The Mad King eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 342 pages of information about The Mad King.

Peter of Blentz.  Send for Peter of Blentz!  Barney wondered just what kind of a sensation it was to stand facing a firing squad.  He hoped that his knees wouldn’t tremble—­they felt a trifle weak even now.  There was a chance that the man might not recall his face, but a very slight chance.  It had been his remarkable likeness to Leopold of Lutha that had resulted in the snatching of a crown from Prince Peter’s head.

Likely indeed that he would ever forget his, Barney’s, face, though he had seen it but once without the red beard that had so added to Barney’s likeness to the king.  But Maenck would be along, of course, and Maenck would have no doubts—­he had seen Barney too recently in Beatrice to fail to recognize him now.

Several men were entering the room where Barney stood before the general and his staff.  A glance revealed to the prisoner that Peter of Blentz had come, and with him Von Coblich and Maenck.  At the same instant Peter’s eyes met Barney’s, and the former, white and wide-eyed came almost to a dead halt, grasping hurriedly at the arm of Maenck who walked beside him.

“My God!” was all that Barney heard him say, but he spoke a name that the American did not hear.  Maenck also looked his surprise, but his expression was suddenly changed to one of malevolent cunning and gratification.  He turned toward Prince Peter with a few low-whispered words.  A look of relief crossed the face of the Blentz prince.

“You appear to know the gentleman,” said the general who had been conducting Barney’s examination.  “He has been arrested as a Serbian spy, and military passes in your name were found upon his person together with the papers of an American newspaper correspondent, which he claims to be.  He is charged with being Stefan Drontoff, whom we long have been anxious to apprehend.  Do you chance to know anything about him, Prince Peter?”

“Yes,” replied Peter of Blentz, “I know him well by sight.  He entered my room last night and stole the military passes from my coat—­we all saw him and pursued him, but he got away in the dark.  There can be no doubt but that he is the Serbian spy.”

“He insists that he is Bernard Custer, an American,” urged the general, who, it seemed to Barney, was anxious to make no mistake, and to give the prisoner every reasonable chance—­a state of mind that rather surprised him in a European military chieftain, all of whom appeared to share the popular obsession regarding the prevalence of spies.

“Pardon me, general,” interrupted Maenck.  “I am well acquainted with Mr. Custer, who spent some time in Lutha a couple of years ago.  This man is not he.”

“That is sufficient, gentlemen, I thank you,” said the general.  He did not again look at the prisoner, but turned to a lieutenant who stood near-by.  “You may remove the prisoner,” he directed.  “He will be destroyed with the others—­here is the order,” and he handed the subaltern a printed form upon which many names were filled in and at the bottom of which the general had just signed his own.  It had evidently been waiting the outcome of the examination of Stefan Drontoff.

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The Mad King from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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