The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 203

a little involuntary gasp. He looked at the
Princess Emma, and saw her eyes suddenly widen with consternation.

Slowly at first, and then in a sudden tidal wave of memory, Butzow's
story of the fight in the courtyard at Blentz came back to her.

"I saw but little of Mr. Custer," he had said. "He was slightly
wounded in the left leg. The king was wounded in the breast." But
Lieutenant Butzow had not known the true identity of either.

The real Leopold it was who had been wounded in the left leg, and
the man who was approaching her up the broad cathedral aisle was
limping noticeably--and favoring his left leg. The man to whom she
was to be married was not Barney Custer--he was Leopold of Lutha!

A hundred mad schemes rioted through her brain. The wedding must
not go on! But how was she to avert it? The king was within a few
paces of her now. There was a smile upon his lips, and in that smile
she saw the final confirmation of her fears. When Leopold of Lutha
smiled his upper lip curved just a trifle into a shadow of a sneer.
It was a trivial characteristic that Barney Custer did not share in
common with the king.

Half mad with terror, the girl seized upon the only subterfuge which
seemed at all likely to succeed. It would, at least, give her a
slight reprieve--a little time in which to think, and possibly find
an avenue from her predicament.

She staggered forward a step, clapped her two hands above her heart,
and reeled as though to fall. Butzow, who had been watching her
narrowly, sprang forward and caught her in his arms, where she lay
limp with closed eyes as though in a dead faint. The king ran
forward. The people craned their necks. A sudden burst of
exclamations rose throughout the cathedral, and then Lieutenant
Butzow, shouldering his way past the chancel, carried the Princess
Emma to a little anteroom off the east transept. Behind him walked
the king, the bishop, and Prince Ludwig.




XV

MAENCK BLUNDERS

After a hurried breakfast Peter of Blentz and Captain Ernst Maenck
left the castle of Blentz. Prince Peter rode north toward the
frontier, Austria, and safety, Captain Maenck rode south toward
Lustadt. Neither knew that general orders had been issued to
soldiery and gendarmerie of Lutha to capture them dead or alive. So
Prince Peter rode carelessly; but Captain Maenck, because of the
nature of his business and the proximity of enemies about Lustadt,
proceeded with circumspection.

Prince Peter was arrested at Tafelberg, and, though he

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