A Clash of Kings-Chapter 21
|A Clash of Kings chapter|
|Page||237 UK HC (Other versions)|
|Chapter chronology (All)|
Bran is hosting the harvest feast at Winterfell, being the eldest Stark there. Most of the bannermen are present. In the middle of the feast, Meera and Jojen Reed arrive to represent their father Howland Reed.
Bran Stark rides his horse Dancer into the crowded Great Hall of Winterfell. He would have liked to have Summer with him but Ser Rodrik Cassel was unyielding. As he passes, the men call “Stark!” and “Winterfell! Winterfell!” for the harvest and Robb Stark’s victories. Osha and Hodor help him out of his harness and carry him to the high seat. Ser Rodrik is seated to his lift with his daughter Beth Cassel beside him, and Maester Luwin beyond Beth. Rickon is to his right, his hair uncut since Catelyn has left because he bit the last girl that tried to cut it. Rickon tells Bran that he rides better and wanted to ride into the Great Hall like him. After Ser Rodrik bellows for quiet, Bran bids the bannermen and their escorts welcome and thanks, and makes a toast to the old gods for the feast and Robb’s victories. This brings cheers and Ser Rodrik tells Bran he did well.
They feast course after course, much of it brought by Lord Wyman Manderly from White Harbor, who has also brought the musicians that are playing. Hodor gleefully listens to the music, and Osha serves while Ser Rodrik and Luwin talk over Beth’s head, and Rickon screams happily with Little Walder and Big Walder; Bran did not want the Walders at the high table but was overruled by Luwin, who told him that Robb would soon marry a Frey, as would his sister Arya. Bran assured Luwin that Arya would never do so. He always gets the first serving of each dish, and soon he is full, and has to nod approval instead of tasting everything. He also sends particularly delicious dishes to specific lords as he has been told to do by Maester Luwin: the sad Lady Donella Hornwood, the Umbers, Cley Cerwyn, Joseth the master of horse who trained Dancer, sweets to Hodor and Old Nan, and, at Ser Rodrik's insistence, the Walders.
Bran watches as one of Leobald Tallhart’s men puts a hand under Osha’s skirts and she breaks a flagon over his head in response. Mikken has a hand up a woman’s bodice but she does not seem to mind. He also sees Farlen making his red bitch beg, Old Nan plucking at the crust of a hot pie, and Lord Wyman in a special wide chair attacking a plate full of Lampreys, and at the other end of the hall Hothen and Mors playing drinking games. It is getting too hot and noisy for Bran's liking, but as the lord, he has to stay. He remembers the welcoming feast when King Robert arrived, and notices that now all the faces are new; he likes Hayhead, Poxy Tym, Skittrick and the others well enough but misseds his old friends: Jory Cassel, Tomard, Porther, Alyn, Desmond, Hullen, Septa Mordane and Vayon Poole. He feels like crying, but reminds himself that he is the Stark in Winterfell and has to be strong.
The doors to the hall open and Alebelly leads in two new guests: Meera and Jojen Reed of House Reed from Greywater Watch. Big Walder mutters “frogeaters” and when Rickon asks who they are, Little Walder calls them “Mudmen,” going on to claim that they are thieves and cravens, and eating frogs has turned their teeth green. Ser Rodrik welcomes them as places are hurriedly prepared for them. Bran knows them as Crannogmen, from the Neck. Ser Rodrik tells Bran that Howland Reed was a great friend of his father's and these are probably his children. Both are near Robb’s age, small and slender, and dressed all in green. The girl is armed with a woven net and a long bronze knife with a shield on her back. They both kneel and the girl tells them that their father has sent them there to again say the words of fealty to the King of the North. Bran tells them that Robb is not there, so they say the words to him. Bran looks for words to respond and finally decides on “May your winters be short and your summers bountiful.” They ten tell Bran they have brought gifts of food, and Bran offers meat and mead of Winterfell to the children of one of his father’s staunchest companions during the war for King Robert’s crown.
Jojen immediately asks where the direwolves are and Rickon replies that they are in the Godswood because Shaggydog was bad. Little Walder warns them that they will bite, but Bran calms them by saying Summer will not and he will keep Shaggydog away; this is the first time the crannogmen have ever called on Winterfell, and he wants to talk more.
The singers in the Great Hall sing of "The Night That Ended", where the Night's Watch rode forth to fight the Others in the Battle for the Dawn. Mors Umber is the first to start dancing after grabbing a serving girl, Hodor starts to dance by himself while Lord Wyman asks Beth Cassel to dance with him. Ser Rodrik approaches Lady Hornwood but she excuses herself and takes her leave. Bran watches for a while, and when he thinks he has waited long enough to be polite, calls to Hodor to carry him out.
As they are leaving the hall, they come upon Joseth with a woman who is giggling with her skirts above her waist. She screams when she sees Hodor, who has stopped to watch. Bran tells Hodor to leave them and take him back to his chambers. After helping him with his boots and breeches, he tells Hodor he can go back to the feast. As he lies in his bed in the darkness he remembers asking his father if the Kingsguard were the finest knights in the realm, and Eddard replied, "No longer. But once they were a marvel, a shining example to the world." Bran asked who the best of them was, and Ned replied, "The finest knight I ever saw was Ser Arthur Dayne, who would have killed me but for Howland Reed." His father became sad then and would not speak any further. Later, Bran dreams through the eyes of Summer, and sees Meera and Jojen enter the godswood. When Jojen reaches out his hand to touch Summer, Bran loses contact and feels like he is falling again.