The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 197

The regular breathing of the
sleeper proclaimed the soundness of his slumber. Gingerly the man
placed one foot upon the floor. The eye glued to the crack at the
edge of the great, gilt frame of the Blentz princess remained
fastened upon him. He let his other foot slip to the floor beside
the first. Carefully he raised himself until he stood erect upon the
floor. Then, on tiptoe he started across the room.

The eye in the dark followed him. The man reached the side of the
sleeper. Bending over he listened intently to the other's breathing.
Satisfied that slumber was profound he stepped quickly to a wardrobe
in which a soldier had hung the clothing of both the king and the
American. He took down the uniform of the former, casting from time
to time apprehensive glances toward the sleeper. The latter did not
stir, and the other passed to the little dressing-room adjoining.

A few minutes later he reentered the apartment fully clothed and
wearing the accouterments of Leopold of Lutha. In his hand was a
drawn sword. Silently and swiftly he crossed to the side of the
sleeping man. The eye at the crack beside the gilded frame pressed
closer to the aperture. The sword was raised above the body of the
slumberer--its point hovered above his heart. The face of the man
who wielded it was hard with firm resolve.

His muscles tensed to drive home the blade, but something held his
hand. His face paled. His shoulders contracted with a little
shudder, and he turned toward the door of the apartment, almost
running across the floor in his anxiety to escape. The eye in the
dark maintained its unblinking vigilance.

With his hand upon the knob a sudden thought stayed the fugitive's
flight. He glanced quickly back at the sleeper--he had not moved.
Then the man who wore the uniform of the king of Lutha recrossed the
apartment to the bed, reached beneath one of the pillows and
withdrew two neatly folded official-looking documents. These he
placed in the breastpocket of his uniform. A moment later he was
walking down the spiral stairway to the main floor of the castle.

In the guardroom the troopers of the Royal Horse who were not on
guard were stretched in slumber. Only a corporal remained awake. As
the man entered the guardroom the corporal glanced up, and as his
eyes fell upon the newcomer, he sprang to his feet, saluting.

"Turn out the guard!" he cried. "Turn out the guard for his
majesty, the king!"

The sleeping soldiers, but half awake, scrambled to their

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