Bertie is five years old, and he watches his father inspect a military parade.
The mounted officers’ cockades glimmer in the dry blistering heat; but the gold on his father’s epaulettes shines brighter.
Each shoulder of the King’s uniform is like an apple-sized sun, giving off a paradisiacal glow.
The King’s face is red, beads of sweat sitting on his nose and his brow. He’s frowning; the battalion is not to his liking.
Bertie can feel a raw, angry power in every step of his father’s dappled grey horse. The massive hooves are slowly moving against the pavement -
“Fall in!” commands a nervous young officer with curly ginger hair sticking out from beneath his helmet. The battalion obediently shuffles into a parade formation.
George V lifts his hand in a soft white glove and beckons the officer closer.
Bertie wonders if he’s the only one who can see that the officer’s little chestnut stallion reacts to the gesture before his owner does.
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