It was bitter London cold, and his scanty-soled boots scraped sidewalk snow. They called him “The Hobo,” but his name was what he called himself.
He was thinking the king had died – King George’s funeral – a state occasion. He was visualizing the series of religious processions and coffin-pretty speeches. Later, he would imagine and explain the circumstance of the pomp to Betsy.
She alone listened, and thought so much of him. He could recite all the kings and queens, beginning from William the Conqueror. Because he was not from England she was even more impressed. She was white, English, and almost illiterate. He was black, from the colonies, and took it for granted to know, because he was drilled with Royal Reader exercises since his starched cotton shirt preparatory school days.
She, completely homeless, had a past that remained a mystery. And though he knew history, he too had a past mystery. The pages he opened for her were only superfluous and diverting subplots.
An expanse of ocean and an elapse of years had obscured the dark storms, which had blown him to cloudy England. The drizzled wet coat and his droopy posture contrasted with those starched shirts of his youth, yet he still showed sharpened faculties. He wished for another layer of clothes.
He approached Downing Street. He walked around a snorting horse, harnessed to a carriage, with no riders. However, many riders and carriages would be coming soon. The king had died, and there was going to be a grand funeral in England.