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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 14:57:44
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The visit of Bertrade de Montfort with her friend Mary de Stutevill was drawing to a close. Three weeks had passed since Roger de Conde had ridden out from the portals of Stutevill and many times the handsome young knight's name had been on the lips of his fair hostess and her fairer friend.

There be that of which I dare not speak to thee yet and only may I guess and dream of what I think, nor do I know whether I must hope that it be false or true, but now, if ever, the time hath come for the question to be settled. Thou hast not told me in so many words, but I be an old man and versed in reading true between the lines, and so I know that thou lovest Bertrade de Montfort. Nay, do not deny it. And now, what I would say be this. In all England there lives no more honorable man than Simon de Montfort, nor none who could more truly decide upon thy future and thy past. Thou may not understand of what I hint, but thou know that thou may trust me, Norman of Torn.”

I am Nor—” and then he stopped. Always before he had answered that question with haughty pride. Why should he hesitate, he thought. Was it because he feared the loathing that name would inspire in the breast of this daughter of the aristocracy he despised? Did Norman of Torn fear to face the look of seem and repugnance that was sure to be mirrored in that lovely face?

As her thoughts wandered back to her brief meeting with him two years before, she wrote and dispatched her reply to Norman of Torn.

Dog!” he hissed, and struck the master of fence a stinging blow across the face, and spat upon him. Then he turned on his heel and strode from the armory.

And so he sat watching them until they had disappeared in the forest toward the castle of Colfax.

His venture was far too serious, and the results of exposure too fraught with danger, to permit of his taking any chances with a disloyal fellow-conspirator. True, he had not even hinted at the enormity of the plot in which he was involving the old woman, but, as she had said, his stern commands for secrecy had told enough to arouse her suspicions, and with them her curiosity and cupidity. So it was that old Til might well have quailed in her tattered sandals had she but even vaguely guessed the thoughts which passed in De Vac's mind; but the extra gold pieces he dropped into her withered palm as she delivered the bundle to him, together with the promise of more, quite effectually won her loyalty and her silence for the time being.

Come, Flory,” he said, and then, turning to the waiting Giles, lead on.”


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