“It is futile to reason with you,” he said. “There is only one way to handle such as you. At present I hold the power to coerce you, and I shall continue to hold that power until I am safely out of your two-by-four kingdom. If you do as I say you shall have your throne back again. If you refuse, why by Heaven you shall never have it. I’ll stay king of Lutha myself.”
“What are your terms?” asked the king.
“That Prince Peter of Blentz, Captain Ernst Maenck, and old Von Coblich be tried, convicted, and hanged for high treason,” replied the American.
“That is easy,” said the king. “I should do so anyway immediately I resumed my throne. Now get up and give me my clothes. Take this cot and I will take the bed. None will know of the exchange.”
“Again you are too fast,” answered Barney. “There is another condition.”
“You must promise upon your royal honor that Ludwig, Prince von der Tann, remain chancellor of Lutha during your life or his.”
“Very well,” assented the king. “I promise,” and again he half rose from his cot.
“Hold on a minute,” admonished the American; “there is yet one more condition of which I have not made mention.”
“What, another?” exclaimed Leopold testily. “How much do you want for returning to me what you have stolen?”
“So far I have asked for nothing for myself,” replied Barney. “Now I am coming to that part of the agreement. The Princess Emma von der Tann is betrothed to you. She does not love you. She has honored me with her affection, but she will not wed until she has been formally released from her promise to wed Leopold of Lutha. The king must sign such a release and also a sanction of her marriage to Barney Custer, of Beatrice. Do you understand what I want?”
The king went livid. He came to his feet beside the cot. For the moment, his wound was forgotten. He tottered toward the impostor.
“You scoundrel!” he screamed. “You scoundrel! You have stolen my identity and my throne and now you wish to steal the woman who loves me.”
“Don’t get excited, Leo,” warned the American, “and don’t talk so loud. The Princess doesn’t love you, and you know it as well as I. She will never marry you. If you want your dinky throne back you’ll have to do as I desire; that is, sign the release and the sanction.
“Now let’s don’t have any heroics about it. You have the proposition. Now I am going to sleep. In the meantime you may think it over. If the papers are not ready when it comes time for us to leave, and from the way I feel now I rather think I shall be ready to mount a horse by morning, I shall ride back to Lustadt as king of Lutha, and I shall marry her highness into the bargain, and you may go hang!
“How the devil you will earn a living with that king job taken away from you I don’t know. You’re a long way from New York, and in the present state of carnage in Europe I rather doubt that there are many headwaiters jobs open this side of the American metropolis, and I can’t for the moment think of anything else at which you would shine—with all due respect to some excellent headwaiters I have known.”