The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 176

imagine, count; but the honor of Lutha means
a great deal."



XI

THE BATTLE

At five o'clock that afternoon the sidewalks bordering Margaretha
Street were crowded with promenaders. The little tables before the
cafes were filled. Nearly everyone spoke of the great war and of the
peril which menaced Lutha. Upon many a lip was open disgust at the
supine attitude of Leopold of Lutha in the face of an Austrian
invasion of his country. Discontent was open. It was ripening to
something worse for Leopold than an Austrian invasion.

Presently a sergeant of the Royal Horse Guards cantered down the
street from the palace. He stopped here and there, and, dismounting,
tacked placards in conspicuous places. At the notice, and in each
instance cheers and shouting followed the sergeant as he rode on to
the next stop.

Now, at each point men and women were gathered, eagerly awaiting an
explanation of the jubilation farther up the street. Those whom the
sergeant passed called to him for an explanation, and not receiving
it, followed in a quickly growing mob that filled Margaretha Street
from wall to wall. When he dismounted he had almost to fight his way
to the post or door upon which he was to tack the next placard. The
crowd surged about him in its anxiety to read what the placard bore,
and then, between the cheering and yelling, those in the front
passed back to the crowd the tidings that filled them with so great
rejoicing.

"Leopold has declared war on Austria!" "The king calls for
volunteers!" "Long live the king!"


The battle of Lustadt has passed into history. Outside of the
little kingdom of Lutha it received but passing notice by the world
at large, whose attention was riveted upon the great conflicts along
the banks of the Meuse, the Marne, and the Aisne. But in Lutha! Ah,
it will be told and retold, handed down from mouth to mouth and from
generation to generation to the end of time.

How the cavalry that the king sent north toward Blentz met the
advancing Austrian army. How, fighting, they fell back upon the
infantry which lay, a thin line that stretched east and west across
the north of Lustadt, in its first line of trenches. A pitifully
weak line it was, numerically, in comparison with the forces of the
invaders; but it stood its ground heroically, and from the heights
to the north of the city the fire from the forts helped to hold the
enemy in check for many hours.

And then the enemy succeeded in bringing up their heavy artillery to
the ridge that lies

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