The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 12

if you were found with me? Why, they may
even take me for an emperor or a mikado--who knows? And then look at
all the trouble we'd be in."

Which was Barney's way of humoring a maniac.

"And they might even shave off your beautiful beard."

Which was the girl's way.

"Do you think that you would like me better in the green wastebasket
hat with the red roses?" asked Barney.

A very sad look came into the girl's eyes. It was pitiful to think
that this big, handsome young man, for whose return to the throne
all Lutha had prayed for ten long years, was only a silly half-wit.
What might he not have accomplished for his people had this terrible
misfortune not overtaken him! In every other way he seemed fitted to
be the savior of his country. If she could but make him remember!

"Your majesty," she said, "do you not recall the time that your
father came upon a state visit to my father's castle? You were a
little boy then. He brought you with him. I was a little girl, and
we played together. You would not let me call you 'highness,' but
insisted that I should always call you Leopold. When I forgot you
would accuse me of lese-majeste, and sentence me to--to punishment."

"What was the punishment?" asked Barney, noticing her hesitation and
wishing to encourage her in the pretty turn her dementia had taken.

Again the girl hesitated; she hated to say it, but if it would help
to recall the past to that poor, dimmed mind, it was her duty.

"Every time I called you 'highness' you made me give you a--a kiss,"
she almost whispered.

"I hope," said Barney, "that you will be guilty of lese-majeste
often."

"We were little children then, your majesty," the girl reminded him.

Had he thought her of sound mind Mr. Custer might have taken
advantage of his royal prerogatives on the spot, for the girl's lips
were most tempting; but when he remembered the poor, weak mind,
tears almost came to his eyes, and there sprang to his heart a great
desire to protect and guard this unfortunate child.

"And when I was Crown Prince what were you, way back there in the
beautiful days of our childhood?" asked Barney.

"Why, I was what I still am, your majesty," replied the girl.
"Princess Emma von der Tann."

So the poor child, besides thinking him a king, thought herself a
princess! She certainly was mad. Well, he would humor her.

"Then I should call you 'your highness,' shouldn't I?" he asked.

"You always called me

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