The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 126

Cars were
passing up and down in both directions, usually at high speed. Their
numbers protected the fugitive. Momentarily he expected to be
halted; but he passed out of the village without mishap and reached
a country road which, except for a lane down its center along which
automobiles were moving, was blocked with troops marching southward.
Through this soldier-walled lane Barney drove for half an hour.

From a great distance, toward the southeast, he could hear the boom
of cannon and the bursting of shells. Presently the road forked. The
troops were moving along the road on the left toward the distant
battle line. Not a man or machine was turning into the right fork,
the road toward the south that Barney wished to take.

Could he successfully pass through the marching soldiers at his
right? Among all those officers there surely would be one who would
question the purpose and destination of this private soldier who
drove alone in the direction of the nearby frontier.

The moment had come when he must stake everything on his ability to
gain the open road beyond the plodding mass of troops. Diminishing
the speed of the car Barney turned it in toward the marching men at
the same time sounding his horn loudly. An infantry captain,
marching beside his company, was directly in front of the car. He
looked up at the American. Barney saluted and pointed toward the
right-hand fork.

The captain turned and shouted a command to his men. Those who had
not passed in front of the car halted. Barney shot through the
little lane they had opened, which immediately closed up behind him.
He was through! He was upon the open road! Ahead, as far as he could
see, there was no sign of any living creature to bar his way, and
the frontier could not be more than twenty-five miles away.




V

THE TRAITOR KING

In his castle at Lustadt, Leopold of Lutha paced nervously back and
forth between his great desk and the window that overlooked the
royal gardens. Upon the opposite side of the desk stood an old
man--a tall, straight, old man with the bearing of a soldier and the
head of a lion. His keen, gray eyes were upon the king, and sorrow
was written upon his face. He was Ludwig von der Tann, chancellor of
the kingdom of Lutha.

At last the king stopped his pacing and faced the old man, though he
could not meet those eagle eyes squarely, try as he would. It was
his inability to do so, possibly, that added to his anger. Weak
himself, he feared

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