Through the Eyes of a Poet: Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Mad King
John "Bridge" Martin
I was out on The Garage Sale Trail the other day when I stopped at a sale that had a large wooden box, about the size of a box of oranges. Inside were several pieces of the rare, ruby-flash Cambridge style glass my wife collects, and the whole box had a price of just $10.
Naturally, I bought it, figuring my wife would be ecstatic over the glass and that I myself could use the box to store some of my book collection which wouldn't fit on my shelves. I soon realized it contained a far more valuable treasure.
I took the box home and unpacked each piece from the old newsprint that had been carefully wrapped around it.
Being a former newspaper man, I have always enjoyed looking at other newspapers, especially old ones. I spread the sheets out carefully and put some spare Burroughs books on them to flatten them out. Later, when I looked at them, I saw they were in a foreign language. But one word in the gothic-style type at the top of the page stood out clearly. It was the word: Lustadt.
Immediately, I thought of the kingdom of Lutha, whose capital was Lustadt, and all the events which had taken place in the Burroughs book, "The Mad King." Up until now, I had supposed the story was merely fiction. But now I wondered, if there was really a Lustadt, could the events of "The Mad King" have been real?
Excited, I looked up a local college professor with experience in foreign languages.
He spent several weeks working on a translation while I agonized and fretted, wondering what he would discover. The only clue to the contents of this front page was a photograph showing a bland section of mountain highway with a "Danger: Curve" sign in the foreground. Nothing to get very excited about.
At last he telephoned me and I rushed to his office to learn what he had found. He gave me neatly typed manuscripts of the four stories on page one, as well as the headlines. Unfortunately, the old newspaper had been creased right at the point which carried the exact date of publication, and that part had disintegrated due to age and wear.
However, I think you will find the four translations of extreme interest.
To avoid over-taxing the erblist server, I will break these stories into four posts.
The name of the newspaper was translated as THE LUSTADT LEDGER and a banner headline proclaimed: Lutha's Mad King on the Loose.
Beneath it were four stories, only one of which had to do directly with the banner headline. But I think that readers of The Mad King will recognize a familiar thread in all of them.
I'll save the banner headline story for last. But here is the text of the story which appeared beneath the photo of the mountain road:
ROAD WORK DUE
TAFELBERG Repairs long overdue are set to be made on the mountain road near here next month, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation said today.
"The road was all right when there were just horses and horsecarts," said the spokesman, "but with more fast automobiles using these roads, that stretch of highway is becoming an accident waiting to happen."
Plans call for widening of the narrow highway, which has a 100-foot drop in places on one side, and 10- to 15-foot high banks on the other. Dirt will be removed from the banks to permit the widening.
"I was out looking at the road the other day," said the spokesman, "and two machines could not have passed on it. There was room for a horse alongside a car, but just barely."
Here is the second story translated from the old newspaper, "The Lustadt Ledger":
PRINCESS TO TRAIN
TANN The public was urged today to avail itself of an opportunity to participate in a new series of horsemanship classes, to be held at Riverside Stables here.
Perhaps the biggest attraction to the lessons, other than the fact that the class will be taught by experienced riders on leave from the Royal Horse Guard, is the fact that Princess Emma von der Tann herself will be enrolled.
"In a way, I don't need any lessons," said the princess, "because I ride much. But I can always stand to learn a few new tricks, just like anyone else."
In addition to lessons in basic horsemanship, the classes will also include instruction on how to handle dangerous situations, such as how to stop a frightened, crazed, beserk, runaway horse.
"I'm looking forward to the lessons," said the princess.
Enrollment starts the first of next week with classes to begin in 10 days.
This is the third of four stories that were translated for me from the old "Lustadt Ledger":
BRIGANDS A THREAT
LUSTADT Despite a decline in the number of brigands roaming the Luthan highlands, the outlaws are still in abundant enough numbers to pose a problem to the uncautious traveler or rural dweller, a palace communique warned today.
The official document said many of the brigands are headquartered in rockbound, impregnable places, where can be found natural clearings and sheltered hollows.
One of the most notorious of the criminals, a blond giant known as "Yellow Franz," is thought to be operating out of such a headquarters in the Black Mountains.
Franz is readily recognizable by his outfits of gaudy colors, his deceptive wide grin, his lavishly decorated knives and pistols, and his huge, ham-like hands.
His band of followers are evil-looking fellows who ride stocky, rough-coated ponies and sport villainous weapons.
They rob, murder and kidnap without compassion.
The number of brigands has declined in recent years, in proportion to the increasing influx of tourists, which have included a large number of adventure-seeking, self-styled "cowboys" from such American states as Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska and other parts of that country's "West."
Having apparently shot up all the outlaws and savages in that once-untamed land, many frustrated do-gooders are coming to this country fully armed in hopes of encountering and dispatching our outlaws.
They have indeed accounted for a large number of brigands who have infested the Luthan hills, and the brigands have, likewise, taken their toll in gun-toting tourists.
The last story that I had translated by the college professor:
The Lustadt Ledger
LUTHA'S MAD KING ON THE LOOSE
Nation in Uproar
BLENTZ Fear, both for the life of Leopold, king of Lutha, and for the lives of those with whom he may come in contact, gripped the kingdom today with news that the so-called "mad king" had escaped from Castle Blentz here.
According to a highly placed royal spokesman, the king, 23, had been missing from his quarters for about 12 hours at press time.
Prince Peter of Blentz himself, the regent who rules in place of the incapacitated king, was quoted as saying Leopold is "a dangerous maniac." He promised a handsome reward for his safe return.
Placards with descriptions of the missing monarch are to be placed today on trees, fence posts and at all rural post offices.
For most Luthans, the last glimpse of their king was when he, up to the age of 13, and a handsome lad, had ridden out nearly every morning from the palace with his father, the old king, for a canter across the broad plain that lies at the foot of the mountains near Lustadt.
The Rubinroth family has held onto the royal throne with an unbroken line which stretches back 300 years.
The madness overtook the youthful king coincidental with his father's death.
It has been speculated that his father's death was too much for the lad and the madness was a direct outgrowth of his grief.
Said a palace spokesman, "We have always hoped that God, in his infinite mercy, shall see fit to restore to us in full mental vigor our beloved monarch."
Making the sudden disappearance even more tragic was the news that a Dr. Stein, a specialist in his field, had just arrived at the palace and hopes were high that he could resolve the king's situation once and for all.
So that's what I found. I tell you, it got me excited so excited that I sat down and read "The Mad King" all over again. And, chapter by chapter, I will be sharing my comments on the story at erblist.
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter I A Runaway Horse
Most Edgar Rice Burroughs fans can quote the opening two sentences to this novel: "All Lustadt was in an uproar. The mad king had escaped."
It is a good beginning short, action-packed sentences that capture the reader's attention and raise questions that will be answered only by further reading: Where is Lustadt? Are the people in an uproar because they are happy, angry, or perhaps frightened? Who is the mad king? Why and how did he escape, and from where? Who was holding him prisoner, and why?
The first chapter then races through scene after scene which answers some questions while continually raising others.
The mad king had not been seen since 10 years before, when his father died and young Leopold was rushed to Castle Blentz and was said to have become insane through grief. Prince Peter of Blentz, whom the reader instinctively recognizes as a villain because he dwelt in the "grim castle" of Blentz, was named Regent to rule in Leopold's stead.
Coblich, Blentz's partner in crime, feared some of their hidden motives over the years might have come to the attention of "old Von der Tann" (Prince Ludwig) and, since he is an enemy of Blentz, we realize he must be a good guy.
Captain Ernst Maenck was summoned by the two and dispatched with the Royal Horse Guard to arrange a convenient "accident" for Von der Tann.
Meanwhile, a roadster with a greedy maw was being refilled at a gas station and its owner, Bernard (Barney) Custer, is revealed to have a full face of whiskers due to an election bet. This establishes him as a fun-loving but noble character, since only a fun-lover would make such a bet, and only a noble man would honor his debt when he lost, even in Lutha, far away from his home range of Beatrice, Nebraska, where no one would know if the beard had been shorn or not.
And what was Barney Custer doing in Lutha, the country in which the town of Lustadt is located? Well, a little bit of sport hunting and sight-seeing, but also visiting for the first time the country of his mother, Victoria, who was stolen away as a bride years before by his adventurous father.
Barney was a man of action, which we quickly discover when he encountered a beautiful woman on a runaway horse on a narrow mountain road. Barney risked all to save her, and almost gave all, with his car, the horse and himself all plunging into a ravine, but doing so in such a way that the girl herself was left sprawled, but safe, on the mountain road.
(And so briefly described it goes almost unnoticed is a paragraph that tells of an onlooker, wearing a beard much like Barney's, who briefly listened to the purring of Barney's approaching roadster, and then slunk off into the underbrush.)
Having heard reports of the escape of Lutha's mad king, and being a bit of a devil-may-care kind of guy, Barney, with a verbal wink, at last introduced himself to the delivered damsel with a chapter-closer that demands the reader go on, introducing himself to the lady by saying, "I am the Mad King of Lutha."
Test Your ERB Sense:
(I'll plan to close each of these posts with a question or two, most of which may be answered if you have previously read The Mad King and have a good memory... or if you just have a good idea of the type of thing that ERB would write! Thus, your "ERB sense.")
1. What color is Barney Custer's roadster?
2. During the reign of Peter of Blentz, Regent of Lutha, taxes (a) doubled, (b) tripled, (c) became oppresive.
3. What language do they speak in Lutha?
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter II Over the Precipice
When Barney Custer rescued a lady from a runaway horse, he jokingly (he thought) introduced himself to her as the Mad King of Lutha. Instead of hearing her chuckle, however, Barney saw a look of wonderment and concern on her face. He actually bore a striking resemblance to the king and the girl, who had not seen the king since he was taken from public view at the age of 13, believed he really was the the rightful king. She called him Leopold and displayed appropriate protocol, and immediately, the situation became complicated.
Barney tried to straighten her out, but she believed he was just trying to cover his true identity by claiming that he was someone named Barney Custer.
Her insistence on believing that was so intense, and so sincere, in fact, that soon Barney Custer started believing that, if anyone was insane, it was the young lady herself.
Gentleman that he was, he determined to help her find her way back to the asylum from which she had no doubt escaped.
However, he also couldn't help but take a bit of a fancy to her, and the reader notices that a bond was developing as they made their way through the forest, even though each thought the other was insane. In one instance, Barney had to carry the woman, who has introduced herself as Princess Emma von der Tann, across a stream, and it felt so good to have her in his arms that he engineered the stream crossing so it took longer than it otherwise would. She, on the other hand, noticed the lengths to which this insane and yet likable man was going to cross a simple waterway, but she liked it, as well as him.
She was guiding him to Castle Von der Tann, near the Tann River. She explained that her family had been loyal to the house of Leopold for the past 300 years. Barney, meanwhile, hoped that they were really heading toward the insane asylum, since he believed this princess and castle stuff to be part of her delusion!
But their journey was interrupted when a brigand burst from the bushes, brandishing a pistol. First, he intended to collect money. Then, he saw a chance for even more money, as he, too, "recognized" the missing Leopold in his clutches, and was not a fat rerward offered for the mad king - dead or alive?
The brigand ordered Barney to reach and Barney reached, not for the sky but for the outlaw's gun and soon the two were locked in combat. Emma grabbed a rock to try to bonk the brigand on the head, but before she could hit him (or, by mistake, Barney), they both rolled over a precipice and down into a ravine.
About that time, three troopers showed up and accompanied the princess as she scrambled down the embankment to see if her new friend was okay. At first, she thought he was dead, and revealed his identity to the soliders, who were pleased that they would be able to bring their ruler the news.
"The king is dead," the officer said and, in a reference to Peter of Blentz, added: "Long live the king."
Test your ERB Sense:
1. Until what date was Barney pledged to wait until he could shave off his beard?
2. If Barney had not been willing to grow a beard as a consequence for losing his election bet, he would have been honor-bound to do what?
3. What three colors stood out on Barney's head?
4. What color were the eyes of Emma von der Tann?
Answers to previous quiz:
2. (a) doubled.
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter III An Angry King
The title of this book suggests insanity. But the word "mad" has more than one meaning, and the title of this chapter brings out the other, in the reaction of Barney Custer to the disrespect shown to his new acquaintance, Princess Emma von der Tann.
The last chapter closed with the princess thinking that Barney, who she believed to be Leopold, the mad king of Lutha, was dead. A few soldiers who happened along at the right time stood in awe at the death of a king, while Emma cradled his head in her lap, and mourned, but also took his wrists, hoping for a sign of life.
Suddenly, Barney opened his eyes and the quick-thinking Emma immediately regretted she had told the soldiers this was the king and, at the same time, attempted to keep them from discovering he was still alive.
She wanted the soldiers to leave her in the forest to mourn, but they insisted on taking the body to Peter of Blentz, along with her, since their orders were to bring back any found in the company of the escaped, mentally unbalanced king.
About that time, Barney fully woke up and tossed out a couple of clever one-liners. As the soldiers prepared to take him in, he tried to explain that he was not really Leopold. But, of course, that proved he was, indeed, Leopold, since only their mad king would claim not be one.
As they rode to the Castle of Blentz, Barney began to realize that Emma might not be insane, as he previously thought, since the soldiers addressed her as "princess."
Not as respectful, though was the keeper of the castle gate, one Karl Schonau, who refered to Emma as a wench, prompting the first manifestation of the angry king, as Barney leaped from his horse and decked him. Schonau drew his sword to run Barney through, but one of the soldiers, Lieutenant Butzow, and Emma herself came to his defense.
Butzow then respectfully delivered Barney to his superior, Captain Ernest Maenck. Once again, Barney tried explaining to the captain his true identity and petitioned for the immediate release of himself and the princess. However, once again his explanation was taken for the ravings of a madman. Worse, since the true king had been kept in isolation for ten years, Maenck had never laid eyes on him. And, further, all of the palace staff those who would have been familiar with the true king had been replaced after his escape, to get rid of any who may have had a role in his break for freedom.
