The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 180

shout rose from the Luthanian ranks--an answering groan
from the throats of the Austrians. Hemmed in between the two lines
of allies, the Austrians were helpless. Their artillery was
captured, retreat cut off. There was but a single alternative to
massacre--the white flag.

A few regiments between Lustadt and Blentz, but nearer the latter
town, escaped back into Austria, the balance Barney arranged with
the Serbian minister to have taken back to Serbia as prisoners of
war. The Luthanian army corps that the American had promised the
Serbs was to be utilized along the Austrian frontier to prevent the
passage of Austrian troops into Serbia through Lutha.

The return to Lustadt after the battle was made through cheering
troops and along streets choked with joy-mad citizenry. The name of
the soldier-king was upon every tongue. Men went wild with
enthusiasm as the tall figure rode slowly through the crowd toward
the palace.

Von der Tann, grim and martial, found his lids damp with the
moisture of a great happiness. Even now with all the proofs of
reality about him, it seemed impossible that this scene could be
aught but the ephemeral vapors of a dream--that Leopold of Lutha,
the coward, the craven, could have become in a single day the heroic
figure that had loomed so large upon the battlefield of Lustadt--the
simple, modest gentleman who received the plaudits of his subjects
with bowed head and humble mien.

As Barney Custer rode up Margaretha Street toward the royal palace
of the kings of Lutha, a dust-covered horseman in the uniform of an
officer of the Horse Guards entered Lustadt from the south. It was
the young aide of Prince von der Tann's staff, who had been sent to
Blentz nearly a week earlier with a message for the king, and who
had been captured and held by the Austrians.

During the battle before Lustadt all the Austrian troops had been
withdrawn from Blentz and hurried to the front. It was then that the
aide had been transferred to the castle, from which he had escaped
early that morning. To reach Lustadt he had been compelled to circle
the Austrian position, coming to Lustadt from the south.

Once within the city he rode straight to the palace, flung himself
from his jaded mount, and entered the left wing of the building--the
wing in which the private apartments of the chancellor were located.

Here he inquired for the Princess Emma, learning with evident relief
that she was there. A moment later, white with dust, his face
streamed with sweat, he was ushered into her presence.

"Your highness," he blurted, "the king's commands have

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