When Barney regained consciousness he found himself upon a cot within the sanatorium. Close beside him lay Butzow, and above them stood an interne and several nurses. No sooner had the American regained his scattered wits than he leaped to the floor. The interne and the nurses tried to force him back upon the cot, thinking that he was in the throes of a delirium, and it required his best efforts to convince them that he was quite rational.
During the melee Butzow regained consciousness; his wound being as superficial as that of the American, the two men were soon donning their clothing, and, half-dressed, rushing toward the outer gate.
The interne had told them that when he had reached the scene of the conflict in company with the gardener he had found them and another lying upon the sward.
Their companion, he said, was quite dead.
“That must have been Stein,” said Butzow. “And the others had escaped with the king!”
“The king?” cried the interne.
“Yes, the king, man—Leopold of Lutha. Did you not know that he who has lain here for three weeks was the king?” replied Butzow.
The interne accompanied them to the gate and beyond, but everywhere was silence. The king was gone.
ON THE BATTLEFIELD
All that night and the following day Barney Custer and his aide rode in search of the missing king.
They came to Blentz, and there Butzow rode boldly into the great court, admitted by virtue of the fact that the guard upon the gate knew him only as an officer of the royal guard whom they believed still loyal to Peter of Blentz.
The lieutenant learned that the king was not there, nor had he been since his escape. He also learned that Peter was abroad in the lowland recruiting followers to aid him forcibly to regain the crown of Lutha.
The lieutenant did not wait to hear more, but, hurrying from the castle, rode to Barney where the latter had remained in hiding in the wood below the moat—the same wood through which he had stumbled a few weeks previously after his escape from the stagnant waters of the moat.
“The king is not here,” said Butzow to him, as soon as the former reached his side. “Peter is recruiting an army to aid him in seizing the palace at Lustadt, and king or no king, we must ride for the capital in time to check that move. Thank God,” he added, “that we shall have a king to place upon the throne of Lutha at noon tomorrow in spite of all that Peter can do.”
“What do you mean?” asked Barney. “Have you any clue to the whereabouts of Leopold?”
“I saw the man at Tafelberg whom you say is king,” replied Butzow. “I saw him tremble and whimper in the face of danger. I saw him run when he might have seized something, even a stone, and fought at the sides of the men who were come to rescue him. And I saw you there also.