Emma didn't like the way Maenck addressed her king, and she told him so. She was aware of all the "nasty stories of Maenck's past life," too.
Maenck ordered Barney to be confined and, at the same time, insulted Emma.
Once again, this caused the angry king to surface, as Barney charged Maenck, pummeling him before Butzow pulled him off and tried to get between "the king" and the captain. In the dust-up, Maenck took a sword swipe at Barney but the American fended it off. Butzow then did something the reader may not have expected. With drawn sword, he ordered his superior officer to cease his efforts to harm the king. He had sworn an oath to protect the king of Lutha, and he intended to keep it. He hinted that he would have no choice but to slay Maenck should the king order him to do so.
Since Butzow was known as a master swordsman, Maenck wisely backed off. Barney demanded he apologize to Emma, and that, too, came grudgingly from the lips of Maenck.
However, Barney still had to go directly to jail, his prison a small apartment on an upper floor, with locked doors.
Test your ERB Sense:
1. When Emma thought "the mad king" was dead, she took his wrists and did what?
A. Felt for a pulse
B. Chafed them
C. Held them to her cheek
D. Kissed them
2. What did Barney use to fend off Maenck's first sword thrust?
Answers to previous quiz:
1. November 5
2. He would have had to wear a green wastebasket bonnett trimmed with red roses for six months.
3. Gray (eyes), brown (hair) and reddish-brown [chapter 2] or just plain red [chapter 1] (beard).
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter IV Barney Finds a Friend
After Barney was taken away, Captain Maenck made an attempt to sweet-talk Emma but she, of the noble house of Von der Tann, preferred being a prisoner in Castle Blentz to being a guest.
She was led to luxurious apartments but was not locked in. She took care of that herself, throwing the bolt to keep out unwanted visitors. Despite its stateliness and comfort, the apartments were less than friendly, due to an overpowering portrait of a former princess of Blentz, who seemed to look at the intrusion of her apartment with intense disapproval.
Meanwhile, Barney was brought to his quarters and a Dr. Stein (perhaps a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein who shortened his name to avoid notoriety!) informed Barney that he needed to take medicine in order to have his insanity cured. Barney's keeper, a man named Joseph, would see to it that he took it as directed, or else he would be force-fed.
However, as soon as the doctor and the soldiers left, Joseph revealed himself to be a secret ally of Von der Tann, and he was there to help Leopold escape. Further, he revealed, the medicine was in reality Bichloride of mercury, and just one dose would kill him within a few days.
Barney said he would not escape unless Princess Emma could come along too, and as soon as Joseph learned that the princess was on the premises, he agreed. At the same time, Barney learned, from Joseph that, years ago, the fathers of Emma and Leopold had betrothed them to be married.
Joseph also noticed that Barney was not wearing the Royal Ring of Lutha, and was indignant that the Blentz crew had ripped it off from him. Barney, however, said the fact that he did not possess the ring was proof that he was not the king. However, Joseph said that, to the contrary, "the fact that you have not the ring is positive proof that you are king and that they have sought to hide the fact by removing the insignia of your divine right to rule in Lutha."
The only way of fetching Emma appeared to be through busy hallways, until Barney, learning from Joseph something of the details of the castle's secret passage system, figured they could probably navigate through such passages to find a less populated way to Emma's quarters.
They took the secret passage to the upper floor, where they headed down an empty hallway to a window directly overlooking the moat and, one floor below them, the window to Emma's apartment.
Just then, Barney heard voices from the apartment below and, after listening a moment, determined that immediate action was needed. "The rope, Joseph!" he said. "And for God's sake be quick about it."
Test your ERB Sense:
1. Joseph, in his thoughts, applies a certain word to Emma, and it is a word of respect. In the previous chapter, Captain Maenck applied the same word to Emma, out loud, and it was a sign of disrespect. What was the word?
2. Joseph, upon being left alone with Barney, immediately showed him a sign of respect due the king. Emma had shown the same sign at the start of Chapter 2. What was the sign?
3. How did ERB describe the face of the former Princess of Blentz as it peered out from the portrait:
(A) cruel and ruthless
(B) cold and repellant
(C) haughty and overbearing.
4. The centerpiece of the Royal Ring of Lutha was a large ruby. According to legend, from what substance was the ruby formed?
Answers to Previous Quiz:
1. B. She chafed, or rubbed, them
2. "Barney turned the first thrust with his forearm."
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter V The Escape
This chapter might better be titled "Escape and Recapture." Sometimes in the world of ERB it seems as if captives don't stay captives for long, and free men don't keep their freedom for long. The hero must always have a new challenge to overcome.
After being in her mink-lined prison for half an hour, Emma heard noises that sounded as if they were coming from behind the portrait of the austere looking Blentz Princess. Then, the portrait began to move and, of all people, the one doing the moving was none other than the sinister Captain Maenck himself.
"What would you have here?" she demanded.
"You!" he replied.
But Emma was not interested in being had, and moved to put a table between her and Maenck and then hurled a heavy, copper bowl at him, laying open the flesh on his cheek.
Enraged, Maenck chased her down and, his fingers on her ! throat, began shaking her as a terrier might shake a rat.
But about that time, Barney, in the room above, had secured his rope and came crashing through the window.
Maenck, a craven coward, escaped through the portrait portal. Barney slashed the portrait in an attempt to find a way through, but couldn't. He shut out the lights so they wouldn't be seen by the castle guards outside, then helped Emma onto the rope to be pulled up by Joseph. But before she ascended, the impetuous and smitten Barney told her he loved her and she, a willing participant in this whirlwind courtship, responded in kind.
As Joseph pulled her up, men marshaled by Maenck burst into the room and Barney hollered for Joseph to escape with Emma. Then, Barney leaped from the window, making a perfect shallow water dive into the castle moat.
Once on shore and away from the castle, Barney figured he must trust that Joseph would be successful in getting Emma away safely ! and he saw his own mission as heading for the Castle of Prince von der Tann to summon help. And so, he wandered for days until he met two "evil-looking fellows."
He asked directions and the fellows pretended to help by leading Barney to his destination but, in reality, one in front of him and one behind, they had him surrounded.
Eventually, he began to realize he may have erred, and told the men he'd decided to strike off on his own. But, they informed him, while brandishing what ERB calls "wicked-looking pistols," that he was, indeed, a prisoner.
With typical American nonchalance, he said, "...on second thought, I have decided to go with you."
Test your ERB Sense:
1. What did Emma do for the first half hour she was imprisoned in the castle room?
A. Read a magazine
B. Paced the floor
C. Checked out the refrigerator
D. Looked for something sharp to use as a weapon.
2. What did Peter promise Maenck in return for the capture of Leopold?
A. A baronetcy.
B. A new roadster and 50 dancing girls.
C. The chancellor's post.
D. A promotion to general of the Luthan Army.
3. In this chapter, ERB refers to pistols as "wicked-looking." How did he refer to the carbines carried by the "evil-looking men"?
Answers to previous quiz:
2. They both kissed Barney's hand
3. (B) cold and repellant
4. The ruby was said to be made from the blood of Charlemagne
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter VI A King's Ransom
His captors lead Barney through a ravine into a rock-bound, impregnable clearing, where 20 brigands warmed themselves before a fire. A big, blond giant wearing guady apparel, along with pistols and knives with fancy, decorated grips, introduced himself as Yellow Franz.
Franz had a poster describing the missing mad King Leopold and had no problem identifying Barney as the sought monarch. A young lad named Rudolph stood in awe of Barney, believing him to be the king.
Barney was placed into a shack to the accompaniement of much sarcasm and "king-baiting" from the men. But Barney laughed along with them.
Rudolph, alone with Barney, explained that he was a prisoner of Yellow Franz due to a debt his father owed. Franz frequently killed people in cold blood, the lad revealed.
Franz sent a runner to make a ransom offer to Peter of Blentz but the reply was that Peter didn't care about getting the king back alive, but would pay 100,000 marks for proof of the Leopold's death. In fact, Peter planning to have himself crowned king in three weeks had already publicly announced that the king was dead, so he needed only to make his words come true.
Since the prince was offering 100,000 marks for a dead Leopold, Barney offered 200,000 for his life, but Yellow Franz has already made his decision. He prepared to shoot Barney but first gave him a chance to pray. Barney prayed a very long prayer, and finally Franz became impatient. But just then Franz fell dead to the accompaniement of a pistol's boom. Rudolph, with a smoking revolver, had saved the day by blasting the big bandit in the back.
The men assumed the shot was fired by Yellow Franz himself, so they didn't come running, giving Barney and Rudolph a chance to escape. For three weeks they wandered in hiding until finally Rudolph became ill from exposure.
Two brigands from Yellow Franz's band came upon them at about that time and start a gunfight, killing little Rudolph.
Barney shot the two killers and then mourned Rudolph.
Barney realized Rudolph has died in the service of the man he thought was his king. Barney vowed that he should not have died in vain.
Test your ERB Sense:
1. What precious commodities decorated the handles of Yellow Franz's pistols and knives?
A. Pearls and rubies
B. Gold and pearls
C. Silver and gold
D. Silver and pearls
2. Yellow Franz introduces himself to Barney as "Yellow Franz of the...."
B. Black Mountains
C. River Valley
D. Ru Hills
Answers to previous quiz
1. (A) she read a magazine
2. (A) a baronetcy
3. (D) ugly-looking
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter VII The Real Leopold
Barney, on a horse secured from one of the dead brigands, and fully armed, continued looking for a way to the Old Forest and Tann when he came across a huge burnt-out hulk which was nothing other than his own roadster. It had been moved from its original landing point, but for what reason Barney couldn't imagine.
But the find gave him a sense of his bearings and he thought of the inn owner with whom he had conversed earlier, and recalled how the man seemed to be loyal to King Leopold.
He went to the innkeeper, a fellow named Kramer, who asked him how he got out of the hospital. It seemed that a man who looked very much like Barney had been found pinned by the wreckage of Barney's car and had been taken to a hospital. The rescued fellow had looked a lot like the king, but had claimed he was not. Barney then tried explaining to the innkeeper that he Barney Custer wasn't the king, either. Finally, the innkeeper believed him enough to lead him to the hospital, the Tafelberg sanitorium.
As they entered the sanitorium and inquired about the man they sought, a villain spotted Barney and set out to spy upon them. The reader knows he is a villain because ERB described him as "dark-visaged" and "sallow and small-eyed." Had he not been a villain, he would probably have been described as "fair-haired" and "light-complexioned" with clear, gray eyes.
Barney tells his story to King Leopold, who denies being the king. Eventually, after Barney gives him a pep talk, he begins to believe that it is really possible that if he joins up with Prince von der Tann he can actually regain his throne.
During the conversation, Leopold mentioned his aunt, Princess Victoria, who ran away with a foreigner. The attentive reader will immediately make a tie-in with the revelation in Chapter I that Barney's father had literally stolen his bride away from Lutha. And this also would mean that Barney has royal blood in his veins. Yes, the reader recognizes that, but Barney was seemingly oblivious to the implications of the king's words.
But the villain has been listening to all of this and leaves the sanitorium, up to no good no doubt!
Test your ERB Sense:
1. ERB reveals to the reader that Lutha's principal claim upon the attention of the outer world is:
A. The picturesque cliff-hugging roads
B. The myriad of autumn colors that spread over the landscape
C. The quaint little inns along the road.
D. The Tafelberg sanitorium.
2. The maiden name of Barney's mother, Victoria (actually revealed in chapter one) was:
Answers to previous quiz
1. (D) silver and pearls
2. (B) Yellow Franz of the Black Mountains
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter VIII, The Coronation Day
Leaving the real Leopold at the sanitorium, Barney found his way at the end of the day to the Castle of Prince Ludwig von der Tann, only to learn the Prince and his daughter Emma were in Lustadt for the coronation of Peter of Blentz. An officer let Barney know that Ludwig was doing this for the sake of the unity of the people, but hinted that his heart was not in it and that, in fact, he and his men were well-prepared for any eventuality.
Barney took off for Lustadt, hoping to reach the ears of Ludwig prior to the coronation, letting him know that the true king was still alive, and where he was.
But it was a long road to Lustadt and, it being night, Barney lost his way a few times and had to awaken sleepy farmers to enquire. In addition, his horse was getting tuckered from all the work and he wasn't moving too fast. Unfortunately...he ran into some horse troops but, fortunately...they were commanded by Lieutenant Butzow, who still thought Barney was the true king. Butzow reminded Barney his loyalty was to the king, not Peter of Blentz. Butzow explained that he had been out of the country for a few years and, upon his return, gradually discerned the true character of Peter.
Meanwhile, the ceremony was commencing in Lustadt. Ludwig had been offered a place on the dais with other dignitaries but had chosen to sit with his men. He, Emma and the soldiers endured the ceremony with proper outward respect, but there were other emotions seething within them.
ERB keeps the reader in suspense as long as possible, with the bishop at last lowering the crown toward Peter's head in as agonizingly slow a speed as ERB can possibly write it.
But at last, before the hands holding the crown were close enough to barely start tickling the hairs on Peter's head, the main Cathedral door burst open and Butzow and Barney, accompanied by the cavalry troop, rode their horses down the aisle and up to the dais.
Maenck saved them from further announcing themselves by not having the presence of mind to keep his cool and denounce the intruders, but instead reflexively belted out: "Mein Gott the King!"
That was the magic word for many in the crowd, and the cry was quickly taken up by those loyal to Leopold and even by some who were loyal to Peter of Blentz.
Peter immediately denounced Barney as an impostor and, for a moment, there was silence. Then Butzow pointed out that Maenck himself recognized Barney as the king. A war of words began and soon begot a war of indoor sword-fighting by the two factions. But soon Peter saw that half of his own men were siding with Barney and he beat a timely retreat.
After the prince and his cohorts had fled, cooler heads once more assessed the identity of this man who seemed to be king. Leopold had loaned Barney his royal ring as a token of his faith in him, and Barney produced the ring, to confirm his identity. Of course, the American didn't really want to be king, but wanted them to think he was to (1) keep Peter from being crowned and (2) to find time to get the true king on the throne.
