The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 37

them close enough that he might have ample opportunity to
hail the first passerby.

The road was becoming more and more mountainous and difficult.
There were fewer homes and no hamlets, and now he began to despair
entirely of meeting any who could give him direction unless he
turned and retraced his steps to the nearest farm.

Directly before him the narrow trail he had been following for the
past few miles wound sharply about the shoulder of a protruding
cliff. He would see what lay beyond the turn--perhaps he would find
the Old Forest there, after all.

But instead he found something very different, though in its way
quite as interesting, for as he rounded the rugged bluff he came
face to face with two evil-looking fellows astride stocky,
rough-coated ponies.

At sight of him they drew in their mounts and eyed him suspiciously.
Nor was there great cause for wonderment in that, for the American
presented aught but a respectable appearance. His khaki motoring
suit, soaked from immersion in the moat, had but partially dried
upon him. Mud from the banks of the stagnant pool caked his legs to
the knees, almost hiding his once tan puttees. More mud streaked his
jacket front and stained its sleeves to the elbows. He was
bare-headed, for his cap had remained in the moat at Blentz, and his
disheveled hair was tousled upon his head, while his full beard had
dried into a weird and tangled fringe about his face. At his side
still hung the sword that Joseph had buckled there, and it was this
that caused the two men the greatest suspicion of this strange
looking character.

They continued to eye Barney in silence, every now and then casting
apprehensive glances beyond him, as though expecting others of his
kind to appear in the trail at his back. And that is precisely what
they did fear, for the sword at Barney's side had convinced them
that he must be an officer of the army, and they looked to see his
command following in his wake.

The young man saluted them pleasantly, asking the direction to the
Old Forest. They thought it strange that a soldier of Lutha should
not know his own way about his native land, and so judged that his
question was but a blind to deceive them.

"Why do you not ask your own men the way?" parried one of the

"I have no men, I am alone," replied Barney. "I am a stranger in
Lutha and have lost my way."

He who had spoken before pointed to the sword at Barney's side.

"Strangers traveling in

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