The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 78

the Royal Horse closed around him, and there, for
five minutes, was waged as fierce a battle for possession of a king
as was ever fought.

But already many of the artillerymen had deserted the guns that had
not yet been attacked, for the magic name of king had turned their
blood to water. Fifty or more raised a white flag and surrendered
without striking a blow, and when, at last, Barney and his little
bodyguard fought their way through those who surrounded them they
found the balance of the field already won.

Upon the slope below the city the loyal troops were advancing upon
the enemy. Old Prince Ludwig paced back and forth behind them,
apparently oblivious to the rain of bullets about him. Every moment
he turned his eyes toward the wooded ridge from which there now
belched an almost continuous fusillade of shells upon the advancing
royalists.

Quite suddenly the cannonading ceased and the old man halted in his
tracks, his gaze riveted upon the wood. For several minutes he saw
no sign of what was transpiring behind that screen of sere and
yellow autumn leaves, and then a man came running out, and after him
another and another.

The prince raised his field glasses to his eyes. He almost cried
aloud in his relief--the uniforms of the fugitives were those of
artillerymen, and only cavalry had accompanied the king. A moment
later there appeared in the center of his lenses a tall figure with
a full beard. He rode, swinging his saber above his head, and behind
him at full gallop came a squadron of the Royal Horse.

Old von der Tann could restrain himself no longer.

"The king! The king!" he cried to those about him, pointing in the
direction of the wood.

The officers gathered there and the soldiery before him heard and
took up the cry, and then from the old man's lips came the command,
"Charge!" and a thousand men tore down the slopes of Lustadt upon
the forces of Peter of Blentz, while from the east the king charged
their right flank at the head of the Royal Horse.

Peter of Blentz saw that the day was lost, for the troops upon the
right were crumpling before the false king while he and his
cavalrymen were yet a half mile distant. Before the retreat could
become a rout the prince regent ordered his forces to fall back
slowly upon a suburb that lies in the valley below the city.

Once safely there he raised a white flag, asking a conference with
Prince Ludwig.

"Your majesty," said the old man, "what

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