Many wanted to complete the coronation ceremony and crown Barney as king right then and Barney was genuinely tempted to accept. However, he told them to hold off as there were still some who did not believe he was the true king. Ludwig told Barney that, by law, the coronation must be completed in two days by Nov. 5 or they would have to wait another year.
Ludwig said the problem with waiting was that Peter would rule for the next two days. Not a problem, said Barney, and ordered the arrest of Peter, Coeblich, Maenck and Stein for treason. However, they had already escaped the palace grounds.
So, Barney said he'd handle the ruling chores for the next two days.
Test your ERB Sense:
1. Lt. Butzow told Barney he had been out of Lutha for several years. During that time he had...
A. Served as a spy in Austria
B. served as a military attache in a foreign court
C. attended the university at Bornova
D. learned aerial combat tactics with a German squadron
2. The coronation must take place by Nov. 5. What other event, mentioned in an earlier chapter, would coincide with that date?
Answers to previous quiz:
1. (D) the Tafelberg sanitorium
2. (C) Rubinroth
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter IX The King's Guests
Barney tried once more to explain to the loyal Butzow that he was not really the true king and that they must get Leopold from the sanitorium and deliver him safely to Lustadt. Because of Barney's penchant for American slang, Butzow began to believe him a teeny tiny bit.
Meanwhile, Barney allowed himself to be measured for coronation robes, figuring he was about the same size as Leopold.
Von der Tann was loyally at Barney's side, helping him with proper protocol as various visitors were greeted. That didn't seem unusual to the old Prince, since it was known that Leopold had been sheltered and probably not educated in proper royal procedures.
At last, Barney saw a chance to talk with Emma, and cut her out of a herd of court people and reaffirmed his love for her, although he reminded her that he was not really the king, but an American. He wondered aloud if she would still love him if he were not the king and she replied that it was the man she loved, not the office.
Barney Custer cursed the fate that had failed to make him a king by birth. But the careful reader may recall that we have already had two hints that his mother may, indeed, have belonged to the royal line. And if we had not those two hints, the third major hint is the remarkable resemblance Barney has to the king himself.
An hour later, Barney and Butzow rode out of the city, leading an extra horse.
Meanwhile, as luck would have it and plot demands would dictate, the reader learns that earlier in the day the sallow and small-eyed fellow from the sanitorium, who first surfaced back in Chapter VII, met the fleeing Peter and company on the highway and told them of the real Leopold's location.
The fellow, who name was Ferrath, as in ferret, a rat-like creature, headed for Blentz with Peter while Coblich, Maenck and Stein, along with a cavalry trooper, rode for the Tafelberg sanitorium. Earlier, we wondered if ERB chose the name Stein, another dubious doctor of fiction, after the more well-known Victor Frankenstein. We now further note that, twice in this chapter, when listing the names, ERB puts "Maenck and Stein" (rhymes with Frankenstein) together in the listing.
Barney and Butzow didn't set any speed records to get to Tafelberg, partly because they didn't think there was any hurry and partly to keep the horses from getting too tired. So, Peter's co-conspirators got their first. But Barney and Butzow weren't far behind, and arrived while Peter's men were still there. They were alerted when they saw one cavalryman outside the building holding four horses in the dark.
Butzow told Barney to wait while he sneaked up on the trooper to try to learn more but, while waiting, Barney saw three other men come from the building with a strugglilng, half-naked figure. Barney leaped into action and ran to join Butzow, arriving in time to flatten the trooper who was about to plug Butzow with a bullet.
With the trooper out cold, Barney and Butzow wrestled Leopold from his captors and then continued to battle them. ERB revealed that Barney had been trained in fencing by one Colonel Monstery. Barney had the pleasure of getting in a couple more licks at Maenck, on whom he had already planted his fists on two previous occasions. While all this was going on, Leopold attempted to sneak away, but was grabbed by the trooper who had regained consciousness.
The numbers worked against Barney and Butzow. Maenck rushed Barney to assist Stein and, distracted, Barney took a glancing sword blow to the head and fell, unconscious. Coblich and Maenck then took on Butzow, knocking him out, but not before the lieutenant ran his sword through the heart of the "rat-faced" Dr. Stein. The evil physician's death was a boon to his comrades, because it freed up a horse. They planted Leopold on the extra mount and took off for a secret hideout Peter had designated.
Of course, they made a major mistake in not running their swords through the hearts of the unconscious Barney and Butzow before leaving.
The pretender to the throne and his lieutenant awoke in the sanitorium, where they had been taken by employees who had been attracted by the sound of the melee. They rushed outside but it was too late. All was quiet and the king and his captors were gone.
Test your ERB Sense:
1. At a point when Butzow was still refusing to believe that Barney is not Leopold, Barney smiled and called him:
A. A typical hard-headed Dutchman.
B. A dog who won't drop a bone.
C. A stubborn slav
D. A bull-headed Teuton
2. As Barney and Butzow rode from the city, a diner at a local cafe recognized the "king" and saluted him orally while doing something physically. What did he do physically?
A. Used his fork to point the king out to others.
B. Raised a mug and called for a toast.
C. Waved a napkin over his head.
D. Left his dining companions to pick up the check.
3. Colonel Monstery, who had trained Barney in fencing, is described as:
A. Acknowledged to be the greatest swordsman in all of France
B. John Carter's protege
C. The man whose high school yearbook called him "least likely to lose a duel"
D. One of the than-whomest of fencing masters.
Answers to previous quiz:
1. (B) serving as a military attache to a foreign court
2. In chapter 2, Barney tells Emma that Nov. 5 is the day he can shave off his beard, according to the terms of an election bet that he lost.
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter X On the Battlefield
After losing Leopold at the sanitorium, Barney and Butzow rode all night and the following day looking for the missing king. They came to Blentz and, while Barney hid in the nearby woods, Butzow rode boldly in, since he was still known as a loyal member of the Royal Horse Troops. He was able to learn that Peter was in the lowlands recruiting followers.
Returning to Barney, Butzow informed him that, one way or the other, a king would be on the throne by Nov. 5, and he let Barney know that he preferred him to Leopold. Butzow, a keen observer of behavior, had noticed the previous evening on the sanitorium grounds that Leopold was trembling and whimpering and, when freed from his captors, didn't even bother to try helping Barney and Butzow with so much as a stone he might have taken up for a weapon.
They went back to Lustadt where Von der Tann warned the king that it was not safe to go galivanting around the country.
As they talked, an officer came in with a report that Peter had been successful in recruiting an army and that an attack might come on the following day.
The reader may presume that Barney finally got some sleep that night.
After initially meeting Leopold at the sanitorium on Nov. 2 (Chapter VII), he had ridden all that day before coming to Castle Von der Tann at dusk. Then, upon learning the coronation would take place the following day, he had ridden all night in order to get to Lustadt before the crown sank onto Peter's head (Chapter VIII). After the events of that day, Nov. 3, he and Butzow had taken off in the evening to ride for the sanitorium and retrieve the king (Chapter IX). What little sleep Barney got that night came while he was knocked out cold in the sanitorium scuffle. Then, he and Butzow were on their way again, searching all that night and all of the following day, Nov. 4 (Chapter X).
Finally, in this same Chapter X, we read that they entered Lustadt at dusk and, after conferring with Von der Tann, we read: "The morning of November 5 broke clear and cold." So, we assume that if Barney had any sense, and if he was able to relax with all the excitement, that he had taken advantage of the opportunity for a good night of sleep between the royal sheets.
He would have needed it because, assuming he was awake for two 24-hour periods on Nov. 2 and 3 and probably at least 16 hours on Nov. 4, he had been up for 64 hours, minus probably less than an hour of "rest" after he had been knocked unconscious on the sanitorium grounds.
That morning, the forces of Peter began taking up positions to assault the royal palace. Seeing a weakness in the enemy's deployment, Barney immediately took command and ordered a squadron of the Royal Horse to accompany him and Von der Tann. The party slipped out to the east. He explained his plan to Von der Tann and, although the elder statesman wasn't quite sure about it, he followed orders. He headed back to the castle and ordered a five-minute fusillade on Peter's cannons, which were in the woods behind which Barney and company were waiting.
After the fusillade, Von der Tann led infantry troops from the castle, and Peter's cannons swung to begin firing in that direction. Barney and the Royal Horse squadron then sneaked up behind the cannoneers. As they charged among the artillery troops, some of the enemy began shouting that it was the king, thus confusing each other. However, a bullet dropped Barney's horse and immediately about a dozen closed in on him. The Royal Horse came to his rescue and "...for five minutes, was waged as fierce a battle for possession of a king as was ever fought." At last, 50 of the enemy raised a white flag (nice that they had one handy) and the rest were in disarray.
Back on a horse and the artillerymen in disarray, Barney and his men charged from the woods and Von der Tann advanced his troops. Peter immediately realized the battle was lost and whipped out a white flag (these troops came prepared for any eventuality).
Peter, under his white flag, asked for a meeting with Von der Tann but the old man asked Barney's opinion, since Peter had pointedly ignored the presence of the senior negotiator, the king himself.
"Treat with him," said Barney, pointing out that Peter might have a genuine belief that Barney was an impostor.
Indeed, this was the crux of Peter's argument to Von der Tann, and he pointed out Barney's own denials to several people, as well as the testimony of several from his castle who knew the real king by sight.
However, Butzow and several others moved closer to Barney and said they needed more proof than just the testimony of people loyal to Peter. Seizing the moment, Barney made a brief, accurately worded speech:
"Until Peter of Blentz brings to Lustadt one with a better claim to the throne, we shall continue to rule in 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."
He then gave some orders to Von der Tann for the defense of the castle and left, and one of those present asked Ludwig why he would obey one who might not be the true king. Von der Tann had picked up on the precise wording of Barney's statement, though, and replied: "Were he an impostor, he would have insisted by word of mouth that he is king. But not once has he said that he is Leopold. Instead, he has proved his kingship by his acts."
Looks as if Von der Tann used a little clever wording himself. He didn't say Barney was Leopold; he said he had proved his kingship.
Test your ERB Sense:
1. The horse that was shot out from beneath Barney was:
A. A stalwart stallion
B. A great bay
C. A battle-hardened palimino
D. A hunter-seeker
Answers to previous quiz:
1. (A) a hard-headed Dutchman
2. (C) waved a napkin over his head
3. (D) one of the than-whomest of fencing masters
The Mad King, Part I: Chapter XI A Timely Intervention
The previous chapter makes the battle seem like a long one, but it was actually over well before noon. As the rest of Nov. 5 moved toward the magic hour, Peter and his henchmen gathered in the cathedral, awaiting word from Coblich on whether he, Maenck and company were successful in capturing the true Leopold at the sanitorium. Meanwhile, Barney was at the palace, hoping for word that searching soldiers had located the true king in good health.
At last, a blood-encrusted Coblich entered the city and found Peter and told him that Leopold has been secured in the secret hideway, and in "such a state of cowardly terror that he is ready to agree to anything, if you will but spare his life and set him free across the border."
However, Peter's plans were to kill Leopold and bring his dead body into the city for all to see, and then claim that Barney killed him at the sanitorium in an effort to seize the throne.
Coblich, crooked though he was, quailed at the prospect of killing Leopold with his own hands. However, Peter said he really didn't have much choice in the matter. He either must kill Leopold and enjoy a plush government job, or let him live and face death for treason. Coblich agreed, but hoped that God would have mercy on his soul.
Peter then told the elder statesmen of Lutha that Coblich had found the body of Leopold who, it turned out, was not killed by bandits as Peter had reported earlier, but had actually escaped the bandits and been in a sanitorium until the evil Barney and Butzow had slain him there. The elders agreed to support Peter if he could prove any of this. Their main concern was having a rightful king on the throne enough of all this drama!!
Meanwhile, it was closer to noon and Barney was getting concerned. His troops seemed unlikely at this point to produce Leopold. Von der Tann made an appearance and was starting to show the strain of the situation, having heard the talk that Leopold was dead and Barney was his killer.
"None but the royal blood of Rubinroth may reign in Lutha...." said Von der Tann. And suddenly the lights went on in Barney's mind. This was the first time he has heard his mother's maiden name Rubinroth since entering Lutha. Before he could say anything to Von der Tann, he was interrupted by a messenger. After receiving the message, Barney told Von der Tann, "I swear that the royal blood of the Rubinroths flows in my veins, and as God is my judge, none other than the true Leopold of Lutha shall be crowned today."
Von der Tann left and Barney headed to the water closet while summoning Butzow. When the lieutenant showed up, Barney called him into the bathroom, where he was shaving off his great red beard. "The king is found!" he announced. "This is the fifth of November and I am shaving off this alfalfa," the coronation deadline just happening to coincide with the expiration of the consquences of Barney's lost bet.
The messenger was none other than Kramer, the old shopkeeper of Tafelberg, who told Barney he could lead him to the place where the king was held.
The three acquired horses and no questions were raised, since Barney no longer looked like the king.
They rode to a dilapidated building, an old library, and sneaked up to the door where they heard Coblich telling Maenck that Peter had ordered the latter to kill the king. Leopold was huddled in a corner, begging for mercy and pity.
Maenck was not as queasy about murder as Coblich was, and drew his sword and made for the quavering king. But a shot rang out and Maenck fell. Coblich made a break for the back door and the trooper was shot, too, while making a move for his gun.
At that point, the narrative leaves that scene and switches to the cathedral of Lustadt, where it was two minutes until noon.
As the assemblage waited tensely for the king to show up, Peter seized the opportunity to mount the chancel steps and declare that "he who claimed to be Leopold" was a mad adventurer whose nerve gave out and has now fled. Peter then declared the throne vacant and himself to be king.
At that moment, Coblich ran into the auditorium and spoke to Peter. He tried to whisper but he was so out of breath that several nearby, including Von der Tann, heard him say that Maenck was dead and the impostor had stolen the king. Von der Tann demanded an explanation, since Peter had earlier announced that Leopold was dead. Quick-thinking Peter responded that Coblich meant that they had stolen Leopold's body.
