The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 195

know of the exchange."

"Again you are too fast," answered Barney. "There is another
condition."

"Well?"

"You must promise upon your royal honor that Ludwig, Prince von der
Tann, remain chancellor of Lutha during your life or his."

"Very well," assented the king. "I promise," and again he half rose
from his cot.

"Hold on a minute," admonished the American; "there is yet one more
condition of which I have not made mention."

"What, another?" exclaimed Leopold testily. "How much do you want
for returning to me what you have stolen?"

"So far I have asked for nothing for myself," replied Barney. "Now
I am coming to that part of the agreement. The Princess Emma von der
Tann is betrothed to you. She does not love you. She has honored me
with her affection, but she will not wed until she has been formally
released from her promise to wed Leopold of Lutha. The king must
sign such a release and also a sanction of her marriage to Barney
Custer, of Beatrice. Do you understand what I want?"

The king went livid. He came to his feet beside the cot. For the
moment, his wound was forgotten. He tottered toward the impostor.

"You scoundrel!" he screamed. "You scoundrel! You have stolen my
identity and my throne and now you wish to steal the woman who loves
me."

"Don't get excited, Leo," warned the American, "and don't talk so
loud. The Princess doesn't love you, and you know it as well as I.
She will never marry you. If you want your dinky throne back you'll
have to do as I desire; that is, sign the release and the sanction.

"Now let's don't have any heroics about it. You have the
proposition. Now I am going to sleep. In the meantime you may think
it over. If the papers are not ready when it comes time for us to
leave, and from the way I feel now I rather think I shall be ready
to mount a horse by morning, I shall ride back to Lustadt as king of
Lutha, and I shall marry her highness into the bargain, and you may
go hang!

"How the devil you will earn a living with that king job taken away
from you I don't know. You're a long way from New York, and in the
present state of carnage in Europe I rather doubt that there are
many headwaiters jobs open this side of the American metropolis, and
I can't for the moment think of anything else at which you would
shine--with all due respect

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