The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 14

watching the battle with wide, frightened eyes. If
she could only do something to aid the king!

She saw a loose stone lying at a little distance from the fighters
and hastened to procure it. If she could strike the brigand a single
good blow on the side of the head, Leopold might easily overpower
him. When she had gathered up the rock and turned back toward the
two she saw that the man she thought to be the king was not much in
the way of needing outside assistance. She could not but marvel at
the strength and dexterity of this poor fellow who had spent almost
half his life penned within the four walls of a prison. It must be,
she thought, the superhuman strength with which maniacs are always

Nevertheless, she hurried toward them with her weapon; but just
before she reached them the brigand made a last mad effort to free
himself from the fingers that had found his throat. He lunged
backward, dragging the other with him. His foot struck upon the root
of a tree, and together the two toppled over into the ravine.

As the girl hastened toward the spot where the two had disappeared,
she was startled to see three troopers of the palace cavalry headed
by an officer break through the trees at a short distance from where
the battle had waged. The four men ran rapidly toward her.

"What has happened here?" shouted the officer to Emma von der Tann;
and then, as he came closer: "Gott! Can it be possible that it is
your highness?"

The girl paid no attention to the officer. Instead, she hurried
down the steep embankment toward the underbrush into which the two
men had fallen. There was no sound from below, and no movement in
the bushes to indicate that a moment before two desperately battling
human beings had dropped among them.

The soldiers were close upon the girl's heels, but it was she who
first reached the two quiet figures that lay side by side upon the
stony ground halfway down the hillside.

When the officer stopped beside her she was sitting on the ground
holding the head of one of the combatants in her lap.

A little stream of blood trickled from a wound in the forehead. The
officer stooped closer.

"He is dead?" he asked.

"The king is dead," replied the Princess Emma von der Tann, a little
sob in her voice.

"The king!" exclaimed the officer; and then, as he bent lower over
the white face: "Leopold!"

The girl nodded.

"We were searching for him," said the officer, "when

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