The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 49

shoulder of his jacket
tend to lessen the martial atmosphere which surrounded him.
Fortunate it was for the brigands of the late Yellow Franz that none
of them chanced in the path of Barney Custer that day.

For nearly two hours the man had ridden downward out of the high
hills in search of a dwelling at which he might ask the way to Tann;
but as yet he had passed but a single house, and that a long
untenanted ruin. He was wondering what had become of all the
inhabitants of Lutha when his horse came to a sudden halt before an
obstacle which entirely blocked the narrow trail at the bottom of
the ravine.

As the horseman's eyes fell upon the thing they went wide in
astonishment, for it was no less than the charred remnants of the
once beautiful gray roadster that had brought him into this
twentieth century land of medieval adventure and intrigue. Barney
saw that the machine had been lifted from where it had fallen across
the horse of the Princess von der Tann, for the animal's decaying
carcass now lay entirely clear of it; but why this should have been
done, or by whom, the young man could not imagine.

A glance aloft showed him the road far above him, from which he, the
horse and the roadster had catapulted; and with the sight of it
there flashed to his mind the fair face of the young girl in whose
service the thing had happened. Barney wondered if Joseph had been
successful in returning her to Tann, and he wondered, too, if she
mourned for the man she had thought king--if she would be very angry
should she ever learn the truth.

Then there came to the American's mind the figure of the shopkeeper
of Tafelberg, and the fellow's evident loyalty to the mad king he
had never seen. Here was one who might aid him, thought Barney. He
would have the will, at least, and with the thought the young man
turned his pony's head diagonally up the steep ravine side.

It was a tough and dangerous struggle to the road above, but at last
by dint of strenuous efforts on the part of the sturdy little beast
the two finally scrambled over the edge of the road and stood once
more upon level footing.

After breathing his mount for a few minutes Barney swung himself
into the saddle again and set off toward Tafelberg. He met no one
upon the road, nor within the outskirts of the village, and so he
came to the door of the shop he

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