The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 54

ravine. I feel that I owe you full reparation for
the injuries you received, though it is beyond me how you happened
to be found under the machine. Unless I am truly mad, I was the only
occupant of the roadster when it plunged over the embankment."

"It is very simple," replied the man upon the cot. "I chanced to be
at the bottom of the ravine at the time and the car fell upon me."

"What were you doing at the bottom of the ravine?" asked Barney
quite suddenly, after the manner of one who administers a third
degree.

The man started and flushed with suspicion.

"That is my own affair," he said.

He tried to disengage his hand from Barney's, and as he did so the
American felt something within the fingers of the other. For an
instant his own fingers tightened upon those that lay within them,
so that as the others were withdrawn his index finger pressed close
upon the thing that had aroused his curiosity.

It was a large setting turned inward upon the third finger of the
left hand. The gold band that Barney had seen was but the opposite
side of the same ring.

A quick look of comprehension came to Barney's eyes. The man upon
the cot evidently noted it and rightly interpreted its cause, for,
having freed his hand, he now slipped it quickly beneath the
coverlet.

"I have passed through a series of rather remarkable adventures
since I came to Lutha," said Barney apparently quite irrelevantly,
after the two had remained silent for a moment. "Shortly after my
car fell upon you I was mistaken for the fugitive King Leopold by
the young lady whose horse fell into the ravine with my car. She is
a most loyal supporter of the king, being none other than the
Princess Emma von der Tann. From her I learned to espouse the cause
of Leopold."

Step by step Barney took the man through the adventures that had
befallen him during the past three weeks, closing with the story of
the death of the boy, Rudolph.

"Above his dead body I swore to serve Leopold of Lutha as loyally as
the poor, mistaken child had served me, your majesty," and Barney
looked straight into the eyes of him who lay upon the little iron
cot.

For a moment the man held his eyes upon those of the American, but
finally, under the latter's steady gaze, they dropped and wandered.

"Why do you address me as 'your majesty'?" he asked irritably.

"With my forefinger I felt the ruby and the four wings of the
setting

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