Wolf Hall Part 4, Chapter 3 Summary
by Hilary Mantel

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Part 4, Chapter 3 Summary

Thomas Cromwell does not sleep well the night after it is reported that King Henry VIII and Lady Anne Boleyn secretly married and spent the night together for the first time. Rafe Sadler, his private clerk, awakens him the next morning, explaining that he did not want to since Cromwell hardly ever sleeps late and thus must have some reason for sleeping in. It is seven o’clock, and King Henry already has gone to Mass in the church at Calais. Cromwell rises slowly, having slept, he thinks, in a bed of phantoms. He still must see the king and determine the truth of the assumption of his marriage.

The wind and the rain match his mood. He tells Rafe that they may be in Calais for some time. He thinks back to five years previously, when Cardinal Wolsey went on a mission in France and left Cromwell in charge. The cardinal told Cromwell to watch the situation at court and to pass on a report to him in France if he had reason to believe that the king and Anne went to bed together. Cromwell was unsure how he would be able to tell, but the cardinal assured him that he would be able to tell by the expression on King Henry’s face.

Cromwell approaches the church as the wind and the rain moderate somewhat. The streets to the church have turned to mud, and the people waiting to see the exalted company come out have pulled their coats over their heads to cut off the cold. Cromwell pushes his way through the crowd, asking them to “make way for a big sinner.” The crowd laughs and lets him through. He sees Anne come out on the arm of the governor of Calais. The governor looks tense, but he is being attentive to the English lady at his side. Anne, however, maintains a blank expression on her face and makes no response to the governor’s pleasantries.

The king comes next with a Wingfield lady on his arm. His face is uplifted and he is chattering, but he is taking no notice of the woman. He scans the crowd, smiling as the crowd reacts to his royal presence. King Henry leaves the church and puts on his hat, which is large. Cromwell notices that in the hat there is a feather. This tells him all that he needs to know, as Cardinal Wolsey had assured him.