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Volume 6789
Edgar Rice Burroughs'
Summary and Comments Project
By John Martin

Chapters 1-8


In Beatrice, Nebraska, Vic (aka Victoria), Barney's sister, had promised her friend Margaret she'd play bridge but said she'd rather go motoring with Lieutenant Butzow, as it was his last day with them before his return to Lutha.

But, she kept her promise and went to the card game. Meanwhile, Barney and his business partner, Bert, along with Butzow, visited at the corn mill.

Butzow, in the company of Barney, had fled Lutha two years earlier; but, at the request of Prince Ludwig Von der Tann, who promised to protect him once he returned to the country, Butzow planned to go back. Ludwig prized Butzow's military skills and war was brewing between Serbia and Austria; Lutha was likely to be drawn into it.

In addition, Von der Tann warned that King Leopold of Lutha was suspected of having sent emissaries to the USA to search for Barney and Butzow, though the motive was uncertain.

Barney wanted to go back to Lutha with Butzow but, since he had been gone most of the time for the past two years, he planned to stay home and let Bert take a vacation.

Enter a skulker carrying a mysterious package. He watched from behind a boxcar and when he saw the men go into the corn mill office he sneaked up and set off a bomb, not realizing the men had left by another door. The corn mill, however, was destroyed in a spectacular explosion.

The next morning, the three men surveyed the damage, which they thought might have been caused by a lightning strike. Butzow, though, thought Leopold might have been responsible, perhaps attempting to get rid of Barney so he might have a clear field to pursue Emma.

At the train station, Victoria urged the departing Butzow to come back some day and he stammered and flushed a bit as he said he would.
That evening, Barney sat on his porch, smoking a cigar and dreaming about Emma. After the cigar was snuffed, Barney spotted a shadow that moved in the yard. He kept watch and it continued to move. He sneaked outside and up behind the shadow and tackled its source who, he discovered in the resulting struggle, was none other than Captain Ernst Maenck, the enemy he had left for dead in the dilapidated building in Lutha from which he and Butzow had rescued King Leopold to restore him to his throne.

Barney had to ease his grip on Maenck in order to try to snuff the fuse on the bomb the latter threw, and that gave Maenck an opportunity to escape.

Barney came to a conclusion: He must leave Beatrice, partly so others would not be hurt if there were further attempts on his life, and partly so that he could hunt Maenck down and exact revenge. And, since he no longer needed to work at the corn mill so Bert could take a vacation, he considered that his footsteps just might lead him to Lutha. After all, the presence there of a certain brown-eyed princess was a third reason for leaving Nebraska and heading thataway.

Barney made the first leg of the journey in a grey roadster — a newer model than the one he wrecked in Lutha — tracking Maenck first to Lincoln, Nebraska, and then cross-country to New York, where he obtained credentials as a correspondent from an old college friend who worked at a New York newspaper. He then scanned the ocean liner passenger lists and saw Maenck's name on a steamer which had sailed that morning. Rather than being chagrined at barely missing him, Barney realized it was a good thing because, if Barney caught him, what could he do with him under American law? He realized his best opportunity to battle Maenck again would likely come in Lutha itself.

Barney booked passage to Italy and, from there, entered Austria. He moved on toward Lutha but had to take an unplanned break at Bergova because the Austrian Army officials weren't impressed with his newspaper credentials and would not allow him to cross their lines into Lutha.

But it was a fortuitous delay, and also a fortuitous circumstance that gave Barney a tiny room in an inn. The room had only a thin wall separating it from the next room, from which a conversation awakened him from sleep.

The first speaker was one identified as Count Zellerndorf of Austria. Apparently he has been working behind the scenes for some time against Leopold of Lutha and in favor of Peter and company.

Among the things Barney learned:
--- The count had convinced Leopold that Peter, Coblich and Maenck were his most loyal friends (Note: with friends like these...)
— He convinced Leopold that old Von der Tann either aspired to the throne himself or desired to place Barney upon it, since the blood of Victoria Rubinroth of the Lutha royal line flowed in Barney's veins. Further, Von der Tann could gain public support for Barney by marrying him off to his daughter, Emma.
— The "untimely" death of Leopold could pave the way for Peter to become king.
— It was Peter who hatched the plot to kill Barney and Butzow in the U.S. as a way of currying further favor with Leopold.

And along the way Barney learned, as they spoke, that the ones to whom the Count was speaking were none other than Peter of Blentz, Captain Maenck and Coblich.

The count had given Peter, Maenck and Coblich passes to get them through the Army lines.

