The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 35

men were searching. He could hear Maenck
directing them. Only a thin portiere screened him from their view.
It was but a matter of seconds before they would investigate the
window through which Maenck knew the king had found ingress.

Yes! It had come.

"Look to the window," commanded Maenck. "He may have gone as he
came."

Two of the soldiers crossed the room toward the casement. From above
Joseph was lowering the rope; but it was too late. The men would be
at the window before he could clamber out of their reach.

"Hoist away!" he whispered to Joseph. "Quick now, my man, and make
your escape with the Princess von der Tann. It is the king's
command."

Already the soldiers were at the window. At the sound of his voice
they tore aside the draperies; at the same instant the pseudo-king
turned and leaped out into the blackness of the night.

There were exclamations of surprise and rage from the soldiers--a
woman's scream. Then from far below came a dull splash as the body
of Bernard Custer struck the surface of the moat.

Maenck, leaning from the window, heard the scream and the splash,
and jumped to the conclusion that both the king and the princess had
attempted to make their escape in this harebrained way. Immediately
all the resources at his command were put to the task of searching
the moat and the adjacent woods.

He was sure that one or both of the prisoners would be stunned by
impact with the surface of the water, and then drowned before they
regained consciousness, but he did not know Bernard Custer, nor the
facility and almost uncanny ease with which that young man could
negotiate a high dive into shallow water.

Nor did he know that upon the floor above him one Joseph was
hastening along a dark corridor toward a secret panel in another
apartment, and that with him was the Princess Emma bound for liberty
and safety far from the frowning walls of Blentz.

As Barney's head emerged above the surface of the moat he shook it
vigorously to free his eyes from water, and then struck out for the
further bank.

Long before his pursuers had reached the courtyard and alarmed the
watch at the barbican, the American had crawled out upon dry land
and hastened across the broad clearing to the patch of stunted trees
that grew lower down upon the steep hillside before the castle.

He shrank from the thought of leaving Blentz without knowing
positively that Joseph had made good the escape of himself and the
princess, but he finally argued

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