The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 7

You need not be
afraid."

Barney Custer looked up at her quickly, and then he grinned. His
only fear had been that he would not meet brigands, for Mr. Bernard
Custer, Jr., was young and the spirit of Romance and Adventure
breathed strong within him.

"Why do you smile?" asked the girl.

"At our dilemma," evaded Barney. "Have you paused to consider our
situation?"

The girl smiled, too.

"It is most unconventional," she said. "On foot and alone in the
mountains, far from home, and we do not even know each other's
name."

"Pardon me," cried Barney, bowing low. "Permit me to introduce
myself. I am," and then to the spirits of Romance and Adventure was
added a third, the spirit of Deviltry, "I am the mad king of Lutha."



II

OVER THE PRECIPICE

The effect of his words upon the girl were quite different from what
he had expected. An American girl would have laughed, knowing that
he but joked. This girl did not laugh. Instead her face went white,
and she clutched her bosom with her two hands. Her brown eyes peered
searchingly into the face of the man.

"Leopold!" she cried in a suppressed voice. "Oh, your majesty,
thank God that you are free--and sane!"

Before he could prevent it the girl had seized his hand and pressed
it to her lips.

Here was a pretty muddle! Barney Custer swore at himself inwardly
for a boorish fool. What in the world had ever prompted him to speak
those ridiculous words! And now how was he to unsay them without
mortifying this beautiful girl who had just kissed his hand?

She would never forgive that--he was sure of it.

There was but one thing to do, however, and that was to make a clean
breast of it. Somehow, he managed to stumble through his explanation
of what had prompted him, and when he had finished he saw that the
girl was smiling indulgently at him.

"It shall be Mr. Bernard Custer if you wish it so," she said; "but
your majesty need fear nothing from Emma von der Tann. Your secret
is as safe with me as with yourself, as the name of Von der Tann
must assure you."

She looked to see the expression of relief and pleasure that her
father's name should have brought to the face of Leopold of Lutha,
but when he gave no indication that he had ever before heard the
name she sighed and looked puzzled.

"Perhaps," she thought, "he doubts me. Or can it be possible that,
after all, his poor mind is gone?"

"I wish," said Barney in a tone

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