The Mirror and the Light (Twelfth Night | Part 2)

Lady Rochford is laughing at him. ‘All I know is, next day Mary was in a giddy humour and had bruises all over her neck. Harry Norris said to her, Cromwell worked you hard then, Mary – you see what it is to have a rough man for your lover – I hope you have fixed another meeting tonight, because no one else will want you, your flesh is so dappled you look like a fish on the turn.’

He thinks, Norris was a gentleman, he would not say such a thing. But then, of course, like all those gentlemen about the late Anne, he was capable of more than we knew.

‘William Stafford was in the garden too,’ he says. ‘He that Mary married, afterwards. She must have liked his love-making. She had no experience of mine.’

‘If you say not. But what I heard was, you pulled out a dagger and held it to his throat, drove him off and then dragged your prey indoors.’

Part of this is true. Stafford came up behind him in the dark. He took him for a murderer. He remembers the man trying to squirm away from him, the stuff of his jacket bunched in his fist.

‘Well, however it may be,’ Rochford says, ‘that sweet creature is Mary’s girl. And the little chicken she has by the hand, that is Norris’s daughter, Mary.’

He glances at Mary Norris. He cannot see she is like her father. Her mother died young, he scarcely remembers her. He is uneasy. ‘Uncle Norfolk’s ward,’ he says, ‘is she not?’

‘Trust Uncle Norfolk,’ Rochford says, ‘to put his folk in. His ward Norris, and his niece Carey – and he has another niece, one of his brother Edmund’s batch.’

Edmund Howard, God rest him. He was a poor gentleman, one of Norfolk’s half-brothers: five children of his own, and five stepchildren at least. He once declared to the cardinal that if he were not a lord he would go out and earn an honest living by digging and delving, a labouring man; but rank condemned him to indigence.

‘Here Norfolk comes,’ Rochford says. The duke struts in with a tiny girl on his arm. ‘That is the one, Katherine Howard – she we sent back because she looked twelve. But they swear she is of sufficient age, and here she is again.’

He hears the girl say, ‘Uncle Norfolk …’ in a clear, childish voice. She is pulling at the old brute’s arm, trying to attract his attention to something.

‘He has a peach there,’ Mr Wriothesley says. ‘I could spend an hour, my lord, could not you?’

‘I don’t know I could,’ he says. ‘I think Uncle Norfolk’s shade might come and lie between us.’

The child’s flower face turns on its stem, her lips emit a stream of chatter. Norfolk’s face wears an expression of strained tolerance – he is alert in case the king comes in. The girl forgets her uncle, drops his arm and stares around. Her glance slips absently over the men, but rakes the women head to toe. Clearly she has never seen so many great ladies before; she is studying how they stand, how they move. ‘Sizing up her rivals,’ he says; she has no guile.

‘She has no mother, bless her. She was but an infant when she died.’

He casts a glance at Rochford. ‘A soft word from you, my lady.’

‘I am not a monster, my lord.’

Mary Norris and Catherine Carey are eyeing up their new companion. Rochford says, ‘Would you call her blonde? Or red?’

He would not call her anything. His gaze has moved elsewhere.

‘I wonder who paid for what’s on her back,’ Rochford says. ‘That cloth did not come out of the old dowager’s wardrobe. And those rubies – did they not belong to Anne Boleyn?’

‘If they did, they should be back in the king’s jewel house. How did they come into Norfolk’s hands?’

‘Ah, that got your attention!’ Jane Rochford says.

On 26 November, Anna leaves her home to travel towards Calais. She will have an escort of some 250 persons, and her ladies travelling with her, so there are times when they will not make more than five miles a day. Drums and trumpeters precede her, and she travels in a gilded chariot emblazoned with the swan emblem and the arms of Cleves-Mark-Jülich-Berg.

Gregory comes to Austin Friars for final instructions. ‘Now I will repeat them back to you,’ he says. ‘Write home the minute I see Anna. Make sure she knows who I am. Be kind. Be patient. Make sure she has the things she likes to eat. Give her a purse of ready money.’

