“I should have,” he conceded, and then he stabbed me with, “I didn’t think of it then. And it had to be done immediately. So much was happening here, so fast.”
My voice was cold as I asked, “So what did you save? My candles? My book on herbs? My owl figurine, my candleholder? Did you save my blue blanket? The tunic with the daisies embroidered around the hem?”
“I didn’t save the blue blanket,” he admitted hoarsely. “I didn’t know it was important.”
“You should have asked me! You should have asked me!” I hated the tears that suddenly flooded my eyes and how my throat closed and choked me. I didn’t want to be sad. I wanted to be angry. Angry hurt less. I turned and did something I’d never done before. I hit my father, as hard as I could, my fist connecting with the braced muscles of his chest. It wasn’t a little girl’s slapping. I hit him with as much force as I could muster, wanting to hurt him. I hit him again, and again, until I realized he was allowing me to do it, that he could have seized my arms and stopped me at any time. That perhaps he even wanted me to hurt him. That made it useless and worse than futile. I stopped and looked up at him. His face was still. His eyes looked at me, open, offering no defense against my anger. He accepted it as just.
That woke no sympathy in me. It only made me angrier. This was my pain; I had been robbed of things I had cherished. How dare he stare at me as if he were the one who was hurt? I folded my arms again, this time to lock him out. I bowed my head so I wouldn’t have to look at him. When he put one hand on my cheek and the other on top of my head, I only set my muscles and curled in more tightly. He sighed.
“I do my best, Bee, poor as it is sometimes. I saved what I thought was important to you. When you want to, tell me, and we’ll get them and put them in your new room. I wanted it to be something of a surprise for you; I thought you’d like having the Yellow Suite. It was a mistake. Too great a change, too fast, and you should have had more say in it.”
I didn’t loosen my muscles, but I listened.
“So. This will not be a surprise. In five days you and I are going into Oaksbywater. Revel was clever enough to suggest that you might want to choose some fabric from the weavers there for your heavy winter tunics. And we will visit the cobbler instead of waiting for him to make his winter visit here. I think your feet have done more than a year’s growing already. Revel told me that you needed new shoes, and that you needed boots as well. For riding.”
That jolted me enough to look up at him. Sorrow still filled his eyes, but he said kindly, “That was a surprise for me. A very nice one.”
I looked down again. I hadn’t intended it to be anything for him. Though, now that I considered it, I had looked forward to him seeing that I could ride a horse, even if neither he nor Riddle had had time to think it important enough to teach me. I realized then how deeply angry I was with both of them that they always seemed to spend more time on Shun than on me. I wanted to hold on to that anger and make it deeper and stronger. But more than that, I wanted my mother’s touches in the room where I would sleep tonight.
I spoke to the floor. I hated the hitch in my voice. “I’d like to go get my things now, please. And put them safe in my room.”
“Then we will,” he said. He stood. I didn’t offer my hand and he didn’t try to take it. But I followed him out of the room that had once been mine, the room where the messenger had died.
Things to Keep
It was in the time of Queen Dextrous that the head scribe at Buckkeep Castle was given the additional duty of instructing any “willing” child in the keep in the art of letters. It has been said that she decreed this because of her great dislike of Scribe Martin. Certainly many Buckkeep scribes who came after Martin seemed to think it more punishment than honor.
On the Duties of Scribes, Scribe Fedwren
And so, again, I had erred. And badly. I walked slowly down the corridor, my little child by my side. She did not take my hand. She walked just out of my arm’s reach, and I knew that was no accident. If pain can radiate as heat from a fire, then that was the cold that I felt from her stiff little form. I had been so sure that I was doing it right. That she would be delighted with her new room and furnishings that took her size into consideration. And in my eagerness to deceive the staff about the “guest” who had gone missing, I had destroyed precious mementos, irreplaceable pieces of her childhood.
I took her to my bedchamber. It was a different place than it had been the last time she had been there. I’d gathered all my clothing and bedding and sent for the launderer. The man had made two trips with a very large basket, disapproval pinching his narrow nose nearly closed. That evening, when I returned to my room, my featherbed had been aired and turned, all surfaces dusted, and the room otherwise tidied. I hadn’t authorized it; I suspected Revel. That night I slept on linens washed clean of the sweat of grief, on pillows that had not been soaked with my tears. The tapers for my candleholders were plain white ones, unscented, and the nightshirt I donned was soft and clean against my skin. I had felt like a traveler who had been on a long and arduous journey, and arrived at a faceless inn.