would not be safe if you had an
army to escort you."

"But then, as I have no army," retorted the laughing girl, "if you
reason by your own logic, I shall be indeed quite safe."

And when Roger de Conde attempted to dissuade her, she taunted him with
being afraid of meeting with the Devil of Torn, and told him that he
might remain at home and lock himself safely in her mother's pantry.

And so, as Joan de Tany was a spoiled child, they set out upon the road
to London; the two girls with a dozen servants and knights; and Roger de
Conde was of the party.

At the same time a grim, gray, old man dispatched a messenger from the
outlaw's camp; a swarthy fellow, disguised as a priest, whose orders
were to proceed to London, and when he saw the party of Joan de Tany,
with Roger de Conde, enter the city, he was to deliver the letter he
bore to the captain of the gate.

The letter contained this brief message:

"The tall knight in gray with closed helm is Norman of

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