The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 89

Torn," and was
unsigned.

All went well and Joan was laughing merrily at the fears of those who
had attempted to dissuade her when, at a cross road, they discovered two
parties of armed men approaching from opposite directions. The leader
of the nearer party spurred forward to intercept the little band, and,
reining in before them, cried brusquely,

"Who be ye?"

"A party on a peaceful mission to the shops of London," replied Norman
of Torn.

"I asked not your mission," cried the fellow. "I asked, who be ye?
Answer, and be quick about it."

"I be Roger de Conde, gentleman of France, and these be my sisters and
servants," lied the outlaw, "and were it not that the ladies be with me,
your answer would be couched in steel, as you deserve for your boorish
insolence."

"There be plenty of room and time for that even now, you dog of a French
coward," cried the officer, couching his lance as he spoke.

Joan de Tany was sitting her horse where she could see the face of Roger
de Conde, and it filled her heart with pride and courage as she saw and
understood the little smile of satisfaction that touched his lips as he
heard the man's challenge and lowered the point of his own spear.

Wheeling their horses toward one another, the two combatants, who were
some ninety feet apart, charged at full tilt. As they came together the
impact was so great that both horses were nearly overturned and the two
powerful war lances were splintered into a hundred fragments as each
struck the exact center of his opponent's shield. Then, wheeling their
horses and throwing away the butts of their now useless lances, De Conde
and the officer advanced with drawn swords.

The fellow made a most vicious return assault upon De Conde, attempting
to ride him down in one mad rush, but his thrust passed harmlessly from
the tip of the outlaw's sword, and as the officer wheeled back to renew
the battle, they settled down to fierce combat, their horses wheeling
and turning shoulder to shoulder.

The two girls sat rigid in their saddles watching the encounter, the
eyes of Joan de Tany alight with the fire of battle as she followed
every move of the wondrous swordplay of Roger de Conde.

He had not even taken the precaution to lower his visor, and the grim
and haughty smile that played upon his lips spoke louder than many words
the utter contempt in which he held the sword of his adversary. And as
Joan de Tany watched, she saw the smile suddenly freeze

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