“And for the King’s throne? Do you think that the nobles and the people will enjoy being fooled as you’ve fooled them? Do you think they’ll love a King who was too drunk to be crowned, and sent a servant to personate him?”

“He was drugged—and I’m no servant.”

“Mine will be Black Michael’s version.”

He rose, came to me, and laid his hand on my shoulder.

“Lad,” he said, “if you play the man, you may save the King yet. Go back and keep his throne warm for him.”

“But the duke knows—the villains he has employed know—”

“Ay, but they can’t speak!” roared Sapt in grim triumph.

“We’ve got ’em! How can they denounce you without denouncing themselves? “This is not the King, because we kidnapped the King and murdered his servant.” Can they say that?”

The position flashed on me. Whether Michael knew me or not, he could not speak. Unless he produced the King, what could he do? And if he produced the King, where was he? For a moment I was carried away headlong; but in an instant the difficulties came strong upon me.

“I must be found out,” I urged.

“Perhaps; but every hour’s something. Above all, we must have a King in Strelsau, or the city will be Michael’s in four-and-twenty hours, and what would the King’s life be worth then—or his throne? Lad, you must do it!”

“Suppose they kill the King?”

“They’ll kill him, if you don’t.”

“Sapt, suppose they have killed the King?”

“Then, by heaven, you’re as good an Elphberg as Black Michael, and you shall reign in Ruritania! But I don’t believe they have; nor will they kill him if you’re on the throne. Will they kill him, to put you in?”

It was a wild plan—wilder even and more hopeless than the trick we had already carried through; but as I listened to Sapt I saw the strong points in our game. And then I was a young man and I loved action, and I was offered such a hand in such a game as perhaps never man played yet.

“I shall be found out,” I said.

“Perhaps,” said Sapt. “Come! to Strelsau! We shall be caught like rats in a trap if we stay here.”

“Sapt,” I cried, “I’ll try it!”

“Well played!” said he. “I hope they’ve left us the horses. I’ll go and see.”

“We must bury that poor fellow,” said I.

“No time,” said Sapt.

“I’ll do it.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.