The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 161

Were he sure the king was alone it might be
accomplished. Should he enter now or wait until the Princess Emma
had been brought to the king?

With the question came the answer--a bold and daring scheme. His
fingers sought the lock. Very gently, he unlatched it and pushed
outward upon the panel. Suddenly the great doorway gave beneath his
touch. It opened a crack letting a flood of light into his dark cell
that almost blinded him.

For a moment he could see nothing, and then out of the glaring blur
grew the figure of a man sitting at a table--with his back toward
the panel.

It was the king, and he was alone. Noiselessly Barney Custer
entered the apartment, closing the panel after him. At his back now
was the great oil painting of the Blentz princess that had hid the
secret entrance to the room. He crossed the thick rugs until he
stood behind the king. Then he clapped one hand over the mouth of
the monarch of Lutha and threw the other arm about his neck.

"Make the slightest outcry and I shall kill you," he whispered in
the ear of the terrified man.

Across the room Barney saw a revolver lying upon a small table. He
raised the king to his feet and, turning his back toward the weapon
dragged him across the apartment until the table was within easy
reach. Then he snatched up the revolver and swung the king around
into a chair facing him, the muzzle of the gun pressed against his
face.

"Silence," he whispered.

The king, white and trembling, gasped as his eyes fell upon the face
of the American.

"You?" His voice was barely audible.

"Take off your clothes--every stitch of them--and if any one asks
for admittance, deny them. Quick, now," as the king hesitated. "My
life is forfeited unless I can escape. If I am apprehended I shall
see that you pay for my recapture with your life--if any one enters
this room without my sanction they will enter it to find a dead king
upon the floor; do you understand?"

The king made no reply other than to commence divesting himself of
his clothing. Barney followed his example, but not before he had
crossed to the door that opened into the main corridor and shot the
bolt upon the inside. When both men had removed their clothing
Barney pointed to the little pile of soiled peasant garb that he had
worn.

"Put those on," he commanded.

The king hesitated, drawing back in disgust. Barney paused,
half-way into the royal union suit, and leveled the

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