The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 194

said. "Are you going to keep
your word and return my identity?"

"I have promised," replied Barney, "and what I promise I always
perform."

"Then exchange clothing with me at once," cried the king, half
rising from his cot.

"Not so fast, my friend," rejoined the American. "There are a few
trifling details to be arranged before we resume our proper
personalities."

"Do you realize that you should be hanged for what you have done?"
snarled the king. "You assaulted me, stole my clothing, left me here
to be shot by Peter, and sat upon my throne in Lustadt while I lay a
prisoner condemned to death."

"And do you realize," replied Barney, "that by so doing I saved your
foolish little throne for you; that I drove the invaders from your
dominions; that I have unmasked your enemies, and that I have once
again proven to you that the Prince von der Tann is your best friend
and most loyal supporter?"

"You laid your plebeian hands upon me," cried the king, raising his
voice. "You humiliated me, and you shall suffer for it."

Barney Custer eyed the king for a long moment before he spoke again.
It was difficult to believe that the man was so devoid of gratitude,
and so blind as not to see that even the rough treatment that he had
received at the American's hands was as nothing by comparison with
the service that the American had done him. Apparently Leopold had
already forgotten that three times Barney Custer had saved his life
in the courtyard below. From the man's demeanor, now that his life
was no longer at stake, Barney caught an inkling of what his
attitude might be when once again he was returned to the despotic
power of his kingship.

"It is futile to reason with you," he said. "There is only one way
to handle such as you. At present I hold the power to coerce you,
and I shall continue to hold that power until I am safely out of
your two-by-four kingdom. If you do as I say you shall have your
throne back again. If you refuse, why by Heaven you shall never have
it. I'll stay king of Lutha myself."

"What are your terms?" asked the king.

"That Prince Peter of Blentz, Captain Ernst Maenck, and old Von
Coblich be tried, convicted, and hanged for high treason," replied
the American.

"That is easy," said the king. "I should do so anyway immediately I
resumed my throne. Now get up and give me my clothes. Take this cot
and I will take the bed. None will

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