Peter then told the bishop to proceed with the coronation ceremony, while Von der Tann silently considered whether to go along with it or start a rebellion right there.
However, once more the great doors swung open and a trooper of the Royal Horse shouted: "The king! The king! Make way for Leopold of Lutha!"
Test your ERB sense:
1. Peter warned Coblich that, if Leopold lives, he will be hanged "higher than Haman" for treason. Which Biblical book tells the story of Haman being hanged on a gallows that was about 75 feet high?
Answers to previous quiz:
1. (B) A great bay
The Mad King, Part I: XII The Gratitude of a King
Interruptions to coronation ceremonies were becoming a way of life in Lutha. The assembly fell silent when the grim-looking procession marched in, four khaki-clad members of the Royal Horse Guard led three other men, and following them were more of the Royal Horse.
The three men included a gray-eyed, red-bearded man in royal robes, flanked by Lieutenant Butzow and a clean-shaven stranger. There were cries of "impostor" as well as "the king!" from the assemblage but perhaps the two people most affected were Peter as he saw who he knew to be the true king and Emma, who suddenly realized that the king of Lutha and the king of her heart were not the same man.
Leopold, who seemed rather strong and kingly now instead of the quavering coward that he was before, marched up to Peter and demanded that he answer the question: "Who am I?"
And it was Peter himself who was suddenly thrust into the position of the one who must beg for pity, as he identified Leopold Rubinroth and asked for mercy.
But Leopold had another question. "Am I mad? Was I ever mad?"
Peter had to reply "no," and Leopold ordered Butzow to remove the traitor.
After the coronation, Von der Tann and Leopold huddled and Von der Tann sought clarification on all that happened. As Von der Tann spoke of the "impostor," Barney, Leopold, the king smiled; but, when Von der Tann began to speak about Barney's bravey, the king frowned.
Then the king summoned an aide and Barney and Butzow were ushered into the room. Barney noticed that Leopold in royal surroundings was quite different from Leopold the fugitive.
Leopold credited Barney and Butzow with saving his life, as well as his kingship, and then the two told their stories to Von der Tann. He was amazed at all that was happening under his nose, and praised Barney for all he did. That began to annoy Leopold.
Barney then mentioned that he was actually the son of the runaway princess of Lutha, Victoria Rubinroth.
This further troubled Leopold. He asked how many in the kingdom actually knew that Barney not him was the one who showed up to rule Lutha for the two days of uncertainty. The answer was that hardly anyone knew. So Leopold suggested they need never know (and, of course, that would give him credit for having bravely led the Royal Horse troops in the battle against Peter).
This suggestion made sense to Von der Tann, but it also saddened him that it came from Leopold and not from some other. Butzow could hardly restrain a sneer. It was Barney who sealed the deal, however, by saying the king was right and that he would leave the palace after dark and cross the border the following evening.
The king offered Barney a reward, but the only reward he really wanted was the hand of Princess Emma, and he knew that was beyond reach, so he didn't mention it. When the king suggested a money reward, Barney got hot under the collar but concealed his anger and just turned and walked from the room.
The king, feeling affronted, ordered them to bring him back but the others persuaded him that he should just let Barney go. The king thought about it and finally decided that Barney's reward would be that the king would take no notice of his insolence.
But the king was not through being annoyed by Barney.
As Barney prepared to leave, he saw Emma sitting at a window and came up to her and asked for her forgiveness. He reminded her that he tried to tell her he wasn't Leopold and said he couldn't help loving her. He also said that no one else would ever need to know what had passed between them. While he spoke, Leopold came down the corridor and listened and observed from afar.
Suddenly, Barney and Emma embraced and kissed were exchanged.
Then, she saw the king watching.
Leopold was enraged, charging Barney with wanting to steal his girl since he failed to steal his throne. Barney nobly accepted responsibility and attempted to get Emma off the hook by saying, loud enough for the king to hear, "Your highness knows the truth now and that after all I am not the king. I can only ask that you will forgive me the deception."
After Emma leaves, Leopold gave Barney 48 hours to get out of the country, or lose his life.
Barney held back his hot words and instead inclined his head in a slight bow and took his leave.
As Barney was readying to leave, though, Butzow burst in and warned him to get going. The king had changed his mind and had sent soldiers to arrest him, swearing that Barney would hang for treason. Apparently, the king had gone to sweet-talk Emma and she had spurned him, and now he was wild with rage.
Butzow rode along with Barney as they headed down the highway toward the border. They came at last to the great granite monument which marked the boundary between Lutha and "her powerful neighbor upon the north."
Barney tried to urge Butzow to go back to his country, but Butzow did not wish to stay and serve a cowardly king, preferring the prospect of growing corn in Nebraska.
As the cavalry neared their location, they crossed the border.
Thirty years before, Barney's father crossed the border with a princess.
His son left without a princess, but at least with a loyal comrade in arms.
(End of Part I)
Test your ERB sense:
1. Without his beard, Barney was described as:
B. having aristocratic cheekbones
C. more handsome
Answers to previous quiz:
1. (C) Esther
The Mad King: Interlude The Eternal Lover
Oddly enough, readers of The All-Story Magazine in 1914 met Barney Custer and Lieutenant Butzow a couple of weeks before the publication of their adventures in "The Mad King."
A novelette, "The Eternal Lover," was published in the All-Story, complete in one issue, on March 7, 1914. That story primarily concerned Victoria Custer, the sister of Barney Custer. Later, it would be combined with a followup magazine story, "Sweetheart Primeval," and both would be published in one book called "The Eternal Lover."
But in reading The Eternal Lover the reader might be a bit puzzled as Barney Custer is said to be in Africa, along with Victoria, "to forget." It doesn't say what he was trying to forget, and the reader might have wondered about that, briefly, before getting caught up in the adventures of Victoria herself.
Then, the faithful All-Story reader would have found the story "The Mad King" in the magazine, complete in one issue, on March 21 of that same year. At that time, he (or she) would have gotten the "back story" of Barney Custer how he had gone to Lutha and how he had met Lt. Butzow there and how the two of them had restored a king to his throne, only to see the jealous king show ungratefulness for Barney's services, and even try to kill him.
And so, Barney had to flee Lutha, in the company of his now good friend, Lt. Butzow. But he had to leave behind the love of his life, Princess Emma.
That explained what Barney was trying to forget while vacationing on the estate of Lord Greystoke, Tarzan of the Apes.
The earlier story also set up a possible romantic interest for Lt. Butzow, who got to know Victoria a little bit while staying at Barney's Nebraska home. Victoria was not an easy catch, and had turned down many suitors, including William Curtiss who came to Africa with Butzow in order to join up with Barney and Victoria where he could propose to the lady. She turned him down, and then went on a fantasy adventure with a stone-age caveman. However, the adventure ended with the caveman's death, putting Victoria back to square one, romantically speaking. Curtiss, whom she didn't want to marry anyway, was killed in Africa after she rebuffed him.
In the opening chapter of "Barney Custer of Beatrice," the sequel to "The Mad King," there was a hint that Victoria might at last have realized that Lt. Butzow would be a good catch. But would anything come of that possibility? The reader would have to read the whole story to find out.
So, in proper sequence, Barney Custer went to Lutha and placed the rightful king upon the throne; then, he went to Africa "to forget," and new friend Lt. Butzow joined him there. After that, with both back in Beatrice, Nebraska, the story would continue in the three-part All-Story serial, "Barney Custer of Beatrice," Aug. 7 to Aug. 21, 1915, almost a year and a half after the initial Mad King story appeared.
Next up: The Mad King, Part II, Barney Custer of Beatrice
Answer to previous quiz
1. (A) square-jawed.
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter I Barney Returns to Lutha
In Beatrice, Nebraska, Vic (aka Victoria), Barney's sister, had promised her friend Margaret she'd play bridge but said she'd rather go motoring with Lieutenant Butzow, as it was his last day with them before his return to Lutha.
But, she kept her promise and went to the card game. Meanwhile, Barney and his business partner, Bert, along with Butzow, visited at the corn mill.
Butzow, in the company of Barney, had fled Lutha two years earlier; but, at the request of Prince Ludwig Von der Tann, who promised to protect him once he returned to the country, Butzow planned to go back. Ludwig prized Butzow's military skills and war was brewing between Serbia and Austria; Lutha was likely to be drawn into it.
In addition, Von der Tann warned that King Leopold of Lutha was suspected of having sent emissaries to the USA to search for Barney and Butzow, though the motive was uncertain.
Barney wanted to go back to Lutha with Butzow but, since he had been gone most of the time for the past two years, he planned to stay home and let Bert take a vacation.
Enter a skulker carrying a mysterious package. He watched from behind a boxcar and when he saw the men go into the corn mill office he sneaked up and set off a bomb, not realizing the men had left by another door. The corn mill, however, was destroyed in a spectacular explosion.
The next morning, the three men surveyed the damage, which they thought might have been caused by a lightning strike. Butzow, though, thought Leopold might have been responsible, perhaps attempting to get rid of Barney so he might have a clear field to pursue Emma.
At the train station, Victoria urged the departing Butzow to come back some day and he stammered and flushed a bit as he said he would.
That evening, Barney sat on his porch, smoking a cigar and dreaming about Emma. After the cigar was snuffed, Barney spotted a shadow that moved in the yard. He kept watch and it continued to move. He sneaked outside and up behind the shadow and tackled its source who, he discovered in the resulting struggle, was none other than Captain Ernst Maenck, the enemy he had left for dead in the dilapidated building in Lutha from which he and Butzow had rescued King Leopold to restore him to his throne.
Barney had to ease his grip on Maenck in order to try to snuff the fuse on the bomb the latter threw, and that gave Maenck an opportunity to escape.
Barney came to a conclusion: He must leave Beatrice, partly so others would not be hurt if there were further attempts on his life, and partly so that he could hunt Maenck down and exact revenge. And, since he no longer needed to work at the corn mill so Bert could take a vacation, he considered that his footsteps just might lead him to Lutha. After all, the presence there of a certain brown-eyed princess was a third reason for leaving Nebraska and heading thataway.
Barney made the first leg of the journey in a grey roadster a newer model than the one he wrecked in Lutha tracking Maenck first to Lincoln, Nebraska, and then cross-country to New York, where he obtained credentials as a correrspondent from an old college friend who worked at a New York newspaper. He then scanned the ocean liner passenger lists and saw Maenck's name on a steamer which had sailed that morning. Rather than being chagrined at barely missing him, Barney realized it was a good thing because, if Barney caught him, what could he do with him under American law? He realized his best opportunity to battle Maenck again would likely come in Lutha itself.
Barney booked passage to Italy and, from there, entered Austria. He moved on toward Lutha but had to take an unplanned break at Bergova because the Austrian Army officials weren't impressed with his newspaper credentials and would not allow him to cross their lines into Lutha.
But it was a fortuitous delay, and also a fortuitous circumstance that gave Barney a tiny room in an inn. The room had only a thin wall separating it from the next room, from which a conversation awakened him from sleep.
The first speaker was one identified as Count Zellerndorf of Austria. Apparently he has been working behind the scenes for some time against Leopold of Lutha and in favor of Peter and company.
Among the things Barney learned:
- The count had convinced Leopold that Peter, Coblich and Maenck were his most loyal friends (note: with friends like these...)
He convinced Leopold that old Von der Tann either aspired to the throne himself or desired to place Barney upon it, since the blood of Victoria Rubinroth of the Lutha royal line flowed in Barney's veins. Further, Von der Tann could gain public support for Barney by marrying him off to his daughter, Emma.
The "untimely" death of Leopold could pave the way for Peter to become king.
It was Peter who hatched the plot to kill Barney and Butzow in the U.S. as a way of currying further favor with Leopold.
And along the way Barney learned, as they spoke, that the ones to whom the Count was speaking were none other than Peter of Blentz, Captain Maenck and Coblich.
The count had given Peter, Maenck and Coblich passes to get them through the Army lines.
As the chapter ends, the reader learns that the chapter title is misleading. While Barney was definitely trying to return to Lutha, he hadn't quite made it yet.
Test your ERB sense:
1. The name of the newspaper from which Barney obtained credentials was:
A. The New York Mirror
B. The New York Evening National
C. The New Daily News
D. The New York Gazette-Times
2. Once again, as he had four times in the previous story, Barney got a chance to do bodily damage to Maenck. Besides Barney and Butzow, who else was able to bash Maenck in the first novelette?
A. Ludwig von der Tann
B. Emma von der Tann
C. Kramer, the innkeeper
3. Coblich was known only as Coblich in the first novellete. Here, he is frequently referred to as:
A. Lieutenant Coblich
B. Von Coblich
C. Herr Coblich
D. Strauss Coblich
4. What was the last name of ERB's freinds, Bert and Margaret, the real-life corn mill owners in Beatrice, Nebraska, whom ERB honored by naming his chapter one characters after them?
The Mad King, Part 2: Chapter II Condemned to Death
After overhearing the conversation of the conspirators, Barney knew he needed to get to Von der Tann and warn him. He would have to figure out a way to cross the border through the Army lines and, at the same time, keep the conspirators from doing so.
So, he decided to accomplish both goals at once, by sneaking into the room next door, hoping the three were asleep, and try to steal the passes Zellerndorf had mentioned. He succeeded in entering and grabbing some papers but kicked a shoe on the way out and the slight noise got everyone stirring. They chased him down the dark hallway and Barney turned a corner, then stopped to plant one on Maenck, scoring yet another blow on the Governor of Blentz.
He heard the sounds of military men coming upstairs to join the pursuit, so he ducked into his own room and then out a window. As the others burst into the dark room, he dropped to a shed's roof and then to the ground and took off through streets and alleys, spurred on by the sounds of his pursuers.
Barney came to a lighted street but did not dare to enter it long enough to dash across to the next alley, because an Austrian sentry was on guard. With the sentry in front of him and pursuit getting closer behind, he finally decided to make a dash for it. Then he heard a voice from above calling to him in a whisper.
The voice came from a woman, who assisted him in climbing into a second-floor window. As soon as he was in the darkened room, she embraced him and called him "Stefan."
