And I pondered my next move.
The Spider’s Lair
And so, as I always have, I turn to you for counsel. Fool that you are, you always gave me the wisest advice. Even as I know how impossible it is, I yearn once more to sit down and take thought with you. You always had the mind to look at the tangled knot of court politics and tell me where each thread was wound and trapped, to trace each strand in the hangman’s noose back to its instigator. I miss your insights sorely, as much as I miss your companionship. No warrior you, and yet, with you at my back, I felt guarded as with no other.
But I will also admit that you have wounded me as few others could. You wrote to Jofron? But not to me? If there had been but one note from you, in all these years, at least I would have a place to send these useless musings. By messenger or bird, I could send them on their way to you and imagine that in some distant time or place, they reached you, and you spared a thought for me. You know my nature. I take the bits and clues and puzzle them into an image in which you deliberately do not write to me, so that I cannot reach out to you in any way. Why? What can I think except that you fear I will somehow undo your work? From that foundation, I must wonder if that was always what I was to you. Only the Catalyst? The weapon that must be wielded without mercy, and then set aside, lest somehow it do an injury to you or your work?
I need a friend, and I have none to whom I can admit my weakness, my fear, my errors. I have Molly’s love and Bee’s need for my strength. I dare not admit to either of them that my heart breaks to see Bee remain a passive infant. As my dreams for her evaporate and I fear a future in which she remains forever infantile and stunted, to whom can I confide my pain? To Molly, who dotes on her and fiercely insists that time will give her what she lacks? She does not seem to recognize that our child appears less intelligent than a two-day-old chick. Fool, my child will not meet my eyes. When I touch her, she draws away from me as much as she can. Which is not far, for she does not roll herself over, nor lift her head at all. She makes not a sound, save when she wails. Even that is not often. She does not reach for her mother’s finger. She is passive, Fool, more plant than child, and my heart breaks daily over her. I want to love her, and instead I find I have lost my heart to the child that is not here, the child I imagined she would be. And so I look at my Bee and long for her to be that which she is not. Which, perhaps, she never shall be.
Ah, I do not know what comfort anyone could offer me, save to let me say these things aloud and not recoil in horror from my heartlessness.
Instead I write these words and consign them to the flames or the litter of other useless musings that nightly I obsessively write.
I waited four months before I went to Buckkeep Castle to confront Chade and Lady Rosemary.
During those days the household was quiet, but busy in the routine way that life was always busy. My baby daughter nursed well and slept as little as any newborn did, according to Molly, which seemed an impossibly small amount to me. Yet she did not disturb our nights with crying. Instead she lay still and silent, eyes open and staring into the corner of the darkened room. She slept still sheltered between Molly and me, and all hours of the day she was in her mother’s care.
Bee grew, but so slowly. She remained healthy, but Molly confided to me that she did not do what other babes of her age could do. At first I ignored this worrying. Bee was small but perfect in my eyes. When I looked down on her in her crib, she stared at the ceiling with a blue gaze that pierced my heart with love. “Give her time,” I told Molly. “She’ll get there. I’ve fed up many a weakling, and seen them become the sharpest hounds in the pack. She’ll do.”
“She isn’t a puppy!” Molly rebuked me, but she smiled and added, “She was long in the womb, and emerged small. Perhaps it will take her more time to grow outside me as well.”
I do not think she believed my words, but she took comfort all the same. As the days passed, however, I could not ignore that my baby was not changing. At a month, she was little bigger than when she had been born. At first the maids would remark on what a “good baby” she was, so calm and placid. But soon they stopped saying such things, and pity grew in their faces. The fear grew in me that our child was an idiot. She had none of the features of a half-wit child that all parents know. Her tongue fit her mouth, her eyes and ears were proportional to her little face. She was as pretty as a doll, and as small and unresponsive.
I did not face it, then.
Instead I focused on the spy that Chade had sent into my home. In quiet, my anger grew. Perhaps I fed it with the fear and dread that I did not admit to myself. I thought long about it. I did not want to confront Chade by way of the Skill. I told myself that I needed to stand before him and make him recognize that I was not a man to be toyed with, not when it concerned my child.