The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 141

either side of the road.

Barney took the turns carefully and had just emerged into the last
leg of the S when he saw, to his consternation, a half-dozen
Austrian infantrymen lolling beside the road. An officer stood near
them talking with a sergeant. To turn back in that narrow road was
impossible. He could only go ahead and trust to his uniform and the
military car to carry him safely through. Before he reached the
group of soldiers the fields upon either hand came into view. They
were dotted with tents, wagons, motor-vans and artillery. What did
it mean? What was this Austrian army doing in Lutha?

Already the officer had seen him. This was doubtless an outpost,
however clumsily placed it might be for strategic purposes. To pass
it was Barney's only hope. He had passed through one Austrian
army--why not another? He approached the outpost at a moderate rate
of speed--to tear toward it at the rate his heart desired would be
to awaken not suspicion only but positive conviction that his
purposes and motives were ulterior.

The officer stepped toward the road as though to halt him. Barney
pretended to be fussing with some refractory piece of controlling
mechanism beneath the cowl--apparently he did not see the officer.
He was just opposite him when the latter shouted to him. Barney
straightened up quickly and saluted, but did not stop.

"Halt!" cried the officer.

Barney pointed down the road in the direction in which he was
headed.

"Halt!" repeated the officer, running to the car.

Barney glanced ahead. Two hundred yards farther on was another
post--beyond that he saw no soldiers. He turned and shouted a volley
of intentionally unintelligible jargon at the officer, continuing to
point ahead of him.

He hoped to confuse the man for the few seconds necessary for him to
reach the last post. If the soldiers there saw that he had been
permitted to pass through the first they doubtless would not hinder
his further passage. That they were watching him Barney could see.

He had passed the officer now. There was no necessity for
dalliance. He pressed the accelerator down a trifle. The car moved
forward at increased speed. A final angry shout broke from the
officer behind him, followed by a quick command. Barney did not have
to wait long to learn the tenor of the order, for almost immediately
a shot sounded from behind and a bullet whirred above his head.
Another shot and another followed.

Barney was pressing the accelerator downward to the limit. The car
responded nobly--there was no sputtering, no choking. Just a

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