Iron Emmett’s lads were well at it in the yard, blunted swords slamming into shields and ringing against one another.
Jon stopped to watch a moment as Horse pressed Hop-Robin back toward the well. Horse had the makings of a
good fighter, he decided. He was strong and getting stronger, and his instincts were sound. Hop-Robin was another tale. His clubfoot was bad enough, but he was
afraid of getting hit as well. Perhaps we can make a steward of him. The fight ended abruptly, with Hop-Robin on the ground.
“Well fought,” Jon said to Horse, “but you drop your shield too low when pressing an attack. You will want to correct that, or it is like to get you killed.”
“Yes, m’lord. I’ll keep it higher next time.” Horse pulled Hop-Robin to his feet, and the smaller boy made a clumsy bow.
A few of Stannis’s knights were sparring on the far side of the yard. King’s men in one corner and queen’s men in another,
Jon did not fail to note, but only a few. It’s too cold for most of them. As he strode past them, a booming voice called after him. “BOY! YOU THERE! BOY!”
Just beyond the ticket booth Father had had painted on awall in bright red letters the question:
DO YOU KNOW WHICH IS THE MOSTDANGEROUS ANIMAL IN THE ZOO?
An arrow pointed to a small curtain. There were so manyeager, curious hands
that pulled at the curtain that we had toreplace it regularly. Behind it was a mirror.
But I learned at my expense that Father believed there wasanother animal even more dangerous than us, and one thatwas extremely common, too,
found on every continent, in everyhabitat: the redoubtable species Animalus anthropomorphicus,the animal as seen through human eyes. We’ve all met
one,perhaps even owned one. It is an animal that is “cute”,”friendly”, “loving”, “devoted”, “merry”, “under-standing”.