Barney informed her that he was not Stefan but was a friend and threw himself upon her mercy. She was merciful enough to stick a gun in his ribs and order him into a locked room until Stefan himself could return and determine what to do with him.
Barney, exhausted, fell on a cot in the room and slept until daylight. In the morning, he heard voices coming up through a dumbwaiter shaft and realized Austrian soldiers were speaking to the young lady, telling her they must search the house for a Serbian spy named Stefan Drontoff. To save her lover, the woman handed them a key and told them a man matching the description was in the attic room.
Barney jammed the cot against the door to delay them and rearranged furniture to reach a skylight. Once out on the roof, he began leaping from housetop to housetop. At last he came to the last available building and turned to check on his pursuers. At that moment, he stepped through a skylight and landed on a fat, sleeping Austrian infantry captain. Three other officers were also sleeping in the same room.
However, they all woke up and Barney quickly became a prisoner again. Then, his pursuers also caught up and took charge of the prisoner, telling the fat Austrian he was Stefan Drontoff, the famous spy. They said he would face the firing squad in just a few minutes.
Test your ERB sense:
1. Barney waited half an hour after their conversation ceased, before assuming that Peter, Maenck and Von Coblich were asleep. When Barney kicked a shoe in the room, Maenck awoke. Back in Part I, Chapter IV, Joseph had told Barney something about Maenck that Barney might have done well to remember. What was it?
A. Maenck was an extremely light sleeper
B. Maenck regularly stayed awake until dawn, drinking and playing cards.
C. Maenck always slept with one eye open.
D. Maenck was known to require very little sleep.
2. Counting Part I and so far in Part II, how many instances have there been where Barney was able to inflict bodily harm on Maenck, either with his fists or a sword. (In a question for Chapter I, it was noted that Barney had four "chances" to hurt Maenck, but a chance doesn't necessarily equate to a realization).
3. Stefan's girl friend helped Barney climb into the second-floor room by lowering:
A. Her hair
B. A rope
C. Several bedsheets knotted together
D. A curtain
4. In Part I, Barney was mistaken for the King of Lutha. In Part II, he is mistaken, briefly, for a spy. Other than the fact that he was being pursued, and stopped below the right window, why did the woman think he was Stefan the spy?
A. It was dark
B. Barney breathed heavy the same way Stefan did.
C. Barney was a dead-ringer for Stefan Drontoff
D. Barney used the same after-shave.
Answers to previous quiz
1. B. The New York Evening National
2. B. Emma von der Tann (threw a vase which cut open Maenck's face)
3. B. Von Coblich
4. D. Weston
The Mad King, Part 2: III Before the Firing Squad
This is a fast-paced chapter and many a reader will speed through it to find out what the fate of Barney Custer of Beatrice will be. True, he is the hero, and logically should be around until the end of the book, but ERB writes in such a way about Barney's hopeless and ever-worsening siutation that one wonders how he could possibly survive.
Once captured, Barney tried to convince an Austrian officer that he was simply an American newspaper correspondent, and not a spy. The officer did not want to shoot any Americans, but it looked bad for Barney since he had tried to flee. Further, there were three sets of obviously stolen Army passes in his possession.
The officer told Barney he had sent for Peter of Blentz, one of the names on the passes, to see if Peter knew who he was. That was bad news for Barney, because if Peter who only saw him beardless once did not recognize him, Maenck was sure to, since he had been shadowing Barney in Beatrice.
And it proved true. In fact, all three including Von Coblich recognized him but, thinking quickly, Maenck said he personally knew Barney Custer and that this man wasn't him. Therefore, he must be the spy.
So, Barney was led through the streets by a military guard to the place of execution. He had not yet grasped the full reality of what was about to hapen to him.
When they reached the brick wall where the firing squad would aim, twenty or thirty other prisoners were also there. Suddenly, the full imprort of the situation dawned on Barney, and he briefly considered seizing a rifle from one of his guards and opening fire at them.
However, he reconsidered. Why should he kill any of these soldiers, who were only doing their job? Besides, even if he killed one or two of them, he would soon be shot himself. So why take any other lives?
He stood with the other prisoners, bravely facing his death as the firing squad discharged a pair of volleys. A bullet found him and he fell, with three or four bodies falling on top of him.
The soldiers inspected their work and apparently were convinced that all were dead. The bodies were left lying into nightfall, when a looter showed up and began pulling rings and wallets off dead men. When he got to Barney, and started to cut the Nebraskan's ring finger, the pain awakened our hero. He had, indeed, been hit by a bullet, but only grazed.
Barney leaped to his feet, scaring the looter, and the commotion aroused the attention of nearby soldiers. Barney and the looter both ran but Barney was quicker and maneuvered better, and was out of sight by the time the soldiers came, and so they ended up chasing only the looter. Barney heard shots being fired along with a scream. The thief had been hit and was dying, but was conscious long enough to tell the soldiers about the firing squad survivor. And now, the soldiers were searching for him.
In the dark, he accidentally kicked a manhole cover that made a noise that drew them near his position.
Then, he thought: Manhole cover = manhole. He slipped into the smelly cavern beneath, the soliders passed overhead unknowingly, and he took off down the large underground trough in the hope it would lead to a river and at least temporary freedom.
Test your ERB sense:
1. While being marched to the place of execution, Barney...
A. Sang the words to "America the Beautiful" softly
B. Kept an eye out for a convenient alley to flee into
C. Attempted to strike up a conversation with one of the soldiers
D. Smoked a cigarette
2. When the looter awakened Barney from the pile of dead men, what did Barney say to the thief:
A. You fiend!
B. You ghoul!!
C. You filth! Robbing the dead!
D. You monster!
Answers to previous questions:
1. B "...the man is a convivial fellow, sitting at cards and drink until sunrise nearly every day."
2. Barney had been able to inflict bodily harm on Maenck at least three times in Part I In Castle Blentz, after Maenck insulted Emma; at the impending coronation of Peter, when Barney's appearance interrupted the ceremony, and at the Tafelberg sanitorium during the attempted rescue of Leopold. The first two were with his fists and the third was with two sword thrusts. In Part II, Barney got in a few licks on Maenck in Nebraska and again while being chased in the hotel hallway in Burgova. It's possible there was one other instance in which Barney may have harmed Maenck. When he and Butzow went into the dilapidated building to rescue Leopold (again), a shot rang out, causing Maenck to fall, as though dead. ERB never reports whether it was Barney or Butzow who fired that shot.
3. B. A rope
4. A. It was dark
Barney Custer, Criminal?
In Part II, Chapter III of The Mad King, Barney is almost executed by a firing squad. The only wrong he had done was to break into the sleeping quarters of three men and steal their property. Despite the fact that these were bad men, plotting to overthrow the government of Lutha, Barney's actions were still illegal in neighboring Austria, and likely would be illegal in Lutha as well.
The burglary may not have been a capital offense in Austria in that era, but Barney's subsequent misfortunes led him to be mistaken for a Serbian spy. Had he not committed the burglary, he would not have come under suspicion. So, he was in a pickle; but the pickle was of his own making.
He may have deserved a prison term for theft, but probably not the firing squad. Yet, he was marched to the place of execution, an innocent man.
Barney went to his impending death nobly. He considered grabbing a rifle from one of the soldiers marching near him, and figured that if he did he could manage to kill a couple of them. But, in the end, he would be shot and killed himself. And why should he kill these soldiers, he reasoned, since they were merely doing their jobs.
But, in Chapter IV, Edgar Rice Burroughs writes of a different Barney who behaves with far less nobility.
Miraculously saved from the firing squad, Barney roams the woods in clothes stinking with the stench of the sewer and is challenged by an Austrian sentry. This soldier, too, is just doing his job. Yet, Barney gets near the soldier through subterfuge and then proceeds to strangle him to death.
We are told that this soldier squirmed and gasped for breath and his eyes bulged out and tongue protruded. The soldier tried to hit Barney with his fists, but his efforts "were pitifully weak." Soon, the man twitched spasmodically and lay still.
But that wasn't good enough for Barney. He continued to hold onto the soldier for several minutes until he was sure he was dead.
Then, he exchanged clothes with the soldier and rolled his body into the river.
ERB does write that the act "sickened him" but that he "knew his act was warranted."
But, was it warranted? With the soldier so obviously in Barney's power, could he have tied the weakened soldier up instead of slaying him? Would that have not accomplished the same thing given Barney time to continue fleeing?
By his actions, Barney has changed himself from someone who did not deserve the firing squad into someone who does. He is now guilty of two capital offenses: murder, for one, and spying, for another, since a person who illegitimately wears a uniform in a war zone is automatically considered guilty of being a spy.
So, at this point, our ERB hero has actually become a major criminal in the country of Austria.
In the end of The Return of Tarzan, when the savage ape man is looking forward to getting his hands on Rokoff to wreak eternal vengeance, Jane has to warn him:
"In the heart of the jungle, dear, with no other form of right or justice to appeal to other than your own mighty muscles, you would be warranted in executing upon this man the sentence he deserves; but with the strong arm of a civilized government at your disposal it would be murder to kill him now. Even your friends would have to submit to your arrerst...."
Barney is not Tarzan he was brought up in more civilized surroundings than the ape-man. And, the Austrian sentry was no Rokoff (Rokoff was a crook; the soldier was doing his duty).
We can understand the desperation of Barney to get away. Still, it seems he took a long time killing the soldier, during which there was time to consider other alternatives.
And, by putting his own clothes on the soldier and rolling him into the river, he was (a) making sure the soldier was really dead and (b) hoping the body would be mistaken for "escaped spy Stefan Dontroff." If that had happened, Barney would have become guilty of yet another moral offense: The military would have had to conclude the missing sentry had deserted, thus heaping shame on this soldier's reputation, as well as that of his family.
And soon, Barney would add the crime of auto theft to the rapidly growing list of charges that could be filed against him.
I think ERB allowed Barney to become a tarnished hero in this chapter.
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter IV A Race to Lutha
When Barney dropped into the sewer, the stream of moving water was two to three inches deep. As he moved along and the conduit dropped lower, it was soon halfway up to his knees. He continued on, with the flowing stream of filth climbing to above his knees. He went as fast as he could, out of fear that deadly gases might cause him to lose consciousness.
Finally, the water was up to his chin, and the top of his head was scraping the roof. When it seemed he could continue no longer, he lost his footing and plunged beneath the flow, only to bob up a few seconds later under a starlit sky. He had found the river.
He had also found more soldiers, as he could hear their voices and see them pounding their beat along the darkened river. But they didn't see him, and he swam for the opposite shore.
Barney clambered out of the river and rested, then set off carefully through the woods but, nonetheless, ran into an Austrian sentry, who challenged him. Thinking quickly, Barney pretended to be a drunk with a bottle he was willing to share, and the sentry was tempted long enough to allow Barney to get close enough to grab his gun and then get his hands around his throat.
Like the firing squad soldiers, this soldiers was only doing his job, but Barney was not as charitable this time and continued to squeeze the fellow's neck until he was sure he was dead. Then, he switched clothes and put the soldier's body into the river.
On he moved, this time in uniform. But inevitably he came upon another sentry. He saw the sentry but the sentry didn't see him. The sentry marched away, apparently to the opposite perimeter of his post. At about that time a detail showed up to relieve the sentry. Thinking Barney was the sentry, they relieved him and he marched back with the contingent. At the barracks, Barney slipped away but found no escape. In every direction he went, he saw an Austrian sentry and began to think the world was composed entirely of them. At last, he decided to stay put and entered a vacant horse barn and fell asleep.
He awoke to the noise of many men and machines and saw that a large contingent of troops was setting up a camp right in front of the shed in which he hid. But Barney's eyes were mostly on "the great, high-powered machines that chugged and purred about him." Behind the wheel of one of those, he might have a chance of making it to the border!
Barney decided boldness would be the best way to get a car. He strode from the shed in his Austrian uniform and walked boldly into a building which was a hub of military activity. His only purpose in going in was so he could be seen coming out, and not seem suspicious when he went to a car and started it up. The sentry in the building asked him to state his business and, Barney came up with a ficticious name for a general he wanted to see. The sentry didn't know that general and was about to ask his sergeant when Barney looked outside and told the sentry he saw the general he was looking for, and left.
He went straight to the car, started it up, and drove out of the compound. He drove through the town and along the road toward Serbia, unchallenged. For much of the way, he drove the car in a center lane with a lane full of marching soldiers to his right. At a fork in the road, the soldiers were turning to the left and Barney needed to get through their line in order to turn to the right. Again, boldness was the key: Tooting his horn, he saluted an officer and pointed to the other fork. The officer held up the troops while Barney drove through.
The border was about 25 miles away.
This is another mis-named chapter. This tells of Barney taking a drive to Lutha. Later, it became the "race" to Lutha, but that is described in another chapter.
Test your ERB sense:
1. Barney's father was
A. A Nebraska corn farmer
B. A wealthy industrialist
C. A devil-may-care adventurer
D. A preacher
2. The name Barney made up for his fictional general was:
A. General Mein
B. General Kampf
C. General Schickel
D. General GruberAnswers to previous quiz:
1. D. Smoked a cigarette
2. A. You fiend!
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter V The Traitor King
While Barney sped toward the Austrian-Luthan border, King Leopold of Lutha was having a few choice words with Prince Ludwig Von der Tann. Leopold was essentially a man with a weak mind and no moral compass, and easily manipulated by others. Despite the fact that Peter of Blentz had kept the king prisoner for several years, preventing him from rightfully ascending to his throne, Leopold had been talked into pardoning him. And when Prince Ludwig Von der Tann dared caution the king against such behavior, Leopold upbraided him, and suggested that Prince Ludwig might have aspirations for the throne himself.
The prince was a noble and dignified man who had only the best interests of Lutha at heart. He told the king that his family had always supported the Rubinroth family's rule, as long as the reigning monarch was loyal to Lutha. But he also warned the king that there were forces at work bigger than him, bigger than anyone in Lutha. These forces had their eye on capturing the country for themselves and even Peter of Blentz, who fancied himself "their man," would be cast aside should they ever take over.
