The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 100

beneath another tree nearer the house. This time there was no doubt.
It was a man!

Directly before the door where Barney stood was a pergola,
ivy-covered. Behind this he slid, and, running its length, came out
among the trees behind the night prowler. Now he saw him distinctly.
The fellow was bearded, and in his right hand he carried a package.
Instantly Barney recalled Butzow's comment upon the destruction of
the mill--"if it WAS lightning!"

Cold sweat broke from every pore of his body. His mother and father
were there in the house, and Vic--all sleeping peacefully. He ran
quickly toward the menacing figure, and as he did so he saw the
other halt behind a great tree and strike a match. In the glow of
the flame he saw it touch close to the package that the fellow held,
and then he was upon him.

There was a brief and terrific struggle. The stranger hurled the
package toward the house. Barney caught him by the throat, beating
him heavily in the face; and then, realizing what the package was,
he hurled the fellow from him, and sprang toward the hissing and
sputtering missile where it lay close to the foundation wall of the
house, though in the instant of his close contact with the man he
had recognized through the disguising beard the features of Captain
Ernst Maenck, the principal tool of Peter of Blentz.

Quick though Barney was to reach the bomb and extinguish the fuse,
Maenck had disappeared before he returned to search for him; and,
though he roused the gardener and chauffeur and took turns with them
in standing guard the balance of the night, the would-be assassin
did not return.

There was no question in Barney Custer's mind as to whom the bomb
was intended for. That Maenck had hurled it toward the house after
Barney had seized him was merely the result of accident and the
man's desire to get the death-dealing missile as far from himself as
possible before it exploded. That it would have wrecked the house in
the hope of reaching him, had he not fortunately interfered, was too
evident to the American to be questioned.

And so he decided before the night was spent to put himself as far
from his family as possible, lest some future attempt upon his life
might endanger theirs. Then, too, righteous anger and a desire for
revenge prompted his decision. He would run Maenck to earth and have
an accounting with him. It was evident that his life would not be
worth a farthing so long as the fellow was

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