As the chapter ends, the reader learns that the chapter title is misleading. While Barney was definitely trying to return to Lutha, he hadn't quite made it yet.
- - - - -
1. The name of the newspaper from which Barney obtained credentials was:
A. The New York Mirror
B. The New York Evening National
C. The New York Daily News
D. The New York Gazette-Times

2. Once again, as he had four times in the previous story, Barney got a chance to do bodily damage to Maenck. Besides Barney and Butzow, who else was able to bash Maenck in the first novelette?
A. Ludwig von der Tann
B. Emma von der Tann
C. Kramer, the innkeeper
D. Leopold

3. Coblich was known only as Coblich in the first novellete. Here, he is frequently referred to as:
A. Lieutenant Coblich
B. Von Coblich
C. Herr Coblich
D. Strauss Coblich

4. What was the last name of ERB's freinds, Bert and Margaret, the real-life corn mill owners in Beatrice, Nebraska, whom ERB mentioned in Chapter I of this story?
A. Northrup
B. Southwick
C. Eastfield
D. Weston


1. Barney and Victoria Custer along with Otto Butzow survey the wreckage of the Beatrice, Nebraska, corn mill,
after it was blown up by a saboteur from Lutha. Art courtesy of Martin Gately.
2. Bert lived for many more years after Ernst Maenck bombed his corn mill in Beatrice, Nebraska,
and he and his wife (Victoria's card-playing partner, Margaret) remained lifelong friends of ERB.
It is very likely that ERB first heard about Barney Custer from Bert and, like a good reporter,
pursued the story that he eventually related in "The Mad King."
Bert is shown in this photo wearing a souvenir pinback button he picked up in the huckster room
of an early sci-fi convention where ERB fans had been known to hang out.
Ed's friendship with Bert:
3. It's not Zorro but Ernst Maenck in disguise with whom Barney tussles, but watch out for that bomb the saboteur is holding!


After overhearing the conversation of the conspirators, Barney knew he needed to get to Von der Tann and warn him. He would have to figure out a way to cross the border through the Army lines and, at the same time, keep the conspirators from doing so.

So, he decided to accomplish both goals at once, by sneaking into the room next door, hoping the three were asleep, and try to steal the passes Zellerndorf had mentioned. He succeeded in entering and grabbing some papers but kicked a shoe on the way out and the slight noise got everyone stirring. They chased him down the dark hallway and Barney turned a corner, then stopped to plant one on Maenck, scoring yet another blow on the Governor of Blentz.

He heard the sounds of military men coming upstairs to join the pursuit, so he ducked into his own room and then out a window. As the others burst into the dark room, he dropped to a shed's roof and then to the ground and took off through streets and alleys, spurred on by the sounds of his pursuers.

Barney came to a lighted street but did not dare to enter it long enough to dash across to the next alley, because an Austrian sentry was on guard. With the sentry in front of him and pursuit getting closer behind, he finally decided to make a dash for it. Then he heard a voice from above calling to him in a whisper.

The voice came from a woman, who assisted him in climbing into a second-floor window. As soon as he was in the darkened room, she embraced him and called him "Stefan."

Barney informed her that he was not Stefan but was a friend and threw himself upon her mercy. She was merciful enough to stick a gun in his ribs and order him into a locked room until Stefan himself could return and determine what to do with him.

Barney, exhausted, fell on a cot in the room and slept until daylight. In the morning, he heard voices coming up through a dumbwaiter shaft and realized Austrian soldiers were speaking to the young lady, telling her they must search the house for a Serbian spy named Stefan Drontoff. To save her lover, the woman handed them a key and told them a man matching the description was in the attic room.

Barney jammed the cot against the door to delay them and rearranged furniture to reach a skylight. Once out on the roof, he began leaping from housetop to housetop. At last he came to the last available building and turned to check on his pursuers. At that moment, he stepped through a skylight and landed on a fat, sleeping Austrian infantry captain. Three other officers were also sleeping in the same room.

They all woke up and Barney quickly became a prisoner again. His pursuers also caught up and took charge of the prisoner, telling the fat Austrian he was Stefan Drontoff, the famous spy. They said he would face the firing squad in just a few minutes.
- - - - -
1. Barney waited half an hour after their conversation ceased, before assuming that Peter, Maenck and Von Coblich were asleep. When Barney kicked a shoe in the room, Maenck awoke. Back in Part I, Chapter IV, Joseph had told Barney something about Maenck that Barney might have done well to remember. What was it?
A. Maenck was an extremely light sleeper
B. Maenck regularly stayed awake until dawn, drinking and playing cards.
C. Maenck always slept with one eye open.
D. Maenck was known to require very little sleep.

2. Counting Part I and so far in Part II, how many instances have there been where Barney was able to inflict bodily harm on Maenck, either with his fists or a sword. (In a question for Chapter I, it was noted that Barney had four "chances" to hurt Maenck, but a chance doesn't necessarily equate to a realization).

3. Stefan's girl friend helped Barney climb into the second-floor room by lowering:
A. Her hair
B. A rope
C. Several bedsheets knotted together
D. A curtain

4. In Part I, Barney was mistaken for the King of Lutha. In Part II, he is mistaken, briefly, for a spy. Other than the fact that he was being pursued, and stopped below the right window, why did the woman think he was Stefan the spy?
A. It was dark
B. Barney breathed heavy the same way Stefan did.
C. Barney was a dead-ringer for Stefan Drontoff
D. Barney used the same after-shave.

