The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 103

in an adjoining room. But half awake, and with the
sole idea of getting back to sleep again as quickly as possible,
Barney paid only the slightest attention to the meaning of the words
that fell upon his ears, until, like a bomb, a sentence broke
through his sleepy faculties, banishing Morpheus upon the instant.

"It will take but little now to turn Leopold against Von der Tann."
The speaker evidently was an Austrian. "Already I have half
convinced him that the old man aspires to the throne. Leopold fears
the loyalty of his army, which is for Von der Tann body and soul. He
knows that Von der Tann is strongly anti-Austrian, and I have made
it plain to him that if he allows his kingdom to take sides with
Serbia he will have no kingdom when the war is over--it will be a
part of Austria.

"It was with greater difficulty, however, my dear Peter, that I
convinced him that you, Von Coblich, and Captain Maenck were his
most loyal friends. He fears you yet, but, nevertheless, he has
pardoned you all. Do not forget when you return to your dear Lutha
that you owe your repatriation to Count Zellerndorf of Austria."

"You may be assured that we shall never forget," replied another
voice that Barney recognized at once as belonging to Prince Peter of
Blentz, the one time regent of Lutha.

"It is not for myself," continued Count Zellerndorf, "that I crave
your gratitude, but for my emperor. You may do much to win his
undying gratitude, while for yourselves you may win to almost any
height with the friendship of Austria behind you. I am sure that
should any accident, which God forfend, deprive Lutha of her king,
none would make a more welcome successor in the eyes of Austria than
our good friend Peter."

Barney could almost see the smile of satisfaction upon the thin lips
of Peter of Blentz as this broad hint fell from the lips of the
Austrian diplomat--a hint that seemed to the American little short
of the death sentence of Leopold, King of Lutha.

"We owed you much before, count," said Peter. "But for you we
should have been hanged a year ago--without your aid we should never
have been able to escape from the fortress of Lustadt or cross the
border into Austria-Hungary. I am sorry that Maenck failed in his
mission, for had he not we would have had concrete evidence to
present to the king that we are indeed his loyal supporters. It
would have dispelled at once such fears and doubts as he

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