"Good night!" he would call. "Good night--you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England!" (That thing Homer had held in his hand was no prince--it hadn't lived to be king.)
Then, bang!--the door would close, and the orphans would be left in a new blackness. Whatever image of royalty that they could conjure would be left to them. What princes and kings could they have seen? What futures were possible for them to dream of? What royal foster families would greet them in sleep? What princesses would love them? What queens would they marry? And when would they escape the darkness left with them after Larche closed the door, after they could no longer hear the retreating squeaks of Nurse Edna's and Nurse Angela's shoes? (That thing he had held in his hand could not have heard the shoes--it had the smallest, most wrinkled ears!)
For Homer Wells, it was different. He did not imagine leaving St. Cloud's. The Princes of Maine that Homer saw, the Kings of New England that he imagined--they reigned at the court of St. Cloud's, they traveled nowhere; they didn't get to go to sea; they never even saw the ocean. But somehow, even to Homer Wells, Dr. Larch's benediction was uplifting, full of hope. The Princes of Maine, these Kings of New England, these orphans of St. Cloud's--whoever they were, they were the heroes of their own lives. That much Homer could see in the darkness; that much Dr. Larch, like a father, gave him.
Princely, even kingly behavior was possible, even at St. Cloud's. That seemed to be what Dr. Larch was saying.