The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 196

to some excellent headwaiters I have
known."

For some time the king remained silent. He was thinking. He
realized that it lay in the power of the American to do precisely
what he had threatened to do. No one would doubt his identity. Even
Peter of Blentz had not recognized the real king despite Leopold's
repeated and hysterical claims.

Lieutenant Butzow, the American's best friend, had no more suspected
the exchange of identities. Von der Tann, too, must have been
deceived. Everyone had been deceived. There was no hope that the
people, who really saw so little of their king, would guess the
deception that was being played upon them. Leopold groaned. Barney
opened his eyes and turned toward him.

"What's the matter?" he asked.

"I will sign the release and the sanction of her highness' marriage
to you," said the king.

"Good!" exclaimed the American. "You will then go at once to
Brosnov as originally planned. I will return to Lustadt and get her
highness, and we will immediately leave Lutha via Brosnov. There you
and I will effect a change of raiment, and you will ride back to
Lustadt with the small guard that accompanies her highness and me to
the frontier."

"Why do you not remain in Lustadt?" asked the king. "You could as
well be married there as elsewhere."

"Because I don't trust your majesty," replied the American. "It must
be done precisely as I say or not at all. Are you agreeable?"

The king assented with a grumpy nod.

"Then get up and write as I dictate," said Barney. Leopold of Lutha
did as he was bid. The result was two short, crisply worded
documents. At the bottom of each was the signature of Leopold of
Lutha. Barney took the two papers and carefully tucked them beneath
his pillow.

"Now let's sleep," he said. "It is getting late and we both need
the rest. In the morning we have long rides ahead of us. Good
night."

The king did not respond. In a short time Barney was fast asleep.
The light still burned.




XIV

"THE KING'S WILL IS LAW"

The Blentz princess frowned down upon the king and impostor
impartially from her great gilt frame. It must have been close to
midnight that the painting moved--just a fraction of an inch. Then
it remained motionless for a time. Again it moved. This time it
revealed a narrow crack at its edge. In the crack an eye shone.

One of the sleepers moved. He opened his eyes. Stealthily he
raised himself on his elbow and gazed at the other across the
apartment. He listened intently.

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