Barney held out his hand. “Good-bye, old man,” he said. “If I’ve learned the ingratitude of kings here in Lutha, I have found something that more than compensates me—the friendship of a brave man. Now hurry back and tell them that I escaped across the border just as I was about to fall into your hands and they will think that you have been pursuing me instead of aiding in my escape across the border.”
But again Butzow shook his head.
“I have fought shoulder to shoulder with you, my friend,” he said. “I have called you king, and after that I could never serve the coward who sits now upon the throne of Lutha. I have made up my mind during this long ride from Lustadt, and I have come to the decision that I should prefer to raise corn in Nebraska with you rather than serve in the court of an ingrate.”
“Well, you are an obstinate Dutchman, after all,” replied the American with a smile, placing his hand affectionately upon the shoulder of his comrade.
There was a clatter of horses’ hoofs upon the gravel of the road behind them.
The two men put spurs to their mounts, and Barney Custer galloped across the northern boundary of Lutha just ahead of a troop of Luthanian cavalry, as had his father thirty years before; but a royal princess had accompanied the father—only a soldier accompanied the son.
BARNEY RETURNS TO LUTHA
“What’s the matter, Vic?” asked Barney Custer of his sister. “You look peeved.”
“I am peeved,” replied the girl, smiling. “I am terribly peeved. I don’t want to play bridge this afternoon. I want to go motoring with Lieutenant Butzow. This is his last day with us.”
“Yes. I know it is, and I hate to think of it,” replied Barney; “but why in the world do you have to play bridge if you don’t want to?”
“I promised Margaret that I’d go. They’re short one, and she’s coming after me in her car.”
“Where are you going to play—at the champion lady bridge player’s on Fourth Street?” asked Barney, grinning.
His sister answered with a nod and a smile. “Where you brought down the wrath of the lady champion upon your head the other night when you were letting your mind wander across to Lutha and the Old Forest, instead of paying attention to the game,” she added.
“Well, cheer up, Vic,” cried her brother. “Bert’ll probably set fire to the car, the way he did to their first one, and then you won’t have to go.”
“Oh, yes, I would; Margaret would send him after me in that awful-looking, unwashed Ford runabout of his,” answered the girl.
“And then you would go,” said Barney.
“You bet I would,” laughed Victoria. “I’d go in a wheelbarrow with Bert.”
But she didn’t have to; and after she had driven off with her chum, Barney and Butzow strolled down through the little city of Beatrice to the corn mill in which the former was interested.