Leopold chafed, and then switched the subject to Emma, demanding that Von der Tann compel his daughter to marry him. But Ludwig responded that it was Emma's decision. This infuriated Leopold even more, and he went so far as to hint that perhaps Von der Tann was conspiring to place "the impostor" (Barney) on the throne so Emma could marry the king of her choice.
This riled the old statesman and he told the king that no one, not even a king, could speak to a Von der Tann that way.
Leopold, like a spoiled child denied his favorite toy, got more ruffled and told Von der Tann to get out.
Outside the door, gleaning some of the argument whenever voices were raised, was Count Zellerndorf. He greeted Von der Tann, feigning warmth, but Von der Tann had no doubt where Zellerndorf really stood.
The count entered the king's chamber and began his litany of soothing lies, aimed to feed the king's ego while painting Von der Tann as one out to get control of the throne by any means possible. First, though, he told the king that the impostor had been executed in Austria, so at least that direct threat was out of the way.
Next, he proposed that the king accept an invitation to visit Peter of Blentz for a week, thus proving to the people of Lutha that the king was his own man, and was not afraid to visit his old enemy, and not controlled by Prince Ludwig.
And so, Leopold left for Blentz, and no sooner was he gone than a unit of the Austrian Army entered Lutha. Word came to Von der Tann, who was enraged at this violation of Lutha's neutrality. He rode to Lustadt to bring word to Leopold, only to find out he had gone to Blentz. Instead, Von der Tann conferred with the Serbian emissary and they agree that Count Zellerndorf of Austria was the brain behind getting the king out of the way so the army could come in unchallenged.
Von der Tann, with a small party of men, rode to Blentz to warn the king but, on the outskirts of the town, was halted by an Austrian sentry. Von der Tann was enraged to be thwarted by a representative of a foreign army in Lutha, but the men with him were not a large enough force to blast past the guards and get to the castle.
So Ludwig, at least for the time being, had to turn back.
Comment: This is the third chapter so far in Part II that seems to be slightly mistitled. It is true that Leopold's acts are, in effect, causing a betrayal, in that he is not exercising true wisdom as a king should. But it seems as if this is due to stupidity, rather than to design. Maybe a better title would have been "The Duped King" or "The Puppet King."
Test your ERB sense:
1. To prove his manhood to Von der Tann, Leopold:
A. shook a clenched fist in the old man's face
B. folded his arms and tapped his foot
C. hit the desktop with his fist
D. clenched both fists and placed them on his hips
2. The home of Peter of Blentz is described as:
A. an "ancient feudal castle."
B. a "dark and imposing edifice"
C. a "depressing silhouette against the gray sky"
D. a "barbaric looking palace"
Answers to previous quiz:
1. D. A preacher
2. B. General Kampf
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter VI A Trap is Sprung
On the way back to Lustadt, Von der Tann decided to send an emissary back to submit to the humiliation of seeking an Austrian pass and permission to carry a message to Leopold. He told the emissary to tell the king that if Ludwig did not hear from him in 24 hours, he would assume Leopold was a prisoner. And, if the emissary didn't come back, he would assume he was a prisoner, too.
Ludwig's plans for himself were to marshal an army, ready to march, to go to Blentz and rescue the king, if need be.
Meanwhile, Leopold was being royally entertained in the Palace of Peter of Blentz. He was not told of the attempt of Von der Tann to visit him, nor told of the later arrival of an emissary with a message for him. Instead, he was told that the Serbian army had invaded Lutha and that the Austrian soldiers had come to the castle of Blentz to help safeguard them from the Serbs.
In fact, even County Zellerndorf, Maenck and Peter did not hear until the following morning about the visit of Von der Tann. That news was unsettling, for they had hoped to enact their plan without him getting suspicious until it was too late.
So, they decide to try poisoning the mind of the king against Von der Tann some more, in hopes he would have the prince arrested and even executed. However, despite his extreme annoyance with the old man, Leopold was reluctant to follow their suggestions. Soon they learned the reason why; He told them he wanted to marry Emma and did not dare to do anything to her father that would turn her further against him.
The conspirators suggested that they fetch Emma and that Leopold, as king, order her to marry him. And, as incentive, he would hint darkly that only her marriage to him would keep her father out of trouble.
The princess was in her father's castle in the Old Forest, thinking of things that Lt. Butzow had told her about Barney Custer, and their adventures together in Africa, Nebraska, and perhaps other places.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of a message that said her father had a slight stroke and that two troopers would escort her to Lustadt.
She mounted her bronc and went with them, but when they came to where the road forked there was a company of soldiers blocking the way to Lustadt. One of them was Maenck, who told her she was coming with them to be wed to Leopold and become queen of Lutha. When the troopers with her proved to be Maenck's men, too, she meekly turned her horse down the road to Blentz. But her meekness disguised a mind racing with thoughts of escape and even eventual eternal escape from a fate that would be worse than death.
As her mind went over all the trails and shortcuts she has ridden for recreation, she finally determined the best route and, as they passed it, she spurred her horse for freedom. It was a wild chase across the countryside, and Emma left two of Maenck's horsemen sprawled in a gully and another one hurting from an encounter with barbed wire.
Finally, one got close enough to lay an arm on her, but just then an unkempt and disheveled man leaped from behind a tree and decked her captor.
Who is this man and what was he doing in the bushes in the middle of nowhere?
We'll just have to keep reading to find out.
Test your ERB sense:
In this chapter we learn for the first time the first name of Lieutenant Butzow. It is:
2. Emma's horse was described as "sure-footed as a..."
B. Mountain goat
C. Balkan mountaineer
D. fleeing deer in the Old Forest
Answers to previous quiz:
1. C. "The king approached the desk and pounded heavily upon its polished surface with his fist."
2. A. An "ancient feudal castle"
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter VII Barney to the Rescue
While Emma was making her getaway, Barney Custer himself had been on the lam for a few days after entering Lutha.
Though driving the roadster he had stolen from the army in Austria, and wearing an Austrian uniform, Barney was carefree for awhile, even stopping at a roadside restaurant to get a bite to eat. When Barney was taken into custody in Austria, he had apparently been searched, since the stolen passes were found on him. But they hadn't taken his cigarettes or matches away, since he lit up while being marched to the firing squad. If he had any money left after the search, it would have gotten soaked and stunk up during his escape through the sewer. So, either Barney paid for his meal with smelly money, or he had a new supply, lifted from the Austrian sentry he had slain.
Barney knew his activities in Austria would mean there would be a price on his head there, and no doubt there was a price on his head in Lutha as well. But he didn't plan to stay in Lutha long just long enough to warn Von der Tann about the plot against him and to perhaps have an opportunity to see Emma again. He also hoped Von der Tann could furnish him with new credentials to replace those confiscated by the Austrians, so he could get credentials as a war correspondent in Serbia, once he left Lutha.
The Austrian border guard saw his uniform and simply waved him across. There was no one manning the Lutha side of the border so Barney drove on, making good time.
But halfway between Tafelburg and the crossroads that leads to the Old Forest, Barney saw a contingent of Austrian soldiers ahead of him on a narrow, curving stretch of mountain road. This time his uniform did not suffice to get him past. An officer demanded he stop and, when he floored it, the officer opened fire. Not too far ahead was another Austrian contingent and they, seeing that Barney was attracting gunfire, began firing at him as he approached. Barney did a little swerving but mostly headed for the only way through the Austrian roadblock three soldiers who stood in the roadway shooting at him.
They failed to comprehend their danger and get out of the way and Barney plowed into them at 60 miles per hour, running over one, tossing two, and nearly putting himself over the edge of the mountain road. Only his iron nerve and strong arms kept the machine on the road, but it was a close enough call that Barney felt a wave of nausea sweep over him as he continued on his way.
Checking the rearview mirror, Barney saw at least two Austrian vehicles were pursuing him. He gunned it, reaching speeds of 75 miles per hour, and then saw the needle climb to over 90.
Then, there came a hissing from the radiator area and a cloud of steam. Barney realized a bullet must have struck the device and slowly drained it. It was only moments before the motor would be torn to pieces.
Ahead, he saw that the road crossed a bridge next to a forest and it gave him an idea. He slowed down to about 15 miles per hour, hopped out, and guided the car so it crashed through the bridge railing and toppled over into the river. Then, he disappeared into the woods.
The Austrians would either disregard the broken railing and continue the chase, or stop and start searching the river. Either way, he had bought himself valuable time.
Barney roved the rugged country for a week, avoiding Austrian cavalry patrols. He perfected the art of stealing chickens, and even relieved a clothesline of a rough shirt and trousers.
On the seventh day, at around noon, Barney heard the sound of a rapidly approaching horse and hid himself. Soon, he heard a woman's voice urging her mount on as other hoofbeats drew near. When Barney heard a man's voice tell the woman to halt in the name of the king, it piqued Barney's interest. He moved nearer in time to see a guard in the unfiorm of the House of Blentz man-handling a woman who, from the back, looked vaguely familiar. He moved closer and saw it was the Princess Emma herself, and with one blow laid the guard out on the ground.
Test your ERB sense:
1. When Barney drove through Tafelberg, he thought about stopping to see Kramer, the old innkeeper who had helped him in his previous adventure. But he decided not to, because;
A. He was concerned that Kramer's allegiance may have changed
B. He was worried that someone with loose lips would talk about his presence there.
C. He knew that any delay would be foolhardy since it was only a matter of time before someone would be on his trail.
D. He was worried that Kramer might hit him up for a loan.
2. When Barney took the peasant clothes off the clothes line, what did he leave as payment?
A. A chicken he had stolen from another peasant earlier in the day.
B. A gold watch that had belonged to the Austrian soldier he had killed.
C. A gold coin.
D. A bucket of fresh-picked wild Balkanberries.
Answers to previous quiz:
1. D. Otto
2. A. Chamois
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter VIII An Adventurous Day
Barney recognized Emma immediately, but it took a moment for her to be fully sure it was him. First, Maenck had told her he had been killed by an Austrian firing squad. Second, without his beard, he looked a lot like the king who, we learn, had also shaved off his beard sometime in the past two years. She considered that perhaps the King had figured out there was a plot against him, and he also was hiding out. Third, it was, indeed, two years since she had seen Barney.
Barney grabbed the guns and ammo from the fallen guard and they headed into the bush as other Austrians approached. One soldier came close enough to spot them but he hesitated as he, too, momentarily believed he was looking at the king.
In fact, he shouted to Maenck that she was with the king and Maenck said that was ridiculous and to shoot whoever was with Emma.
One soldier got close enough to shoot at them, but Barney pushed Emma to safety and turned and shot a bullet that sent the soldier sprawling. They came to a river. Barney lifted Emma in his arms and she lifted his firearms above the water as they plowed across. Halfway there, with the water waist deep, Maenck and two men showed up at the riverbank and the maniacal Maenck ordered them to open fire. As a bullet kicked up water near them, Emma took the pistol in her hand and dropped one of the soliders, which prompted Maenck and the other men to run for cover. Barney and Emma made it to the other side, where Barney fired a couple of shots back at the pursuers, and then they were off into the brush.
After dark, they went into a town to try to find food, but a suspicious resident reported their presence and they were off to hiding places again. They heard the sound of mounted troops and also a vehicle, and the voice that came from it was Maenck's. Barney and the princess moved up a driveway, hoping to locate a vehicle. The found a locked garage and Barney borrowed Emma's diamond ring to cut a hole in the glass so he could reach in and unlock the door. They rolled the vehicle out and down the driveway. As they left, the owners of the car ran from their house, shouting, but it was too late.
Lights off, Barney drove through town until they turned onto a dirt country lane. Soon, horsemen were pursuing them and the car could barely maintain the distance, the dirt road and ruts impeding its speed. Emma, from her extensive knowledge of the countryside gained from much horseback riding, recognized a structure alongside the road and realized that once they were over a hill they would shortly be on the paved highway. Before they topped the hill, the horsemen almost caught up,. They fired a shot that hit the fender and Emma grabbed the carbine and scored a hit on one horsemen, and another bumped into him and both went down. She fired a couple more shots and then they were over the hill, gaining speed toward the highway. A mile away, they could see another car approaching - - probably Maenck, but once on the highway there would be no way anyone could catch them.
Just as the front wheels touched the road to home, though, their vehicle ran out of gas.
Test your ERB sense:
1. When Emma saw the unkempt Barney for the first time in two years, she asked him who he was. He replied that, "I must look like a ______"
2. After Emma fired the gun, hitting another human being for the first time ever, what one thing did she wish could have been different?
A. She wished none of this had ever happened.
B. She wished the man she shot would have been Maenck
C. She felt her bruised shoulder and wished the gun hadn't kicked so badly
D. She wished the soldiers would just leave them alone.
Answers to previous quiz:
1. B. "...fear that he might be recognized by others, who would not guard his secret so well as the shopkeeper of Tafelberg would."
2. C. A gold coin
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter IX The Capture
Barney and Emma were easily captured, since there was nowhere to run and Barney did not want to expose Emma to any more gunfire. Maenck drove up to where the prisoners stood and bowed mockingly to Emma, then demanded of Barney, "Who are you?" He did not recognize him in the dark and Barney simply replied, "A servant of the house of Von der Tann."
They were closer to Castle Blentz than they had realized, so the journey there was a short one. As they passed the Austrian guard, Barney took note of the password Maenck used, just in case he needed it later. At the castle, King Leopold, Peter and Von Coblich were in the king's chambers. Word was sent and the king ordered them brought in.
The king, a bit tipsy, attempted a cordial greeting to Emma, who responded with a slight, icy curtsy. Then, the king gaped open-mouthed at Barney, and the others gaped as well, at he whom they had thought was dead.
When Barney reasserted his role as a servant of the house of Von der Tann, Leopold exploded that he was an ingrate and Barney called the king an ingrate in return.
The king ordered Barney shot in the morning and Emma demanded to share his fate, saying she would rather die by the side of a man than live by the side of Leopold. The king didn't grant her request, but said he would talk with her again on the morrow.
