The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 13

Emma when we were children."

"Very well, then, you shall be Emma and I Leopold. Is it a
bargain?"

"The king's will is law," she said.

They had come to a very steep hillside, up which the
half-obliterated trail zigzagged toward the crest of a flat-topped
hill. Barney went ahead, taking the girl's hand in his to help her,
and thus they came to the top, to stand hand in hand, breathing
heavily after the stiff climb.

The girl's hair had come loose about her temples and a lock was
blowing over her face. Her cheeks were very red and her eyes bright.
Barney thought he had never looked upon a lovelier picture. He
smiled down into her eyes and she smiled back at him.

"I wished, back there a way," he said, "that that little brook had
been as wide as the ocean--now I wish that this little hill had been
as high as Mont Blanc."

"You like to climb?" she asked.

"I should like to climb forever--with you," he said seriously.

She looked up at him quickly. A reply was on her lips, but she
never uttered it, for at that moment a ruffian in picturesque rags
leaped out from behind a near-by bush, confronting them with leveled
revolver. He was so close that the muzzle of the weapon almost
touched Barney's face. In that the fellow made his mistake.

"You see," said Barney unexcitedly, "that I was right about the
brigands after all. What do you want, my man?"

The man's eyes had suddenly gone wide. He stared with open mouth at
the young fellow before him. Then a cunning look came into his eyes.

"I want you, your majesty," he said.

"Godfrey!" exclaimed Barney. "Did the whole bunch escape?"

"Quick!" growled the man. "Hold up your hands. The notice made it
plain that you would be worth as much dead as alive, and I have no
mind to lose you, so do not tempt me to kill you."

Barney's hands went up, but not in the way that the brigand had
expected. Instead, one of them seized his weapon and shoved it
aside, while with the other Custer planted a blow between his eyes
and sent him reeling backward. The two men closed, fighting for
possession of the gun. In the scrimmage it was exploded, but a
moment later the American succeeded in wresting it from his
adversary and hurled it into the ravine.

Striking at one another, the two surged backward and forward at the
very edge of the hill, each searching for the other's throat. The
girl stood by,

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