The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 136

by force, and if my king is not
sufficiently a gentleman to demand an accounting of you, I am at
least more fortunate in the possession of a father who will."

"Your father will scarce wish to question the acts of his king,"
said Maenck--"his king and the husband of his daughter."

"What do you mean?" she cried.

"That before you are many hours older, your highness, you will be
queen of Lutha."

The Princess Emma turned toward her tardy escort that had just
arrived upon the scene.

"This person has stopped me," she said, "and will not permit me to
continue toward Lustadt. Make a way for me; you are armed!"

Maenck smiled. "Both of them are my men," he explained.

The girl saw it all now--the whole scheme to lure her to Blentz.
Even then, though, she could not believe the king had been one of
the conspirators of the plot.

Weak as he was he was still a Rubinroth, and it was difficult for a
Von der Tann to believe in the duplicity of a member of the house
they had served so loyally for centuries. With bowed head the
princess turned her horse into the road that led toward Blentz. Half
the troopers preceded her, the balance following behind.

Maenck wondered at the promptness of her surrender.

"To be a queen--ah! that was the great temptation," he thought but
he did not know what was passing in the girl's mind. She had seen
that escape for the moment was impossible, and so had decided to
bide her time until a more propitious chance should come. In silence
she rode among her captors. The thought of being brought to Blentz
alive was unbearable.

Somewhere along the road there would be an opportunity to escape.
Her horse was fleet; with a short start he could easily outdistance
these heavier cavalry animals and as a last resort she could--she
must--find some way to end her life, rather than to be dragged to
the altar beside Leopold of Lutha.

Since childhood Emma von der Tann had ridden these hilly roads. She
knew every lane and bypath for miles around. She knew the short
cuts, the gullies and ravines. She knew where one might, with a good
jumper, save a wide detour, and as she rode toward Blentz she passed
in review through her mind each of the many spots where a sudden
break for liberty might have the best chance to succeed.

And at last she hit upon the place where a quick turn would take her
from the main road into the roughest sort of going for

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