The Lad and the Lion

Chapter Three

Edgar Rice Burroughs

ONCE AGAIN a man and a boy walked through the gardens of the palace; and when they approached, sentries snapped to attention and presented arms; but outside the great gates no smiling crowds waited to wave and cheer, and there were many more soldiers at the gates than there ever had been before. The man was tense, his steps jerky; his eyes shifted constantly from side to side, apprehensively; his brows were furrowed by an habitual frown. The boy at his side was sullen, his bearing arrogant.

“How much longer do I have to stay cooped up here like a prisoner?” he demanded. “I want to go for a drive. I want to go to the lodge for a week-end.”

“You would never reach the lodge, you little fool,” snapped the man. “You would be dead before you reached the city limits.”

“Are you not king now?” challenged the boy.

“Yes, I am king; but what of it?” demanded the man.

“If I were king, I should go where I pleased, if I had to take the whole army with me. I should have the dogs shot down, if they tried to stop me—what they need is a lesson.”

“They had one last Friday,” said the man. “That is one of the reasons we had better stay out of the city for a while.”

“It was not very much of a lesson,” sneered the boy; “the soldiers killed only seven of them. When I am king, I shall kill them all if they don’t behave.”

“You may be king much sooner than you expect,” said the man.

“Why?” demanded the boy.

“Because I listened to poor advice. I hope you will not do the same. Times have changed. Peoples have discovered that they can get what they demand. They demanded a constitutional government with a figurehead king. I didn’t give it to them.”


Three men sat at a table at a sidewalk cafe. One of them might have been a college professor, one a workingman, and the third, from his military bearing, a soldier. Other diners sat near them, and people were constantly passing close to their table on the sidewalk. They spoke in ordinary conversational tones that anyone listening might have overheard. They did not look nor act like conspirators, yet they were plotting to overthrow a dynasty, to assassinate a king and his son. In the order that I have described them they were Andresy, Bulvik, and Carlyn—A, B, and C—names that will serve our purpose as well as any other, since all names in this story must be fictional. The openness of their plotting bespoke their contempt for the forces of the government, their certainty that the people were with them.

“I think it was Sarnya,” said Bulvik. “Otto was the only other one who knew, and he certainly wouldn’t have warned the king.”

“What proof have you that the king was warned?” asked Andresy.

“He had promised Michael to take him with him that morning when he drove,” replied Bulvik. “Michael had asked to drive in the park. We got this direct from one of our agents in the palace; then at the last minute, when the boy was all ready to go, the king refused to take him. Jagst went to the carriage with the old man, and was evidently trying to dissuade him from going. Jagst looked worried. And then what? Why, after it happened Jagst and the boy disappeared. Can’t you see that they must have known? Somebody had to tell them. It must have been Sarnya.”

“Why should he tell them?” demanded Carlyn. “He was only a captain in the guard under the old king; now he is General Count Sarnya, Chief of Staff.”

“Then who could it have been?” demanded Bulvik.

Andresy shook his head. “What is done, is done,” he said. “We must profit by our experience. We must not trust any of them. Meyer trusted them and he is dead, and we have a worse king than we had before. Where is our fine new constitution now? We have it all to do over again.”

“And it is going to be far more difficult now that Sarnya is Chief of Staff,” said Carlyn. “He has the army behind him solidly, for he is as popular with the rank and file as he has always been with the officers. Furthermore, he has persuaded Otto to increase the pay right down the line.”

“And the people pay,” growled Bulvik.

“If Sarnya were eliminated,” suggested Andresy, “we might get some place. He has the brains and the courage. Otto has neither.”

“I’d kill ’em all,” said Bulvik, “Sarnya, Otto, and his nasty little brat, Ferdinand—all of ’em.”

Andresy shook his head. “We cannot do that,” he said: “we must continue to have a king. If Meyer had lived, it might have been different. He was the only man that all the factions might have been depended upon to rally round. If Sarnya were out of the way, we could control Otto. He’s so scared now, since the Good Friday Massacre, that he doesn’t dare leave the palace grounds. He’d give us anything we asked if we’d guarantee him safety.”

“I will kill Sarnya,” said Bulvik. “I swear it!”


“Lessons, lessons, lessons!” grumbled Ferdinand. “I am sick of lessons.”