1. B. Barney's press credentials were from The New York Evening National
2. B. Emma von der Tann, as well as Custer and Butzow, got a chance to bash Maenck when she threw a vase which cut open his face, leaving a gash that improved his looks.
3. B. Known as Coblich in the first novelette, "The Mad King," the character was mostly called Von Coblich in the sequel, "Barney Custer of Beatrice."
4. D. Weston was the last name of ERB's lifelong friends, Bert and Margaret from Beatrice, Nebraska

1. Modern-day re-enactors dress up in Austrian uniforms of the World War I era,
so these would have been the types of soldiers Barney Custer was dodging in the early pages of Part II of "The Mad King."
2. "Barney Custer of Beatrice" was published about a year and a half after "The Mad King,"
appearing in All-Story Weekly in three installments, Aug. 7-21, 1915.
Both parts were combined into the hardback book, "The Mad King," published in 1926 by A.C. McClurg & Co.


This is a fast-paced chapter and many a reader will speed through it to find out what the fate of Barney Custer of Beatrice will be. True, he is the hero, and logically should be around until the end of the book, but ERB writes in such a way about Barney's hopeless and ever-worsening siutation that one wonders how he could possibly survive.

Once captured, Barney tried to convince an Austrian officer that he was simply an American newspaper correspondent, and not a spy. The officer did not want to shoot any Americans, but it looked bad for Barney since he had tried to flee. Further, there were three sets of obviously stolen Army passes in his possession.

The officer told Barney he had sent for Peter of Blentz, one of the names on the passes, to see if Peter knew who he was. That was bad news for Barney, because if Peter — who only saw him beardless once — did not recognize him, Maenck was sure to, since he had been shadowing Barney in Beatrice.

And it proved true. In fact, all three — including Von Coblich — recognized him but, thinking quickly, Maenck said he personally knew Barney Custer and that this man wasn't him. Therefore, he must be the spy.

So, Barney was led through the streets by a military guard to the place of execution. He had not yet grasped the full reality of what was about to happen to him.

When they reached the brick wall where the firing squad would aim, twenty or thirty other prisoners were also there. Suddenly, the full import of the situation dawned on Barney, and he briefly considered seizing a rifle from one of his guards and opening fire at them.

However, he reconsidered. Why should he kill any of these soldiers, who were only doing their job? Besides, even if he killed one or two of them, he would soon be shot himself. So why take any other lives?

He stood with the other prisoners, bravely facing his death as the firing squad discharged a pair of volleys. A bullet found him and he fell, with three or four bodies falling on top of him.

The soldiers inspected their work and apparently were convinced that all were dead. The bodies were left lying into nightfall, when a looter showed up and began pulling rings and wallets off dead men. When he got to Barney, and started to cut the Nebraskan's ring finger, the pain awakened our hero. He had, indeed, been hit by a bullet, but only grazed.

Barney leaped to his feet, scaring the looter, and the commotion aroused the attention of nearby soldiers. Barney and the looter both ran but Barney was quicker and maneuvered better, and was out of sight by the time the soldiers came, and so they ended up chasing only the looter. Barney heard shots being fired along with a scream. The thief had been hit and was dying, but was conscious long enough to tell the soldiers about the firing squad survivor. And now, the soldiers were searching for him.

In the dark, he accidentally kicked a manhole cover that made a noise that drew them near his position.

Then, he thought: Manhole cover = manhole. He slipped into the smelly cavern beneath, the soliders passed overhead unknowingly, and he took off down the large underground trough in the hope it would lead to a river and at least temporary freedom.

1. While being marched to the place of execution, Barney...
A. Sang the words to "America the Beautiful" softly
B. Kept an eye out for a convenient alley to flee into
C. Attempted to strike up a conversation with one of the soldiers
D. Smoked a cigarette
2. When the looter awakened Barney from the pile of dead men, what did Barney say to the thief:
A. You fiend!
B. You ghoul!!
C. You filth! Robbing the dead!
D. You monster!
1. B Maench had been described to Barney as "...a convivial fellow, sitting at cards and drink until sunrise nearly every day."
2. Barney had been able to inflict bodily harm on Maenck at least three times in Part I — In Castle Blentz, after Maenck insulted Emma; at the impending coronation of Peter when Barney's appearance interrupted the ceremony, and at the Tafelberg sanitorium during the attempted rescue of Leopold. The first two were with his fists and the third was with two sword thrusts. In Part II, Barney got in a few licks on Maenck in Nebraska and again while being chased in the hotel hallway in Burgova. It's possible there was one other instance in which Barney may have harmed Maenck. When he and Butzow went into the dilapidated building to rescue Leopold (again), a gunshot sounded, causing Maenck to fall, as though dead. ERB never reports whether it was Barney or Butzow who fired that shot.
3. B. The woman lowered a rope on which Barney ascended.
4. A. The woman mistook Barney for Stefan Drontoff because it was dark
1. Barney Custer yearned to go back to Lutha to sort out things with his beloved, Emma von der Tann.
The destruction of his corn mill by a saboteur did him a favor by freeing him up to do that.
However, he was quickly emroiled in events that threatened his life before he even made it across the border from Austria into Lutha.
2. Be thankful you collect books, and not manhole covers.
This is a typical manhole cover from an Austrian city and might look something like the one
Barney Custer removed to escape from the soldiers who were after him, as told in "The Mad King" by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Manhole covers are more expensive than books and one needs a larger space in which to display them.
A box of books can be heavy, but might not weigh as much as one manhole cover.
Besides, the only way to get manhole covers is to swipe them,
and then you leave a gaping hole in the concrete for some poor soul to fall into or for a fleeing spy to escape in.