Amazingly, Barney found himself locked in the same chamber into which he had been placed over two years before when he had mistakenly been thought to be Leopold himself. Aided by the servant Joseph, he had escaped that room through a secret passage and gone on to rescue Emma.
Barney went to the fireplace and, after some tense experimentation, found the right place to put pressure and the secret door swung open. He resisted the temptation to whoop with delight.
Fortunately, Barney had a good supply of matches on him. He probably raided the box of free matches at the Austrian inn in which he had dined, and they had miraculously survived through the cooking of numerous stolen chicken dinners and the wade through the river. And, through another stroke of good luck, his captors had not taken them from him.
Barney lit "many matches" to find a passageaway other than the one he and Joseph had used and continued lighting matches along the way. At last he heard voices and realized he was separated from an adjacent room by wooden panels instead of stones. The voice was that of Leopold, who was ordering Emma brought to him and all guards removed so that they would not overhear his conversation with her.
One more match showed Barney the panel was a hinged door with a latch. He opened it, slowly and carefully, and saw the king sitting at a table with his back to the panel. Barney sneaked out and, coming up behind the king, cupped a hand over his mouth and an arm around his neck and told him to keep quiet. Then he dragged the king over to another table where a revolver lay, and whipped the king around with the point of the gun in physical contact with the ruler's face and told him he'd be a dead king if he didn't cooperate.
Barney then ordered the angry and flabbergasted Leopold to disrobe while Barney did the same. As the Nebraskan donned the king's garments, he ordered a reluctant Leopold to put on the disgusting peasant rags Barney had worn.
Barney's first plan was to take the king, blindfolded, down the secret passage and put him in the tower room in which Barney had been held prisoner. As they reached the end of the secret passage, though, Barney realized he probably would be sentencing the king to death. Just as it had at a previous opportunity two years before, temptation entered and suggested Barney could be rid of the king and take his place and none would ever know. But, honorably and with a bit of frustration, he changed his mind and brought the king back to the royal quarters.
Barney ordered the king to write a full pardon for Mr. Bernard Custer and to order that he be furnished with money and set free at dawn.
Barney told the king he didn't deserve what Barney was going to do for him. But because Barney was "neither a thief nor a murderer" (according to Barney) he planned to allow the king (in the guise of Barney) to be released in the morning. He suggested he travel to the Serbian front and await Barney, who promised to come there and change clothes with him. And so Barney once more blindfolded the king and took him down to the tower prison room and this time left him there. Then, he returned to his new quarters and awaited the arrival of Emma.
When she was brought in, she believing him to be the king asked him to spare the life of Mr. Custer and give her freedom to return to Castle Von der Tann. In return, she would honor her betrothal to Leopold.
Barney was on the verge of telling her who he was, then realized it would be better to keep her in the dark, rather than place her in the position of becoming an actress in a dangerous play. He surprised her by pulling the already written pardon from his robes and told her that he would escort her to her father's castle. She was concerned that Peter of Blentz would ignore the king's order and still have Mr. Custer shot in the morning, but the "king" assured her that Barney Custer would be safe if they left.
Barney summoned an officer and ordered him to get horses for them and accompany them on a journey. He reinforced his order by brandishing his pistol, assuring the man that he would die if he did not precisely follow Barney's instructions.
The three made their way to the stable where three horses were saddled. At the gate, the officer, Captain Krantzwort, ordered the drawbridge let down but the young Luthan gaurd said he could do so only on the orders of Peter. So Barney revealed himself as king and the young guard was overwhelmed and lowered the bridge. As they left, Barney handed him the pardon and told him it must reach Peter's hands before dawn.
Before reaching the Austrian lines, Barney took the captain into some weeds and tied him up and then shooed his horse away. To throw any potential pursuit off the trail, he mentioned that he and the princess were heading for Castle Von der Tann. The real destination was Lustadt.
Test your ERB sense:
1. What is the password to get people through the Austrian lines between the village of Blentz and Peter's castle?
2. When Barney calls King Leopold an ingrate, he adds that the monarch is a:
A. scurrilous cad
B. miserable puppy
C. sniveling weakling
D. cowardly baboon
Answers to previous quiz:
1. A. scarecrow
2. B. She wished her bullet had found Maenck
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter X A New King in Lutha
At the Austrian guard stations, Barney gave the correct password and it got him and Emma through sentries at both edges of the village. At last, they were on the open road to Lustadt, where they rode many miles in silence.
As they neared Lustadt, they met a company of the Royal Horse Guard, commanded by Lt. Butzow. Despite having spent two years with Barney Custer in Nebraska, the lieutenant didn't recognize Barney in the kingly garb. Butzow wondered privately what on earth Princess Emma was doing riding docilely along with Leopold, but verbally he offered news that Austria was moving more troops and weapons into Lutha, and Serbia stood ready to side with Lutha to help the little country maintain its neutrality.
Barney, in the role of the king, ordered the lieutenant and his men to escort them to the castle at Lustadt and to fetch Prince Ludwig von der Tann for a meeting.
When Von der Tann greeted them, he was a bit testy with "Leopold," wondering what on earth he was doing with his daughter. Barney explained that Peter had plotted against Emma and that he, the king, had rescued her. Emma affirmed his story, with a qualification, saying that "if" the king had prior knowledge of the plot he had since regretted it and, by his actions, atoned.
Barney then began giving orders, lining up meetings with Count Zellerndorf and the Serbian minister.
Von der Tann briefed the "king," telling him what Butzow had already told him and adding that Austria was favorable toward Peter of Blentz. He told the king that Austria had violated its treaty with Lutha by sending troops into the country, and so, the old prince urged, there should be a declaration of war against the Austrians. That would ensure that the Serbs would fight on the side of Lutha.
Barney spoke first to Serb General Petko, who was surprised to see this new, decisive, and pro-Serb king. King Barney told the general that if Serbia would loan Lutha an army corps to assist them in driving out Austria, that Lutha would loan Serbia an army corps to aid them in their own battle with the Austrians.
After Petko left, Von der Tann told Barney that the Luthan troops were already deployed strategically for the coming battle. Ludwig left and Zellerndorf came in. Barney gave the astonished emissary the word that Austria better pull its troops or face a big battle.
Zellerndorf, scarce believing his ears, tried to get Barney to "Think of your throne..." But "the king" replied: "A throne means less to us than you may imagine, count; but the honor of Lutha means a great deal."
Test your ERB sense:
1. What heavy duty weapons were moved into Lutha by the Austrians?
2. How long did Barney tell Count Zellerndorf that Austria had to get its troops out of Lutha?
A. Until sundown
B. Until sunup
C. 24 hours
D. 48 hours
Answers to previous quiz:
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter XI The Battle
The people of Lustadt were aware of the advancing Austrian army but had not yet realized their "king" had made a dramatic switch in attitude. Thus, many conversations took place in the city in which open disgust was expressed for the weakness of their king.
That all began to change, though, as a Royal Horse Guard sergeant began moving from place to place in the city, posting placards that proclaimed that Leopold had declared war on Austria and was calling for volunteers.
Thus, the shouts of "Long live the king!" soon echoed in public places.
The first half of "The Mad King" was published in All-Story Weekly on March 21, 1914, and the battle in that story was essentially a brief civil war, in which the forces of the king of Lutha defeated the army of rival Peter of Blentz.
ERB no doubt planned a sequel, but the character of that sequel was likely changed when, three months after the orignal story appeared June 28, 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated by a Bosnian Serb, thus sparking combat among nations which expanded throughout Europe to become World War I, which lasted until 1918.
And so, when the second part of the story was written and published, beginning as a three-part All-Story serial on Aug. 7, 1915, hostilities had been under way for a year and ERB set Part 2 against the backdrop of that greater war, and referred to it in Chapter XI this way:
"The battle of Lustadt has passed into history. Outside of the little kingdom of Lutha it received but passing notice by the world at large, whose attention was riveted upon the great conflicts along the banks of the Meuse, the Marne, and the Aisne."
Barney sent out the Luthan cavalry to meet the advancing Austrians. They fought as they fell back, leading the Austrians into the position of the Luthan line. Though it was a weak line, it stood its ground until the enemy brought up its heavy artillery. As shells fell, people began fleeing from Lutha.
Then, a trumpet sounded and an officer announced that the king was riding to the firing line. The people cheered.
All day, Barney rode along his lines, encouraging the men. Three of those with him were killed, but his presence inspired the Luthan Army and it once again began to take a toll on the Austrians.
Overhead, the Luthan Air Force consisting of one plane could be seen. It was to signal when the Serbian reinforcements were sighted. At last the signal came, telling Barney the Serbs were just three miles away.
Barney ordered gunfire directed at an enemy artillery position, ordered a cavalry assault on the Austrian infantry, and then began leading a reserve unit which came up on the preoccupied infantry from the rear and, with bayonets fixed, drove the enemy backward until its retreat became a rout. At last, the Austrians dug in and the battle became a stalemate until another Austrian unit was observed fleeing in disorder in an attempt to escape from a unit of cheering and flag-waving Serbs.
Some of the Austrian units managed to escape back into their mother country, but the rest were taken as prisoners of war and turned over to the Serbs.
In keeping his promise to aid the Serbs, Barney stationed a unit of the Luthanian army corps along the Lutha-Austria border, to keep more Austrians from using Lutha as an access point to Serbia.
Barney rode back to Lustadt where there was joy and celebration, but someone else rode into Lustadt that day as well a dust-covered horseman, the same soldier who had been sent a week earlier by Von der Tann to carry a message to the king at Blentz. As the Austrian troops had left Blentz to join the battle around Lustadt, the solider's guard had been relaxed and he had been able to escape.
He sought out Princess Emma and told her that Peter was so mad about his plan falling apart that he had decided to ignore the king's pardon and have Barney Custer shot the following day.
She sent him to find Lt. Butzow to see if something could be done to stop the execution. Shortly after, Barney arrived at her apartment and saw that she was greatly troubled.
After she explained, and further softened his heart with tears, Barney finally blurted out the secret he had kept from her, that he was, indeed, Barney Custer himself and that Leopold thought by Prince Peter to be Barney was the one who was a condemned prisoner in Blentz.
For proof, he drew from his pocket the diamond ring she had loaned him to cut through the glass before they stole their getaway car (like the matches, Barney had not had the ring taken away when he became a prisoner).
Barney told her he and Butzow would ride to Blentz to seek Leopold's freedom but, after that, it would be necessary for Barney to make for the border, as Leopold's reputation for ingratitude was well known.
But first, said Barney, he would seek to obtain from Leopold a document releasing Emma from her betrothal and giving permission for her to wed Barney. And should that happen, he asked Emma: "Will you marry me?"
In words and actions, the lady said yes.
Test your ERB sense:
1. Which of the following statements is true?
A. During the battle, Barney shot his horse so he could take shelter behind its body while firing at the advancing Austrians.
B. During the battle, Barney had two horses shot out from underneath him.
C. Barney's horse was killed by friendly fire.
D. Barney's horse was seriously wounded and he shot it to put it out of its misery.
2. How did the Luthan aeroplane signal Barney that the Serbs were three miles away?
A. Fired three shots with a red-smoke flare gun.
B. Dropped three small parachutes carrying white smoke bombs.
C. Dipped the right wing three times as it flew over the Lutha line
D. The pilot flew in close and held up three fingers and Barney counted them
Answers to previous quiz:
1. B. howitzers
2. C. 24 hours
Answers to Chapter IX quiz:
1. D. Slankamen (there is a Serbian town named Novi Slankamen. Novi means new and slankamen means "the salty stone")
2. B. miserable puppy
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter XII Leopold Waits for Dawn
After Leopold realized he was alone, he removed his blindfold. As soon as he recognized that he was in the tower room where he himself had spent 10 years imprisoned, he tried calling to the guards to persuade them that he was actually Leopold. The results of such an effort were predictable.
By morning, Leopold was such a quivering and quavering mess that the guards could almost believe he was actually the king, since they had anticipated the American would face his death with more bravado.
However, Peter had indeed received the pardon that the king himself had written, and the guards told him he would not be shot...that morning.
Two days pass and finally Leopold learned from a servant who brought him some food that the Austrians had been repelled.
Leopold gained some hope from the news. Had not Barney Custer promised him that, if the battle was won for Lutha, that he would return and restore the king to his rightful place? Leopold hated to admit it to himself, but the American had so far shown himself to be a man of honor, despite the way Leopold had treated him.
Later that day, Peter and Maenck showed up, still thinking Leopold was really Barney. Peter was there to make "Barney" talk and give some explanation for why Leopold had a change of heart and signed a pardon for him.
Leopold tried to tell the two that he was really Leopold, to no avail. Peter couldn't imagine what really happened secret passages and all that so he imagined that Barney must have found a confederate who had taken a message to Leopold. Peter wanted to know who the confederate was, and what kind of message he delivered to the king.
However, Leopold could only reiterate his ignorance and restate his claim to be the true king. Peter promised him he would die the following day if he was not forthcoming with better information.
The secret passage had a slight incline, so it was surprising that Leopold did not realize he must have come to the prison room by some other route than the main hallways. But, if he spent 10 years a prisoner in the room and never figured out there was a secret passage, it's not surprising that he didn't think of it in the few hours of worry and agony while he was again its prisoner.
The next morning, hope came with the dawn. Horsemen approached the palace and asked that the gates be opened in the name of the king. There were messages of negotiation sent back and forth, including one demand Leopold overheard that Peter of Blentz be granted a full pardon.
However, the negotiations fell through, and soon the horsemen retreated. Shortly thereafter, Maenck and some soldiers came and roughly hauled Leopold from his prison. He was to be shot so that, when the horsemen came back, they would find his dead body in the courtyard.
Leopold was dragged to the courtyard, nearly mad with delirium. A soldier doused him with a bucket of water so he could face his death with a clear mind.
He was stood up and Maenck began giving commands to the firing squad. With incoherent mumblings, Leopold begged for his life.
