The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 156

They had been much nearer
that grim fortress than either had guessed. At the outskirts of the
town they were challenged by Austrian sentries, through which Maenck
passed with ease after the sentinel had summoned an officer. From
this man Maenck received the password that would carry them through
the line of outposts between the town and the castle--"Slankamen."
Barney, who overheard the word, made a mental note of it.

At last they reached the dreary castle of Peter of Blentz. In the
courtyard Austrian soldiers mingled with the men of the bodyguard of
the king of Lutha. Within, the king's officers fraternized with the
officers of the emperor. Maenck led his prisoners to the great hall
which was filled with officers and officials of both Austria and
Lutha.

The king was not there. Maenck learned that he had retired to his
apartments a few minutes earlier in company with Prince Peter of
Blentz and Von Coblich. He sent a servant to announce his return
with the Princess von der Tann and a man who had attempted to
prevent her being brought to Blentz.

Barney had, as far as possible, kept his face averted from Maenck
since they had entered the lighted castle. He hoped to escape
recognition, for he knew that if his identity were guessed it might
go hard with the princess. As for himself, it might go even harder,
but of that he gave scarcely a thought--the safety of the princess
was paramount.

After a few minutes of waiting the servant returned with the king's
command to fetch the prisoners to his apartments. The face of the
Princess Emma was haggard. For the first time Barney saw signs of
fear upon her countenance. With leaden steps they accompanied their
guard up the winding stairway to the tower rooms that had been
furnished for the king. They were the same in which Emma von der
Tann had been imprisoned two years before.

On either side of the doorway stood a soldier of the king's
bodyguard. As Captain Maenck approached they saluted. A servant
opened the door and they passed into the room. Before them were
Peter of Blentz and Von Coblich standing beside a table at which
Leopold of Lutha was sitting. The eyes of the three men were upon
the doorway as the little party entered. The king's face was flushed
with wine. He rose as his eyes rested upon the face of the princess.

"Greetings, your highness," he cried with an attempt at cordiality.

The girl looked straight into his eyes, coldly, and then bent her
knee in formal curtsy. The king was about to

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