The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 89

for Peter of Blentz. "Let's have done with
treason, and place upon the throne of Lutha one whom we know to be
both a Luthanian and sane. Down with the mad king! Down with the
impostor!"

Peter turned to ascend the chancel steps.

Von der Tann still hesitated. Below him upon one side of the aisle
were massed his own retainers. Opposite them were the men of the
Regent, and dividing the two the parallel ranks of Horse Guards
stretched from the chancel down the broad aisle to the great doors.
These were strongly for the impostor, if impostor he was, who had
led them to victory over the men of the Blentz faction.

Von der Tann knew that they would fight to the last ditch for their
hero should he come to claim the crown. Yet how would they fight--to
which side would they cleave, were he to attempt to frustrate the
design of the Regent to seize the throne of Lutha?

Already Peter of Blentz had approached the bishop, who, eager to
propitiate whoever seemed most likely to become king, gave the
signal for the procession that was to mark the solemn bearing of the
crown of Lutha up the aisle to the chancel.

Outside the cathedral there was the sudden blare of trumpets. The
great doors swung violently open, and the entire throng were upon
their feet in an instant as a trooper of the Royal Horse shouted:
"The king! The king! Make way for Leopold of Lutha!"




XII

THE GRATITUDE OF A KING

At the cry silence fell upon the throng. Every head was turned
toward the great doors through which the head of a procession was
just visible. It was a grim looking procession--the head of it, at
least.

There were four khaki-clad trumpeters from the Royal Horse Guards,
the gay and resplendent uniforms which they should have donned today
conspicuous for their absence. From their brazen bugles sounded
another loud fanfare, and then they separated, two upon each side of
the aisle, and between them marched three men.

One was tall, with gray eyes and had a reddish-brown beard. He was
fully clothed in the coronation robes of Leopold. Upon his either
hand walked the others--Lieutenant Butzow and a gray-eyed,
smooth-faced, square-jawed stranger.

Behind them marched the balance of the Royal Horse Guards that were
not already on duty within the cathedral. As the eyes of the
multitude fell upon the man in the coronation robes there were cries
of: "The king! Impostor!" and "Von der Tann's puppet!"

"Denounce him!" whispered one of Peter's henchmen in his master's
ear.

The Regent moved closer

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