The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 109

the window. He
turned to look back into the alley. He had been just in time; the
Austrian sentry, alarmed by the sound of approaching footsteps down
the alley, had stepped into view. He stood there now with leveled
rifle, a challenge upon his lips. From the advancing party came a
satisfactory reply.

At the same instant the girl beside him in the Stygian blackness of
the room threw her arms about Barney's neck and drew his face down
to hers.

"Oh, Stefan," she whispered, "what a narrow escape! It makes me
tremble to think of it. They would have shot you, my Stefan!"

The American put an arm about the girl's shoulders, and raised one
hand to her cheek--it might have been in caress, but it wasn't. It
was to smother the cry of alarm he anticipated would follow the
discovery that he was not "Stefan." He bent his lips close to her
ear.

"Do not make an outcry," he whispered in very poor Serbian. "I am
not Stefan; but I am a friend."

The exclamation of surprise or fright that he had expected was not
forthcoming. The girl lowered her arms from about his neck.

"Who are you?" she asked in a low whisper.

"I am an American war correspondent," replied Barney, "but if the
Austrians get hold of me now it will be mighty difficult to convince
them that I am not a spy." And then a sudden determination came to
him to trust his fate to this unknown girl, whose face, even, he had
never seen. "I am entirely at your mercy," he said. "There are
Austrian soldiers in the street below. You have but to call to them
to send me before the firing squad--or, you can let me remain here
until I can find an opportunity to get away in safety. I am trying
to reach Serbia."

"Why do you wish to reach Serbia?" asked the girl suspiciously.

"I have discovered too many enemies in Austria tonight to make it
safe for me to remain," he replied, "and, further, my original
intention was to report the war from the Serbian side."

The girl hesitated for a while, evidently in thought.

"They are moving on," suggested Barney. "If you are going to give
me up you'd better do it at once."

"I'm not going to give you up," replied the girl. "I'm going to
keep you prisoner until Stefan returns--he will know best what to do
with you. Now you must come with me and be locked up. Do not try to
escape--I have a revolver in my hand," and to

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