When Barney dropped into the sewer, the stream of moving water was two to three inches deep. As he moved along and the conduit dropped lower, it was soon halfway up to his knees. He continued on, with the flowing stream of filth climbing to above his knees. He went as fast as he could, out of fear that deadly gases might cause him to lose consciousness.

Finally, the water was up to his chin, and the top of his head was scraping the roof. When it seemed he could continue no longer, he lost his footing and plunged beneath the flow, only to bob up a few seconds later under a starlit sky. He had found the river.

He had also found more soldiers, as he could hear their voices and see them pounding their beat along the darkened river. But they didn't see him, and he swam for the opposite shore.

Barney clambered out of the river and rested, then set off carefully through the woods but, nonetheless, ran into an Austrian sentry, who challenged him. Thinking quickly, Barney pretended to be a drunk with a bottle he was willing to share, and the sentry was tempted, allowing Barney to get close enough to grab his gun and then get his hands around his throat.

Like the firing squad soldiers, this soldiers was only doing his job, but Barney was not as charitable this time and continued to squeeze the fellow's neck until he was sure he was dead. Then, he switched clothes and put the soldier's body into the river.

On he moved, this time in uniform. But inevitably he came upon another sentry. He saw the sentry but the sentry didn't see him. The sentry marched away, apparently to the opposite perimeter of his post. At about that time a detail showed up to relieve the sentry. Thinking Barney was the sentry, they relieved him and he marched back with the contingent. At the barracks, Barney slipped away but found no escape. In every direction he went, he saw an Austrian sentry and began to think the world was composed entirely of them. At last, he decided to stay put and entered a vacant horse barn and fell asleep.
He awoke to the noise of many men and machines and saw that a large contingent of troops was setting up a camp right in front of the shed in which he hid. But Barney's eyes were mostly on "the great, high-powered machines that chugged and purred about him." Behind the wheel of one of those, he might have a chance of making it to the border!

Barney decided boldness would be the best way to get a car. He strode from the shed in his Austrian uniform and walked boldly into a building which was a hub of military activity. His only purpose in going in was so he could be seen coming out, and not seem suspicious when he went to a car and started it up. The sentry in the building asked him to state his business and, Barney came up with a fictitious name for a general he wanted to see. The sentry didn't know that general and was about to ask his sergeant when Barney looked outside and told the sentry he saw the general he was looking for, and left.

He went straight to the car, started it, and drove out of the compound. He drove through the town and along the road toward Serbia, unchallenged. For much of the way, he drove the car in a center lane with a lane full of marching soldiers to his right. At a fork in the road, the soldiers were turning to the left and Barney needed to get through their line in order to turn to the right. Again, boldness was the key: Tooting his horn, he saluted an officer and pointed to the other fork. The officer held up the troops while Barney drove through.
- - - - -
In Part II, Chapter III of The Mad King, Barney is almost executed by a firing squad. The only wrong he had done was to surreptitiously enter the sleeping quarters of three men and steal their property. Despite the fact that these were bad men, plotting to overthrow the government of Lutha, Barney's actions amounted to robbery.

The crime may or may not have been a capital offense in Austria in that era, but Barney's subsequent misfortunes led him to be mistaken for a Serbian spy. Had he not committed the robbery, he would not have come under suspicion. So, he was in a pickle; but the pickle was of his own making.

He may have deserved a prison term for theft, but probably not the firing squad. Yet, he was marched to the place of execution, a man innocent of a capital crime.

Barney went to his impending death nobly. He considered grabbing a rifle from one of the soldiers marching near him, and figured that if he did he could manage to kill a couple of them. But, in the end, he would be shot and killed himself. And why should he kill these soldiers, he reasoned, since they were merely doing their jobs.
But, in Chapter IV, Edgar Rice Burroughs writes of a Barney who acted in a different way.
Miraculously saved from the firing squad, Barney roams the woods in clothes stinking with the stench of the sewer and is challenged by an Austrian sentry. This soldier, too, is just doing his job. Yet, Barney gets near the soldier through subterfuge and then proceeds to strangle him to death.
We are told that this soldier squirmed and gasped for breath and his eyes bulged out and tongue protruded. The soldier tried to hit Barney with his fists, but his efforts "were pitifully weak." Soon, the man twitched spasmodically and lay still.
But Barney wanted to make sure he was dead. He continued to hold onto the soldier for several minutes until he was certain he was a goner.
Then, he exchanged clothes with the soldier and rolled his body into the river.
ERB does write that the act "sickened him" but that he "knew his act was warranted."
But, was it warranted? With the soldier so obviously in Barney's power, could he have dealt with the weakened soldier in another way instead of slaying him? If the soldier was unconscious, that alone would have given Barney time to continue his escape.
By his actions, Barney changes himself from someone who does not deserve the firing squad into someone who qualifies for it. He is now guilty of two capital offenses: murder, for one, and spying, for another, since a person who illegitimately wears the other side's uniform in a war zone is automatically considered guilty of being a spy.

