The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 82

as the two faced each other.

"We have him," replied Coblich. "But we had the devil's own time
getting him. Stein was killed and Maenck and I both wounded, and all
morning we have spent the time hiding from troopers who seemed to be
searching for us. Only fifteen minutes since did we reach the
hiding-place that you instructed us to use. But we have him, your
highness, and he is in such a state of cowardly terror that he is
ready to agree to anything, if you will but spare his life and set
him free across the border."

"It is too late for that now, Coblich," replied Peter. "There is but
one way that Leopold of Lutha can serve me now, and that is--dead.
Were his corpse to be carried into the cathedral of Lustadt before
noon today, and were those who fetched it to swear that the king was
killed by the impostor after being dragged from the hospital at
Tafelberg where you and Maenck had located him, and from which you
were attempting to rescue him, I believe that the people would tear
our enemies to pieces. What say you, Coblich?"

The other stared at Peter of Blentz for several seconds while the
atrocity of his chief's plan filtered through his brain.

"My God!" he exclaimed at last. "You mean that you wish me to
murder Leopold with my own hands?"

"You put it too crudely, my dear Coblich," replied the other.

"I cannot do it," muttered Coblich. "I have never killed a man in
my life. I am getting old. No, I could never do it. I should not
sleep nights."

"If it is not done, Coblich, and Leopold comes into his own," said
Peter slowly, "you will be caught and hanged higher than Haman. And
if you do not do it, and the impostor is crowned today, then you
will be either hanged officially or knifed unofficially, and without
any choice in the matter whatsoever. Nothing, Coblich, but the dead
body of the true Leopold can save your neck. You have your choice,
therefore, of letting him live to prove your treason, or letting him
die and becoming chancellor of Lutha."

Slowly Coblich turned toward the door. "You are right," he said,
"but may God have mercy on my soul. I never thought that I should
have to do it with my own hands."

So saying he left the room and a moment later Peter of Blentz smiled
as he heard the pounding of a horse's hoofs upon the pavement
without.

Then the Regent entered the room he had

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