This time he does go; but giving him, Cromwell, a sort of mock salute, a flourish in the direction of his hat.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

What is the meaning of the phrase 'in the direction of his hat' here?

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    From another novel, Sisters of Silver Creek, on page 40, "His hand executed a flourish in the direction of his hat as he spoke, though it did not touch it..." – John B Oct 20 '15 at 7:18

I disagree with the other answers; this refers to the movement of his hand. The phrase 'in the direction of' can be replaced with 'towards', which might make it clearer. Dictionary example

A salute is normally a sharp movement of the hand towards the forehead. A mock salute would be a similar movement, and the phrase describes the difference. A flourish, rather than a simple movement, and the hand goes towards the hat instead of towards the forehead.

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    This is correct. If I point in the direction of New York, I point west, to New York. If I point in the direction of my head, I point at my head. If I point in the direction of my hat, I point at my hat. Talking about 'where the hat is pointing to' is bizarre. What if the hat is round? – user8543 Oct 15 '15 at 10:34

I believe the phrase is to be taken literally: the gesture was done toward the direction where his hat was pointing.

However I am not sure if the hat was in the person's hands or in his head at the time of the gesture. If it were in his hands, then that could mean that he made the gesture in whichever direction he was holding the hat. If it were on top of his head, (which is more likely) then it would simply mean that he made an upward gesture since the hat would be upwards a person's head.

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I agree with Johann, the direction of his hat simply states the direction where his hat points to. I also agree with his point of the hat being situated on top of his head, since salutes usually face the direction where the hat points to.

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I think that the meaning is literal, wherever the hat is pointing to. Although, like Johann said, the specific direction the hat is pointing to depends on the location of the hat.

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