The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 45

precaution was unnecessary for Yellow Franz would
never again press finger to trigger. He was dead even before Barney
reached his side.

In possession of the weapon, the American turned toward the window
from which had come the rescuing shot, and as he did so he saw the
boy, Rudolph, clambering over the sill, white-faced and trembling.
In his hand was a smoking carbine, and on his brow great beads of
cold sweat.

"God forgive me!" murmured the youth. "I have killed a man."

"You have killed a dangerous wild beast, Rudolph," said Barney, "and
both God and your fellow man will thank and reward you."

"I am glad that I killed him, though," went on the boy, "for he
would have killed you, my king, had I not done so. Gladly would I go
to the gallows to save my king."

"You are a brave lad, Rudolph," said Barney, "and if ever I get out
of the pretty pickle I'm in you'll be well rewarded for your loyalty
to Leopold of Lutha. After all," thought the young man, "being a
kind has its redeeming features, for if the boy had not thought me
his monarch he would never have risked the vengeance of the
bloodthirsty brigands in this attempt to save me."

"Hasten, your majesty," whispered the boy, tugging at the sleeve of
Barney's jacket. "There is no time to be lost. We must be far away
from here when the others discover that Yellow Franz has been
killed."

Barney stooped above the dead man, and removing his belt and
cartridges transferred them to his own person. Then blowing out the
lantern the two slipped out into the darkness of the night.

About the camp fire of the brigands the entire pack was congregated.
They were talking together in low voices, ever and anon glancing
expectantly toward the shack to which their chief had gone to
dispatch the king. It is not every day that a king is murdered, and
even these hardened cut-throats felt the spell of awe at the thought
of what they believed the sharp report they had heard from the shack
portended.

Keeping well to the far side of the clearing, Rudolph led Barney
around the group of men and safely into the wood below them. From
this point the boy followed the trail which Barney and his captors
had traversed two days previously, until he came to a diverging
ravine that led steeply up through the mountains upon their right
hand.

In the distance behind them they suddenly heard, faintly, the
shouting of men.

"They have discovered Yellow Franz," whispered the boy, shuddering.

"Then they'll be

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