The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 90

to the aisle, that he might meet the
impostor at the foot of the chancel steps. The procession was moving
steadily up the aisle.

Among the clan of Von der Tann a young girl with wide eyes was
bending forward that she might have a better look at the face of the
king. As he came opposite her her eyes filled with horror, and then
she saw the eyes of the smooth-faced stranger at the king's side.
They were brave, laughing eyes, and as they looked straight into her
own the truth flashed upon her, and the girl gave a gasp of dismay
as she realized that the king of Lutha and the king of her heart
were not one and the same.

At last the head of the procession was almost at the foot of the
chancel steps. There were murmurs of: "It is not the king," and "Who
is this new impostor?"

Leopold's eyes were searching the faces of the close-packed nobility
about the chancel. At last they fell upon the face of Peter. The
young man halted not two paces from the Regent. The man went white
as the king's eyes bored straight into his miserable soul.

"Peter of Blentz," cried the young man, "as God is your judge, tell
the truth today. Who am I?"

The legs of the Prince Regent trembled. He sank upon his knees,
raising his hands in supplication toward the other. "Have pity on
me, your majesty, have pity!" he cried.

"Who am I, man?" insisted the king.

"You are Leopold Rubinroth, sire, by the grace of God, king of
Lutha," cried the frightened man. "Have mercy on an old man, your

"Wait! Am I mad? Was I ever mad?"

"As God is my judge, sire, no!" replied Peter of Blentz.

Leopold turned to Butzow.

"Remove the traitor from our presence," he commanded, and at a word
from the lieutenant a dozen guardsmen seized the trembling man and
hustled him from the cathedral amid hisses and execrations.

Following the coronation the king was closeted in his private
audience chamber in the palace with Prince Ludwig.

"I cannot understand what has happened, even now, your majesty," the
old man was saying. "That you are the true Leopold is all that I am
positive of, for the discomfiture of Prince Peter evidenced that
fact all too plainly. But who the impostor was who ruled Lutha in
your name for two days, disappearing as miraculously as he came, I
cannot guess.

"But for another miracle which preserved you for us in the nick of
time he might now be wearing the crown of

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