The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 134

the Von der Tann nature--one cannot force a Von der Tann."

"Pardon, sire," urged Zellerndorf, "but I think it can be
accomplished. If the Princess Emma knew that your majesty believed
her father to be a traitor--that the order for his arrest and
execution but awaited your signature--I doubt not that she would
gladly become queen of Lutha, with her father's life and liberty as
a wedding gift."

For several minutes no one spoke after Count Zellerndorf had ceased.
Leopold sat looking at the toe of his boot. Peter of Blentz, Maenck,
and the Austrian watched him intently. The possibilities of the plan
were sinking deep into the minds of all four. At last the king rose.
He was mumbling to himself as though unconscious of the presence of
the others.

"She is a stubborn jade," he mumbled. "It would be an excellent
lesson for her. She needs to be taught that I am her king," and then
as though his conscience required a sop, "I shall be very good to
her. Afterward she will be happy." He turned toward Zellerndorf.
"You think it can be done?"

"Most assuredly, your majesty. We shall take immediate steps to
fetch the Princess Emma to Blentz," and the Austrian rose and backed
from the apartment lest the king change his mind. Prince Peter and
Maenck followed him.

Princess Emma von der Tann sat in her boudoir in her father's castle
in the Old Forest. Except for servants, she was alone in the
fortress, for Prince von der Tann was in Lustadt. Her mind was
occupied with memories of the young American who had entered her
life under such strange circumstances two years before--memories
that had been awakened by the return of Lieutenant Otto Butzow to
Lutha. He had come directly to her father and had been attached to
the prince's personal staff.

From him she had heard a great deal about Barney Custer, and the old
interest, never a moment forgotten during these two years, was
reawakened to all its former intensity.

Butzow had accompanied Prince Ludwig to Lustadt, but Princess Emma
would not go with them. For two years she had not entered the
capital, and much of that period had been spent in Paris. Only
within the past fortnight had she returned to Lutha.

In the middle of the morning her reveries were interrupted by the
entrance of a servant bearing a message. She had to read it twice
before she could realize its purport; though it was plainly
worded--the shock of it had stunned her. It was dated at Lustadt and
signed by one of the palace functionaries:

Prince von

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