The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 17

to a place of safety,"
replied Barney.

"She will be quite safe at Blentz," said the lieutenant.

Barney turned to look at the girl, a question in his eyes. Before
them stood the soldiers with drawn revolvers, and now at the summit
of the hill a dozen more appeared in command of a sergeant. They
were two against nearly a score, and Barney Custer was unarmed.

The girl shook her head.

"There, is no alternative, I am afraid, your majesty," she said.

Barney wheeled toward the officer.

"Very well, lieutenant," he said, "we will accompany you."

The party turned back up the hillside, leaving the dead bandit where
he lay--the fellow's neck had been broken by the fall. A short
distance from where the man had confronted them the two prisoners
were brought to the main road where they saw still other troopers,
and with them the horses of those who had gone into the forest on
foot.

Barney and the girl were mounted on two of the animals, the soldiers
who had ridden them clambering up behind two of their comrades. A
moment later the troop set out along the road which leads to Blentz.

The prisoners rode near the center of the column, surrounded by
troopers. For a time they were both silent. Barney was wondering if
he had accidentally tumbled into the private grounds of Lutha's
largest madhouse, or if, in reality, these people mistook him for
the young king--it seemed incredible.

It had commenced slowly to dawn upon him that perhaps the girl was
not crazy after all. Had not the officer addressed her as "your
highness"? Now that he thought upon it he recalled that she did have
quite a haughty and regal way with her at times, especially so when
she had addressed the officer.

Of course she might be mad, after all, and possibly the bandit, too,
but it seemed unbelievable that the officer was mad and his entire
troop of cavalry should be composed of maniacs, yet they all
persisted in speaking and acting as though he were indeed the mad
king of Lutha and the young girl at his side a princess.

From pitying the girl he had come to feel a little bit in awe of
her. To the best of his knowledge he had never before associated
with a real princess. When he recalled that he had treated her as he
would an ordinary mortal, and that he had thought her demented, and
had tried to humor her mad whims, he felt very foolish indeed.

Presently he turned a sheepish glance in her direction, to find her
looking at him.

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