The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 51

the shop, nor did it satisfactorily account for the blotch of
blood upon his shoulder from a wound so fresh that the stain still
was damp; nor for the sword which Joseph had buckled about his waist
within Blentz's forbidding walls; nor for the arms and ammunition he
had taken from the dead brigands--all of which he had before him as
tangible evidence of the rationality of the past few weeks.

"My friend," said Barney at last, "I cannot wonder that you have
mistaken me for the king, since all those I have met within Lutha
have leaped to the same error, though not one among them made the
slightest pretense of ever having seen his majesty. A ridiculous
beard started the trouble, and later a series of happenings, no one
of which was particularly remarkable in itself, aggravated it, until
but a moment since I myself was almost upon the point of believing
that I am the king.

"But, my dear Herr Kramer, I am not the king; and when you have
accompanied me to the hospital and seen that your patient still is
there, you may be willing to admit that there is some justification
for doubt as to my royalty."

The old man shook his head.

"I am not so sure of that," he said, "for he who lies at the
hospital, providing you are not he, or he you, maintains as sturdily
as do you that he is not Leopold. If one of you, whichever be
king--providing that you are not one and the same, and that I be not
the only maniac in the sad muddle--if one of you would but trust my
loyalty and love for the true king and admit your identity, then I
might be of some real service to that one of you who is really
Leopold. Herr Gott! My words are as mixed as my poor brain."

"If you will listen to me, Herr Kramer," said Barney, "and believe
what I tell you, I shall be able to unscramble your ideas in so far
as they pertain to me and my identity. As to the man you say was
found beneath my car, and who now lies in the sanatorium of
Tafelberg, I cannot say until I have seen and talked with him. He
may be the king and he may not; but if he insists that he is not, I
shall be the last to wish a kingship upon him. I know from sad
experience the hardships and burdens that the thing entails."

Then Barney narrated carefully and in detail the principal events of

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