The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 178

was five o'clock in the morning of the second day, and though the
Luthanian line still held, Barney Custer knew that it could not hold
for long. The Austrian artillery fire, which had been rather wild
the preceding day, had now become of deadly accuracy. Each bursting
shell filled some part of the trenches with dead and wounded, and
though their places were taken by fresh men from the reserve, there
would soon be no reserve left to call upon.

At his left, in the rear, the American had massed the bulk of his
reserves, and at the foot of the heights north of the city and just
below the forts the major portion of the cavalry was drawn up in the
shelter of a little ravine. Barney's eyes were fixed upon the
soaring aeroplane.

In his hand was his watch. He would wait another fifteen minutes,
and if by then the signal had not come that the Serbians were
approaching, he would strike the blow that he had decided upon. From
time to time he glanced at his watch.

The fifteen minutes had almost elapsed when there fluttered from the
tiny monoplane a paper parachute. It dropped for several hundred
feet before it spread to the air pressure and floated more gently
toward the earth and a moment later there burst from its basket a
puff of white smoke. Two more parachutes followed the first and two
more puffs of smoke. Then the machine darted rapidly off toward the
northeast.

Barney turned to Prince von der Tann with a smile. "They are none
too soon," he said.

The old prince bowed in acquiescence. He had been very happy for
two days. Lutha might be defeated now, but she could never be
subdued. She had a king at last--a real king. Gott! How he had
changed. It reminded Prince von der Tann of the day he had ridden
beside the impostor two years before in the battle with the forces
of Peter of Blentz. Many times he had caught himself scrutinizing
the face of the monarch, searching for some proof that after all he
was not Leopold.

"Direct the commanders of forts three and four to concentrate their
fire on the enemy's guns directly north of Fort No. 3," Barney
directed an aide. "Simultaneously let the cavalry and Colonel
Kazov's infantry make a determined assault on the Austrian
trenches."

Then he turned his horse toward the left of his line, where, a
little to the rear, lay the fresh troops that he had been holding in
readiness against this very moment. As he galloped across the plain,
his

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