The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 112

Barney Custer; but whether he referred to his
predicament or to the girl it would be impossible to tell. Already
the sound of heavy boots on the stairs announced the coming of
men--several of them. Barney heard the rattle of accouterments--the
clank of a scabbard--the scraping of gun butts against the walls.
The Austrians were coming!

He looked about. There was no way of escape except the door and the
skylight, and the door was impossible.

Quickly he tilted the cot against the door, wedging its legs against
a crack in the floor--that would stop them for a minute or two. Then
he wheeled the dresser beneath the skylight and, placing the chair
on top of it, scrambled to the seat of the latter. His head was at
the height of the skylight. To force the skylight from its frame
required but a moment. A key entered the lock of the door from the
opposite side and turned. He knew that someone without was pushing.
Then he heard an oath and heavy battering upon the panels. A moment
later he had drawn himself through the skylight and stood upon the
roof of the building. Before him stretched a series of uneven roofs
to the end of the street. Barney did not hesitate. He started on a
rapid trot toward the adjoining roof. From that he clambered to a
higher one beyond.

On he went, now leaping narrow courts, now dropping to low sheds and
again clambering to the heights of the higher buildings, until he
had come almost to the end of the row. Suddenly, behind him he heard
a hoarse shout, followed by the report of a rifle. With a whir, a
bullet flew a few inches above his head. He had gained the last
roof--a large, level roof--and at the shot he turned to see how near
to him were his pursuers.

Fatal turn!

Scarce had he taken his eyes from the path ahead than his foot fell
upon a glass skylight, and with a loud crash he plunged through amid
a shower of broken glass.

His fall was a short one. Directly beneath the skylight was a bed,
and on the bed a fat Austrian infantry captain. Barney lit upon the
pit of the captain's stomach. With a howl of pain the officer
catapulted Barney to the floor. There were three other beds in the
room, and in each bed one or two other officers. Before the American
could regain his feet they were all sitting on him--all except the
infantry captain. He lay shrieking and cursing in a painful attempt
to regain his

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