The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 105

That
they would carry him through the lines he had not the slightest
hope. There were two things to be accomplished if possible. One was
to cross the frontier into Lutha; and the other, which of course was
quite out of the question, was to prevent Peter of Blentz, Von
Coblich, and Maenck from doing so. But was that altogether
impossible?

The idea that followed that question came so suddenly that it
brought Barney Custer out onto the floor in a bound, to don his
clothes and sneak into the hall outside his room with the stealth of
a professional second-story man.

To the right of his own door was the door to the apartment in which
the three conspirators slept. At least, Barney hoped they slept. He
bent close to the keyhole and listened. From within came no sound
other than the regular breathing of the inmates. It had been at
least half an hour since the American had heard the conversation
cease. A glance through the keyhole showed no light within the room.
Stealthily Barney turned the knob. Had they bolted the door? He felt
the tumbler move to the pressure--soundlessly. Then he pushed gently
inward. The door swung.

A moment later he stood in the room. Dimly he could see two beds--a
large one and a smaller. Peter of Blentz would be alone upon the
smaller bed, his henchmen sleeping together in the larger. Barney
crept toward the lone sleeper. At the bedside he fumbled in the dark
groping for the man's clothing--for the coat, in the breastpocket of
which he hoped to find the military pass that might carry him safely
out of Austria-Hungary and into Lutha. On the foot of the bed he
found some garments. Gingerly he felt them over, seeking the coat.

At last he found it. His fingers, steady even under the nervous
tension of this unaccustomed labor, discovered the inner pocket and
the folded paper. There were several of them; Barney took them all.

So far he made no noise. None of the sleepers had stirred. Now he
took a step toward the doorway and--kicked a shoe that lay in his
path. The slight noise in that quiet room sounded to Barney's ears
like the fall of a brick wall. Peter of Blentz stirred, turning in
his sleep. Behind him Barney heard one of the men in the other bed
move. He turned his head in that direction. Either Maenck or Coblich
was sitting up peering through the darkness.

"Is that you, Prince Peter?" The voice was Maenck's.

"What's the matter?" persisted Maenck.

"I'm going for a

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