The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 63

man at her side showed her the stern, commanding
features of her sire molded in an expression of haughty dignity;
only the slight movement of the muscles of the strong jaw revealed
the tensity of the hidden emotions of the stern old warrior. He was
meeting disappointment and defeat as a Von der Tann should--brave to
the end.

The crown had all but touched the head of Peter of Blentz when a
sudden commotion at the back of the cathedral caused the bishop to
look up in ill-concealed annoyance. At the sight that met his eyes
his hands halted in mid-air.

The great audience turned as one toward the doors at the end of the
long central aisle. There, through the wide-swung portals, they saw
mounted men forcing their way into the cathedral. The great horses
shouldered aside the foot-soldiers that attempted to bar their way,
and twenty troopers of the Royal Horse thundered to the very foot of
the chancel steps.

At their head rode Lieutenant Butzow and a tall young man in soiled
and tattered khaki, whose gray eyes and full reddish-brown beard
brought an exclamation from Captain Maenck who commanded the guard
about Peter of Blentz.

"Mein Gott--the king!" cried Maenck, and at the words Peter went
white.

In open-mouthed astonishment the spectators saw the hurrying
troopers and heard Butzow's "The king! The king! Make way for
Leopold, King of Lutha!"

And a girl saw, and as she saw her heart leaped to her mouth. Her
small hand gripped the sleeve of her father's coat. "The king,
father," she cried. "It is the king."

Old Von der Tann, the light of a new hope firing his eyes, threw
aside his cloak and leaped to the chancel steps beside Butzow and
the others who were mounting them. Behind him a hundred cloaks
dropped from the shoulders of his fighting men, exposing not silks
and satins and fine velvet, but the coarse tan of khaki, and grim
cartridge belts well filled, and stern revolvers slung to well-worn
service belts.

As Butzow and Barney stepped upon the chancel Peter of Blentz leaped
forward. "What mad treason is this?" he fairly screamed.

"The days of treason are now past, prince," replied Butzow
meaningly. "Here is not treason, but Leopold of Lutha come to claim
his crown which he inherited from his father."

"It is a plot," cried Peter, "to place an impostor upon the throne!
This man is not the king."

For a moment there was silence. The people had not taken sides as
yet. They awaited a leader. Old Von der Tann scrutinized the
American closely.

"How may we know that you are

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