opened my eyes. My face, hair and clothes were all wet. Sapt
and Fritz were near me. I was very angry.
did you throw water over me?’
five o'clock,’ said Sapt. ‘And look at the King.’
King was on the floor. His face was red. Sapt kicked him.
He did not move.
threw water over him, too,’ said Fritz. ‘But it
was no good.’
looked at Sapt and Fritz. We were afraid. I remembered the
last bottle - what was in it?’
must get a doctor.’
no doctor near here,’ said Sapt. ‘And a thousand
doctor cannot help us. He will not move for six or seven hours.’
about the Coronation?’
King is ill,’ said Fritz. ‘We must send a message
will believe it,’ said Sapt. ‘And Black Michael
the people in Strelsau want Black Michael to be King,’
said Sapt. ‘And now it will happen.’
said nothing. Then Sapt spoke to me. ‘You can help us,’
he said. ‘You can go to Strelsau. You can be the King
at the coronation.’
it is not possible!’ I said.
is some danger. Are you afraid?’
sorry,’ said Sapt. ‘But the King is in great danger.’
did not answer. Sapt looked at me. ‘Will you go?’
I’ll go,’ I said.
we will be in the Palace,' said Sapt. ' Fritz will keep everyone
away from the Kings bedroom. You and I will ride back here.'
then what will happen?'
King will ride with me to Strelsau. You will leave the country.’
left the room. He returned with Joseph. A few minutes later
they began to cut the hair from my face.
will you do with the King?’ I asked.
leave him in the wine cellar ’
will happen if they find him?’
won't find him. Joseph will stop them. But we can't escape
worked on me for half an hour. After Fritz said, ‘Well
was the king
got off the train in Strelsau. Fritz and Sapt walked behind
important men were at the station. But Black Michael did not
come to meet us.
travelled on horses through Strelsau. Near the palace there
were many people on the streets. Some threw flowers at me.
I caught one and wore it on my coat.
I was not afraid. I was the King. I looked up and saw
- Antoinette de Mauban!
looked at me for a long time. Her mouth moved. I put my hand
down to my gun.
But nothing happened.
walked past the great men and beautiful women. I heard music.
After some time we came to a beautiful old church.
I only remember two things about the coronation. One was the
face of a beautiful
girl with red hair. The other was my ‘brother’,
woman with red hair came to me from her place. Somebody called
out, ‘The Princess Flavia!’
took my hand and kissed it. I kissed her twice on the
face. She was very beautiful!
came and kissed my hand. He did not look at me. He was afraid.
went back to the palace with Princess Flavia. I heard people
call from the street for Black Michael. Someone said , ‘When
are you going to marry her?’
Flavia sat beside me. ‘Your face is different today,
Rudolf,’ she said suddenly.
was a little afraid.
thinner and - nicer.’ She smiled. Then she said quietly.
‘You must be careful about Black Michael. He wants -
know! He wants to be King. He wants to marry a princess. But
perhaps I will marry
her one day.’
Flavia looked at me, but she said nothing. Then I heard music
and the sound
of guns. We were at the Palace.
that night I sat with Fritz and Sapt. We were in one of the
Kings rooms. I was
very tired. Sapt and Fritz were happy.
remember this day!’ said Fritz. ‘But you must
be careful. Black Michael looked very angry. You talked to
the Princess for a long time.’
is very beautiful!’ I said.
her,’ said Sapt. ‘We must go. Are you ready?’
road to Zenda
was ready, but I did not want to go. It was five o’clock.
seven hours I will be Rudolf Rassendyll again.’
will stay here, Fritz,’ said Sapt. ‘Remember,
the King is very tired. He does not want to see anybody.’
then turned to me. ‘Put on this coat and hat. You'll
look like one of my men.’
took me through a secret door in the wall. We came out on
a quiet street behind the Palace gardens. A man was there
with two horses for us. We rode out of the city and on to
the road to Zenda.
hours later Sapt suddenly stopped. ‘Listen!’ he
listened and heard the sound of horses. They were only a mile
behind us. We rode on and came to the forest of Zenda. We
hid the horses and waited behind a tree. Sapt had his gun
in his hand.
horses came nearer. It was Black Michael. A second man was
with him. They came very close to us and stopped.
way? asked Black Michael.
the Castle, my Lord. We must find out what has happened.'
Michael hesitated. 'I thought I heard horses, ’he said.
didn't hear anything,’ said the second man.
don't we go to the hunting-lodge?’
they may be waiting for us there. The message said, ‘All
is well.’And we don't want to lose time.’
hesitated a moment longer. Sapt put his hand on his gun.
Black Michael cried ‘To Zenda!’ and they
the King Safe?
waited for ten minutes before coming out. Sapt said, 'They've
sent him news that
'all is well'
what does that mean?' I asked.
don't know,' said Sapt. 'I just hope the King is safe. Let's
ride to the lodge as fast as we can.'
rode on to the lodge in silence. We were both very worried.