So, at this point, our ERB hero has actually become a major lawbreaker as fas as Austrian law is concerned.

In the end of "The Return of Tarzan," when the savage ape man is looking forward to getting his hands on Rokoff to wreak eternal vengeance, Jane has to warn him:
“In the heart of the jungle, dear, with no other form of right or justice to appeal to other than your own mighty muscles, you would be warranted in executing upon this man the sentence he deserves; but with the strong arm of a civilized government at your disposal it would be murder to kill him now. Even your friends would have to submit to your arrest....”

Barney is not Tarzan — he was brought up in more civilized surroundings than the ape-man. And, the Austrian sentry was no Rokoff.

We can understand the desperation of Barney to get away. Still, it seems he took a long time killing the soldier, during which there was time to consider other alternatives.

And, by putting his own clothes on the soldier and rolling him into the river, he was (a) making sure the soldier was really dead and (b) hoping the body would be mistaken for "escaped spy Stefan Dontroff." The military might also have concluded that the missing sentry had changed clothes and deserted, thus heaping shame on this soldier's reputation, as well as that of his family.

And soon, Barney would add the crime of auto theft to the rapidly growing list of charges that could be filed against him in Austria.

I know it's only fiction, but one wishes that Barney could have made good his escape with some other kind of derring-do rather than the way he did.
- - - - -
1. Barney's father was
A. A Nebraska corn farmer
B. A wealthy industrialist
C. A devil-may-care adventurer
D. A preacher

2. The name Barney made up for his fictional general was:
A. General Mein
B. General Kampf
C. General Schickel
D. General Gruber

1. D. As Barney marched with the others to the execution area, he smoked a cigarette
2. A. Barney's words to the corpse robber were "You fiend!"

The car in which the Crown Prince Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo in 1914 is displayed at the Museum of Military History in Vienna.
This assassination started World War I, which involved even the kingdom of Lutha in Eastern Europe.
When Barney Custer made his escape from Austrian troops in a stolen vehicle, as documented in "The Mad King" by Edgar Rice Burroughs,
it might have been a military version of something like this.


While Barney sped toward the Austrian-Luthan border, King Leopold of Lutha was having a few choice words with Prince Ludwig Von der Tann. Leopold was essentially a man with a weak mind and no moral compass, and easily manipulated by others. Despite the fact that Peter of Blentz had kept the king prisoner for several years, preventing him from rightfully ascending to his throne, Leopold had been talked into pardoning him. And when Prince Ludwig Von der Tann dared caution the king against such behavior, Leopold upbraided him, and suggested that Prince Ludwig might have aspirations for the throne himself.

The prince was a noble and dignified man who had only the best interests of Lutha at heart. He told the king that his family had always supported the Rubinroth family's rule, as long as the reigning monarch was loyal to Lutha. But he also warned the king that there were forces at work bigger than him, bigger than anyone in Lutha. These forces had their eye on capturing the country for themselves and even Peter of Blentz, who fancied himself "their man," would be cast aside should they ever take over.

Leopold chafed, and then switched the subject to Emma, demanding that Von der Tann compel his daughter to marry him. But Ludwig responded that it was Emma's decision. This infuriated Leopold even more, and he went so far as to hint that perhaps Von der Tann was conspiring to place "the impostor" (Barney) on the throne so Emma could marry the king of her choice.

This riled the old statesman and he told the king that no one, not even a king, could speak to a Von der Tann that way.

Leopold, like a spoiled child denied his favorite toy, got more ruffled and told Von der Tann to get out.

Outside the door, gleaning some of the argument whenever voices were raised, was Count Zellerndorf. He greeted Von der Tann, feigning warmth, but Von der Tann had no doubt where Zellerndorf really stood.

The count entered the king's chamber and began his litany of soothing lies, aimed to feed the king's ego while painting Von der Tann as one out to get control of the throne by any means possible. First, though, he told the king that the impostor had been executed in Austria, so at least that direct threat was out of the way.

Next, he proposed that the king accept an invitation to visit Peter of Blentz for a week, thus proving to the people of Lutha that the king was his own man, and was not afraid to visit his old enemy, and not controlled by Prince Ludwig.

And so, Leopold left for Blentz, and no sooner was he gone than a unit of the Austrian Army entered Lutha. Word came to Von der Tann, who was enraged at this violation of Lutha's neutrality. He rode to Lustadt to bring word to Leopold, only to find out he had gone to Blentz. Instead, Von der Tann conferred with the Serbian emissary and they agree that Count Zellerndorf of Austria was the brain behind getting the king out of the way so the army could come in unchallenged.

