patriarch, a lanky, hulking beast of 550 pounds,had been detained. As soon as we stepped in, he loped up tothe bars of his cage and set off a full-throated snarl, ears

 

flatagainst his skull and round eyes fixed on Babu. The soundwas so loud and fierce it seemed to shake the whole cathouse. My knees started quaking. I got close to

 

Father seemed to pause and steadyhimself. Only Babu was indifferent

to the outburst and to thesearing stare that bored into him like a drill. He had a testedtrust in iron bars. Mahisha started

pacing to and fro againstthe limits

of his cage.
Father turned to us. “What animal is this?” he bellowedabove Mahisha’s

snarling.
“It’s a tiger,” Ravi and I answered in unison, obedientlypointing out the blindingly obvious.

“Are tigers dangerous?””Yes, Father, tigers are dangerous.””Tigers are very dangerous,” Father shouted. “I want you

tounderstand that you are never – under any circumstances –to touch a tiger, to pet

a tiger, to put your hands through thebars of a cage, even to get close to a cage. Is that clear?

Nothing, thought Jon Snow, the same as me.

Halfway up the winding steps, he came upon Samwell Tarly, headed down. “Are you coming from the king?” Jon asked him.

“Maester Aemon sent me with a letter.”

“I see.” Some lords trusted their maesters to read their letters and convey the contents, but Stannis insisted on breaking the seals himself. “How did Stannis take it?”

“Not happily, by his face.” Sam dropped his voice to a whisper. “I am not supposed to speak of it.”

“Then don’t.” Jon wondered which of his father’s bannermen had refused King Stannis homage this time. He was quick enough to spread the word when Karhold

declared for him. 

How are you and

your longbow

getting on?”

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