‘And do not embark for home without checking that all her train’s debts are paid. It may be the weather delays you.’ He thinks of the king, six years back, penned in the fortress with Anne Boleyn. ‘Be aware that the longer you stay, the more the household will be tempted by French merchants. By the way, keep your own accounts.’

‘You know you are talking to me as if I am Wyatt?’

‘Yes,’ he says. ‘And you are flattered.’

Gregory smiles. There is a shout from below. ‘My lord, do you want to be disturbed?’

It seems from the noise that everybody is running outside. Gregory goes down. A moment later, he storms back up the stairs: ‘You have to come and see.’

In the courtyard is a wagon, guarded by four carters. On the wagon is a crate or cage, open at the front, barred. His first impression is that they are guarding an area of darkness, but then a movement betrays something within. He sees an expanse of spotted fur, and a pugged head that flinches from the light. It is a leopard. Its fur is crusted with its own shit and vomit, or so it seems from the smell.

He pulls his gown around him. His folk stop staring at the animal, and start staring at him. He has an impulse to cross himself. Such a distance it has come, perhaps from China: how can it be still alive?

‘Do you think it’s hungry?’ Thurston says. ‘I mean, do you think it’s hungry this very minute?’

The bars are stout, but the household keep their distance. The creature presses itself away from them. It can’t know it’s arrived at its destination; it thinks this is some way station, in its procession of cramped and stinking days.

The wagoners are staring around them while they wait to be paid. They are Englishmen, and they have fetched it as bidden from Dover, fearful that it would break out and terrify the population of Kent; and so, they hint, it is worth a sum on top of the usual. It’s not, one of them says, like fetching up a pile of logs.

‘So who did you pick it up from, at Dover?’

One of them says, mildly belligerent, ‘The usual man.’

‘Have you papers?’

‘No, sir.’ Another says, in a burst of inspiration, ‘We did have papers, but it ate them.’

Where it was before it crossed the sea, they don’t know or care. ‘Where would you find such a thing except among heathens?’ one of them asks. ‘Probably you ought to fetch a priest to it and have it blessed.’

‘It looks as if it would eat a priest,’ Thurston says. He chuckles appreciatively.

Well then: it appears the donor’s name has been detached from it, somewhere on the journey. He pictures some turbaned potentate, waiting for thanks. What he’ll do is, he’ll thank everybody. Thank you for the marvel, he’ll say.

Gregory says – it’s the first sense anyone has spoken – ‘Do you think it’s meant for the king?’

That could be: in which case it is just another item that crosses his desk. Dick Purser is at his elbow. ‘Dick,’ he says, ‘it will need a keeper, till we can get it to the Tower. It cannot go to the king in its present state. I think it can go no further.’

Credit to Dick, he does not say, no, not me, sir. He pulls off his cap and passes his hand over his stubble hair.

There is a shout. ‘Look, it stirs!’

Until now the beast was torpid. Now it stands up, and in the cramped fetid space it stretches itself. It takes a pace forward, and that pace brings it to the limits of its freedom, and it stares at him, at him; its eyes are sunk deeply into its folds of fur, so you cannot see its expression, whether awe, or fear, or rage.

There is quiet. Dick says uneasily, ‘It knows its master.’

As an arrow its target. He feels pierced by its scrutiny: thin as it is, a walking pelt. The first thing is to get it off the wagon. ‘Pay these men,’ he says. It will have to stay in its travelling gaol till one more capacious can be built, but the stench can be decreased by washing away its excrement. We’ll need to feed it so that it fills its skin.

‘What do you think?’ he says to Dick Purser. ‘Are you man enough?’

Dick grows taller inside his jerkin. Gregory says, ‘With respect to you, my lord father, you always say that to people, when you want them to do something that can in no case be to their advantage.’

‘Aye,’ Thurston says. ‘What he means is, Dick Purser, are you fool enough?’