“Well, perhaps you need a rest,” said the tutor. “We can go out into the gardens and you can play.”

“Play with whom? You?” sneered Ferdinand.

“No, Ferdinand. There is the gardener’s son. He is a nice boy.”

“I do not play with scum,” said Ferdinand.

“Michael used to play with him,” replied the tutor.

“I am not Michael.”

“I realize that.”

“And when you address me, remember that I am Highness.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“Now get out. I’m going into the gardens. I want to be alone.”

“’But, Your Highness, you should not go alone,” objected the tutor. “His Majesty has given strict orders.”

“Shut up and get out!” shouted the prince.

“But, Your Maj —” Ferdinand picked up an inkwell and hurled it at the tutor’s head.

“Get out and stay out!” he screamed.


“What is it, Carruthers?” asked the king.

“I wish to be relieved,” said Carruthers. “I am going back to England.”

“Well, what’s the trouble? You’re the third one in a month. Aren’t you being paid enough?”

“He just threw an inkwell at my head, Sir,” said the tutor.

“Oh, tut, tut, Carruthers; you must remember he’s a very high-strung lad. You must remember, too, that he is crown prince and that some day he will be king—he has certain prerogatives.”

“He may exercise them on someone else, Sir. I am leaving.”

.     .     .     .     .

There was a bench in the garden that was partially concealed by shrubbery. However, one could see out into the garden from it although almost concealed onese1f.

This was a favorite place of Ferdinand’s when he went into the garden alone to sulk, as he was doing today. He thought that his lot was a very hard one, and so he felt quite sorry for himse1f. He wished that he were king, notwithstanding the fact that only through the death of his father could he become king.

Presently his rather handsome, sullen face lighted as something in the garden attracted his attention. It was a girl of about his own age. She was gathering flowers and humming a little tune. She was a very pretty little girl.

“Come here!” commanded Ferdinand.

The girl looked up and around, startled. She could see no one.

“Come here,” repeated Ferdinand.

“Where?” asked the girl. “I do not see you.” “Over here under the magnolia tree,” directed Ferdinand.

The girl came timidly toward him, and when she saw him she curtsied.

“Come closer,” he directed, and when she stood in front of him, “What is your name?”


“What are you doing in the palace grounds?” demanded the prince.

“My father is employed here.” “He is an official of the palace?” asked Ferdinand. “He is a noble?” “Oh, no; he is chief gardener.” Ferdinand grimaced. “Nevertheless, you are very pretty,” he said. “Do you know who I am?” “Yes, Your Highness.”

“I would not have guessed it from your manner of addressing me,” he said, with a trace of sarcasm.

“I do not understand,” she said. “Did I do something wrong?”

“People usually say ‘Highness’ when they reply to my questions,” he said.

She started to giggle, but caught herself. “We always called Michael ‘Mike’,” she said, “but then he was crown prince for so long that he probably got used to it.”

Ferdinand flushed. “Well,” he said, “when we’re alone you may call me Ferdinand.”

“Thank you, Highness,” she said.

“Sit down,” said Ferdinand, moving over on the bench to make room for her. “Do you know you are very pretty?”

“Yes, Highness,” she replied.

“I am very lonely,” he said. “Talk to me.” “Let me go and get Hans,” she suggested. “We can play hide-and-go-seek.” “Who is Hans?” he asked suspiciously.

“My brother.”

“Oh,” said Ferdinand. “No,” he added after a moment’s thought. “I may play with you but not with your brother.”

“Why?” she asked.

“Because you are a girl. It is all right for a prince or a king to play with a girl of the lower classes but not with boys.”

“Why?” she demanded.

“I don’t know,” he admitted, “but one is always hearing of kings and princes having girl friends whose parents are very low indeed.”

For half an hour Ferdinand was almost happy and almost human; then Hilda said that she must go.

“You will come into the garden again tomorrow?” he asked.

“Yes, Ferdinand.”

“And every day at this time.” “If I can,” she promised.

.     .     .     .     .

The next day a man came to Martin de Groot, the head gardener, and applied for a position as laborer.

He had excellent credentials. They were forged, but Martin de Groot did not know that; so he put him to work, being short-handed because two of his men had been on the streets on Good Friday and been killed by the soldiers. The new man’s name was Bulvik.

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