The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 27

the rope to make our way
down the hillside, but let us hope that we shall not need the
swords."

"I cannot leave Blentz," said Barney, "unless the Princess Emma goes
with us."

"The Princess Emma!" cried the old man. "What Princess Emma?"

"Princess von der Tann," replied Barney. "Did you not know that she
was captured with me!"

The old man was visibly affected by the knowledge that his young
mistress was a prisoner within the walls of Blentz. He seemed torn
by conflicting emotions--his duty toward his king and his love for
the daughter of his old master. So it was that he seemed much
relieved when he found that Barney insisted upon saving the girl
before any thought of their own escape should be taken into
consideration.

"My first duty, your majesty," said Joseph, "is to bring you safely
out of the hands of your enemies, but if you command me to try to
bring your betrothed with us I am sure that his highness, Prince
Ludwig, would be the last to censure me for deviating thus from his
instructions, for if he loves another more than he loves his king it
is his daughter, the beautiful Princess Emma."

"What do you mean, Joseph," asked Barney, "by referring to the
princess as my betrothed? I never saw her before today."

"It has slipped your majesty's mind," said the old man sadly; "but
you and my young mistress were betrothed many years ago while you
were yet but children. It was the old king's wish that you wed the
daughter of his best friend and most loyal subject."

Here was a pretty pass, indeed, thought Barney. It was sufficiently
embarrassing to be mistaken for the king, but to be thrown into this
false position in company with a beautiful young woman to whom the
king was engaged to be married, and who, with the others, thought
him to be the king, was quite the last word in impossible positions.

Following this knowledge there came to Barney the first pangs of
regret that he was not really the king, and then the realization, so
sudden that it almost took his breath away, that the girl was very
beautiful and very much to be desired. He had not thought about the
matter until her utter impossibility was forced upon him.

It was decided that Joseph should leave the king's apartment at once
and discover in what part of the castle Emma von der Tann was
imprisoned. Their further plans were to depend upon the information
gained by the old man during his tour of investigation of the
castle.

In

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