The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 91

Lutha in your stead.
Having Peter of Blentz safely in custody our next immediate task
should be to hunt down the impostor and bring him to justice also;
though"--and the old prince sighed--"he was indeed a brave man, and
a noble figure of a king as he led your troops to battle."

The king had been smiling as Von der Tann first spoke of the
"impostor," but at the old man's praise of the other's bravery a
slight flush tinged his cheek, and the shadow of a scowl crossed his
brow.

"Wait," he said, "we shall not have to look far for your
'impostor,'" and summoning an aide he dispatched him for "Lieutenant
Butzow and Mr. Custer."

A moment later the two entered the audience chamber. Barney found
that Leopold the king, surrounded by comforts and safety, was a very
different person from Leopold the fugitive. The weak face now wore
an expression of arrogance, though the king spoke most graciously to
the American.

"Here, Von der Tann," said Leopold, "is your 'impostor.' But for him
I should doubtless be dead by now, or once again a prisoner at
Blentz."

Barney and Butzow found it necessary to repeat their stories several
times before the old man could fully grasp all that had transpired
beneath his very nose without his being aware of scarce a single
detail of it.

When he was finally convinced that they were telling the truth, he
extended his hand to the American.

"I knelt to you once, young man," he said, "and kissed your hand. I
should be filled with bitterness and rage toward you. On the
contrary, I find that I am proud to have served in the retinue of
such an impostor as you, for you upheld the prestige of the house of
Rubinroth upon the battlefield, and though you might have had a
crown, you refused it and brought the true king into his own."

Leopold sat tapping his foot upon the carpet. It was all very well
if he, the king, chose to praise the American, but there was no need
for old von der Tann to slop over so. The king did not like it. As a
matter of fact, he found himself becoming very jealous of the man
who had placed him upon his throne.

"There is only one thing that I can harbor against you," continued
Prince Ludwig, "and that is that in a single instance you deceived
me, for an hour before the coronation you told me that you were a
Rubinroth."

"I told you, prince," corrected Barney, "that the royal blood of
Rubinroth flowed in my veins,

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