The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 44

let youse off dis time.'"

"I do not know what you are talking about," replied Yellow Franz;
"but if you want to pray you'd better hurry up about it."

He drew his pistol from its holster on the belt at his hips.

Now Barney Custer had no mind to give up the ghost without a
struggle; but just how he was to overcome the great beast who
confronted him with menacing pistol was, to say the least, not
precisely plain. He wished the man would come a little nearer where
he might have some chance to close with him before the fellow could
fire. To gain time the American assumed a prayerful attitude, but
kept one eye on the bandit.

Presently Yellow Franz showed indications of impatience. He fingered
the trigger of his weapon, and then slowly raised it on a line with
Barney's chest.

"Hadn't you better come closer?" asked the young man. "You might
miss at that distance, or just wound me."

Yellow Franz grinned.

"I don't miss," he said, and then: "You're certainly a game one. If
it wasn't for the hundred thousand marks, I'd be hanged if I'd kill
you."

"The chances are that you will be if you do," said Barney, "so
wouldn't you rather take one hundred and fifty thousand marks and
let me make my escape?"

Yellow Franz looked at the speaker a moment through narrowed lids.

"Where would you find any one willing to pay that amount for a crazy
king?" he asked.

"I have told you that I am not the king," said Barney. "I am an
American with a father who would gladly pay that amount on my safe
delivery to any American consul."

Yellow Franz shook his head and tapped his brow significantly.

"Even if you was what you are dreaming, it wouldn't pay me," he
said.

"I'll make it two hundred thousand," said Barney.

"No--it's a waste of time talking about it. It's worth more than
money to me to know that I'll always have this thing on Peter, and
that when he's king he won't dare bother me for fear I'll publish
the details of this little deal. Come, you must be through praying
by this time. I can't wait around here all night." Again Yellow
Franz raised his pistol toward Barney's heart.

Before the brigand could pull the trigger, or Barney hurl himself
upon his would-be assassin, there was a flash and a loud report from
the open window of the shack.

With a groan Yellow Franz crumpled to the dirt floor, and
simultaneously Barney was upon him and had wrested the pistol from
his hand; but the

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