The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 165

poor return for her courage and loyalty to him that her
statement to the man she thought king had revealed. He marveled that
a Von der Tann could have spoken those words--a Von der Tann who but
the day before had refused to save her father's life at the loss of
the family honor. It seemed incredible to the American that he had
won such love from such a woman. Again came the mighty temptation to
keep the crown and the girl both; but with a straightening of his
broad shoulders he threw it from him.

She was promised to the king, and while he masqueraded in the king's
clothes, he at least would act the part that a king should. He drew
a folded paper from his inside pocket and handed it to the girl.

"Here is the American's pardon," he said, "drawn up and signed by
the king's own hand."

She opened it and, glancing through it hurriedly, looked up at the
man before her with a questioning expression in her eyes.

"You came, then," she said, "to a realization of the enormity of
your ingratitude?"

The man shrugged.

"He will never die at my command," he said.

"I thank your majesty," she said simply. "As a Von der Tann, I have
tried to believe that a Rubinroth could not be guilty of such
baseness. And now, tell me what your answer is to my proposition."

"We shall return to Lustadt tonight," he replied. "I fear the
purpose of Prince Peter. In fact, it may be difficult--even
impossible--for us to leave Blentz; but we can at least make the
attempt."

"Can we not take Mr. Custer with us?" she asked. "Prince Peter may
disregard your majesty's commands and, after you are gone, have him
shot. Do not forget that he kept the crown from Peter of Blentz--it
is certain that Prince Peter will never forget it."

"I give you my word, your highness, that I know positively that if I
leave Blentz tonight Prince Peter will not have Mr. Custer shot in
the morning, and it will so greatly jeopardize his own plans if we
attempt to release the prisoner that in all probability we ourselves
will be unable to escape."

She looked at him thoughtfully for a moment.

"You give me your word that he will be safe?" she asked.

"My royal word," he replied.

"Very well, let us leave at once."

Barney touched the bell once more, and presently an officer of the
Blentz faction answered the summons. As the man closed the door and
approached, saluting, Barney stepped close to him.

"We are leaving

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