The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 183

of a single tiny tear that trickled
down the girl's cheek. He seized the hand that lay upon his arm.

"Your highness," he said, "do not grieve for the American. He is not
worth it. He has deceived you. He is not at Blentz."

The girl drew her hand from his and straightened to her full height.

"What do you mean, sire?" she exclaimed. "Mr. Custer would not
deceive me even if he had an opportunity--which he has not had. But
if he is not at Blentz, where is he?"

Barney bowed his head and looked at the floor.

"He is here, your highness, asking your forgiveness," he said.

There was a puzzled expression upon the girl's face as she looked at
the man before her. She did not understand. Why should she? Barney
drew a diamond ring from his little finger and held it out to her.

"You gave it to me to cut a hole in the window of the garage where I
stole the automobile," he said. "I forgot to return it. Now do you
know who I am?"

Emma von der Tann's eyes showed her incredulity; then, act by act,
she recalled all that this man had said and done since they had
escaped from Blentz that had been so unlike the king she knew.

"When did you assume the king's identity?" she asked.

Barney told her all that had transpired in the king's apartments at
Blentz before she had been conducted to the king's presence.

"And Leopold is there now?" she asked.

"He is there," replied Barney, "and he is to be shot in the
morning."

"Gott!" exclaimed the girl. "What are we to do?"

"There is but one thing to do," replied the American, "and that is
for Butzow and me to ride to Blentz as fast as horses will carry us
and rescue the king."

"And then?" asked the girl, a shadow crossing her face.

"And then Barney Custer will have to beat it for the boundary," he
replied with a sorry smile.

She came quite close to him, laying her hands upon his shoulders.

"I cannot give you up now," she said simply. "I have tried to be
loyal to Leopold and the promise that my father made his king when I
was only a little girl; but since I thought that you were to be
shot, I have wished a thousand times that I had gone with you to
America two years ago. Take me with you now, Barney. We can send
Lieutenant Butzow to rescue the king, and before he has returned we
can be safe

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