The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 66

no coronation in Lutha until all
doubts are allayed and all may unite in accepting without question
the royal right of the true Leopold to the crown of his father. Let
the coronation wait, then, until another day, and all will be well."

"It must take place before noon of the fifth day of November, or not
until a year later," said Prince Ludwig. "In the meantime the Prince
Regent must continue to rule. For the sake of Lutha the coronation
must take place today, your majesty."

"What is the date?" asked Barney.

"The third, sire."

"Let the coronation wait until the fifth."

"But your majesty," interposed Von der Tann, "all may be lost in two
days."

"It is the king's command," said Barney quietly.

"But Peter of Blentz will rule for these two days, and in that time
with the army at his command there is no telling what he may
accomplish," insisted the old man.

"Peter of Blentz shall not rule Lutha for two days, or two minutes,"
replied Barney. "We shall rule. Lieutenant Butzow, you may place
Prince Peter, Coblich, Maenck, and Stein under arrest. We charge
them with treason against their king, and conspiring to assassinate
their rightful monarch."

Butzow smiled as he turned with his troopers at his back to execute
this most welcome of commissions; but in a moment he was again at
Barney's side.

"They have fled, your majesty," he said. "Shall I ride to Blentz
after them?"

"Let them go," replied the American, and then, with his retinue
about him the new king of Lutha passed down the broad aisle of the
cathedral of Lustadt and took his way to the royal palace between
ranks of saluting soldiery backed by cheering thousands.




IX

THE KING'S GUESTS

Once within the palace Barney sought the seclusion of a small room
off the audience chamber. Here he summoned Butzow.

"Lieutenant," said the American, "for the sake of a woman, a dead
child and an unhappy king I have become dictator of Lutha for
forty-eight hours; but at noon upon the fifth this farce must cease.
Then we must place the true Leopold upon the throne, or a new
dictator must replace me.

"In vain I have tried to convince you that I am not the king, and
today in the cathedral so great was the temptation to take advantage
of the odd train of circumstances that had placed a crown within my
reach that I all but surrendered to it--not for the crown of gold,
Butzow, but for an infinitely more sacred diadem which belongs to
him to whom by right of birth and lineage, belongs the crown of
Lutha.

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