We struggle to steady our precarious balance at the top of the Church, and stare down at the bright yellow Square for reassurance. The dance goes on below, now accompanied by clapping and shouting, shrill. How can the Queen be dying on such a night as this?
But then our eyes stray from the gay scene: a black man retching heavily in a black backstreet, a blanketless baby crying out for quiet while it sleeps, a young girl sneaking through a maze of alleyways to join the forbidden fun. There is so much evil in the simplest of enjoyments, the most peaceful of fairytales, the most genuine of truths.
The Queen is dying.
And we watch the dancers mill and twist—a kaleidoscope of confused keenness and colours.
“Send for my cousin—and Hemnen,” says the King, weak-toned, to a burly guard who happens to pass the open door inside. “Bring to me my sons.”
Suddenly we hear that his voice is not quite deep enough, not quite assertive enough, for a true leader. His hair is washed out and his eyes seem the same; his figure is not tall enough, not broad enough, not slim enough. Is he old, or is he tired?
Or is he facing, for the first time, the prospect of running a Kingdom and a family without his wonderful wife by his side? The thought has never before occurred to him.—Why should it? She is the Queen: she has the most advanced medical care that riches and royalty can buy, she has the kindliest disposition in the world—she does not deserve death; why should he ever have pondered the subject?
The fact is that he hasn’t—until now.