The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 146

from where the American hid. He waited in silence to
discover what would happen next. Would the rider enter the wood on
foot? What was his purpose? Was it another Austrian who had by some
miracle discovered the whereabouts of the fugitive? Barney could
scarce believe it possible.

Presently he heard another horse approaching at the same mad gallop.
He heard the sound of rapid, almost frantic efforts of some nature
where the first horse had come to a stop. He heard a voice urging
the animal forward--pleading, threatening. A woman's voice. Barney's
excitement became intense in sympathy with the subdued excitement of
the woman whom he could not as yet see.

A moment later the second rider came to a stop at the same point at
which the first had reined in. A man's voice rose roughly. "Halt!"
it cried. "In the name of the king, halt!" The American could no
longer resist the temptation to see what was going on so close to
him "in the name of the king."

He advanced from behind his tree until he saw the two figures--a
man's and a woman's. Some bushes intervened--he could not get a
clear view of them, yet there was something about the figure of the
woman, whose back was toward him as she struggled to mount her
frightened horse, that caused him to leap rapidly toward her. He
rounded a tree a few paces from her just as the man--a trooper in
the uniform of the house of Blentz--caught her arm and dragged her
from the saddle. At the same instant Barney recognized the girl--it
was Princess Emma.

Before either the trooper or the princess were aware of his presence
he had leaped to the man's side and dealt him a blow that stretched
him at full length upon the ground--stunned.



For an instant the two stood looking at one another. The girl's
eyes were wide with incredulity, with hope, with fear. She was the
first to break the silence.

"Who are you?" she breathed in a half whisper.

"I don't wonder that you ask," returned the man. "I must look like
a scarecrow. I'm Barney Custer. Don't you remember me now? Who did
you think I was?"

The girl took a step toward him. Her eyes lighted with relief.

"Captain Maenck told me that you were dead," she said, "that you had
been shot as a spy in Austria, and then there is that uncanny
resemblance to the king--since he has shaved his beard it is
infinitely more remarkable. I thought you might be he. He has been
at Blentz and

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