Von der Tann, with a small party of men, rode to Blentz to warn the king but, on the outskirts of the town, was halted by an Austrian sentry. Von der Tann was enraged to be thwarted by a representative of a foreign army in Lutha, but the men with him were not a large enough force to blast past the guards and get to the castle.

So Ludwig, at least for the time being, had to turn back.
- - - - -
1. To prove his manhood to Von der Tann, Leopold:
A. shook a clenched fist in the old man's face
B. folded his arms and tapped his foot
C. hit the desktop with his fist
D. clenched both fists and placed them on his hips

2. The home of Peter of Blentz is described as:
A. an "ancient feudal castle."
B. a "dark and imposing edifice"
C. a "depressing silhouette against the gray sky"
D. a "barbaric looking palace"

1. D. Barney Custer's father was a preacher
2. B. General Kampf was the name Barney made up for his fictitious general.

1. "Den Vansinnige Kungen" ("The Mad King") by Edgar Rice Burroughs
is the earliest known ERB book to appear in the Swedish language.
It was discovered by ERB fan Fredrik Ekman.
For more photos and his account of the amazing find see ERBzine 3747:
2. Prince Ludwig von der Tann was a bit riled when King Leopold of Lutha suggested that he was disloyal.


On the way back to Lustadt, Von der Tann decided to send an emissary back to submit to the humiliation of seeking an Austrian pass and permission to carry a message to Leopold. He told the emissary to tell the king that if Ludwig did not hear from him in 24 hours, he would assume Leopold was a prisoner. And, if the emissary didn't come back, he would assume he was a prisoner, too.

Ludwig's plans for himself were to marshal an army, ready to march, to go to Blentz and rescue the king, if need be.

Meanwhile, Leopold was being royally entertained in the Palace of Peter of Blentz. He was not told of the attempt of Von der Tann to visit him, nor told of the later arrival of an emissary with a message for him. Instead, he was told that the Serbian army had invaded Lutha and that the Austrian soldiers had come to the castle of Blentz to help safeguard them from the Serbs.

In fact, even County Zellerndorf, Maenck and Peter did not hear — until the following morning — about the visit of Von der Tann. That news was unsettling, for they had hoped to enact their plan without him getting suspicious until it was too late.

So, they decide to try poisoning the mind of the king against Von der Tann some more, in hopes he would have the prince arrested and even executed. However, despite his extreme annoyance with the old man, Leopold was reluctant to follow their suggestions. Soon they learned the reason why: He told them he wanted to marry Emma and did not dare to do anything to her father that would turn her further against him.

The conspirators suggested that they fetch Emma and that Leopold, as king, order her to marry him. And, as incentive, he would hint darkly that only her marriage to him would keep her father out of trouble.
The princess was in her father's castle in the Old Forest, thinking of things that Lt. Butzow had told her about Barney Custer, and their adventures together in Africa, Nebraska, and perhaps other places.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a message that said her father had a slight stroke and that two troopers would escort her to Lustadt.

She mounted her bronc and went with them, but when they came to where the road forked there was a company of soldiers blocking the way to Lustadt. One of them was Maenck, who told her she was coming with them to be wed to Leopold and become queen of Lutha. When the troopers with her proved to be Maenck's men, too, she meekly turned her horse down the road to Blentz. But her meekness disguised a mind racing with thoughts of escape and even eventual eternal escape from a fate that would be worse than death.

As her mind went over all the trails and shortcuts she has ridden for recreation, she finally determined the best route and, as they passed it, she spurred her horse for freedom. It was a wild chase across the countryside, and Emma left two of Maenck's horsemen sprawled in a gully and another one hurting from an encounter with barbed wire.

Finally, one got close enough to lay an arm on her, but just then an unkempt and disheveled man leaped from behind a tree and decked her captor.

Who is this man and what was he doing in the bushes in the middle of nowhere? Another of Yellow Franz's stray brigands, perhaps? Or maybe the dark-visaged, sallow, small-eyed fellow who was a stoolie for Peter of Blentz?

We'll just have to keep reading to find out.
- - - - -
In this chapter we learn for the first time the first name of Lieutenant Butzow. It is:
A. Hans
B. Richard
C. Werner
D. Otto

2. Emma's horse was described as "sure-footed as a..."
A. Chamois
B. Mountain goat
C. Balkan mountaineer
D. fleeing deer in the Old Forest

1. C. "The king approached the desk and pounded heavily upon its polished surface with his fist."
2. A. The home of Peter of Blentz was described as an "ancient feudal castle"

The illustration by Modest Stein is the interior art for "The Mad King"
when it first appeared in the March 21, 1914, edition of All-Story Weekly.
Later the novelette was combined with its sequel, "Barney Custer of Beatrice,"
serialized in the same magazine a year
and a half later, for the book, "The Mad King," published in 1926.


While Emma was making her getaway, Barney Custer himself had been on the lam for a few days after entering Lutha.

