Open main menu

Page:Roy Norton--The unknown Mr Kent.djvu/280

This page needs to be proofread.


self. It is by his individual acts that his country is estimated. I ask you to remember my words and to consider them when alone, that you may find the right way, in this hour of your assump- tion of great responsibilities, to each adjust his own personal life to the demands of a high stand- ard."

The crowd beneath had become hushed and thoughtful as he shot his words out to them. They expected in that grave moment that he would say moreĀ ; but, as if daunted by his own temerity and unwonted publicity, he abruptly stopped, and like one suddenly frightened, turned and fled. The man on the fountain again lifted his hands and sang with that far-reaching voice. Again they joined him with a new fervour, containing in its volume some enormous throb, quite without ex- citement, quite grave in its sincerity.

The king, regardless of everything, forgetful of all save the terrific song which for centuries had led his people to the heights of endeavour, there to be crowned with death or victory, shut his eyes, threw his head back and sang with them. With a final outpouring of fervent wishes, the crowd saw him pass through the door, followed last of all by the white-headed old baron. The noise died away, and the palace gardens began

to empty. The king looked around the room for