Part 2, Chapter 3 Summary

On All Hallows Eve (Halloween) of 1529, Thomas Cromwell prays for the souls of his dead. He remembers how he and Liz used to pray for her father Henry Wykys, his father Walter Cromwell, her first husband Thomas Williams, some distant cousins, and others who had passed on. Now he prays alone, although he is at Esher with Cardinal Wolsey instead of at home at the Austin Friars. He hopes that the spirit of his wife will find him, believing that of course she will know that he is with the cardinal.

When he awakens, his grief is overwhelming. He picks up Liz’s prayer book, which Grace so loved to look at. He reads over the prayers of the canonical hours, each page illuminated by an engraving. He stops at the picture of Herod piercing an infant with a knife, three drops of blood falling from the child. Cromwell’s eyes blur with tears. He hears George Cavendish walking toward him and prays that he will keep walking and leave him to his grief. But he does not.

Cavendish is concerned but then sees that he has been praying. Cromwell explains that he is crying for himself, fearful that he will fall along with Cardinal Wolsey. All that he has worked for his entire life was attached to Wolsey and is now worthless. He wishes that he had stuck to his work in London instead of crossing the countryside and making enemies in his work for Wolsey. He would now be a rich man and Cavendish would be visiting him in his new country house.

Cromwell tells Cavendish that he has sent his clerk, Rafe Sadler, to Winchester, and thinks that he should have gone with him. He thinks back to all that he has done, a product of his amazing memory. He tells Cavendish that they should pay Wolsey’s servants first since they have been more faithful to him than his priests. He says that he will go to Parliament so that someone will be there to speak on behalf of Cardinal Wolsey.

He thinks of the story of the poet called Simonides, who was commissioned to write a poem for a man called Scopas to recite at a banquet. In it, he included praise for the divine twins Castor and Pollux. Upset, Scopas says that he will pay only half; the other half he can get from the twins. A servant comes and tells Simonides that two men are waiting for him at the door. He goes but sees no one. As he stands there, he hears the ceiling collapse behind him. Scopas and all those at the banquet are killed. Simonides is able to identify all their bodies by his memory of where each was sitting. It was then that the art of memory was invented.