The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 202

riding through
the streets of Lustadt. Some announced to the people upon the
streets the coming marriage of the king and princess. Others rode to
the houses of the nobility with the king's command that they be
present at the ceremony in the old cathedral at four o'clock that
afternoon.

Never had there been such bustling about the royal palace or in the
palaces of the nobles of Lutha. The buzz and hum of excited
conversation filled the whole town. That the choice of the king met
the approval of his subjects was more than evident. Upon every lip
was praise and love of the Princess Emma von der Tann. The future of
Lutha seemed assured with a king who could fight joined in marriage
to a daughter of the warrior line of Von der Tann.

The princess was busy up to the last minute. She had not seen her
future husband since his return from Blentz, for he, too, had been
busy. Twice he had sent word to her, but on both occasions had
regretted that he could not come personally because of the pressure
of state matters and the preparations for the ceremony that was to
take place in the cathedral in so short a time.

At last the hour arrived. The cathedral was filled to overflowing.
After the custom of Lutha, the bride had walked alone up the broad
center aisle to the foot of the chancel. Guardsmen lining the way on
either hand stood rigidly at salute until she stopped at the end of
the soft, rose-strewn carpet and turned to await the coming of the
king.

Presently the doors at the opposite end of the cathedral opened.
There was a fanfare of trumpets, and up the center aisle toward the
waiting girl walked the royal groom. It seemed ages to the princess
since she had seen her lover. Her eyes devoured him as he approached
her. She noticed that he limped, and wondered; but for a moment the
fact carried no special suggestion to her brain.

The people had risen as the king entered. Again, the pieces of the
guardsmen had snapped to present; but silence, intense and utter,
reigned over the vast assembly. The only movement was the measured
stride of the king as he advanced to claim his bride.

At the head of each line of guardsmen, nearest the chancel and upon
either side of the bridal party, the ranks were formed of
commissioned officers. Butzow was among them. He, too, out of the
corner of his eye watched the advancing figure. Suddenly he noted
the limp, and gave

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