The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 81

as he does not plot against the
true king.

"Major," he added, turning to the commander of the squadron at his
back, "we are returning to the palace. Your squadron will escort us,
remaining on guard there about the grounds. Prince Ludwig, you will
see that machine guns are placed about the palace and commanding the
approaches to the cathedral."

With a nod to the cavalry major he wheeled his horse and trotted up
the slope toward Lustadt.

With a grim smile Prince Ludwig von der Tann mounted his horse and
rode toward the fort. At his side were several of the nobles of
Lutha. They looked at him in astonishment.

"You are doing his bidding, although you do not know that he is the
true king?" asked one of them.

"Were he an impostor," replied the old man, "he would have insisted
by word of mouth that he is king. But not once has he said that he
is Leopold. Instead, he has proved his kingship by his acts."




XI

A TIMELY INTERVENTION

Nine o'clock found Barney Custer pacing up and down his apartments
in the palace. No clue as to the whereabouts of Coblich, Maenck or
the king had been discovered. One by one his troopers had returned
to Butzow empty-handed, and as much at a loss as to the hiding-place
of their quarry as when they had set out upon their search.

Peter of Blentz and his retainers had entered the city and already
had commenced to gather at the cathedral.

Peter, at the residence of Coblich, had succeeded in gathering about
him many of the older nobility whom he pledged to support him in
case he could prove to them that the man who occupied the royal
palace was not Leopold of Lutha.

They agreed to support him in his regency if he produced proof that
the true Leopold was dead, and Peter of Blentz waited with growing
anxiety the coming of Coblich with word that he had the king in
custody. Peter was staking all on a single daring move which he had
decided to make in his game of intrigue.

As Barney paced within the palace, waiting for word that Leopold had
been found, Peter of Blentz was filled with equal apprehension as
he, too, waited for the same tidings. At last he heard the pound of
hoofs upon the pavement without and a moment later Coblich, his
clothing streaked with dirt, blood caked upon his face from a wound
across the forehead, rushed into the presence of the prince regent.

Peter drew him hurriedly into a small study on the first floor.

"Well?" he whispered,

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