The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 30

to hide the fact by removing the insignia of your
divine right to rule in Lutha."

Barney could not but smile at the old fellow's remarkable logic. He
saw that nothing short of a miracle would ever convince Joseph that
he was not the real monarch, and so, as matters of greater
importance were to the fore, he would have allowed the subject to
drop had not the man attempted to recall to the impoverished memory
of his king a recollection of the historic and venerated relic of
the dead monarchs of Lutha.

"Do you not remember, sir," he asked, "the great ruby that glared,
blood-red from its center, and the four sets of golden wings that
formed the setting? From the blood of Charlemagne was the ruby made,
so history tells us, and the setting represented the protecting
wings of the power of the kings of Lutha spread to the four points
of the compass. Now your majesty must recall the royal ring, I am
sure."

Barney only shook his head, much to Joseph's evident sorrow.

"Never mind the ring, Joseph," said the young man. "Bring your rope
and lead me to the floor above."

"The floor above? But, your majesty, we cannot reach the vaults and
tunnel by going upward!"

"You forget, Joseph, that we are going to fetch the Princess Emma
first."

"But she is not on the floor above us, sire; she is upon the same
floor as we are," insisted the old man, hesitating.

"Joseph, who do you think I am?" asked Barney.

"You are the king, my lord," replied the old man.

"Then do as your king commands," said the American sharply.

Joseph turned with dubious mutterings and approached the tiled panel
at the left of the fireplace. Here he fumbled about for a moment
until his fingers found the hidden catch that held the cunningly
devised door in place. An instant later the panel swung inward
before his touch, and standing to one side, the old fellow bowed low
as he ushered Barney into the Stygian darkness of the space beyond
their vision.

Joseph halted the young man just within the doorway, cautioning him
against the danger of falling into the shaft, then he closed the
panel, and a moment later had found the lantern he had hidden there
and lighted it. The rays disclosed to the American the rough masonry
of the interior of a narrow, well-built shaft. A rude ladder
standing upon a narrow ledge beside him extended upward to lose
itself in the shadows above. At its foot the top of another ladder
was visible protruding through the opening from

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