Half mad with terror, the girl seized upon the only subterfuge which seemed at all likely to succeed. It would, at least, give her a slight reprieve—a little time in which to think, and possibly find an avenue from her predicament.
She staggered forward a step, clapped her two hands above her heart, and reeled as though to fall. Butzow, who had been watching her narrowly, sprang forward and caught her in his arms, where she lay limp with closed eyes as though in a dead faint. The king ran forward. The people craned their necks. A sudden burst of exclamations rose throughout the cathedral, and then Lieutenant Butzow, shouldering his way past the chancel, carried the Princess Emma to a little anteroom off the east transept. Behind him walked the king, the bishop, and Prince Ludwig.
After a hurried breakfast Peter of Blentz and Captain Ernst Maenck left the castle of Blentz. Prince Peter rode north toward the frontier, Austria, and safety, Captain Maenck rode south toward Lustadt. Neither knew that general orders had been issued to soldiery and gendarmerie of Lutha to capture them dead or alive. So Prince Peter rode carelessly; but Captain Maenck, because of the nature of his business and the proximity of enemies about Lustadt, proceeded with circumspection.
Prince Peter was arrested at Tafelberg, and, though he stormed and raged and threatened, he was immediately packed off under heavy guard back toward Lustadt.
Captain Ernst Maenck was more fortunate. He reached the capital of Lutha in safety, though he had to hide on several occasions from detachments of troops moving toward the north. Once within the city he rode rapidly to the house of a friend. Here he learned that which set him into a fine state of excitement and profanity. The king and the Princess Emma von der Tann were to be wed that very afternoon! It lacked but half an hour to four o’clock.
Maenck grabbed his cap and dashed from the house before his astonished friend could ask a single question. He hurried straight toward the cathedral. The king had just arrived, and entered when Maenck came up, breathless. The guard at the doorway did not recognize him. If they had they would have arrested him. Instead they contented themselves with refusing him admission, and when he insisted they threatened him with arrest.
To be arrested now would be to ruin his fine plan, so he turned and walked away. At the first cross street he turned up the side of the cathedral. The grounds were walled up on this side, and he sought in vain for entrance. At the rear he discovered a limousine standing in the alley where its chauffeur had left it after depositing his passengers at the front door of the cathedral. The top of the limousine was but a foot or two below the top of the wall.
Maenck clambered to the hood of the machine, and from there to the top. A moment later he dropped to the earth inside the cathedral grounds. Before him were many windows. Most of them were too high for him to reach, and the others that he tried at first were securely fastened. Passing around the end of the building, he at last discovered one that was open—it led into the east transept.