“By sunset, His Majesty will most surely be dead,” said his chief physician gravely to the prime minister. There were at least twenty people in the old King’s bedchamber. There was the Archbishop who’d given the dying man extreme unction. There were the other members of His Majesty’s privy council. Princess Pirouette sat at his bedside, while Lady Greenmeadow stood beside her uncle, the prime minister. Even Tata Sous-sus was there, standing behind Pirouette with a hand on her shoulder.
All of the windows had been covered with tapestries. The only lit in the room was by candle. The smoke of incense filled the air. There were no tears. People had been anticipating this day for years, but now that it had come, they were stunned into silence. The death of a sovereign is a serious affair.
“Just how old is the King?” Whispered one courtier to another.
“I’m not sure,” was the reply. “I don’t think there’s a soul alive who remembers when he was born.”
“He’s run quite the marathon to live to such a prodigious age.”
“Well, he may have run the race, but the event is almost over.”