A couple of watermen were already waiting there, in the Archbishop’s livery, and steadied the boat for the four gentlemen to step out; and a moment later the four were standing on the platform, looking about them.
They were at one of the smaller entrances to the palace, up-stream. A hundred yards further down was the royal entrance, canopied and carpeted, with the King’s barge rocking at the foot, a number of servants coming and going on the platform, and the great state windows overlooking all; but here they were in comparative quiet. A small doorway with its buff and steel-clad sentry before it opened on their right into the interior of the palace.
One of the watermen saluted the party.
“Master Torridon?” he said.
“My Lord bade me take you through to him, sir, as soon as you arrived.”
He went before them to the door, said a word to the guard, and then the party passed on through the little entrance-hall into the interior. The corridor was plainly and severely furnished with matting under-foot, chairs here and there set along the wainscot, pieces of stuff with crossed pikes between hanging on the walls; through the bow windows they caught a glimpse now and again of a little court or two, a shrubbery and a piece of lawn, and once a vista of the park where Henry in his younger days used to hold his May-revels, a gallant and princely figure all in green from cap to shoes, breakfasting beneath the trees.
Continually, as they went, first in the corridor and then through the waiting rooms at the end, they passed others going to and fro, servants hurrying on messages, leisurely and magnificent persons with their hats on, pages standing outside closed doors; and twice they were asked their business.
“For my Lord of Canterbury,” answered the waterman each time.
It seemed to Chris that they must have gone an immense distance before the waterman at last stopped, motioning them to go on, and a page in purple livery stepped forward from a door.
“For my Lord of Canterbury,” said the waterman for the last time.
The page bowed, turned, and threw open the door.
They found themselves in a square parlour, carpeted and hung with tapestries from floor to ceiling. A second door opened beyond, in the window side, into another room. A round table stood in the centre, with brocaded chairs about it, and a long couch by the fireplace. Opposite rose up the tall windows through which shone the bright river with the trees and buildings on the north bank beyond.
They had hardly spoken a word to one another since they had left Charing, for all that was possible had been said during the weeks of waiting for the Archbishop’s summons.
Cranmer had received them kindly, though he had not committed himself beyond promising to introduce them to the King, and had expressed no opinion on the case.