Though driving the roadster he had stolen from the army in Austria, and wearing an Austrian uniform, Barney was carefree for awhile, even stopping at a roadside restaurant to get a bite to eat. When Barney was taken into custody in Austria, he had apparently been searched, since the stolen passes were found on him. But they hadn't taken his cigarettes or matches away, since he lit up while being marched to the firing squad. If he had any money left after the search, it would have gotten soaked and stunk up during his escape through the sewer. So, either Barney paid for his meal with smelly money, or he had a new supply, lifted from the Austrian sentry he had slain.

Or, Barney may have agreed to wash a few dishes in exchange for a meal.

And although Barney had gotten new clothes from the dead Austrian sentry, it is hoped that he managed to get a bath along the way to wash off the stink of the Austrian sewer through which he had made his initial escape after surviving the firing squad.

Barney knew his activities in Austria would mean there would be a price on his head there, and no doubt there was a price on his head in Lutha as well. But he didn't plan to stay in Lutha long — just long enough to warn Von der Tann about the plot against him and to perhaps have an opportunity to see Emma again. He also hoped Von der Tann could furnish him with new credentials to replace those confiscated by the Austrians, so he could get credentials as a war correspondent in Serbia, once he left Lutha.

The Austrian border guard saw his uniform and simply waved him across. There was no one manning the Lutha side of the border so Barney drove on, making good time.

But halfway between Tafelberg and the crossroads that leads to the Old Forest, Barney saw a contingent of Austrian soldiers ahead of him on a narrow, curving stretch of mountain road. This time his uniform did not suffice to get him past. An officer demanded he stop and, when he floored it, the officer opened fire. Not too far ahead was another Austrian contingent and they, seeing that Barney was attracting gunfire, began firing at him as he approached. Barney did a little swerving but mostly headed for the only way through the Austrian roadblock — three soldiers who stood in the roadway shooting at him.

They failed to comprehend their danger and get out of the way and Barney plowed into them at 60 miles an hour, running over one, tossing two, and nearly putting himself over the edge of the mountain road. Only his iron nerve and strong arms kept the machine on the road, but it was a close enough call that Barney felt a wave of nausea sweep over him as he continued on his way.

Checking the rearview mirror, Barney saw at least two Austrian vehicles were pursuing him. He gunned it, reaching speeds of 75 miles per hour, and then saw the needle climb to over 90.

Then, there came a hissing from the radiator area and a cloud of steam. Barney realized a bullet must have struck the device and slowly drained it. It was only moments before the motor would be torn to pieces.

Ahead, he saw that the road crossed a bridge next to a forest and it gave him an idea. He slowed down to about 15 miles per hour, hopped out, and guided the car so it crashed through the bridge railing and toppled over into the river. Then, he disappeared into the woods.

The Austrians would either disregard the broken railing and continue the chase, or stop and start searching the river. Either way, he had bought himself valuable time.

Barney roved the rugged country for a week, avoiding Austrian cavalry patrols. He perfected the art of stealing chickens, and even relieved a clothesline of a rough shirt and trousers.

On the seventh day, at around noon, Barney heard the sound of a rapidly approaching horse and hid himself. Soon, he heard a woman's voice urging her mount on as other hoofbeats drew near. When Barney heard a man's voice tell the woman to halt in the name of the king, it piqued Barney's interest. He moved nearer in time to see a guard in the unfiorm of the House of Blentz man-handling a woman who, from the back, looked vaguely familiar. He moved closer and saw it was the Princess Emma herself, and with one blow laid the guard out on the ground.
- - - - -
1. When Barney drove through Tafelberg, he thought about stopping to see Kramer, the old innkeeper who had helped him in his previous adventure. But he decided not to, because;
A. He was concerned that Kramer's allegiance may have changed
B. He was worried that someone with loose lips would talk about his presence there.
C. He knew that any delay would be foolhardy since it was only a matter of time before someone would be on his trail.
D. He was worried that Kramer might hit him up for a loan.

2. When Barney took the peasant clothes off the clothes line, what did he leave as payment?
A. A chicken he had stolen from another peasant earlier in the day.
B. A gold watch that had belonged to the Austrian soldier he had killed.
C. A gold coin.
D. A bucket of fresh-picked wild Balkanberries

1. D. Lt. Butzow's first name, other than "Lieutenant," is revealed to be Otto
2. A. Chamois

1. Barney Custer was rough on cars in Lutha.
He had crashed his own roadster at the start of the novel,
while rescuing Emma von der Tann from an out-of-control horse.
Later, after escaping from brigand leader Yellow Franz, he had passed the spot
where his auto had gone over an embankment, as illustrated at left by Enrique Alcatena.
In Chapter VII, he had wrecked another car, purposefully this time, in order to throw pursuers off his trail.
2. "The King and the Woman" was the title given to ERB's "The Mad King"
when it was serialized in Penny Magazine, London, from March 4 to May 13, 1922.
The 11-part serial featured the same headpiece in each installment
in addition to 11 interior black and white drawings signed "SB."
A facsimile of the collected serial sections, in slipcase,
is part of the Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Collection at the University of Louisville.
Bill Hillman has added some other art from the Penny Press edition as well as other Mad King art at:


Barney recognized Emma immediately, but it took a moment for her to be fully sure it was him. First, Maenck had told her he had been killed by an Austrian firing squad. Second, without his beard, he looked a lot like the king who, we learn, had also shaved off his beard sometime in the past two years. She considered that perhaps the King had figured out there was a plot against him, and he also was hiding out. Third, it was, indeed, two years since she had seen Barney.