Dick says, ‘If I was to keep this beast, and be over the dogs as well, I’d need a boy, to train up.’

‘You can have a boy.’

‘It would eat a side of beef a day.’

‘You can indent for it. We’ll work you out a budget.’

‘On one proviso.’ Dick glares around him. ‘I am its sole keeper. Nobody to poke it with a stick. In fact nobody to come at it unless I say so. I don’t want it stirred up once I get it quiet. Nobody to walk by it with greyhounds, taunting it.’

Gregory says, ‘I marvel that God could create it.’

‘That He could even dream it,’ he says. Think of the faith of the men who carried it! Not these carters, but those who have guarded it, every stage of its journey, and wedged food into its cage, thrust water at it. You cannot complain it is in poor condition, when you think that at any time they could have put a spear in its throat, and then sold its hide for a great sum.

The animal so far has made no sound. It does not now, but still it stares: it stares at Lord Cromwell, Lord Cromwell of Wimbledon, Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. It is thinking how to skin him from his furs, with one scalping flick of its paw. He must, in its starved computation, equal two sides of beef at least. Gregory says, ‘Suppose it wants its prey live? Dick Purser will have to run down a stag.’

Dick moves forward, as if to make it a speech of welcome. Still the beast gazes at him. As if it saw space behind him. As if it did not see the bars.

He goes back to his desk. He is looking over the pensions list for St Albans. Before his papers flit patches of dark and light, the broken pattern of the beast’s fur.

On mature consideration, he revises his picture of the turbaned potentate. Perhaps it was sent by some petty lord across the Narrow Sea, who had come by the creature and thought, this will ingratiate me with Thomas Cremuel, they say the man has an insensate yearning for what’s expensive, and will keep it to show off to his peers.

When he sees William Fitzwilliam he tells him all about it, as they are going into the council chamber. Fitz groans in sympathy. ‘Some fool sent me a seal. Three pails of fish every hour, and yet she had not dined. In the end I gave my wife directions, and she was made into pies.’

In Fitzwilliam’s train to Calais go Thomas Seymour, brother of the late queen, along with that old Calais hand Francis Bryan, and others who are no strangers to that shore: the least of them is William Stafford, Mary Boleyn’s husband. Some of the party are seasick, but not me, Gregory writes. He, Cromwell, smiles, reading out the letter to Mr Wriothesley. Inheritance is a strange thing. No one knows what traces our fathers leave. ‘If I have passed on a strong stomach,’ he says, ‘good enough. My father must have had one too, or he would never have kept down his own ale.’

‘Sometimes I think –’ Call-Me breaks off.

‘What?’

‘I agree with Uncle Norfolk. The higher you rise in the king’s service, the more you mention the low place you come from.’

‘The more others mention it, you mean. I am not ashamed of it, Call-Me. I never say my father taught me nothing. He taught me to bend metal.’

He is a busy man. He has not time to read every curt note life sends him. But he reads this one: ‘You do right to draw it to my attention. I will amend.’

While the welcome party are on the sea, the Abbot of Colchester is in the air. Colchester had signed up to the king’s supremacy, he had taken the oath. Then he gave backword, in whispers behind the hand: More and Fisher were martyrs, how he pitied them! When he was called upon to surrender his abbey, he said the king had no right to it – which is to say, his will and laws are null. He is head neither of the spiritual realm nor the temporal; in effect he is no king, and Parliament can make no law. According to the abbot.

It is the last of the hangings, he is sure. They were infecting each other, Colchester, Glastonbury and Reading. But now resistance to the king’s will is broken. All other houses can be closed by negotiation: no more blood, no more ropes and chains. No more examples are needed; the traitors’ banner is trampled, that portrayed the Five Wounds. Superstitious men in the north claim that in addition to his principal wounds, Christ suffered 5,470 more. They say that every day fresh ones are incised, as he is cut and flayed by Cromwell.

