Chapters 7-8 Summary
Tom must submit to having his clothes changed for the noonday meal. He is not allowed to dress himself but has a team of servants to perform the ceremony.
He is escorted to a banquet hall, where a sumptuous table is spread for him alone, although the room is filled with servants, each with his own duty. One fastens a napkin around Tom’s neck and another tastes Tom’s food, lest it be poisoned. The chaplain stands to say grace before and after the meal. The Lord Chief Butler, the Lord Great Steward, and the Lord Head Cook all stand in attendance. Amazed at the number of servants, Tom is not aware that he personally has hundreds more, all of them dedicated to meeting his every need and whim.
When presented with the food, Tom eats with his fingers. The servants are moved with compassion at this sign of the prince’s mental illness. When offered a napkin to wipe his greasy hands, he sends it away lest he accidentally soil it. Many of the vegetables have only recently been grown in England, so they are new to Tom.
When he finishes dessert Tom sticks a handful of nuts into his pocket, but he can tell that this is something that a true prince would not do. Conscious of the unseemliness of a prince doing anything on his own, he is distressed to find that his nose itches. The servants are confused as to what to do in this matter, so Tom scratches his nose himself.
He returns to his chambers and finds a suit of armor that he tries on. He also discovers a small library of books. Among them, he is delighted to find a book on court etiquette. He begins to read it, realizing that he still has much to learn in being a prince.
King Henry awakens from a nap and feels unwell. He senses that his death is drawing near and so resolves that he will execute the Duke of Norfolk before his own end. He calls the Lord Chancellor to learn what the situation is for the execution. The Lord Chancellor tells the king that they are only waiting for his orders.
The king calls for the Great Seal, which is necessary to order the execution. The Lord Chancellor reminds King Henry that he asked for the seal a few days previously so that he could command Norfolk’s death when the time came. He had given it to the Prince of Wales for safekeeping.
The Lord Chancellor goes to the prince’s chambers but returns to tell the king that the prince cannot remember ever having the seal. King Henry orders that a smaller version of the seal be brought, and the parliament sets the following day as the time for the beheading of the Duke of Norfolk.