The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 123

appear upon the scene, after
discovering another of his comrades. He was certain to inquire of
the sergeant. They would be puzzled, of course, and, being soldiers,
they would be suspicious. There would be an investigation, which
would start in the barracks of the guard. That neighborhood would at
once become a most unhealthy spot for Barney Custer, of Beatrice,
Nebraska.

When the last of the soldiers had entered the shed Barney glanced
quickly about. No one appeared to notice him. He walked directly
past the doorway to the end of the building. Around this he found a
yard, deeply shadowed. He entered it, crossed it, and passed out
into an alley beyond. At the first cross-street his way was blocked
by the sight of another sentry--the world seemed composed entirely
of Austrian sentries. Barney wondered if the entire Austrian army
was kept perpetually upon sentry duty; he had scarce been able to
turn without bumping into one.

He turned back into the alley and at last found a crooked passageway
between buildings that he hoped might lead him to a spot where there
was no sentry, and from which he could find his way out of the
village toward the south. The passage, after devious windings, led
into a large, open court, but when Barney attempted to leave the
court upon the opposite side he found the ubiquitous sentries upon
guard there.

Evidently there would be no escape while the Austrians remained in
the town. There was nothing to do, therefore, but hide until the
happy moment of their departure arrived. He returned to the
courtyard, and after a short search discovered a shed in one corner
that had evidently been used to stable a horse, for there was straw
at one end of it and a stall in the other. Barney sat down upon the
straw to wait developments. Tired nature would be denied no longer.
His eyes closed, his head drooped upon his breast. In three minutes
from the time he entered the shed he was stretched full length upon
the straw, fast asleep.

The chugging of a motor awakened him. It was broad daylight. Many
sounds came from the courtyard without. It did not take Barney long
to gather his scattered wits--in an instant he was wide awake. He
glanced about. He was the only occupant of the shed. Rising, he
approached a small window that looked out upon the court. All was
life and movement. A dozen military cars either stood about or moved
in and out of the wide gates at the opposite end of the enclosure.
Officers and soldiers moved briskly

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