“Three corns and one roast raven,” said Dolorous Edd. “Very good, m’lord, only Hobb’s made boiled eggs, black sausage, and apples stewed with prunes. The apples stewed with prunes are excellent, except for the prunes. I won’t
eat prunes myself. Well, there was one time when Hobb chopped them up with chestnuts and carrots and hid them in a hen. Never trust a cook, my lord. They’ll prune you when you least expect it.”
“Later.” Breakfast could wait; Stannis could not. “Any trouble from the stockades last night?”
“Not since you put guards on the guards, m’lord.”
“Good.” A thousand wildlings had been penned up beyond the Wall, the captives Stannis Baratheon had taken when his knights had smashed Mance Rayder’s patchwork host. Many of the prisoners were women, and some of the
guards had been sneaking them out to warm their beds. King’s men, queen’s men, it did not seem to matter; a few black brothers had tried the same thing. Men were men, and these were the only women for a thousand leagues.
“Two more wildlings turned up to surrender,” Edd went on. “A mother with a girl clinging to her skirts. She had a boy babe too, all swaddled up in fur, but he was dead.”
“Dead,” said the raven. It was one of the bird’s favorite words. “Dead, dead, dead.”
“Religion will save us,” I said. Since when I could remember,religion had been very close to my heart.
“Religion?” Mr. Kumar grinned broadly. “I don’t believe inreligion. Religion is darkness.”Darkness? I was puzzled. I thought, Darkness is the lastthing that
religion is. Religion is light. Was he testing me? Washe saying, “Religion is darkness,” the way he sometimes said inclass things like “Mammals lay eggs,”
to see if someone wouldcorrect him? (“Only platypuses, sir.”)”There are no grounds for going beyond a scientificexplanation of reality and no sound
reason for believinganything but our sense experience. A clear intellect, closeattention to detail and a little scientific knowledge will exposereligion as
superstitious bosh. God does not exist.” -Did he say that? Or am I remembering the lines of lateratheists? At any rate, it was something of the
sort. I had neverheard such words.
“Why tolerate darkness? Everything is here and clear, if onlywe look carefully.”He was pointing at Peak. Now though I had greatadmiration