'All is well'. What did it mean? Was all well with the King?
last the lodge came into sight. We rode up to the gate. All
got off our horses. Suddenly Sapt caught me by the arm. 'Look
there!' he said pointing to the ground. 'Someone has just
hurried towards the door. It was unlocked. We went into the
room where we had been the night before.. There was food from
our dinner and bottles on the table.
went down the stairs. The door the wine cellar was open. Suddenly
Sapt cried out. His face went white. I looked down and saw
Joseph on the floor. He was dead.
looked at me. ‘Where is the King?’ he cried.
King is not here,’ I answered.
IS THE KING?
helped Sapt up the stairs. For ten minutes we sat in silence.
Then Sapt took his
hands from his face and said, ‘They've got the King!’
I answered. ‘That was the message to Black Michael.
“All is well”. When did he get it?’
had the message before your coronation. But what is he doing
stood up. ‘We must go back to Strelsau,’ I said.
‘Well get every man in the city. Then well fight Michael.’
did not answer.
can't stay here,’ I said. ‘The King is in danger.
Come on. We must go.’
Sapt did not answer. Suddenly he began to laugh. ‘Yes,
well go back to Strelsau. The King will be in his Palace again.’
cannot tell the people our story. They'll be very angry us
- and with the King, too. Black Michael will tell his story.
And they will believe him.’
got up. He put his hand on my arm. ‘You can help the
King. Go back and be the King.’
Michael knows - ‘
but they can't say anything,’ said Sapt. ‘They
cannot say, ‘‘This man is not the King. The King
is our prisoner.” But we must have a King in Strelsau.’
will they kill the King?’
they won’t. Its too dangerous for them. Come back to
Strelsau with me.’
they try to kill me?
went and found some new horses. I carried Joseph up the stairs.
on,’ said Sapt. ‘We must go now.’
went outside. Far away I could see men on horses. ‘Michael's
men are coming here,’ I said. ‘We must do something
for poor Joseph.’
hid with our horses behind the lodge. After a few minutes
we heard a voice.
rode to the front of the lodge and fought Michael's men. I
killed two men. Sapt killed one. Someone cut my hand.
rode away fast. ‘That was for little Joseph!’
came to Strelsau in the early morning. We rode in the same
gate. We were very tired. The streets were very quiet after
went to the Kings rooms in the Palace. We found Fritz. He
looked at me. ‘The King!’ he said.
smiled. ‘You're doing well, boy,’ he said to me.
looked at me again. ‘Whereas the King?’ he said.
is in the hands of Black Michael.’
came to the door. Sapt turned to me. ‘Go into the bedroom.
your hat and shoes. Get into bed. Remember, you're now the
King works very hard. After breakfast I met many important
people. For many
hours I could not talk to Fritz and Sapt.
night they came to my room.
must do something,’ said Fritz. ‘Are we going
after Black Michael?’
we can't,’ said Sapt. ‘We can't tell anybody about
Black Michael. And he
can't tell anybody out us.’
kill the King,’ said Fritz.
won't,’ said Sapt. ‘Black Michael is back in Strelsau.
Half of the ‘Six’ are
with him. Three must be in Zenda with the King.’
are the Six?’ I asked.
will meet them soon,’ said Sapt. ‘They are six
men. They live in Michael's
house. They will do anything for him. One of the Six is from
they try to kill me?’ I asked.
said Sapt. ‘You must be very careful. But we cannot
do anything now.
We must wait.'
Michael comes to visit
next day I went to see the Princess Flavia.
people speak well of their King,’ she said. ‘But
what do I call you now?’
call me by my name.’
brother is back in Strelsau,’ I said. ‘We can
him better?’ We both smiled.
did not like him! I was very happy. We talked a little more
and the Six. Suddenly we heard the sound of a horse. Princess
Flavia ran to the window.
Michael of Strelsau!’ she said
smiled. The Princess went back to her seat. I talked about
Suddenly the Princess said, ‘Are you trying to make
is waiting outside.’
doesn't he come in?’
looked surprised. ‘You are in the room, Rudolf. Nobody
can come in with
you here. You know that!’
sorry,’ I said. ‘I never remember these things.’
opened the door. Michael sat at a table. He looked very angry.
men stood near him.
dear brother,’ I said. ‘Its good to see you.’
cut your hand ,’ he said. ‘How did you do that?’
a game with a dog,’ I said.
Michael looked at me. Suddenly he said, ‘Will you meet
came and kissed my hand. The first was De Gautet. He was tall
The second was a fat man called Bersonin. The third was the
Detchard. He had a red face and short yellow hair .
brother and his friends left. Soon after I said goodbye to
she said. ‘Be careful!’
know - I can't say. But remember you're important to Ruritania.’
I only important to Ruritania?’
important to your friends, too.
to a Princess,’ she said in a quiet voice.
could not speak. I kissed her hand and left.