The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 61

was happier without a crown. Barney had come to believe that
no man lived who could be happy in possession of one. Then there
came before his mind's eye the delicate, patrician face of Emma von
der Tann.

Would Peter of Blentz be true to his new promises to the house of
Von der Tann? Barney doubted it. He recalled all that it might mean
of danger and suffering to the girl whose kisses he still felt upon
his lips as though it had been but now that hers had placed them
there. He recalled the limp little body of the boy, Rudolph, and the
Spartan loyalty with which the little fellow had given his life in
the service of the man he had thought king. The pitiful figure of
the fear-haunted man upon the iron cot at Tafelberg rose before him
and cried for vengeance.

To this man was the woman he loved betrothed! He knew that he might
never wed the Princess Emma. Even were she not promised to another,
the iron shackles of convention and age-old customs must forever
separate her from an untitled American. But if he couldn't have her
he still could serve her!

"For her sake," he muttered.

"Did your majesty speak?" asked Butzow.

"Yes, lieutenant. We urge greater haste, for if we are to be
crowned today we have no time to lose."

Butzow smiled a relieved smile. The king had at last regained his
senses!


Within the ancient cathedral at Lustadt a great and gorgeously
attired assemblage had congregated. All the nobles of Lutha were
gathered there with their wives, their children, and their
retainers. There were the newer nobility of the lowlands--many whose
patents dated but since the regency of Peter--and there were the
proud nobility of the highlands--the old nobility of which Prince
Ludwig von der Tann was the chief.

It was noticeable that though a truce had been made between Ludwig
and Peter, yet the former chancellor of the kingdom did not stand
upon the chancel with the other dignitaries of the State and court.

Few there were who knew that he had been invited to occupy a place
of honor there, and had replied that he would take no active part in
the making of any king in Lutha whose veins did not pulse to the
flow of the blood of the house in whose service he had grown gray.

Close packed were the retainers of the old prince so that their
great number was scarcely noticeable, though quite so was the fact
that they kept their cloaks on, presenting a somber appearance in
the midst

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