Troopers were scouring the country about Lustadt as far as Blentz in search of Maenck and Coblich. Could they locate these two and arrest them “with all found in their company,” as his order read, he felt sure that he would be able to deliver the missing king to his subjects in time for the coronation at noon.
Barney looked straight into the eyes of old Von der Tann.
“You have given us the opinion of others, Prince Ludwig,” he said. “Now you may tell us your own views of the matter.”
“I shall have to abide by the decision of the majority,” replied the old man. “But I have seen your majesty under fire, and if you are not the king, for Lutha’s sake you ought to be.”
“He is not Leopold,” said one of the officers who had accompanied the prince from Peter’s camp. “I was governor of Blentz for three years and as familiar with the king’s face as with that of my own brother.”
“No,” cried several of the others, “this man is not the king.”
Several of the nobles drew away from Barney. Others looked at him questioningly.
Butzow stepped close to his side, and it was noticeable that the troopers, and even the officers, of the Royal Horse which Barney had led in the charge upon the two batteries in the wood, pressed a little closer to the American. This fact did not escape Butzow’s notice.
“If you are content to take the word of the servants of a traitor and a would-be regicide,” he cried, “I am not. There has been no proof advanced that this man is not the king. In so far as I am concerned he is the king, nor ever do I expect to serve another more worthy of the title.
“If Peter of Blentz has real proof—not the testimony of his own faction—that Leopold of Lutha is dead, let him bring it forward before noon today, for at noon we shall crown a king in the cathedral at Lustadt, and I for one pray to God that it may be he who has led us in battle today.”
A shout of applause rose from the Royal Horse, and from the foot-soldiers who had seen the king charge across the plain, scattering the enemy before him.
Barney, appreciating the advantage in the sudden turn affairs had taken following Butzow’s words, swung to his saddle.
“Until Peter of Blentz brings to Lustadt one with a better claim to the throne,” he said, “we shall continue to rule Lutha, nor shall other than Leopold be crowned her king. We approve of the amnesty you have granted, Prince Ludwig, and Peter of Blentz is free to enter Lustadt, as he will, so long as he does not plot against the true king.
“Major,” he added, turning to the commander of the squadron at his back, “we are returning to the palace. Your squadron will escort us, remaining on guard there about the grounds. Prince Ludwig, you will see that machine guns are placed about the palace and commanding the approaches to the cathedral.”
With a nod to the cavalry major he wheeled his horse and trotted up the slope toward Lustadt.