The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 50

sought without attracting attention.

Swinging to the ground he tied the pony to one of the supporting
columns of the porch-roof and a moment later had stepped within the
shop.

From a back room the shopkeeper presently emerged, and when he saw
who it was that stood before him his eyes went wide in
consternation.

"In the name of all the saints, your majesty," cried the old fellow,
"what has happened? How comes it that you are out of the hospital,
and travel-stained as though from a long, hard ride? I cannot
understand it, sire."

"Hospital?" queried the young man. "What do you mean, my good
fellow? I have been in no hospital."

"You were there only last evening when I inquired after you of the
doctor," insisted the shopkeeper, "nor did any there yet suspect
your true identity."

"Last evening I was hiding far up in the mountains from Yellow
Franz's band of cutthroats," replied Barney. "Tell me what manner of
riddle you are propounding."

Then a sudden light of understanding flashed through Barney's mind.

"Man!" he exclaimed. "Tell me--you have found the true king? He is
at a hospital in Tafelberg?"

"Yes, your majesty, I have found the true king, and it is so that he
was at the Tafelberg sanatorium last evening. It was beside the
remnants of your wrecked automobile that two of the men of Tafelberg
found you.

"One leg was pinioned beneath the machine which was on fire when
they discovered you. They brought you to my shop, which is the first
on the road into town, and not guessing your true identity they took
my word for it that you were an old acquaintance of mine and without
more ado turned you over to my care."

Barney scratched his head in puzzled bewilderment. He began to
doubt if he were in truth himself, or, after all, Leopold of Lutha.
As no one but himself could, by the wildest stretch of imagination,
have been in such a position, he was almost forced to the conclusion
that all that had passed since the instant that his car shot over
the edge of the road into the ravine had been but the hallucinations
of a fever-excited brain, and that for the past three weeks he had
been lying in a hospital cot instead of experiencing the strange and
inexplicable adventures that he had believed to have befallen him.

But yet the more he thought of it the more ridiculous such a
conclusion appeared, for it did not in the least explain the pony
tethered without, which he plainly could see from where he stood
within

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