The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 199

found a candle
and lighted it. Walking a few steps he came to a figure sleeping
upon a pile of clothing. He stooped and shook the sleeper by the
shoulder.

"Wake up!" he cried in a subdued voice. "Wake up, Prince Peter; I
have good news for you."

The other opened his eyes, stretched, and at last sat up.

"What is it, Maenck?" he asked querulously.

"Great news, my prince," replied the other.

"While you have been sleeping many things have transpired within the
walls of your castle. The king's troopers have departed; but that is
a small matter compared with the other. Here, behind the portrait of
your great-grandmother, I have listened and watched all night. I
opened the secret door a fraction of an inch--just enough to permit
me to look into the apartment where the king and the American lay
wounded. They had been talking as I opened the door, but after that
they ceased--the king falling asleep at once--the American feigning
slumber. For a long time I watched, but nothing happened until near
midnight. Then the American arose and donned the king's clothes.

"He approached Leopold with drawn sword, but when he would have
thrust it through the heart of the sleeping man his nerve failed
him. Then he stole some papers from the room and left. Just now he
has ridden out toward Lustadt with the men of the Royal Horse who
captured the castle yesterday."

Before Maenck was half-way through his narrative, Peter of Blentz
was wide awake and all attention. His eyes glowed with suddenly
aroused interest.

"Somewhere in this, prince," concluded Maenck, "there must lie the
seed of fortune for you and me."

Peter nodded. "Yes," he mused, "there must."

For a time both men were buried in thought. Suddenly Maenck snapped
his fingers. "I have it!" he cried. He bent toward Prince Peter's
ear and whispered his plan. When he was done the Blentz prince
grasped his hand.

"Just the thing, Maenck!" he cried. "Just the thing. Leopold will
never again listen to idle gossip directed against our loyalty. If I
know him--and who should know him better--he will heap honors upon
you, my Maenck; and as for me, he will at least forgive me and take
me back into his confidence. Lose no time now, my friend. We are
free now to go and come, since the king's soldiers have been
withdrawn."

In the garden back of the castle an old man was busy digging a hole.
It was a long, narrow hole, and, when it was completed, nearly four
feet deep. It looked like a grave. When

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