The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 192

that was taking place. The American tried to
regain his feet, but the shock of the wound in his breast had
apparently paralyzed him for the moment. A Blentz soldier was
running toward the prisoner standing open-mouthed against the wall.
The fellow's rifle was raised to his hip--his intention was only too
obvious.

Barney drew himself painfully and slowly to one elbow. The man was
rapidly nearing the true Leopold. In another moment he would shoot.
The American raised his revolver and, taking careful aim, fired. The
soldier shrieked, covered his face with his hands, spun around once,
and dropped at the king's feet.

The troopers under Butzow were forcing the men of Blentz toward the
far end of the courtyard. Two of the Blentz faction were standing a
little apart, backing slowly away and at the same time deliberately
firing at the king. Barney seemed the only one who noticed them.
Once again he raised his revolver and fired. One of the men sat down
suddenly, looked vacantly about him, and then rolled over upon his
side. The other fired once more at the king and the same instant
Barney fired at the soldier. Soldier and king--would-be assassin and
his victim--fell simultaneously. Barney grimaced. The wound in his
breast was painful. He had done his best to save the king. It was no
fault of his that he had failed. It was a long way to Beatrice. He
wondered if Emma von der Tann would be on the station platform,
awaiting him--then he swooned.

Butzow and his seventeen had it all their own way in the courtyard
and castle of Blentz. After the first resistance the soldiery of
Peter fled to the guardroom. Butzow followed them, and there they
laid down their arms. Then the lieutenant returned to the courtyard
to look for the king and Barney Custer. He found them both, and both
were wounded. He had them carried to the royal apartments in the
north tower. When Barney regained consciousness he found the
scowling portrait of the Blentz princess frowning down upon him. He
lay upon a great bed where the soldiers, thinking him king, had
placed him. Opposite him, against the farther wall, the real king
lay upon a cot. Butzow was working over him.

"Not so bad, after all, Barney," the lieutenant was saying. "Only a
flesh wound in the calf of the leg."

The king made no reply. He was afraid to declare his identity.
First he must learn the intentions of the impostor. He only closed
his eyes wearily. Presently he asked a question.

"Is he badly wounded?" and he indicated the

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