The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 135

der Tann has suffered a slight stroke. Do not be
alarmed, but come at once. The two troopers who bear this message
will act as your escort.

It required but a few minutes for the girl to change to her riding
clothes, and when she ran down into the court she found her horse
awaiting her in the hands of her groom, while close by two mounted
troopers raised their hands to their helmets in salute.

A moment later the three clattered over the drawbridge and along the
road that leads toward Lustadt. The escort rode a short distance
behind the girl, and they were hard put to it to hold the mad pace
which she set them.

A few miles from Tann the road forks. One branch leads toward the
capital and the other winds over the hills in the direction of
Blentz. The fork occurs within the boundaries of the Old Forest.
Great trees overhang the winding road, casting a twilight shade even
at high noon. It is a lonely spot, far from any habitation.

As the Princess Emma approached the fork she reined in her mount,
for across the road to Lustadt a dozen horsemen barred her way. At
first she thought nothing of it, turning her horse's head to the
righthand side of the road to pass the party, all of whom were in
uniform; but as she did so one of the men reined directly in her
path. The act was obviously intentional.

The girl looked quickly up into the man's face, and her own went
white. He who stopped her way was Captain Ernst Maenck. She had not
seen the man for two years, but she had good cause to remember him
as the governor of the castle of Blentz and the man who had
attempted to take advantage of her helplessness when she had been a
prisoner in Prince Peter's fortress. Now she looked straight into
the fellow's eyes.

"Let me pass, please," she said coldly.

"I am sorry," replied Maenck with an evil smile; "but the king's
orders are that you accompany me to Blentz--the king is there."

For answer the girl drove her spur into her mount's side. The animal
leaped forward, striking Maenck's horse on the shoulder and half
turning him aside, but the man clutched at the girl's bridle-rein,
and, seizing it, brought her to a stop.

"You may as well come voluntarily, for come you must," he said. "It
will be easier for you."

"I shall not come voluntarily," she replied. "If you take me to
Blentz you will have to take me

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