It is not written that great men shall be happy men. It is nowhere recorded that the rewards of public office include a quiet mind. He sits in Whitehall, the year folding around him, aware of the shadow of his hand as it moves across the paper, his own inconcealable fist; and in the quiet of the house, he can hear the soft whispering of his quill, as if his writing is talking back to him.

Can you make a new England? You can write a new story. You can write new texts and destroy the old ones, set the torn leaves of Duns Scotus sailing about the quadrangles, and place the gospels in every church. You can write on England, but what was written before keeps showing through, inscribed on the rocks and carried on floodwater, surfacing from deep cold wells. It’s not just the saints and martyrs who claim the country, it’s those who came before them: the dwarves dug into ditches, the sprites who sing in the breeze, the demons bricked into culverts and buried under bridges; the bones under your floor. You cannot tax them or count them. They have lasted ten thousand years and ten thousand before that. They are not easily dispossessed by farmers with fresh leases and law clerks who adduce proof of title. They bubble out of the ground, wear away the shoreline, sow weeds among the crops and erode the workings of mines.

On 11 December Anna arrives in Antwerp. The English merchants, led by Stephen Vaughan as their governor, meet her four miles outside the town with eight score of great torches held aloft, the flames licking and kissing the twilight. The whole city has turned out, Vaughan writes, more than would come out to see the Emperor. Anna is gentle in manner, he says: a smiling, sedate princess, encased in her strange glittering gowns. She brings a troop of ladies dressed in the same fashion, but not one of them fairer than she.

Vaughan does not mention Jenneke. Whether he has seen her. But then, the posts are not always secure.

Next day Anna is en route to Bruges. From Bruges she goes to Calais, where Fitzwilliam and his train ride outside the walls to meet her.

It is barely light. Her escort, their horses trapped in black velvet, seem to materialise from nowhere. As they approach the walls, guns are fired in salute, so the party proceeds, through smoke that obliterates their vision, to the Lantern Gate.

Once Henry has settled his own marriage, he turns his mind to Lady Mary. The Duke of Bavaria has come into the realm, with a modest entourage as the king advised: unmarried, a very proper man. He assures the king he will make no demands. He will take Mary purely for friendship’s sake, to strengthen the German league against Emperor and Rome.

He sends Mr Wriothesley up-country to prepare the lady for a meeting. Call-Me is his usual messenger now. Mary has warmed to him, and made him a satin cushion with his family coat of arms.

He, the Lord Privy Seal, is working with the Household officers on the final plans for the queen’s grand reception. He has included Lady Mary in a place of honour, but the king says, perhaps not, Crumb. They might take it ill in Cleves. That sort of thing, parading one’s bastards, we leave to the Scots.

He bows. Agrees it might be better if the two ladies meet privately: stepmother and stepdaughter, just a year apart in age. Let them sit down and get to know each other. Perhaps they will walk hand in hand together, as Mary did with Queen Jane.

He says to Call-Me, put the new offer to Mary, but expect her usual reply: would rather stay a maid, but will obey her father. Take it as it is given, and leave; state Bavaria’s merits, but do not over-persuade her. Because when you have gone she will rage about, saying she would rather be eaten by wild beasts than marry a Lutheran.

The king is pleased with Duke Philip. He brings him into his chambers at Whitehall, to show him the Henry on the wall. If the king sees any gap between the monarch that Hans painted and the man who exhibits him, it does not trouble him. ‘Behold my last queen,’ he says. ‘Most excellent among women.’

They are speaking Latin. Philip bows to the image.

‘Behold my father.’ Now the king reverts to English. ‘Do you know, he had only seven ships, and two of them not fit to put to sea? Whereas I have been able to send fifty ships to Calais, merely for the escort of your cousin of Cleves.’

Behind his son, the figure of the old king shrinks a little.

‘I felicitate you,’ Philip says. He may not speak English but he gets the gist. ‘Most valiant of princes,’ he adds.