Test your ERB sense:
1. When the guards refused to open the door at Leopold's demand, he endeared himself to them by calling them:
2. Maenck told "Barney" (Leopold) that "Until you return to Lutha he (Leopold) considered the Austrians....
A. His staunchest allies
B. His comrades in arms
C. His greatest assets
D. His best friends
Answers to previous quiz:
1. B. Barney had two horses shot out from underneath him.
2. B. The aeroplane pilot droped three small parachutes carrying white smoke bombs.
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter XIII The Two Kings
After Barney, Butzow and 20 troopers were turned away from the Castle of Peter of Blentz, Barney assured the lieutenant there was another way. He led them off the main road and into underbrush where they had to dismount and then made their way through thick brush to the wall of the castle, where Barney led them through an entryway.
It was the long-hidden outside exit from the secret passage that Joseph had used back in The Mad King, Part I, Chapter V, to bring Emma to her freedom. Emma had given Barney explicit directions on how to find it.
Having served for a couple of days as King of Lutha, Barney had ample time to restock his supply of matches, and these he lit as the troopers followed him through the passage. They climbed a ladder to the third floor and Barney opened the latch to the king's apartment, which was vacant.
From the courtyard below came the pitiful wailing of Leopold, and the men charged through the castle and down the stairs. Maenck, once again his own worst enemy, had been deliberately and cruelly stretching out the commands to the firing squad as long as possible, the more to enjoy the mental anguish of the man he thought was Barney.
But before he was about to give the command to fire, he heard a commotion and turned to see "the king" and a squad of men coming at him with weapons.
The firing squad turned and fired at the invaders and were met with a volley from seventeen carbines. Maenck fired at King Barney, who was hit and fell, and then yelled at the firing squad to "Shoot the American." Barney, trying to struggle to his feet, lost site of Maenck in the resulting hand-to-hand tussles, but saw that one Blentz soldier was making toward the Leopold, carbine ready. Before he could shoot, Barney fired and the soldier fell. Once again, he had saved Leopold. A couple other soldiers, further back, also aimed at the king and Barney shot at both of them, but not before one discharged his weapon and felled Leopold.
Barney passed out from his wound but awoke in the king's bed with Leopold himself, thought to be Barney, lying on a nearby cot. Leopold had learned his lesson about declaring he was the king and was biding his time. Barney asked everyone except "the prisoner" to leave the room and, as they left, Butzow reported his regrets that both Peter and Maenck were nowhere to be found.
He told Butzow to secure Castle Blentz with his soldiers and then to ride to Lustadt and inform Von der Tann that he wanted the two villains captured and brought to Lustadt, dead or alive.
Finally alone with Leopold, he said he would keep his promise and see that Leopold was once again recognized as the true king. But first...Barney had a few details to discuss.
Before he gave them, though, Leopold once again proved that Leopold will always be Leopold.
He charged that Barney had: "...assaulted me, stole my clothing, left me here to be shot, and sat upon my throne in Lutha."
Barney responded that, in doing so, he had "...saved your foolish little throne...drove the invaders from your dominions...unmasked your enemies...and once again proven to you that Prince von der Tann is your best friend and most loyal supporter...."
But Leopold continued to exhibit such lack of gratitude and blindness that Barney knew his likely fate should he change clothes with the true king.
Barney laid down three conditions for returning the king's throne:
First, he must agree to try and hang Peter, Maenck and Von Coblich. Second, he must agree that Von der Tann would remain chancellor during the king's lifetime. Third, he must sign a paper relinquishing any claim on the hand of Princess Emma and recognize her right to marry Barney.
The king readily agreed to the first two but went livid upon hearing the third.
Nonetheless, Barney threatened that the king would either agree to the terms or Barney would simply stay as king. He suggested that Leopold might be able to find other gainful employment, if he was lucky.
The king finally agreed. After he signed the documents, Barney told him when he (Leopold) was well, he must ride to Brosnov. Barney would go to Lustadt and get Emma and ride to Brosnov and there switch clothes with Leopold, so Leopold could ride back, as king, with the troop escort.
Barney suggested they both get some sleep, and then started doing that very thing.
But the light in the chamber still burned.
Comment: Does it really make any sense that the king's coutiers would put "Barney," a commoner, on a cot in the king's quarters? Shouldn't he logically have been placed elsewhere? What reason could they have had for putting him in with the king in the royal bedroom?
Test your ERB sense:
1. In "negotiating" with Leopold, Barney refers to Lutha as:
A. Your two-bit kingdom
B. Your two-by-four kingdom
C. Your two cents worth of kingdom
D. Your two-timing kingdom
2. When Barney hints to Leopold that he may retain the throne, he make a suggestion for another occupation for which Leopold might be qualified. It was:
A. A head waiter
B. A stable boy
C. Assistant to a shopkeeper
D. A corn farmer in Nebraska
Answers to previous quiz:
1. C. Pigs
2. D. His best friends
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter XIV "The King's Will is Law"
It was midnight in the room where Barney and Leopold lay, but just one of them slept and a third, an interloper, was awake as well.
The interloper was behind the portrait of the stern Blentz princess, and he opened the painting door enough to watch what was going on in the room. Meanwhile, Leopold, unaware he was observed, steathily arose and crossed the room to be sure Barney was sleeping. He then took the clothing of the King of Lutha and donned it, and took his sword and poised it over the heart of the sleeping Barney. Coward that he was, though, he could not bring himself to stab a sleeping man. Perhaps it was his fear that his blow might not be effective enough to end the sleeper's life before he awoke and overpowered him. All the while, the man behind the painting continued to watch.
Finally, Leopold settled for removing the documents from beneath Barney's pillows and then left the room and went to the guardroom of the Royal Horse Troops,.
The guard sentry saw the king and immediately called the sleeping troopers to attention. The king told them to prepare to ride to Lustadt. He also told them that the American had died of his wounds.
Before they left, Leopold pressed a buzzer which was answered by a longtime servant of Peter of Blentz. Leopold whispered some instructions to him and pulled a wad of money from his king's robes and placed them in the fellow's hands. He warned the servant not to fail him.
As they departed the castle, a man watched from the window of the apartment of Peter of Blentz. He then entered a secret passage and came to another man sleeping on a pile of clothing and woke him up.
The two men were Maenck and Peter. Maenck had been watching Leopold and Barney from behind the portrait of the Blentz Princess, and like everyone else he assumed that the true king was in the king's bed and Barney was on the cot. So, he thought that Barney was now masquerading as the king and, thus disguised, was on his way to Lustadt.
Maenck and Peter decided they could turn this to their advantage by going to Leopold (in reality, Barney) and telling him what was going on so that they could cement their favor with him for all time.
Meanwhile, the servant of Peter had been busy all night, following the true king's instructions. He had dug a grave-sized hole in the garden and then went into the shop and constructed a coffin-size box. Then, grabbing a sharp ax, he made his way through the castle, grinning to himself.
Back at Lustadt, Butzow had arrived on his mission and delivered his message to Von der Tann, and then went to bring Princess Emma up to date. He spoke of the bravery of Leopold in saving Barney's life, and Emma smiled to herself, knowing it was really her Barney who had saved Leopold.
Later that day, Leopold himself and the Royal Horse Troopers arrive in Lutha. The king, knowing the princess would think he was really Barney, sent a message to Emma, telling her Leopold had died of his wounds and that he, Barney, must now assume the throne. He told Emma the best thing for them to do was to marry that afternoon. He signed it: B.C.
Emma pondered her reply. Finally, she wrote a simple sentence for the courier to take to "Barney": "The king's will is law."
Lutha was a beehive of activity all day as preparations were made for the sudden wedding.
At last the great moment came. All were assembled in the cathedral. The bride came down the aisle. Then the king himself entered.
As he moved toward her, Emma noticed a slight limp, but its significance did not immediately dawn on her. Then Butzow noticed it, and it slowly dawned on him: The man Butzow thought was king had been wounded in the chest; the man he thought was Barney was wounded in the leg.
Butzow caught Emma's eye and she suddenly realized the significance of his stare. Both immediately knew the wedding could not proceed, but for different reasons:
Butzow knew she could not marry Barney Custer;
Emma knew she could not marry Leopold.
The only one with power to do anything to stop the wedding was Emma. And she did what was most logical under the circumstances:
She feigned a faint.
Test your ERB sense:
1. The portrait of the past princess of Blentz is of a woman who is what relationship to Peter?
A. Great aunt
2. Emma realized from the limp that it was Leopold, not Barney, who was walking up the aisle to wed her. What other distinctive did she note that was her final clue that she was about to marry the wrong man?
A. When Leopold smiled, his upper lip would curl into a slight sneer
B. Leopold's hair was parted on the opposite side as Barney's
C. Barney had a small scar on his right cheek, near his ear lobe, and this man didn't have one.
D. Leopold had food stuck between his teeth and Barney brushed three times a day, and chewed Dentyne when he could not brush after every meal.
Answers to previous quiz:
1. B. Barney referred to Lutha as a "two-by-four kingdom"
2. A. A head waiter
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter XV Maenck Blunders
Peter and Maenck breakfasted at Blentz and then rode, Peter toward Austria and Blentz to Lustadt. Neither knew orders had been issued for their arrests, so Peter took no precautions and was soon in custody and on his way to Lustadt. Maenck, however, being a more overt shady character, was practiced at deception, and managed to get to Lustadt without being seen.
At the home of a confederate, he learned of the impending wedding and rushed to the Cathedral.
The guard at the door did not recognize him (if he had, he would have arrested him) but still denied him entrance (he'd forgotten his invitation!!). Frustrated, Maenck circled the cathedral until he found a way over the wall and then an open window into the cathedral. He entered a room and heard voices and, cracking the door, saw the reclining Emma being attended by a doctor while others, including Leopold (who Maenck thought was Barney), standing around.
Maenck drew his revolver, opened the door, took aim, and fired.
Earlier, at Blentz, the old servant with the sharp ax made his way to the king's room and entered and sneaked up on the sleeping Barney and raised his ax to swing it at the exposed neck. At just that moment, Barney woke up and, in the glass of a nearby painting, saw what was about to occur. He leaped from the bed and, as the ax-wielder approached, grabbed the very painting in which he had seen the reflection and smashed it down over his attacker's head. He grabbed a chair as a weapon and, as the now-beserk old man attacked, Barney let him have it.
After tying the old man up, Barney looked for his clothes and found the king's wardrobe missing, along with the documents Leopold had signed. Barney figured it all out pretty quick, and searched the closet for other clothes. He rejected the idea of donning his peasant duds and instead chose several items for outdoors or hunting wear and, taking the ax, went in search of a horse. When he got to the stable room, no soldiers challenged him. He appropriated some other weapons, then had the stable boy saddle a horse and he rode over the lowered drawbridge and took the short horse trail to Lutha, rather than the longer route of the wagon road.
However, the shortcut proved longer, due to a river canyon bridge that had been destroyed by the retreating Austrians. Unable to ford at that point, Barney had to retrace his steps and try a different route.
The story at this point switched back toLustadt. Maenck's shot had dropped the king and Butzow immediately returned fire and dropped Maenck. As Butzow wrestled the revolver from the fallen assassin, Prince Ludwig ran to the king's side as the bishop and doctor attended him, and Emma's eyes widened in horror.
At about that time, Barney himself burst into the room. He had arrived in time to spot Maenck climbing the cathedral wall and had followed him in.
The doctor announced that the king was dead and the wounded Maenck called them fools and pointed at Barney and said, "There is the king."
Butzow agreed, citing the evidence of the wounds. Von der Tann looked at Barney and asked "Is this the truth?"
Barney looked at Emma, and then he boldly told the entire truth, including the fact that he fully intended to switch back identities with Leopold so that he could once again reign as king, but that Leopold had screwed things up, resulting in his own death.
As he spoke, Emma crossed the room and took his hand.
Prince Ludwig von der Tann bowed his head in thought, then spoke. He said the dying Leopold left the throne to a brave man, in whose veins flowed the blood of the Rubinroths, hereditary rulers of Lutha.
And, he added, Barney's blood lines was closer to the throne than Prince Peter's, who was already out of consideration anyway, due to his traitorous acts.
Von der Tann raised his sword and said: "The king is dead. Long live the king!"
Test your ERB sense:
1. As the old man attacked Barney with the ax, he
A. gave a cry like the wail of a banshee
B. uttered a whistling noise from between his teeth
C. cackled like an old witch, mad with insanity
D. gasped for air lost by the unaccustomed exertion
2. The horse which Barney rode from Blentz was called a:
3. Barney's ride to Lutha was along the banks of the
A. Ru River
B. Rubin River
C. Rubinroth River
D. Rubinrothkowsky River
Answers to previous quiz:
1. D. Great-grandmother
2. A. When Leopold smiled, his upper lip would curl into a slight sneer.
The Mad King, Part II: Chapter XVI King of Lutha
The last chapter is a brief one and ties up all the threads (well, most of the threads).
First, Barney demurred about being king but Von der Tann persisted with logic.
In American democratic fashion, he responded: "Let us leave it to the representatives of the people and to the house of nobles."
After the people's reps heard the full story, the reply was unanimous. And to make it fully unanimous, the Princess Emma agreed with their decision: "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 responded by saying "Let the King of Lutha be the first to salute Lutha's queen."
Barney was crowned.
Emma became his queen.
Maenck died of his wounds.
Peter was convicted and hanged.
Von Coblich committed suicide.
Lieutenant Otto Butzow was given a title and Peter's estate and made general in charge of the army of Lutha, commanding the forces that Lutha had committed to aid the cause of Serbia in World War I.
But, did they all live happily ever after?
Did Butzow ever find true love with Barney's sister, Victoria?
ERB doesn't say.
Thought: In many countries, hanging is considered the form of execution for the masses, while "neater" methods, such as decapitation, are used for the nobility. Austria used a firing squad to dispose of prisoners and even Peter of Blentz had in mind a firing squad for Barney, thought to be a commoner. Yet, Peter, one of noble birth, was executed by hanging rather than by the more dignified firing squad. True, he was a scoundrel, but didn't royal blood entitle him to the better death? Apparently not in Lutha!
Answers to previous questions:
1. B. As the old man attacked Barney, he uttered a whistling noise from between his teeth.
2. B. The horse was a "hunter." (maybe a second cousin to a "stalking horse!")