I nodded to him pleasantly. “I hope not to see you again soon, FitzVigilant.”
“Likewise, sir,” he responded and then froze, wondering if he had been rude. Chade chuckled. The boy whisked himself from the room, and with a final exasperated sigh Lady Rosemary followed him at a more dignified pace. Chade did not speak, giving them time to be well down the hidden staircase before he turned to me.
“Admit it. You’ve given no thought at all to her future.”
“I haven’t. Because I didn’t even realize Molly was truly pregnant. But now that Bee is here …”
“Bee. Such a name! Is she going to live? Does she thrive?” He cut in relentlessly.
That gave me pause. “She is tiny, Chade. And Molly says that she is not doing the things she should be doing by now. But she eats well, and sleeps and sometimes cries. Other than how small she is and that she does not lift her head or roll over yet, I see nothing wrong …”
My words ran out. Chade was looking at me with sympathy. He spoke kindly. “Fitz. You have to imagine every possible future for her. What will you do if she is simple, or if she can never care for herself? Or what if she grows to be beautiful and intelligent and people recognize her as a Farseer? Or if she is ordinary and plain and not very bright? At the very least, all will know she is the sister of the King’s Skillmistress. That is enough power to be courted right there. Or to make her a valuable hostage.”
He gave me no time to gather my thoughts as he added, “Nettle was educated well enough for a country girl whose prospects were little better than to marry a landed farmer. Talk to her, sometime, about where she feels that lack. Burrich taught her to read and write and tally. Molly taught her beekeeping and gardening, and she’s a good hand around a horse. But history? The shape of the world? Languages? She got little of that, and has spent years trying to mend those gaps. I’ve met Molly’s other children, and they are good enough men. But you are not raising a farmer’s daughter, Fitz. If the bones had rolled differently, she might expect to wear the coronet of a Farseer Princess. She won’t. But you should educate her as if she would.”
If she could be educated. I pushed the thought away. Follow Chade’s reasoning. “Why?”
“Because one never knows what fate will bring.” He gestured expansively with one hand as he lifted the wineglass in the other. “If she tests for the Skill and has it, would you have her come to Buckkeep Castle with no knowledge of her heritage? Would you have her struggle, as Nettle did, to learn to navigate the waters of society? Tell me, Fitz. If you raise her as Bee Badgerlock, will you be content to marry her off to a farmer and let her toil all her days?”
“If she loves him and he loves her, that is not a terrible fate.”
“Well, if a wealthy nobleman fell in love with her, and she had been raised to be an eligible match for him, and she loved him, that might be a better one, would not you say?”
I was still trying to think of a response when Chade added, “FitzVigilant had no prospects. Lord Vigilant’s young wife has less than no use for the bastard, and resents that he is older than the legitimate heirs she has borne her lord. She is raising his two younger brothers to hate him. Word came to me that she was looking for a quiet death for the boy. Instead of that, I brought him here. To make him yet another useful bastard.”
“He seems bright enough,” I said carefully.
“Bright, yes. But he has no edge. I’ll do what I can with him. But in seven or eight years, I’ll need to put him somewhere else. Lord Vigilant’s wife regards him as a usurper. She already mutters against him being at court. She is the worst sort of jealous woman, one who puts her ill will into action. Better for all if he is gone from Buckkeep when she presents her two sons here.”
“Seven or eight years from now?”
“Unlike you, I plan ahead for those I take under my wing.”
“And you will ask me to take him.” I frowned and tried to see his plan. “As a possible match for Bee when she’s older?”
“Gods, no! Let’s not mingle those bloodlines! We’ll find her a lordling from Buck, I think. But yes, I’d like you to be ready to take him in. When he’s ready.”
“Ready to be a killer and a spy? Why?”
Chade shook his head. He seemed oddly disappointed. “No. There’s no assassin in him. I’m certain of that, though Rosemary remains to be convinced. And so I will take his training in a different direction. One useful to both of us. The boy has a bright mind. He learns almost as quickly as you did. And he has a loyal heart. Give him a good master, and he would be true as a hound. And very protective.”