The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 139

wood. The foremost horseman was close upon her as she finally
succeeded in urging the animal across the fallen wires.

The girl sprang to her horse's side just as the man reached the
fence. The wires, released from her weight, sprang up breast high
against his horse. He leaped from the saddle the instant that the
girl was swinging into her own. Then the fellow jumped the fence and
caught her bridle.

She struck at him with her whip, lashing him across the head and
face, but he clung tightly, dragged hither and thither by the
frightened horse, until at last he managed to reach the girl's arm
and drag her to the ground.

Almost at the same instant a man, unkempt and disheveled, sprang
from behind a tree and with a single blow stretched the trooper
unconscious upon the ground.



As Barney Custer raced along the Austrian highroad toward the
frontier and Lutha, his spirits rose to a pitch of buoyancy to which
they had been strangers for the past several days. For the first
time in many hours it seemed possible to Barney to entertain
reasonable hopes of escape from the extremely dangerous predicament
into which he had gotten himself.

He was even humming a gay little tune as he drove into a tiny hamlet
through which the road wound. No sign of military appeared to fill
him with apprehension. He was very hungry and the odor of cooking
fell gratefully upon his nostrils. He drew up before the single inn,
and presently, washed and brushed, was sitting before the first meal
he had seen for two days. In the enjoyment of the food he almost
forgot the dangers he had passed through, or that other dangers
might be lying in wait for him at his elbow.

From the landlord he learned that the frontier lay but three miles
to the south of the hamlet. Three miles! Three miles to Lutha! What
if there was a price upon his head in that kingdom? It was HER home.
It had been his mother's birthplace. He loved it.

Further, he must enter there and reach the ear of old Prince von der
Tann. Once more he must save the king who had shown such scant
gratitude upon another occasion.

For Leopold, Barney Custer did not give the snap of his fingers; but
what Leopold, the king, stood for in the lives and sentiments of the
Luthanians--of the Von der Tanns--was very dear to the American
because it was dear to a trim, young girl and to a rugged, leonine,
old man, of both of whom Barney

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