The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 22

and I may truly believe
it now that I have seen what manner of man you are. The most
lowly-bred boor in all Lutha would not be so ungenerous as to take
advantage of his king's helplessness to heap indignities upon him.

"Leopold of Lutha shall come into his own some day, and my dearest
hope is that his first act may be to mete out to such as you the
punishment you deserve."

Maenck paled in anger. His fingers twitched nervously, but he
controlled his temper remarkably well, biding his time for revenge.

"Take the king to his apartments, Stein," he commanded curtly, "and
you, Lieutenant Butzow, accompany them with a guard, nor leave until
you see that he is safely confined. You may return here afterward
for my further instructions. In the meantime I wish to examine the
king's mistress."

For a moment tense silence reigned in the apartment after Maenck had
delivered his wanton insult.

Emma von der Tann, her little chin high in the air, stood straight
and haughty, nor was there any sign in her expression to indicate
that she had heard the man's words.

Barney was the first to take cognizance of them.

"You cur!" he cried, and took a step toward Maenck. "You're going to
eat that, word for word."

Maenck stepped back, his hand upon his sword. Butzow laid a hand
upon Barney's arm.

"Don't, your majesty," he implored, "it will but make your position
more unpleasant, nor will it add to the safety of the Princess von
der Tann for you to strike him now."

Barney shook himself free from Butzow, and before either Stein or
the lieutenant could prevent had sprung upon Maenck.

The latter had not been quick enough with his sword, so that Barney
had struck him twice, heavily in the face before the officer was
able to draw. Butzow had sprung to the king's side, and was
attempting to interpose himself between Maenck and the American. In
a moment more the sword of the infuriated captain would be in the
king's heart. Barney turned the first thrust with his forearm.

"Stop!" cried Butzow to Maenck. "Are you mad, that you would kill
the king?"

Maenck lunged again, viciously, at the unprotected body of his
antagonist.

"Die, you pig of an idiot!" he screamed.

Butzow saw that the man really meant to murder Leopold. He seized
Barney by the shoulder and whirled him backward. At the same instant
his own sword leaped from his scabbard, and now Maenck found himself
facing grim steel in the hand of a master swordsman.

The governor of Blentz drew back from the touch

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