The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 124

through a doorway that led into
a large building that flanked the court upon one side. While Barney
slept the headquarters of an Austrian army corps had moved in and
taken possession of the building, the back of which abutted upon the
court where lay his modest little shed.

Barney took it all in at a single glance, but his eyes hung long and
greedily upon the great, high-powered machines that chugged or
purred about him.

Gad! If he could but be behind the wheel of such a car for an hour!
The frontier could not be over fifty miles to the south, of that he
was quite positive; and what would fifty miles be to one of those
machines?

Barney sighed as a great, gray-painted car whizzed into the
courtyard and pulled up before the doorway. Two officers jumped out
and ran up the steps. The driver, a young man in a uniform not
unlike that which Barney wore, drew the car around to the end of the
courtyard close beside Barney's shed. Here he left it and entered
the building into which his passengers had gone. By reaching through
the window Barney could have touched the fender of the machine. A
few seconds' start in that and it would take more than an Austrian
army corps to stop him this side of the border. Thus mused Barney,
knowing already that the mad scheme that had been born within his
brain would be put to action before he was many minutes older.

There were many soldiers on guard about the courtyard. The greatest
danger lay in arousing the suspicions of one of these should he
chance to see Barney emerge from the shed and enter the car.

"The proper thing," thought Barney, "is to come from the building
into which everyone seems to pass, and the only way to be seen
coming out of it is to get into it; but how the devil am I to get
into it?"

The longer he thought the more convinced he became that utter
recklessness and boldness would be his only salvation. Briskly he
walked from the shed out into the courtyard beneath the eyes of the
sentries, the officers, the soldiers, and the military drivers. He
moved straight among them toward the doorway of the headquarters as
though bent upon important business--which, indeed, he was. At least
it was quite the most important business to Barney Custer that that
young gentleman could recall having ventured upon for some time.

No one paid the slightest attention to him. He had left his gun in
the shed for he noticed

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