The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 88

facing the
assemblage raised a silencing hand.

"He who claimed to be Leopold of Lutha," he said, "was but a mad
adventurer. He would have seized the throne of the Rubinroths had
his nerve not failed him at the last moment. He has fled. The true
king is dead. Now I, Prince Regent of Lutha, declare the throne
vacant, and announce myself king!"

There were a few scattered cheers and some hissing. A score of the
nobles rose as though to protest, but before any could take a step
the attention of all was directed toward the sorry figure of a
white-faced man who scurried up the broad center aisle.

It was Coblich.

He ran to Peter's side, and though he attempted to speak in a
whisper, so out of breath, and so filled with hysterical terror was
he that his words came out in gasps that were audible to many of
those who stood near by.

"Maenck is dead," he cried. "The impostor has stolen the king."

Peter of Blentz went white as his lieutenant. Von der Tann heard
and demanded an explanation.

"You said that Leopold was dead," he said accusingly.

Peter regained his self-control quickly.

"Coblich is excited," he explained. "He means that the impostor has
stolen the body of the king that Coblich and Maenck had discovered
and were bringing to Lustadt."

Von der Tann looked troubled.

He knew not what to make of the series of wild tales that had come
to his ears within the past hour. He had hoped that the young man
whom he had last seen in the king's apartments was the true Leopold.
He would have been glad to have served such a one, but there had
been many inexplicable occurrences which tended to cast a doubt upon
the man's claims--and yet, had he ever claimed to be the king? It
suddenly occurred to the old prince that he had not. On the contrary
he had repeatedly stated to Prince Ludwig's daughter and to
Lieutenant Butzow that he was not Leopold.

It seemed that they had all been so anxious to believe him king that
they had forced the false position upon him, and now if he had
indeed committed the atrocity that Coblich charged against him, who
could wonder? With less provocation men had before attempted to
seize thrones by more dastardly means.

Peter of Blentz was speaking.

"Let the coronation proceed," he cried, "that Lutha may have a true
king to frustrate the plans of the impostor and the traitors who had
supported him."

He cast a meaning glance at Prince von der Tann.

There were many cries

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