The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 166

for Tann tonight," he said, "at once. You will
conduct us from the castle and procure horses for us. All the time I
shall walk at your elbow, and in my hand I shall carry this," and he
displayed the king's revolver. "At the first indication of defection
upon your part I shall kill you. Do you perfectly understand me?"

"But, your majesty," exclaimed the officer, "why is it necessary
that you leave thus surreptitiously? May not the king go and come in
his own kingdom as he desires? Let me announce your wishes to Prince
Peter that he may furnish you with a proper escort. Doubtless he
will wish to accompany you himself, sire."

"You will do precisely what I say without further comment," snapped
Barney. "Now get a--" He had been about to say: "Now get a move on
you," when it occurred to him that this was not precisely the sort
of language that kings were supposed to use to their inferiors. So
he changed it. "Now get a couple of horses for her highness and
myself, as well as your own, for you will accompany us to Tann."

The officer looked at the weapon in the king's hand. He measured
the distance between himself and the king. He well knew the reputed
cowardice of Leopold. Could he make the leap and strike up the
king's hand before the timorous monarch found even the courage of
the cornered rat to fire at him? Then his eyes sought the face of
the king, searching for the signs of nervous terror that would make
his conquest an easy one; but what he saw in the eyes that bored
straight into his brought his own to the floor at the king's feet.

What new force animated Leopold of Lutha? Those were not the eyes
of a coward. No fear was reflected in their steely glitter. The
officer mumbled an apology, saluted, and turned toward the door. At
his elbow walked the impostor; a cavalry cape that had belonged to
the king now covered his shoulders and hid the weapon that pressed
its hard warning now and again into the short-ribs of the Blentz
officer. Just behind the American came the Princess Emma von der
Tann.

The three passed through the deserted corridors of the sleeping
castle, taking a route at Barney's suggestion that led them to the
stable courtyard without necessitating traversing the main corridors
or the great hall or the guardroom, in all of which there still were
Austrian and Blentz soldiers, whose duties or pleasures had kept
them from their blankets.

At the

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