The king draws him aside. Philip served against the Turk, when they laid siege to Vienna. The king wants to hear his war stories. They are closeted all afternoon.

A day or so later he is on his way up to Enfield, Rafe with him, to see Mary himself. ‘Your presence alone will have an effect,’ Rafe says. ‘She will know the king is in earnest.’

Henry has already begun talking terms. He has asked for a draft contract.

Mary keeps him waiting, but he sees she has dressed up: a sweep of black velvet gown, a bodice of rosy satin. ‘How was the road, my lord?’

‘Miserable,’ he says. ‘But not impassable. We shall be able to get you to Greenwich, if it pleases your father to order you there. And your new apartments in Whitehall are building. I am just drying the plaster out. I have seen the glaziers this last week.’

‘HA-HAs?’ she says.

‘Yes. And the emblems of the queen’s grace.’

‘It seems odd to me,’ Mary says. ‘To call her the queen. When we have never seen her. Still. I congratulate my lord father. Naturally.’

‘Duke Philip is a well-made man,’ he says. ‘Fair. Blue eyes. Not unlike your lady mother, in colouring.’

She looks out of the window.

‘I thought Mr Wriothesley might not have told you that.’

She smooths her hands down her skirt, and hums a little. When sparrows build churches upon a green hill …

‘What we don’t want from you,’ he says, ‘is any late retraction. You say yes, yes, yes, and then at the last minute you say no. Because that would leave the king embarrassed.’

‘Yes,’ she says. ‘No.’ He waits. ‘Yes, it would leave him embarrassed. No, I would not do it. I have said I will obey.’

‘The king is a tender father, he would not force you into a marriage with a man you cannot love.’

Mary raises her eyebrows. ‘Yet he forced Meg Douglas out of marriage, to a man she swore she would die for.’

‘Oh, Tom Truth,’ he says. ‘He wasn’t worth a princess’s funeral.’

‘Love is blind,’ Mary says.

‘Not invariably. You should meet him. Philip.’

Rafe says, ‘You would like to come to court, wouldn’t you? I am sure you would.’

‘Master Sadler,’ she says, ‘why are you talking to me as if I were a nursing infant?’

Rafe snatches off his cap in exasperation. He, the Lord Privy Seal, says, ‘Because you enforce us.’ He crosses the room. He takes her hand. ‘I implore you, my lady. Act as a woman, not a child. Let fate lead you before it drags you.’

Outside, Rafe says, ‘She will meet him. She is curious, I can tell. And what would Chapuys advise her, if he were here? He would say, do not anger the king.’

He nods. He forgot to play his Chapuys card. But then, he has a great deal on his mind.

Back in London he sits down as bidden with Bishop Tunstall, and they work out terms. Philip can take Mary back with him, at his own expense. ‘Well,’ the bishop says, ‘you have wrestled her signature onto paper before now, my lord. God knows how you brought her to conformity before this, but you did.’

He throws down his pen. ‘But if she has to be carried to the priest for the blessing, I will not do it. The king must do it himself.’

‘He would not ask me,’ Tunstall says dryly. ‘I am in my sixty-sixth year. Age has some advantages. As you will learn, my lord, if as I pray God grants you long life.’

After his summer of recreation, his vivid autumn in forest and field, the king seems jaundiced: pinch-faced, pale as pastry. They sit over letters from abroad, in a room drained of light: the air is black-grey, water mixed with ink. Beyond is an imagined country, drowned pastures and sodden copses, drenched fields and woodland, cob walls and thatch, churches and farmsteads.

Wyatt, riding to Paris, has caught up with King François. An empty exchange of compliments has ensued: Wyatt congratulates François on his continuing friendship with the Emperor, and François, putting his hand on his heart, swears continuing devotion to his English brother, Henri.

