The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 125

that only the men on guard carried them.
Without an instant's hesitation he ran briskly up the short flight
of steps and entered the headquarters building. Inside was another
sentry who barred his way questioningly. Evidently one must state
one's business to this person before going farther. Barney, without
any loss of time or composure, stepped up to the guard.

"Has General Kampf passed in this morning?" he asked blithely.
Barney had never heard of any "General Kampf," nor had the sentry,
since there was no such person in the Austrian army. But he did
know, however, that there were altogether too many generals for any
one soldier to know the names of them all.

"I do not know the general by sight," replied the sentry.

Here was a pretty mess, indeed. Doubtless the sergeant would know a
great deal more than would be good for Barney Custer. The young man
looked toward the door through which he had just entered. His sole
object in coming into the spider's parlor had been to make it
possible for him to come out again in full view of all the guards
and officers and military chauffeurs, that their suspicions might
not be aroused when he put his contemplated coup to the test.

He glanced toward the door. Machines were whizzing in and out of
the courtyard. Officers on foot were passing and repassing. The
sentry in the hallway was on the point of calling his sergeant.

"Ah!" cried Barney. "There is the general now," and without waiting
to cast even a parting glance at the guard he stepped quickly
through the doorway and ran down the steps into the courtyard.
Looking neither to right nor to left, and with a convincing air of
self-confidence and important business, he walked directly to the
big, gray machine that stood beside the little shed at the end of
the courtyard.

To crank it and leap to the driver's seat required but a moment.
The big car moved smoothly forward. A turn of the steering wheel
brought it around headed toward the wide gates. Barney shifted to
second speed, stepped on the accelerator and the cut-out
simultaneously, and with a noise like the rattle of a machine gun,
shot out of the courtyard.

None who saw his departure could have guessed from the manner of it
that the young man at the wheel of the gray car was stealing the
machine or that his life depended upon escape without detection. It
was the very boldness of his act that crowned it with success.

Once in the street Barney turned toward the south.

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