The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 210

more--men had lost their
heads for tampering with the affairs of kings.

"Well?" persisted the chancellor.

"Lieutenant Butzow is partially correct--he honestly believes that
he is entirely so," replied the American. "He did ride with me from
Lustadt to Blentz to save the man who lies dead here at your feet.
The lieutenant thought that he was riding with his king, just as
your highness thought that he was riding with his king during the
battle of Lustadt. You were both wrong--you were riding with Mr.
Bernard Custer, of Beatrice. I am he. I have no apologies to make.
What I did I would do again. I did it for Lutha and for the woman I
love. She knows and the king knew that I intended restoring his
identity to him with no one the wiser for the interchange that had
taken place. The king upset my plans by stealing back his identity
while I slept, with the result that you see before you upon the
floor. He has died as he had lived--futilely."

As he spoke the Princess Emma had crossed the room toward him. Now
she stood at his side, her hand in his. Tense silence reigned in the
apartment. The old chancellor stood with bowed head, buried in
thought. All eyes were upon him except those of the doctor, who had
turned his attention from the dead king to the wounded assassin.
Butzow stood looking at Barney Custer in open relief and admiration.
He had been trying to vindicate his friend in his own mind ever
since he had discovered, as he believed, that Barney had tricked
Leopold after the latter had saved his life at Blentz and ridden to
Lustadt in the king's guise. Now that he knew the whole truth he
realized how stupid he had been not to guess that the man who had
led the victorious Luthanian army before Lustadt could not have been
the cowardly Leopold.

Presently the chancellor broke the silence.

"You say that Leopold of Lutha lived futilely. You are right; but
when you say that he has died futilely, you are, I believe, wrong.
Living, he gave us a poor weakling. Dying, he leaves the throne to a
brave man, in whose veins flows the blood of the Rubinroths,
hereditary rulers of Lutha.

"You are the only rightful successor to the throne of Lutha," he
argued, "other than Peter of Blentz. Your mother's marriage to a
foreigner did not bar the succession of her offspring. Aside from
the fact that Peter of Blentz is out of the question, is the more
important fact that your line

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