Then Wyatt rides to overtake the Emperor on his progress. The same pointless swapping of pleasantries; but then someone raises the subject of Guelders, the territory the young Duke of Cleves claims as his own. Charles becomes impassioned. Henry should advise his new brother-in-law to obey his overlord and Emperor, and give way to his sovereign claim. Otherwise he will suffer, as the young and rash do suffer. Let him be warned.

Wyatt is shocked. Charles is a laconic, self-contained man. Almost never does he open his heart; he speaks behind the hand, works his will in crooked ways. So what does this vehemence mean? Will he turn his army on Henry’s new ally?

The Emperor and François have met face to face. It is said they will celebrate Christmas together and be in Paris for New Year. Even the Pope is afraid of the secret practices they will work between them. Wyatt detects Rome’s agents, lurking in corners. He says, I can find out what passes between these princes; but you in London must give me pretexts, for coming into their company every day.

‘This pretended alliance,’ Henry says. ‘Neither ruler dare turn his back on the other. That is what keeps them in the same town. It is not friendship but its opposite.’

‘All the same,’ he says, ‘their league has endured longer than we could imagine.’

‘Wolsey would have broken it up.’

He gives Henry a long look. ‘No doubt.’

‘We have people in France we retain,’ the king says. ‘But they are not loyal, they will turn for a halfpenny. We have few friends in either court.’ He sucks his lip. ‘Especially you, you have few friends, Cromwell.’

‘If I have incurred their malice, I count it well done. As it is for your Majesty’s sake.’

‘But are you sure about that?’ Henry sounds curious. ‘I think it is because of what you are. They don’t know how to deal with you.’

‘Likely not. Majesty,’ he says, ‘you must realise, they want me displaced, so that you might be the worse advised. That is why they try to poison your mind against me. Any fantastical story will serve.’

‘So you would recommend, if I hear you have exceeded your office, or that you have slacked my instructions or reversed them, I should ignore the bruit?’

‘You should speak to me before you believe anything.’

‘I will,’ Henry says.

He gets up. He is too restless to sit still. It is not like him. He can usually find some semblance of ease even when, as today, the king is fretful and morose.

Henry says, ‘You know, I think you have never forgiven me. For parting with Wolsey.’

Parting with him? Christ in Heaven.

‘I think you blame me for his death.’

He goes to the window. In the park the trees are marrying the darkness. You can’t see where the rain ends and the shadows begin.

‘We are making up the preliminary accounts for Westminster Abbey,’ he says. ‘They will surrender in the new year. Riche has too much paper on his desk to take the surrender now, or they would not keep your Majesty waiting.’

Henry says, ‘You remember John Islip? Westminster was much decayed when he came in as abbot.’

‘Near bankrupt, sir. Though that must be forty years ago.’

Islip went through the books and put the abbey’s rents up. Once he had rebuilt the shrine of Edward the Confessor, it brought plenty of trade in. ‘Islip was a clever man,’ Henry says. ‘My father used to take me to see him when I was a child, at his house over Tothill Fields. The road was a disgrace – the ways so foul, the cattle churning up mud by the ponds – you’d see dead dogs, and pigs rooting, and all manner of carrion.’

‘It got worse, sir, when the sewer burst. But I’ve drained it now.’

Who but Cromwell? Your man for watercourses and sewers, charnel houses and spoilheaps.

‘But when he died,’ Henry says, ‘do you remember the funeral? It was a wonder to behold, it was more like a victory parade than a burial. Down Willow Walk with the banners flying. The monks chanting in procession. I have never seen such an incense cloud, the abbey walls seemed to be melting. And the feast afterwards, in his honour. You know it’s only six years? It seems a lifetime.’

When Bishop Stokesley died last September we hung the churches in black, no reverence was wanting. But Islip died in the Roman world. Henry says, ‘My father wanted King Harry VI to be made a saint, and that would have enriched the abbey too. But when he heard Rome’s price, it made him curse.’

‘The insensate greed of the Vatican, it beggars belief,’ he says. He would rather say something original, but he gives the king what he wants.

