The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 142

rapid
rush of increasing momentum as the machine gained headway by leaps
and bounds.

The bullets were ripping the air all about him. Just ahead the
second outpost stood directly in the center of the road. There were
three soldiers and they were taking deliberate aim, as carefully as
though upon the rifle range. It seemed to Barney that they couldn't
miss him. He swerved the car suddenly from one side of the road to
the other. At the rate that it was going the move was fraught with
but little less danger than the supine facing of the leveled guns
ahead.

The three rifles spoke almost simultaneously. The glass of the
windshield shattered in Barney's face. There was a hole in the
left-hand front fender that had not been there before.

"Rotten shooting," commented Barney Custer, of Beatrice.

The soldiers still stood in the center of the road firing at the
swaying car as, lurching from side to side, it bore down upon them.
Barney sounded the raucous military horn; but the soldiers seemed
unconscious of their danger--they still stood there pumping lead
toward the onrushing Juggernaut. At the last instant they attempted
to rush from its path; but they were too late.

At over sixty miles an hour the huge, gray monster bore down upon
them. One of them fell beneath the wheels--the two others were
thrown high in air as the bumper struck them. The body of the man
who had fallen beneath the wheels threw the car half way across the
road--only iron nerve and strong arms held it from the ditch upon
the opposite side.

Barney Custer had never been nearer death than at that moment--not
even when he faced the firing squad before the factory wall in
Burgova. He had done that without a tremor--he had heard the bullets
of the outpost whistling about his head a moment before, with a
smile upon his lips--he had faced the leveled rifles of the three he
had ridden down and he had not quailed. But now, his machine in the
center of the road again, he shook like a leaf, still in the grip of
the sickening nausea of that awful moment when the mighty, insensate
monster beneath him had reeled drunkenly in its mad flight, swerving
toward the ditch and destruction.

For a few minutes he held to his rapid pace before he looked around,
and then it was to see two cars climbing into the road from the
encampment in the field and heading toward him in pursuit. Barney
grinned. Once more he was master of his nerves. They'd have a merry
chase,

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