“You are the only rightful successor to the throne of Lutha,” he argued, “other than Peter of Blentz. Your mother’s marriage to a foreigner did not bar the succession of her offspring. Aside from the fact that Peter of Blentz is out of the question, is the more important fact that your line is closer to the throne than his. He knew it, and this knowledge was the real basis of his hatred of you.”
As the old chancellor ceased speaking he drew his sword and raised it on high above his head.
“The king is dead,” he said. “Long live the king!”
KING OF LUTHA
Barney Custer, of Beatrice, had no desire to be king of Lutha. He lost no time in saying so. All that he wanted of Lutha was the girl he had found there, as his father before him had found the girl of his choice. Von der Tann pleaded with him.
“Twice have I fought under you, sire,” he urged. “Twice, and only twice since the old king died, have I felt that the future of Lutha was safe in the hands of her ruler, and both these times it was you who sat upon the throne. Do not desert us now. Let me live to see Lutha once more happy, with a true Rubinroth upon the throne and my daughter at his side.”
Butzow added his pleas to those of the old chancellor. The American hesitated.
“Let us leave it to the representatives of the people and to the house of nobles,” he suggested.
The chancellor of Lutha explained the situation to both houses. Their reply was unanimous. He carried it to the American, who awaited the decision of Lutha in the royal apartments of the palace. With him was the Princess Emma von der Tann.
“The people of Lutha will have no other king, sire,” said the old man.
Barney turned toward the girl.
“There is no other way, my lord king,” she said with grave dignity. “With her blood your mother bequeathed you a duty which you may not shirk. It is not for you or for me to choose. God chose for you when you were born.”
Barney Custer took her hand in his and raised it to his lips.
“Let the King of Lutha,” he said, “be the first to salute Lutha’s queen.”
And so Barney Custer, of Beatrice, was crowned King of Lutha, and Emma became his queen. Maenck died of his wound on the floor of the little room in the east transept of the cathedral of Lustadt beside the body of the king he had slain. Prince Peter of Blentz was tried by the highest court of Lutha on the charge of treason; he was found guilty and hanged. Von Coblich committed suicide on the eve of his arrest. Lieutenant Otto Butzow was ennobled and given the confiscated estates of the Blentz prince. He became a general in the army of Lutha, and was sent to the front in command of the army corps that guarded the northern frontier of the little kingdom.