“What means this intrusion?” cried the girl.
“What would you have here?”
“You,” replied Maenck.
The girl crimsoned.
Maenck regarded her sneeringly.
“You coward!” she cried. “Leave my apartments at once. Not even Peter of Blentz would countenance such abhorrent treatment of a prisoner.”
“You do not know Peter my dear,” responded Maenck. “But you need not fear. You shall be my wife. Peter has promised me a baronetcy for the capture of Leopold, and before I am done I shall be made a prince, of that you may rest assured, so you see I am not so bad a match after all.”
He crossed over toward her and would have laid a rough hand upon her arm.
The girl sprang away from him, running to the opposite side of the library table at which she had been reading. Maenck started to pursue her, when she seized a heavy, copper bowl that stood upon the table and hurled it full in his face. The missile struck him a glancing blow, but the edge laid open the flesh of one cheek almost to the jaw bone.
With a cry of pain and rage Captain Ernst Maenck leaped across the table full upon the young girl. With vicious, murderous fingers he seized upon her fair throat, shaking her as a terrier might shake a rat. Futilely the girl struck at the hate-contorted features so close to hers.
“Stop!” she cried. “You are killing me.”
The fingers released their hold.
“No,” muttered the man, and dragged the princess roughly across the room.
Half a dozen steps he had taken when there came a sudden crash of breaking glass from the window across the chamber. Both turned in astonishment to see the figure of a man leap into the room, carrying the shattered crystal and the casement with him. In one hand was a naked sword.
“The king!” cried Emma von der Tann.
“The devil!” muttered Maenck, as, dropping the girl, he scurried toward the great painting from behind which he had found ingress to the chambers of the princess.
Maenck was a coward, and he had seen murder in the eyes of the man rushing upon him. With a bound he reached the picture which still stood swung wide into the room.
Barney was close behind him, but fear lent wings to the governor of Blentz, so that he was able to dart into the passage behind the picture and slam the door behind him a moment before the infuriated man was upon him.
The American clawed at the edge of the massive frame, but all to no avail. Then he raised his sword and slashed the canvas, hoping to find a way into the place beyond, but mighty oaken panels barred his further progress. With a whispered oath he turned back toward the girl.
“Thank Heaven that I was in time, Emma,” he cried.
“Oh, Leopold, my king, but at what a price,” replied the girl. “He will return now with others and kill you. He is furious—so furious that he scarce knows what he does.”