The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 92

and so it does. I am the son of the
runaway Princess Victoria of Lutha."

Both Leopold and Ludwig looked their surprise, and to the king's
eyes came a sudden look of fear. With the royal blood in his veins,
what was there to prevent this popular hero from some day striving
for the throne he had once refused? Leopold knew that the minds of
men were wont to change most unaccountably.

"Butzow," he said suddenly to the lieutenant of horse, "how many do
you imagine know positively that he who has ruled Lutha for the past
two days and he who was crowned in the cathedral this noon are not
one and the same?"

"Only a few besides those who are in this room, your majesty,"
replied Butzow. "Peter and Coblich have known it from the first, and
then there is Kramer, the loyal old shopkeeper of Tafelberg, who
followed Coblich and Maenck all night and half a day as they dragged
the king to the hiding-place where we found him. Other than these
there may be those who guess the truth, but there are none who
know."

For a moment the king sat in thought. Then he rose and commenced
pacing back and forth the length of the apartment.

"Why should they ever know?" he said at last, halting before the
three men who had been standing watching him. "For the sake of Lutha
they should never know that another than the true king sat upon the
throne even for an hour."

He was thinking of the comparison that might be drawn between the
heroic figure of the American and his own colorless part in the
events which had led up to his coronation. In his heart of hearts he
felt that old Von der Tann rather regretted that the American had
not been the king, and he hated the old man accordingly, and was
commencing to hate the American as well.

Prince Ludwig stood looking at the carpet after the king had spoken.
His judgment told him that the king's suggestion was a wise one; but
he was sorry and ashamed that it had come from Leopold. Butzow's
lips almost showed the contempt that he felt for the ingratitude of
his king.

Barney Custer was the first to speak.

"I think his majesty is quite right," he said, "and tonight I can
leave the palace after dark and cross the border some time tomorrow
evening. The people need never know the truth."

Leopold looked relieved.

"We must reward you, Mr. Custer," he said. "Name that which it lies
within our power to grant you and it

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