The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 153

clear, and the road visible for some distance ahead.

The fugitives were congratulating themselves upon the excellent
chance they now had to reach Lustadt. There was only Maenck and his
companion ahead of them in the other car, and as there were several
roads by which one might reach the main highway the chances were
fair that Prince Peter's aide would miss them completely.

Already escape seemed assured when the pounding of horses' hoofs
upon the roadway behind them arose to blast their new found hope.
Barney increased the speed of the car. It leaped ahead in response
to his foot; but the road was heavy, and the sides of the ruts
gripping the tires retarded the speed. For a mile they held the lead
of the galloping horsemen. The shouts of their pursuers fell clearly
upon their ears, and the Princess Emma, turning in her seat, could
easily see the four who followed. At last the car began to draw
away--the distance between it and the riders grew gradually greater.

"I believe we are going to make it," whispered the girl, her voice
tense with excitement. "If you could only go a little faster, Mr.
Custer, I'm sure that we will."

"She's reached her limit in this sand," replied the man, "and
there's a grade just ahead--we may find better going beyond, but
they're bound to gain on us before we reach the top."

The girl strained her eyes into the night before them. On the right
of the road stood an ancient ruin--grim and forbidding. As her eyes
rested upon it she gave a little exclamation of relief.

"I know where we are now," she cried. "The hill ahead is sandy, and
there is a quarter of a mile of sand beyond, but then we strike the
Lustadt highway, and if we can reach it ahead of them their horses
will have to go ninety miles an hour to catch us--provided this car
possesses any such speed possibilities."

"If it can go forty we are safe enough," replied Barney; "but we'll
give it a chance to go as fast as it can--the farther we are from
the vicinity of Blentz the safer I shall feel for the welfare of
your highness."

A shot rang behind them, and a bullet whistled high above their
heads. The princess seized the carbine that rested on the seat
between them.

"Shall I?" she asked, turning its muzzle back over the lowered top.

"Better not," answered the man. "They are only trying to frighten
us into surrendering--that shot was much too high to have been aimed
at us--they are

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