The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 79

answer shall we send the
traitor who even now ignores the presence of his king?"

"Treat with him," replied the American. "He may be honest enough in
his belief that I am an impostor."

Von der Tann shrugged his shoulders, but did as Barney bid, and for
half an hour the young man waited with Butzow while Von der Tann and
Peter met halfway between the forces for their conference.

A dozen members of the most powerful of the older nobility
accompanied Ludwig. When they returned their faces were a picture of
puzzled bewilderment. With them were several officers, soldiers and
civilians from Peter's contingency.

"What said he?" asked Barney.

"He said, your majesty," replied Von der Tann, "that he is confident
you are not the king, and that these men he has sent with me knew
the king well at Blentz. As proof that you are not the king he has
offered the evidence of your own denials--made not only to his
officers and soldiers, but to the man who is now your loyal
lieutenant, Butzow, and to the Princess Emma von der Tann, my
daughter.

"He insists that he is fighting for the welfare of Lutha, while we
are traitors, attempting to seat an impostor upon the throne of the
dead Leopold. I will admit that we are at a loss, your majesty, to
know where lies the truth and where the falsity in this matter.

"We seek only to serve our country and our king but there are those
among us who, to be entirely frank, are not yet convinced that you
are Leopold. The result of the conference may not, then, meet with
the hearty approval of your majesty."

"What was the result?" asked Barney.

"It was decided that all hostilities cease, and that Prince Peter be
given an opportunity to establish the validity of his claim that
your majesty is an impostor. If he is able to do so to the entire
satisfaction of a majority of the old nobility, we have agreed to
support him in a return to his regency."

For a moment there was deep silence. Many of the nobles stood with
averted faces and eyes upon the ground.

The American, a half-smile upon his face, turned toward the men of
Peter who had come to denounce him. He knew what their verdict would
be. He knew that if he were to save the throne for Leopold he must
hold it at any cost until Leopold should be found.

Troopers were scouring the country about Lustadt as far as Blentz in
search of Maenck and Coblich. Could they locate these

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