The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 60

better time toward his destination. His spirits rose, and as
they galloped along the highway, he listened with renewed interest
to the story which Lieutenant Butzow narrated in detail.

It seemed that Butzow had been absent from Lutha for a number of
years as military attache to the Luthanian legation at a foreign
court. He had known nothing of the true condition at home until his
return, when he saw such scoundrels as Coblich, Maenck, and Stein
high in the favor of the prince regent. For some time before the
events that had transpired after he had brought Barney and the
Princess Emma to Blentz he had commenced to have his doubts as to
the true patriotism of Peter of Blentz; and when he had learned
through the unguarded words of Schonau that there was a real
foundation for the rumor that the regent had plotted the
assassination of the king his suspicions had crystallized into
knowledge, and he had sworn to serve his king before all
others--were he sane or mad. From this loyalty he could not be

"And what do you intend doing now?" asked Barney.

"I intend placing you upon the throne of your ancestors, sire,"
replied Butzow; "nor will Peter of Blentz dare the wrath of the
people by attempting to interpose any obstacle. When he sees Leopold
of Lutha ride into the capital of his kingdom at the head of even so
small a force as ours he will know that the end of his own power is
at hand, for he is not such a fool that he does not perfectly
realize that he is the most cordially hated man in all Lutha, and
that only those attend upon him who hope to profit through his
success or who fear his evil nature."

"If Peter is crowned today," asked Barney, "will it prevent Leopold
regaining his throne?"

"It is difficult to say," replied Butzow; "but the chances are that
the throne would be lost to him forever. To regain it he would have
to plunge Lutha into a bitter civil war, for once Peter is
proclaimed king he will have the law upon his side, and with the
resources of the State behind him--the treasury and the army--he
will feel in no mood to relinquish the scepter without a struggle. I
doubt much that you will ever sit upon your throne, sire, unless you
do so within the very next hour."

For some time Barney rode in silence. He saw that only by a master
stroke could the crown be saved for the true king. Was it worth it?
The man

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