The doorbell buzzed. It was past three o'clock.
The steeple-of-Saint-Andrew's weathercock
Cried silently to darkness, and my head
Was bronze with claret as I rolled from bed
To ricochet from furniture. Light! Light
Blinded the stairs, the hatstand sprang upright,
I fumbled with the lock, and on the porch
Stood the Royal Family with a wavering torch.
“We hope,” the Queen said, “we do not intrude.
The pubs were full, most of our subjects rude.
We came before our time. It seems the Queen's
Command brings only, ‘Tell the dead marines!’
We've come to you.” I must admit I'd half
Expected just this visit. With a laugh
That put them at their ease, I bowed my head.
“Your Majesty is most welcome here,” I said.
“My home is yours. There is a little bed
Downstairs, a boiler-room, might suit the Duke.”
He thanked me gravely for it and he took
Himself off with a wave. “Then the Queen Mother?
She'd best bed down with you. There is no other
But my wide bed. I'll curl up in a chair.”
The Queen looked thoughtful. She brushed out her hair
And folded up The Garter on a pouf.
“Distress was the first commoner, and as proof
That queens bow to the times,” she said, “we three
Shall share the double bed. Please follow me.”
I waited for the ladies to undress—
A sense of fitness, even in distress,
Is always with me. They had tucked away
Their state robes in the lowboy; gold crowns lay
Upon the bedside tables; ropes of pearls
Lassoed the plastic lampshade; their soft curls
Were spread out on the pillows and they smiled.
“Hop in,” said the Queen Mother. In I piled
Between them to lie like a stick of wood.
I couldn't find a thing to say. My blood
Beat, but like rollers at the ebb of tide.
“I hope your Majesties sleep well,” I lied.
A hand touched mine and the Queen said, “I am
Most grateful to you, Jock. Please call me Ma'am.”