For some time the king remained silent. He was thinking. He realized that it lay in the power of the American to do precisely what he had threatened to do. No one would doubt his identity. Even Peter of Blentz had not recognized the real king despite Leopold’s repeated and hysterical claims.
Lieutenant Butzow, the American’s best friend, had no more suspected the exchange of identities. Von der Tann, too, must have been deceived. Everyone had been deceived. There was no hope that the people, who really saw so little of their king, would guess the deception that was being played upon them. Leopold groaned. Barney opened his eyes and turned toward him.
“What’s the matter?” he asked.
“I will sign the release and the sanction of her highness’ marriage to you,” said the king.
“Good!” exclaimed the American. “You will then go at once to Brosnov as originally planned. I will return to Lustadt and get her highness, and we will immediately leave Lutha via Brosnov. There you and I will effect a change of raiment, and you will ride back to Lustadt with the small guard that accompanies her highness and me to the frontier.”
“Why do you not remain in Lustadt?” asked the king. “You could as well be married there as elsewhere.”
“Because I don’t trust your majesty,” replied the American. “It must be done precisely as I say or not at all. Are you agreeable?”
The king assented with a grumpy nod.
“Then get up and write as I dictate,” said Barney. Leopold of Lutha did as he was bid. The result was two short, crisply worded documents. At the bottom of each was the signature of Leopold of Lutha. Barney took the two papers and carefully tucked them beneath his pillow.
“Now let’s sleep,” he said. “It is getting late and we both need the rest. In the morning we have long rides ahead of us. Good night.”
The king did not respond. In a short time Barney was fast asleep. The light still burned.
“The king’s will is law”
The Blentz princess frowned down upon the king and impostor impartially from her great gilt frame. It must have been close to midnight that the painting moved—just a fraction of an inch. Then it remained motionless for a time. Again it moved. This time it revealed a narrow crack at its edge. In the crack an eye shone.
One of the sleepers moved. He opened his eyes. Stealthily he raised himself on his elbow and gazed at the other across the apartment. He listened intently. The regular breathing of the sleeper proclaimed the soundness of his slumber. Gingerly the man placed one foot upon the floor. The eye glued to the crack at the edge of the great, gilt frame of the Blentz princess remained fastened upon him. He let his other foot slip to the floor beside the first. Carefully he raised himself until he stood erect upon the floor. Then, on tiptoe he started across the room.