The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 145

the hands of the Austrians.
The garb had served its purpose well in aiding in his escape from
Austria, but now it was more of a menace than an asset.

For a week Barney Custer wandered through the woods and mountains of
Lutha. He did not dare approach or question any human being. Several
times he had seen Austrian cavalry that seemed to be scouring the
country for some purpose that the American could easily believe was
closely connected with himself. At least he did not feel disposed to
stop them, as they cantered past his hiding place, to inquire the
nature of their business.

Such farmhouses as he came upon he gave a wide berth except at
night, and then he only approached them stealthily for such
provender as he might filch. Before the week was up he had become an
expert chicken thief, being able to rob a roost as quietly as the
most finished carpetbagger on the sunny side of Mason and Dixon's

A careless housewife, leaving her lord and master's rough shirt and
trousers hanging upon the line overnight, had made possible for
Barney the coveted change in raiment. Now he was barged as a
Luthanian peasant. He was hatless, since the lady had failed to hang
out her mate's woolen cap, and Barney had not dared retain a single
vestige of the damning Austrian uniform.

What the peasant woman thought when she discovered the empty line
the following morning Barney could only guess, but he was morally
certain that her grief was more than tempered by the gold piece he
had wrapped in a bit of cloth torn from the soldier's coat he had
worn, which he pinned on the line where the shirt and pants had

It was somewhere near noon upon the seventh day that Barney skirting
a little stream, followed through the concealing shade of a forest
toward the west. In his peasant dress he now felt safer to approach
a farmhouse and inquire his way to Tann, for he had come a
sufficient distance from the spot where he had stolen his new
clothes to hope that they would not be recognized or that the news
of their theft had not preceded him.

As he walked he heard the sound of the feet of a horse galloping
over a dry field--muffled, rapid thud approaching closer upon his
right hand. Barney remained motionless. He was sure that the rider
would not enter the wood which, with its low-hanging boughs and
thick underbrush, was ill adapted to equestrianism.

Closer and closer came the sound until it ceased suddenly scarce a
hundred yards

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