The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 206

He snatched it from its
hangings, lifted it above his head in both hands, and hurled it at
the head of the old man. The glass shattered full upon the ancient's
crown, the man's head went through the picture, and the frame
settled over his shoulders. At the same instant Barney Custer leaped
across the bed, seized a light chair, and turned to face his foe
upon more even terms.

The old man did not pause to remove the frame from about his neck.
Blood trickled down his forehead and cheeks from deep gashes that
the broken glass had made. Now he was in a berserker rage.

As he charged again he uttered a peculiar whistling noise from
between his set teeth. To the American it sounded like the hissing
of a snake, and as he would have met a snake he met the venomous
attack of the old man.

When the short battle was over the Blentz servitor lay unconscious
upon the floor, while above him leaned the American, uninjured,
ripping long strips from a sheet torn from the bed, twisting them
into rope-like strands and, with them, binding the wrists and ankles
of his defeated foe. Finally he stuffed a gag between the toothless
gums.

Running to the wardrobe, he discovered that the king's uniform was
gone. That, with the witness of the empty bed, told him the whole
story. The American smiled. "More nerve than I gave him credit for,"
he mused, as he walked back to his bed and reached under the pillow
for the two papers he had forced the king to sign. They, too, were
gone. Slowly Barney Custer realized his plight, as there filtered
through his mind a suggestion of the possibilities of the trick that
had been played upon him.

Why should Leopold wish these papers? Of course, he might merely
have taken them that he might destroy them; but something told
Barney Custer that such was not the case. And something, too, told
him whither the king had ridden and what he would do there when he
arrived.

He ran back to the wardrobe. In it hung the peasant attire that he
had stolen from the line of the careless house frau, and later
wished upon his majesty the king. Barney grinned as he recalled the
royal disgust with which Leopold had fingered the soiled garments.
He scarce blamed him. Looking further toward the back of the
wardrobe, the American discovered other clothing.

He dragged it all out upon the floor. There was an old shooting
jacket, several pairs of trousers and breeches, and a hunting coat.
In a

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