At Whitsuntide when the diminishing trumpet-call
Concluded the year's high audience and blessing,
And the throne, empty, looked down at a scattering
As I loitered, giving and taking hail and farewell,
Carlos, the Prime Minister, beckoned to me
With a fulsome smile that overstrained the occasion:
"Horatio, do come to my cabinet
To pass a quarter hour with an old old friend
And swallow, the spirit willing, a toast or three."
Since he took no wine, we sipped a candied water.
He stood at the window, regarding the issuing courtiers
In their red and purple vestments, upon the drawbridge,
And the ladies among them, gentle and beautiful.
"You and I, Horatio, are veterans—"
(He gave me the smile again and slapped my shoulder)—
"Have seen this often, yet does not the splendor still
Of royal prerogative stir your old heart,
As mine too—the Crown and its treasure of meaning
Delivered by God to secure our health and weal?
You, as one of His Majesty's truest liegemen,
Agree with me, I know."
He sipped his drink.
I gave him a puzzled stare. He smiled once more.
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