The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 64

Leopold?" he asked. "For ten years we
have not seen our king."

"The governor of Blentz has already acknowledged his identity,"
cried Butzow. "Maenck was the first to proclaim the presence of the
putative king."

At that someone near the chancel cried: "Long live Leopold, king of
Lutha!" and at the words the whole assemblage raised their voices in
a tumultuous: "Long live the king!"

Peter of Blentz turned toward Maenck. "The guard!" he cried.
"Arrest those traitors, and restore order in the cathedral. Let the
coronation proceed."

Maenck took a step toward Barney and Butzow, when old Prince von der
Tann interposed his giant frame with grim resolve.

"Hold!" He spoke in a low, stern voice that brought the cowardly
Maenck to a sudden halt.

The men of Tann had pressed eagerly forward until they stood, with
bared swords, a solid rank of fighting men in grim semicircle behind
their chief. There were cries from different parts of the cathedral
of: "Crown Leopold, our true king! Down with Peter! Down with the
assassin!"

"Enough of this," cried Peter. "Clear the cathedral!"

He drew his own sword, and with half a hundred loyal retainers at
his back pressed forward to clear the chancel. There was a brief
fight, from which Barney, much to his disgust, was barred by the
mighty figure of the old prince and the stalwart sword-arm of
Butzow. He did get one crack at Maenck, and had the satisfaction of
seeing blood spurt from a flesh wound across the fellow's cheek.

"That for the Princess Emma," he called to the governor of Blentz,
and then men crowded between them and he did not see the captain
again during the battle.

When Peter saw that more than half of the palace guard were shouting
for Leopold, and fighting side by side with the men of Tann, he
realized the futility of further armed resistance at this time.
Slowly he withdrew, and at last the fighting ceased and some
semblance of order was restored within the cathedral.

Fearfully, the bishop emerged from hiding, his robes disheveled and
his miter askew. Butzow grasped him none too reverently by the arm
and dragged him before Barney. The crown of Lutha dangled in the
priest's palsied hands.

"Crown the king!" cried the lieutenant. "Crown Leopold, king of
Lutha!"

A mad roar of acclaim greeted this demand, and again from all parts
of the cathedral rose the same wild cry. But in the lull that
followed there were some who demanded proof of the tattered young
man who stood before them and claimed that he was king.

"Let Prince Ludwig speak!" cried a dozen

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