The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 201

The party
rode directly to the royal palace, and the king retired immediately
to his apartments. A half hour later an officer of the king's
household knocked upon the door of the Princess Emma von der Tann's
boudoir. In accord with her summons he entered, saluted
respectfully, and handed her a note.

It was written upon the personal stationary of Leopold of Lutha.
The girl read and reread it. For some time she could not seem to
grasp the enormity of the thing that had overwhelmed her--the daring
of the action that the message explained. The note was short and to
the point, and was signed only with initials.



DEAREST EMMA:

The king died of his wounds just before midnight. I
shall keep the throne. There is no other way. None
knows and none must ever know the truth. Your father
alone may suspect; but if we are married at once our
alliance will cement him and his faction to us. Send
word by the bearer that you agree with the wisdom
of my plan, and that we may be wed at once--this
afternoon, in fact.

The people may wonder for a few days at the strange
haste, but my answer shall be that I am going to the
front with my troops. The son and many of the high
officials of the Kaiser have already established the
precedent, marrying hurriedly upon the eve of their
departure for the front.

With every assurance of my undying love, believe me,

Yours,
B. C.


The girl walked slowly across the room to her writing table. The
officer stood in respectful silence awaiting the answer that the
king had told him to bring. The princess sat down before the carved
bit of furniture. Mechanically she drew a piece of note paper from a
drawer. Many times she dipped her pen in the ink before she could
determine what reply to send. Ages of ingrained royalistic
principles were shocked and shattered by the enormity of the thing
the man she loved had asked of her, and yet cold reason told her
that it was the only way.

Lutha would be lost should the truth be known--that the king was
dead, for there was no heir of closer blood connection with the
royal house than Prince Peter of Blentz, whose great-grandmother had
been a Rubinroth princess. Slowly, at last, she wrote as follows:


SIRE:

The king's will is law.

EMMA



That was all. Placing the note in an envelope she sealed it and
handed it to the officer, who bowed and left the room.

A half hour later officers of the Royal Horse were

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