‘My father would send Islip wine,’ Henry says. ‘And the monks would send him back a marrowbone pudding. He used to eat them when he was young, I think, when he was a poor exile. It was a dish he liked above anything.’

‘My father too,’ he says: surprised to remember it.

‘You can get those puddings for a penny,’ Henry says. He smiles. ‘They must have been easy to please, our fathers.’

‘If God glanced down now, what would He see? Two ageing men in failing light, talking about their past because they have so much of it.’ He hardly likes to break the moment. But the candles will be coming in.

Henry says, ‘Tom, it is a long time now since I first saw you.’

‘It is more than a decade,’ he says. ‘Since then I have had the privilege to come into your presence –’

‘Almost daily, isn’t it?’ Henry says. ‘Yes, almost every day. I remember – I knew you by sight, but I remember our first interview. Suffolk, he did not know what to make of you. I knew, though. I saw your sharp little eyes. You told me not to go to war. Never fight, you said, you can’t afford it. Skulk indoors like a sick child – it will be good for the treasury. And I thought … by St Loy, the man has some stomach. He has some gall.’

‘I trust I did not offend.’

‘You did. I overlooked it.’

The king’s voice seems to be fading, like the light. ‘Islip was Wolsey’s friend,’ he says. ‘So I made him my councillor, but I never took to him myself. He had a nose for heresy though. Wolsey used to send him among your friends, the Hanse merchants. Down at the Steelyard.’

The king passes a hand over his face, as if wiping away Islip, the abbey, the heretics, their house. ‘You offended, and I forgave. A ruler must do it. I am greatly altered these ten years. You, not so much. You do not surprise me as once you did. I do not think you will surprise me again, considering all that you have said and done – some of it miraculous, Tom, I will not deny. You work beyond the capacities of ten ordinary men. But still I miss the Cardinal of York.’

When he goes out he can feel the pulse in his neck jumping. Wriothesley is there. ‘He is tired of me,’ he says cheerfully. ‘He told me so. I am bested by the cardinal’s ghost.’

Call-Me says, ‘I wondered what was happening, in there in the dark. Was he giving the cardinal a chance to appear?’

In his graveclothes. His shroud muffling his skull. The dead are more faithful than the living. For better or worse, they do not leave you. They last out the longest night.

While the bridal party is held up in Calais by bad weather, they pass the time in jousting and visiting from house to house, devising masques and plays. A merchantman is reported wrecked off Boulogne, casting onshore a cargo of wool and Castile soap. He imagines the ocean foaming, bubbles on the crest of each wave. Please God fetch Anna soon: the king is anxious. Fitzwilliam sends him the tide tables. If the cardinal were here, he says sardonically, no doubt he could whistle the wind into the right quarter.

Everyone who has seen her seems delighted with the new queen. Lady Lisle writes to her daughter Anne Bassett, one of the new maids of honour, and Anne takes the letter to the king, handing it with her deepest curtsey.

The king reads out the letter. ‘Good and gentle to serve and please. So there you are,’ he says to the girl. ‘What news could be better? You will have a loving mistress, and I a loving mate.’

Anne blushes. ‘Mate’ seems blunt. Possibly she doesn’t like to think of the king in bed. How times change. Ten years back she would have been in bed with him.

In Calais Anna is lodged in the queen’s apartments at the Exchequer. Fitzwilliam writes that she has invited the English lords to supper. She is used to dining in public, and does not know it is no longer the custom of English kings. But she means well; she wants to see her new countrymen at table and learn their customs. Her manner was regal, Fitzwilliam reports. He and Gregory spend an hour with her teaching her card games that the king likes. It is her own idea, and a clever one.

The wind changes. 27 December, Anna lands at Deal, in the rain and after dark. They row her ashore, a princess coming out of the sea. She will go from Deal to Dover, from Canterbury to Rochester, and by the first week of the new year she will be approaching London from the east. The king will meet her at Blackheath, conduct her to Greenwich palace, and marry her by Twelfth Night.