The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 15

we heard the
shot." Then, arising, he removed his cap, saying in a very low
voice: "The king is dead. Long live the king!"




III

AN ANGRY KING

The soldiers stood behind their officer. None of them had ever seen
Leopold of Lutha--he had been but a name to them--they cared nothing
for him; but in the presence of death they were awed by the majesty
of the king they had never known.

The hands of Emma von der Tann were chafing the wrists of the man
whose head rested in her lap.

"Leopold!" she whispered. "Leopold, come back! Mad king you may
have been, but still you were king of Lutha--my father's king--my
king."

The girl nearly cried out in shocked astonishment as she saw the
eyes of the dead king open. But Emma von der Tann was quick-witted.
She knew for what purpose the soldiers from the palace were scouring
the country.

Had she not thought the king dead she would have cut out her tongue
rather than reveal his identity to these soldiers of his great
enemy. Now she saw that Leopold lived, and she must undo the harm
she had innocently wrought. She bent lower over Barney's face,
trying to hide it from the soldiers.

"Go away, please!" she called to them. "Leave me with my dead king.
You are Peter's men. You do not care for Leopold, living or dead. Go
back to your new king and tell him that this poor young man can
never more stand between him and the throne."

The officer hesitated.

"We shall have to take the king's body with us, your highness," he
said.

The officer evidently becoming suspicious, came closer, and as he
did so Barney Custer sat up.

"Go away!" cried the girl, for she saw that the king was attempting
to speak. "My father's people will carry Leopold of Lutha in state
to the capital of his kingdom."

"What's all this row about?" he asked. "Can't you let a dead king
alone if the young lady asks you to? What kind of a short sport are
you, anyway? Run along, now, and tie yourself outside."

The officer smiled, a trifle maliciously perhaps.

"Ah," he said, "I am very glad indeed that you are not dead, your
majesty."

Barney Custer turned his incredulous eyes upon the lieutenant.

"Et tu, Brute?" he cried in anguished accents, letting his head fall
back into the girl's lap. He found it very comfortable there indeed.

The officer smiled and shook his head. Then he tapped his forehead
meaningly.

"I did not know," he said to the girl, "that he was so

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