The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 11

have suffered."

"Yes," he said, realizing that he must humor her--it was difficult
to remember that this lovely girl was insane. "Let me see, now just
what was I in prison for? I do not seem to be able to recall it. In
Nebraska, they used to hang men for horse stealing; so I am sure it
must have been something else not quite so bad. Do you happen to
know?"

"When the king, your father, died you were thirteen years old," the
girl explained, hoping to reawaken the sleeping mind, "and then your
uncle, Prince Peter of Blentz, announced that the shock of your
father's death had unbalanced your mind. He shut you up in Blentz
then, where you have been for ten years, and he has ruled as regent.
Now, my father says, he has recently discovered a plot to take your
life so that Peter may become king. But I suppose you learned of
that, and because of it you escaped!"

"This Peter person is all-powerful in Lutha?" he asked.

"He controls the army," the girl replied.

"And you really believe that I am the mad king Leopold?"

"You are the king," she said in a convincing manner.

"You are a very brave young lady," he said earnestly. "If all the
mad king's subjects were as loyal as you, and as brave, he would not
have languished for ten years behind the walls of Blentz."

"I am a Von der Tann," she said proudly, as though that was
explanation sufficient to account for any bravery or loyalty.

"Even a Von der Tann might, without dishonor, hesitate to accompany
a mad man through the woods," he replied, "especially if she
happened to be a very--a very--" He halted, flushing.

"A very what, your majesty?" asked the girl.

"A very young woman," he ended lamely.

Emma von der Tann knew that he had not intended saying that at all.
Being a woman, she knew precisely what he had meant to say, and she
discovered that she would very much have liked to hear him say it.

"Suppose," said Barney, "that Peter's soldiers run across us--what
then?"

"They will take you back to Blentz, your majesty."

"And you?"

"I do not think that they will dare lay hands on me, though it is
possible that Peter might do so. He hates my father even more now
than he did when the old king lived."

"I wish," said Mr. Custer, "that I had gone down after my guns. Why
didn't you tell me, in the first place, that I was a king, and that
I might get you in trouble

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