The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 18

He saw her flush slightly as his eyes met hers.

"Can your highness ever forgive me?" he asked.

"Forgive you!" she cried in astonishment. "For what, your
majesty?"

"For thinking you insane, and for getting you into this horrible
predicament," he replied. "But especially for thinking you insane."

"Did you think me mad?" she asked in wide-eyed astonishment.

"When you insisted that I was a king, yes," he replied. "But now I
begin to believe that it must be I who am mad, after all, or else I
bear a remarkable resemblance to Leopold of Lutha."

"You do, your majesty," replied the girl.

Barney saw it was useless to attempt to convince them and so he
decided to give up for the time.

"Have me king, if you will," he said, "but please do not call me
'your majesty' any more. It gets on my nerves."

"Your will is law--Leopold," replied the girl, hesitating prettily
before the familiar name, "but do not forget your part of the
compact."

He smiled at her. A princess wasn't half so terrible after all.

"And your will shall be my law, Emma," he said.

It was almost dark when they came to Blentz. The castle lay far up
on the side of a steep hill above the town. It was an ancient pile,
but had been maintained in an excellent state of repair. As Barney
Custer looked up at the grim towers and mighty, buttressed walls his
heart sank. It had taken the mad king ten years to make his escape
from that gloomy and forbidding pile!

"Poor child," he murmured, thinking of the girl.

Before the barbican the party was halted by the guard. An officer
with a lantern stepped out upon the lowered portcullis. The
lieutenant who had captured them rode forward to meet him.

"A detachment of the Royal Horse Guards escorting His Majesty the
King, who is returning to Blentz," he said in reply to the officer's
sharp challenge.

"The king!" exclaimed the officer. "You have found him?" and he
advanced with raised lantern searching for the monarch.

"At last," whispered Barney to the girl at his side, "I shall be
vindicated. This man, at least, who is stationed at Blentz must
know his king by sight."

The officer came quite close, holding his lantern until the
rays fell full in Barney's face. He scrutinized the young man
for a moment. There was neither humility nor respect in his
manner, so that the American was sure that the fellow had
discovered the imposture.

From the bottom of his heart he hoped so. Then the officer
swung

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