The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 29

the fireplace on either
side was in reality a door hiding the entrance to a shaft that rose
from the vaults beneath the castle to the roof. At each floor there
was a similar secret door concealing the mouth of the passage. From
the vaults a corridor led through another secret panel to the tunnel
that wound downward to the cave in the hillside.

"Beyond that we shall find horses, your majesty," concluded the old
man. "They have been hidden in the woods since I came to Blentz.
Each day I go there to water and feed them."

During the servant's explanation Barney had been casting about in
his mind for some means of rescuing the princess without so great
risk of detection, and as the plan of the secret passageway became
clear to him he thought that he saw a way to accomplish the thing
with comparative safety in so far as detection was concerned.

"Who occupies the floor above us, Joseph?" he asked.

"It is vacant," replied the old man.

"Good! Come, show me the entrance to the shaft," directed Barney.

"You will go without attempting to succor the Princess Emma?"
exclaimed the old fellow in ill-concealed chagrin.

"Far from it," replied Barney. "Bring your rope and the swords. I
think we are going to find the rescuing of the Princess Emma the
easiest part of our adventure."

The old man shook his head, but went to another room of the suite,
from which he presently emerged with a stout rope about fifty feet
in length and two swords. As he buckled one of the weapons to Barney
his eyes fell upon the American's seal ring that encircled the third
finger of his left hand.

"The Royal Ring of Lutha!" exclaimed Joseph. "Where is it, your
majesty? What has become of the Royal Ring of the Kings of Lutha?"

"I'm sure I don't know, Joseph," replied the young man. "Should I be
wearing a royal ring?"

"The profaning miscreants!" cried Joseph. "They have dared to filch
from you the great ring that has been handed down from king to king
for three hundred years. When did they take it from you?"

"I have never seen it, Joseph," replied the young man, "and possibly
this fact may assure you where all else has failed that I am no true
king of Lutha, after all."

"Ah, no, your majesty," replied the old servitor; "it but makes
assurance doubly sure as to your true identity, for the fact that
you have not the ring is positive proof that you are king and that
they have sought

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