The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 179

staff at his heels, shrapnel burst about them. Von der Tann
spurred to his side.

"Sire," he cried, "it is unnecessary that you take such grave risks.
Your staff is ready and willing to perform such service that you may
be preserved to your people and your throne."

"I believe the men fight better when they think their king is
watching them," said the American simply.

"I know it, sire," replied Von der Tann, "but even so, Lutha could
ill afford to lose you now. I thank God, your majesty, that I have
lived to see this day--to see the last of the Rubinroths upholding
the glorious traditions of the Rubinroth blood."

Barney led the reserves slowly through the wood to the rear of the
extreme left of his line. The attack upon the Austrian right center
appeared to be meeting with much greater success than the American
dared to hope for. Already, through his glasses, he could see
indications that the enemy was concentrating a larger force at this
point to repulse the vicious assaults of the Luthanians. To do this
they must be drawing from their reserves back of other portions of
their line.

It was what Barney had desired. The three bombs from the aeroplane
had told him that the Serbians had been sighted three miles away.
Already they were engaging the Austrians. He could hear the rattle
of rifles and quick-firers and the roar of cannon far to the
northeast. And now he gave the word to the commander of the reserve.

At a rapid trot the men moved forward behind the extreme left end of
the Luthanian left wing. They were almost upon the Austrians before
they emerged from the shelter of the wood, and then with hoarse
shouts and leveled bayonets they charged the enemy's position. The
fight there was the bloodiest of the two long days. Back and forth
the tide of battle surged. In the thick of it rode the false king
encouraging his men to greater effort. Slowly at last they bore the
Austrians from their trenches. Back and back they bore them until
retreat became a rout. The Austrian right was crumpled back upon its
center!

Here the enemy made a determined stand; but just before dark a great
shouting arose from the heights to their left, where the bulk of
their artillery was stationed. Both the Luthanian and Austrian
troops engaged in the plain saw Austrian infantry and artillery
running down the slopes in disorderly rout. Upon their heads came a
cheering line of soldiers firing as they ran, and above them waved
the battleflag of Serbia.

A mighty

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