He threw wide his arms in welcome of the great adorable day, and of all the great adorable days that were to be his.
He leaned out from his window, drinking the dawn in. The gods had made merry over him, had they? And the cry of the hyena had made night hideous. Well, it was his turn now. He would laugh last and loudest.
And already, for what was to be, he laughed outright into the morning; insomuch that the birds in the trees of Trinity, and still more the Emperors over the way, marvelled greatly.
They had awaited thousands and innumerable thousands of daybreaks in the Broad, these Emperors, counting the long slow hours till the night were over. It is in the night especially that their fallen greatness haunts them. Day brings some distraction. They are not incurious of the lives around them—these little lives that succeed one another so quickly. To them, in their immemorial old age, youth is a constant wonder. And so is death, which to them comes not. Youth or death—which, they had often asked themselves, was the goodlier? But it was ill that these two things should be mated. It was ill-come, this day of days.
Long after the Duke was in bed and asleep, his peal of laughter echoed in the ears of the Emperors. Why had he laughed?
And they said to themselves “We are very old men, and broken, and in a land not our own. There are things that we do not understand.”
Brief was the freshness of the dawn. From all points of the compass, dark grey clouds mounted into the sky. There, taking their places as though in accordance to a strategic plan laid down for them, they ponderously massed themselves, and presently, as at a given signal, drew nearer to earth, and halted, an irresistible great army, awaiting orders.
Somewhere under cover of them the sun went his way, transmitting a sulphurous heat. The very birds in the trees of Trinity were oppressed and did not twitter. The very leaves did not whisper.