The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 68

wear clothes that had been fitted to Barney; and it was part
of his plan to have everything in readiness for the substitution
which was to take place the morning of the coronation.

Then there were foreign dignitaries, and the heads of numerous
domestic and civic delegations to be given audience. Old Von der
Tann stood close behind Barney prompting him upon the royal duties
that had fallen so suddenly upon his shoulders, and none thought it
strange that he was unfamiliar with the craft of kingship, for was
it not common knowledge that he had been kept a close prisoner in
Blentz since boyhood, nor been given any coaching for the duties
Peter of Blentz never intended he should perform?

After it was all over Prince Ludwig's grim and leathery face relaxed
into a smile of satisfaction.

"None who witnessed the conduct of your first audience, sire," he
said, "could for a moment doubt your royal lineage--if ever a man
was born to kingship, your majesty, it be you."

Barney smiled, a bit ruefully, however, for in his mind's eye he saw
a future moment when the proud old Prince von der Tann would know
the truth of the imposture that had been played upon him, and the
young man foresaw that he would have a rather unpleasant half-hour.

At a little distance from them Barney saw Emma von der Tann
surrounded by a group of officials and palace officers. Since he had
come to Lustadt that day he had had no word with her, and now he
crossed toward her, amused as the throng parted to form an aisle for
him, the men saluting and the women curtsying low.

He took both of the girl's hands in his, and, drawing one through
his arm, took advantage of the prerogatives of kingship to lead her
away from the throng of courtiers.

"I thought that I should never be done with all the tiresome
business which seems to devolve upon kings," he said, laughing. "All
the while that I should have been bending my royal intellect to
matters of state, I was wondering just how a king might find a way
to see the woman he loves without interruptions from the horde that
dogs his footsteps."

"You seem to have found a way, Leopold," she whispered, pressing his
arm close to her. "Kings usually do."

"It is not because I am a king that I found a way, Emma," he
replied. "It is because I am an American."

She looked up at him with an expression of pleading in her eyes.

"Why do you persist?" she cried. "You

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