Barney grabbed the guns and ammo from the fallen guard and they headed into the bush as other Austrians approached. One soldier came close enough to spot them but he hesitated as he, too, momentarily believed he was looking at the king.

In fact, he shouted to Maenck that she was with the king and Maenck said that was ridiculous and to shoot whoever was with Emma.

One soldier got close enough to shoot at them, but Barney pushed Emma to safety and turned and shot a bullet that sent the soldier sprawling. They came to a river. Barney lifted Emma in his arms and she lifted his firearms above the water as they plowed across. Halfway there, with the water waist deep, Maenck and two men showed up at the riverbank and the maniacal Maenck ordered them to open fire. As a bullet kicked up water near them, Emma took the pistol in her hand and dropped one of the soldiers, which prompted Maenck and the other men to run for cover. Barney and Emma made it to the other side, where Barney fired a couple of shots back at the pursuers, and then they were off into the brush.

After dark, they went into a town to try to find food, but a suspicious resident reported their presence and they were off to hiding places again. They heard the sound of mounted troops and also a vehicle, and the voice that came from it was Maenck's. Barney and the princess moved up a driveway, hoping to locate a vehicle. They found a locked garage and Barney borrowed Emma's diamond ring to cut a hole in the glass so he could reach in and unlock the door. They rolled the vehicle out and down the driveway. As they left, the owners of the car ran from their house, shouting, but it was too late.

Lights off, Barney drove through town until they turned onto a dirt country lane. Soon, horsemen were pursuing them and the car could barely maintain the distance, the dirt road and ruts impeding its speed. Emma, from her extensive knowledge of the countryside gained from much horseback riding, recognized a structure alongside the road and realized that once they were over a hill they would shortly be on the paved highway. Before they topped the hill, the horsemen almost caught up. They fired a shot that hit the fender and Emma grabbed the carbine and scored a hit on one horsemen, and another bumped into him and both went down. She fired a couple more shots and then they were over the hill, gaining speed toward the highway. A mile away, they could see another car approaching - - probably Maenck, — but once on the highway there would be no way anyone could catch them.

Just as the front wheels touched the road to home, though, their vehicle ran out of gas.
- - - - -
1. When Emma saw the unkempt Barney for the first time in two years, she asked him who he was. He replied that, "I must look like a ______"
A. scarecrow
B. vagabond
C. scalawag
D. hermit

2. After Emma fired the gun, hitting another human being for the first time ever, what one thing did she wish could have been different?
A. She wished none of this had ever happened.
B. She wished the man she shot would have been Maenck
C. She felt her bruised shoulder and wished the gun hadn't kicked so badly
D. She wished the soldiers would just leave them alone.

1. B. Barney didn't visit the guy in Tafelberg for "...fear that he might be recognized by others, who would not guard his secret so well as the shopkeeper...."
2. C. Barney stole chickens but left gold coins in payment for them. Barney, obviously, was loaded.
- - - - -

It would be nice if the accompanying illustration was the cover to a real Classics Comics or its later versions, Classics Illustrated. But, no, it's a fan-engineered cover and this enhanced version of it is found at
Bruce "Tangor" Bozarth, owner-operated of the website, says "The Mad King" is one of his favorite ERB novels and "Over the years among the things I found was a mockup of a never-published Classics Comic of The Mad King created by an unknown fan.
"The person I got that image from did not know who created it. I certainly do not. Clever as it was, the image was a bit lightweight and slightly crude in execution so, with a bit of spare time and a beer, I knocked out a what-might-have-been cover if Frank Frazetta had done work for Classics Illustrated. Logo, layout, image size based on CI generally in same proportions as the mag...
"So, this version has a provenance. It is a parody and shared only for amusement and scholarly report. I hope this cheeky fun time does not come back to bite me in the a$$et$, or that anyone would ever think it original to either Classics Illustrated or Frank Frazetta!" --- Tangor.
More on The Mad King

On-going Mad King comic strip by Martin Gately, script; 
Enrique Alcatena, artist, and Josh Aitken, letters, 
is among several available by signing up for COMICS at ERB Inc.:

If you visit Lutha this summer, be sure to wear
your T-shirt promoting Edgar Rice Burroughs's "The Mad King." 
These shirts, and many others (three web pages full, in all) are available at:

ERBzine book publication information, e-text, other features and links:
Read the e-Text Edition

Off-Site References
ERBlist summary roject, Mad King
Edgardemain Mad King summary

By John Martin
ERBzine 6787: INTRO and CONTENTS
ERBzine 6788
ERBzine 6788a
ERBzine 6789
ERBzine 6789a

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