So that was what I did. I took the paper and ink and pens from his desk, and as he had said that I could take what I needed, I did that, taking good vellum and his best colored inks and pens with tips of copper. I took candles as well. I gathered many of my mother’s scented candles and hid them in my room, where they perfumed my clothing chest and filled my dreams with her fragrances. I took also the tall white slow-burning tapers we had made together, and these I kept in my spy-room.
I took many things in those days of my father forgetting about me. I took hard bread and dried fruit and a nice wooden box to keep the rats away from them. I took a jug and stopper so I could have water, and a chipped cup that no one would miss. I took a woolen blanket they put out to air that Tavia said had been nibbled by mice and was good for nothing but polishing rags. The bustle at Withywoods was such that I stole with impunity, and no one noticed, for each thought someone else had moved the missing item. I found a rug figured in reds and oranges that was only a little too large for my spyhole. I rolled it a little up the walls, making my room a nest. From my mother’s stores, I took the lavender we had gathered and other fragrant herbs in sachets.
My hidey-hole became quite comfortable. I did not access it from my father’s private study. Somehow I knew that he would not approve of how much time I was spending there, so I found the hidden door in the pantry and then built a wall in front of it from boxes of salt fish. I left just enough room that I could creep behind the boxes, open the concealed door, and squeeze in. I drew it shut behind me but took care that it could not latch me in. I never discovered the latch that allowed me to open it from the pantry side, so I always left it ajar a tiny crack.
I chalked my paths through my warren, and swept cobwebs and mouse droppings to one side. I hung bunches of the fragrant herbs along my path to my little chamber, so that even in full darkness I could scent the way. I quickly memorized it, but never forgot that terrifying night.
I found that the warren of paths in the walls was more extensive than my father had told me. I wondered if he knew and had lied to me, or if the openings were so small that he had dismissed them. I had to set exploring aside for another time. I had many old Dreams to record, and each writing must be as detailed as I could wring from my memory. I wrote my dream of the flying buck and the one about the tapestry with the tall ancient kings with golden eyes. It took six pages for me to write my dream about the fish-white boy in the boat with no oars and how he sold himself as a slave. I wrote a dream I’d had of my father cutting open his chest and taking out his heart and pressing it into a stone until there was no blood left in it.
I did not understand the dreams I wrote down but I thought that one day someone might, and so I recorded them. I wrote until my fingers were all colors of ink and my hands ached abominably. I stole more paper and wrote some more.
And at night, when I put myself to bed, I read. My mother had owned three books that were completely hers. One was the herbal that Patience had given her. It was one that my father had given to Patience, and I believe she had sent it to Molly when they both believed he was dead. The other was a book of flowers and the third was a book on bees. This she had written herself, and it was not a proper book or scroll but a collection of pages bound together with ribbon laced through punched holes. It was more her journal of her hives than anything else, and it was my favorite. From the first pages to the last, I watched her lettering and her spelling become more certain, and her observations more acute as she increased her knowledge of the craft. I read it over and over, and promised myself that by spring I would tend her hives better.
Patience had spent her lifetime acquiring books and manuscripts. Many had been pilfered from the library at Buckkeep Castle. Some were very expensive books, bound with covers of oak and straps of leather and silver studs, gifts given in the hope of winning influence with her when Chivalry had been King-in-Waiting and everyone had presumed that one day she would be Queen Patience. There were not many of these lovely volumes. Most of them she had sold off during the dark days of the war against the Red-Ship Raiders. Those that remained were heavy and sadly boring, being mostly historical accounts of exaggerated glory of previous Farseer royalty, tales written more to curry favor than to educate. In many places Patience had written scathingly skeptical notes about the veracity of what she was reading. Often they made me giggle uncontrollably: it was a glimpse into her that no one else had shared with me. Her notes were fading, so I renewed them in black ink as I found them.
Patience’s own books were a far more eclectic and battered collection. There was a book on horseshoeing and smithing, with notes in Patience’s hand about her own experiments. There were books on butterflies and birds and famous highwaymen and legends of sea monsters. There was an old vellum on the managing of pecksies and how to bind them so that they must do all your housework, and a set of little scrolls on distilling and flavoring spirits. There were three old tablets, much worn, on ways a woman might make herself fecund.