Fool's Assassin / Page 185

Page 185


Schoolroom. I recalled abruptly that Withywoods had one. My early education had happened at one of the lesser hearths in the Great Hall at Buckkeep. And Molly’s boys had come to me with a good foundation in reading and reckoning from Burrich, and had mainly been educated by me and by the other folk at Withywoods. They’d learned from the arborist, the orchard man, the shepherd … I’d never demanded they master another language, and their knowledge of Six Duchies history and geography had mostly been passed to them during long conversations in the evenings or minstrel songs at holidays. Had I been lax in educating Burrich’s sons? Neither Molly nor either of the boys had ever asked that I supply more than that. Guilt squeezed me.

“Sir?” Revel’s query jolted me back to the present. I stared at him, wondering what we had been discussing.

At my questioning look, he repeated, “The schoolroom, Holder Badgerlock. It was Lady Patience’s doing. Many years ago, when she still hoped that she would have babes of her own that would grow up here. There is a schoolroom. A room especially for teaching children.” He spoke the last two words as if I might not be familiar with such a concept.

Of course. And, “Of course, then, Revel. Freshen the schoolroom and the scribe’s chambers, and make a list for me of any more serious repairs they might need. Oh. And a list of the children, please, who might wish to learn their letters and reckoning.”

Revel’s eyes held a martyr’s determination to excel as he asked, “And is there anything else, sir?”

I conceded. “That’s as much as I can think of right now. If anything more occurs to you, please bring it to my attention.”

“As it should be, sir,” he agreed, and I could almost hear his thought: As it should have been done all along.

That evening, when the workmen were gone and Bee once more asleep in Molly’s sewing room, I Skilled to my elder daughter. I was getting ready for bed, Nettle greeted my questing touch.

I didn’t realize it was so late, I apologized. I wished to apprise you of my latest round of renovations to Withywoods. I deem them necessary, as does Revel, but I fear it will eat into the reserves I had set aside from the income.

I felt her sigh. Please stop the formalities. You are not truly my Holder reporting to me. We both know that, by every right, Withywoods should have come to you. Your insistence that it is mine and you must justify every action you take there wears on me.

But it is your inheri—

And it hurts my feelings. Do you truly think I would object to what you might do there to benefit Bee? Or yourself? I know you do not believe me so selfish. So stop, please. Do what must be done to keep it standing and in good repair, and spend the income from the lands as it must be spent. Or as you’d like to spend it. A pause. You know that FitzVigilant will soon be on his way to you?

I’ve been so informed, yes. I tried to conceal from her the reservations I felt about the arrangements.

Well, I do not think he is truly fit for travel yet. I’ve urged Chade to leave him in hiding for a time. When he arrives, you should have a healer see to him. He’s a stiff-necked lad, and will insist he is quite all right, thank you very much. Insist on it. He took a bad beating, a very bad beating. I think Chade will finally send him away in the hope it will keep him safe. He should have been sent to you years ago. As I’ve told Chade repeatedly. He should have put the boy’s best interests before his inclination to keep him near.

I’ll see that he’s well cared for. I was going to put him in the Green Suite, but then Revel informed me that Patience had created a schoolroom in the east wing and that there are living chambers for the schoolmaster adjacent to them.

Is there? Oh, yes, I recall it now. It’s a rambling old place, isn’t it? But that should suit Lant well. He’s private. And seems to be even more so since the beating.

Physical abuse tends to bring that out in a person, I thought to myself. It was nothing that I needed to share with Nettle. But I well recalled what Regal’s torture had done to me, and how withdrawn the Fool had been after the Pale Woman’s savage attentions. We live in our bodies. An assault on that outside fortress of the mind leaves scars that may not show, but never heal. I would give him his privacy. And if he chose to talk, his words would remain safe with me.

Are you still awake? Nettle sounded annoyed that I might disturb her rest with my Skilling and then nod off myself.

Yes. Just mulling over the arrangements I’ll make for FitzVigilant.

Treat him gently.

You’re fond of him, aren’t you? Again, I had the impression that he was more important than Chade had informed me.

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