The Outlaw of Torn

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 98

moment entered his
head. To him, the fault was all his; and perhaps it was this quality of
chivalry that was the finest of the many noble characteristics of his
sterling character. So his next words were typical of the man; and did
Joan de Tany love him, or did she not, she learned that night to respect
and trust him as she respected and trusted few men of her acquaintance.

"My Lady," said Norman of Torn, "we have been through much, and we are
as little children in a dark attic, and so if I have presumed upon our
acquaintance," and he lowered his arm from about her shoulder, "I ask
you to forgive it for I scarce know what to do, from weakness and from
the pain of the blow upon my head."

Joan de Tany drew slowly away from him, and without reply, took his hand
and led him forward through a dark, cold corridor.

"We must go carefully now," she said at last, "for there be stairs
near."

He held her hand pressed very tightly in his, tighter perhaps than
conditions required, but she let it lie there as she led him forward,
very slowly down a flight of rough stone steps.

Norman of Torn wondered if she were angry with him and then, being new
at love, he blundered.

"Joan de Tany," he said.

"Yes, Roger de Conde; what would you?"

"You be silent, and I fear that you be angry with me. Tell me that you
forgive what I have done, an it offended you. I have so few friends," he
added sadly, "that I cannot afford to lose such as you."

"You will never lose the friendship of Joan de Tany," she answered. "You
have won her respect and--and--" But she could not say it and so she
trailed off lamely--"and undying gratitude."

But Norman of Torn knew the word that she would have spoken had he dared
to let her. He did not, for there was always the vision of Bertrade de
Montfort before him; and now another vision arose that would effectually
have sealed his lips had not the other--he saw the Outlaw of Torn
dangling by his neck from a wooden gibbet.

Before, he had only feared that Joan de Tany loved him, now he knew it,
and while he marvelled that so wondrous a creature could feel love for
him, again he blamed himself, and felt sorrow for them both; for he did
not return her love nor could he imagine a love strong enough to survive
the knowledge that it was possessed by the Devil

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