The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 129

smiled. He was
Count Zellerndorf, the Austrian minister to Lutha.

The king's outraged majesty goaded him to an angry retort.

"You forget yourself, Prince von der Tann," he cried. "Leave our
presence. When we again desire to be insulted we shall send for

As the chancellor passed into the antechamber Count Zellerndorf rose
and greeted him warmly, almost effusively. Von der Tann returned his
salutations with courtesy but with no answering warmth. Then he
passed on out of the palace.

"The old fox must have heard," he mused as he mounted his horse and
turned his face toward Tann and the Old Forest.

When Count Zellerndorf of Austria entered the presence of Leopold of
Lutha he found that young ruler much disturbed. He had resumed his
restless pacing between desk and window, and as the Austrian entered
he scarce paused to receive his salutation. Count Zellerndorf was a
frequent visitor at the palace. There were few formalities between
this astute diplomat and the young king; those had passed gradually
away as their acquaintance and friendship ripened.

"Prince Ludwig appeared angry when he passed through the
antechamber," ventured Zellerndorf. "Evidently your majesty found
cause to rebuke him."

The king nodded and looked narrowly at the Austrian. "The Prince von
der Tann insinuated that Austria's only wish in connection with
Lutha is to seize her," he said.

Zellerndorf raised his hands in well-simulated horror.

"Your majesty!" he exclaimed. "It cannot be that the prince has
gone to such lengths to turn you against your best friend, my
emperor. If he has I can only attribute it to his own ambitions. I
have hesitated to speak to you of this matter, your majesty, but now
that the honor of my own ruler is questioned I must defend him.

"Bear with me then, should what I have to say wound you. I well
know the confidence which the house of Von der Tann has enjoyed for
centuries in Lutha; but I must brave your wrath in the interest of
right. I must tell you that it is common gossip in Vienna that Von
der Tann aspires to the throne of Lutha either for himself or for
his daughter through the American impostor who once sat upon your
throne for a few days. And let me tell you more.

"The American will never again menace you--he was arrested in
Burgova as a spy and executed. He is dead; but not so are Von der
Tann's ambitions. When he learns that he no longer may rely upon the
strain of the Rubinroth blood that flowed in the veins of the
American from his royal mother,

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