The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 181

been
disregarded--the American is to be shot tomorrow. I have just
escaped from Blentz. Peter is furious. He realizes that whether the
Austrians win or lose, his standing with the king is gone forever.

"In a fit of rage he has ordered that Mr. Custer be sacrificed to
his desire for revenge, in the hope that it will insure for him the
favor of the Austrians. Something must be done at once if he is to
be saved."

For a moment the girl swayed as though about to fall. The young
officer stepped quickly to support her, but before he reached her
side she had regained complete mastery of herself. From the street
without there rose the blare of trumpets and the cheering of the
populace.

Through senses numb with the cold of anguish the meaning of the
tumult slowly filtered to her brain--the king had come. He was
returning from the battlefield, covered with honors and flushed with
glory--the man who was to be her husband; but there was no rejoicing
in the heart of the Princess Emma.

Instead, there was a dull ache and impotent rebellion at the
injustice of the thing--that Leopold should be reaping these great
rewards, while he who had made it possible for him to be a king at
all was to die on the morrow because of what he had done to place
the Rubinroth upon his throne.

"Perhaps Lieutenant Butzow might find a way," suggested the officer.
"He or your father; they are both fond of Mr. Custer."

"Yes," said the girl dully, "see Lieutenant Butzow--he would do the
most."

The officer bowed and hastened from the apartment in search of
Butzow. The girl approached the window and stood there for a long
time, looking out at the surging multitude that pressed around the
palace gates, filling Margaretha Street with a solid mass of happy
faces.

They cheered the king, the chancellor, the army; but most often they
cheered the king. From a despised monarch Leopold had risen in a
single bound to the position of a national idol.

Repeatedly he was called to the balcony over the grand entrance that
the people might feast their eyes on him. The princess wondered how
long it was before she herself would be forced to offer her
congratulations and, perchance, suffer his caresses. She shivered
and cringed at the thought, and then there came a knock upon the
door, and in answer to her permission it opened, and the king stood
upon the threshold alone.

At a glance the man took in the pain and sorrow mirrored upon the
girl's face. He stepped quickly across the room

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