"Forty seconds, sir."

The door to the little room squeaked shut, leaving him with just the microphone and Logue, in the dimness and the silence. Silence that even their few quiet words to each other could not lift. Silence that, in a few seconds, he would have to fill.

Millions outside, waiting, listening.

At the back of his whirling mind, a memory stirred. Another dimly lit placeā€”a stair landing. His brother's voice: "Now I'm trapped." His brother, now safely away from all this.

Bertie drew a breath.

David, he thought wildly, you don't know the meaning of the word.