The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 132

attempt to have audience with the king.

"Risk anything," he instructed the officer to whom he had entrusted
the mission. "Submit, if necessary, to the humiliation of seeking an
Austrian pass through the lines to the castle. See the king at any
cost and deliver this message to him and to him alone and secretly.
Tell him my fears, and that if I do not have word from him within
twenty-four hours I shall assume that he is indeed a prisoner.

"I shall then direct the mobilization of the army and take such
steps as seem fit to rescue him and drive the invaders from the soil
of Lutha. If you do not return I shall understand that you are held
prisoner by the Austrians and that my worst fears have been

But Prince Ludwig was one who believed in being forehanded and so it
happened that the orders for the mobilization of the army of Lutha
were issued within fifteen minutes of his return to Lustadt. It
would do no harm, thought the old man, with a grim smile, to get
things well under way a day ahead of time. This accomplished, he
summoned the Serbian minister, with what purpose and to what effect
became historically evident several days later. When, after
twenty-four hours' absence, his aide had not returned from Blentz,
the chancellor had no regrets for his forehandedness.

In the castle of Peter of Blentz the king of Lutha was being
entertained royally. He was told nothing of the attempt of his
chancellor to see him, nor did he know that a messenger from Prince
von der Tann was being held a prisoner in the camp of the Austrians
in the village. He was surrounded by the creatures of Prince Peter
and by Peter's staunch allies, the Austrian minister and the
Austrian officers attached to the expeditionary force occupying the
town. They told him that they had positive information that the
Serbians already had crossed the frontier into Lutha, and that the
presence of the Austrian troops was purely for the protection of

It was not until the morning following the rebuff of Prince von der
Tann that Peter of Blentz, Count Zellerndorf and Maenck heard of the
occurrence. They were chagrined by the accident, for they were not
ready to deliver their final stroke. The young officer of the guard
had, of course, but followed his instructions--who would have
thought that old Von der Tann would come to Blentz! That he
suspected their motives seemed apparent, and now that his rebuff at
the gates had aroused his ire and, doubtless, crystallized his
suspicions, they

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