The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 155

spurring their
jaded horses to a final spurt of speed. At last the white ribbon of
the main road became visible. To the right they saw the headlights
of a machine. It was Maenck probably, doubtless attracted their way
by the shooting.

But the machine was a mile away and could not possibly reach the
intersection of the two roads before they had turned to the left
toward Lustadt. Then the incident would resolve itself into a simple
test of speed between the two cars--and the ability and nerve of the
drivers. Barney hadn't the slightest doubt now as to the outcome.
His borrowed car was a good one, in good condition. And in the
matter of driving he rather prided himself that he needn't take his
hat off to anyone when it came to ability and nerve.

They were only about fifty feet from the highway. The girl touched
his hand again. "We're safe," she cried, her voice vibrant with
excitement, "we're safe at last." From beneath the bonnet, as though
in answer to her statement, came a sickly, sucking sputter. The
momentum of the car diminished. The throbbing of the engine ceased.
They sat in silence as the machine coasted toward the highway and
came to a dead stop, with its front wheels upon the road to safety.
The girl turned toward Barney with an exclamation of surprise and

"The jig's up," he groaned; "we're out of gasoline!"



The capture of Princess Emma von der Tann and Barney Custer was a
relatively simple matter. Open fields spread in all directions about
the crossroads at which their car had come to its humiliating stop.
There was no cover. To have sought escape by flight, thus in the
open, would have been to expose the princess to the fire of the
troopers. Barney could not do this. He preferred to surrender and
trust to chance to open the way to escape later.

When Captain Ernst Maenck drove up he found the prisoners disarmed,
standing beside the now-useless car. He alighted from his own
machine and with a low bow saluted the princess, an ironical smile
upon his thin lips. Then he turned his attention toward her

"Who are you?" he demanded gruffly. In the darkness he failed to
recognize the American whom he thought dead in Austria.

"A servant of the house of Von der Tann," replied Barney.

"You deserve shooting," growled the officer, "but we'll leave that
to Prince Peter and the king. When I tell them the trouble you have
caused us--well, God help you."

The journey to Blentz was a short one.

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