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Jon climbed the steps slowly, trying not to think that this might be the last time ever. Ghost paddedsilently beside him. Outside, snow swirled1 through the castle gates, and the yard was all noise andchaos, but inside the thick stone walls it was still warm and quiet. Too quiet for Jon’s liking2.

He reached the landing and stood for a long moment, afraid. Ghost nuzzled at his hand. He tookcourage from that. He straightened, and entered the room.

Lady Stark3 was there beside his bed. She had been there, day and night, for close on a fortnight.

Not for a moment had she left Bran’s side. She had her meals brought to her there, and chamber4 potsas well, and a small hard bed to sleep on, though it was said she had scarcely slept at all. She fed himherself, the honey and water and herb mixture that sustained life. Not once did she leave the room. SoJon had stayed away.

But now there was no more time.

He stood in the door for a moment, afraid to speak, afraid to come closer. The window was open.

Below, a wolf howled. Ghost heard and lifted his head.

Lady Stark looked over. For a moment she did not seem to recognize him. Finally she blinked.

“What are you doing here?” she asked in a voice strangely flat and emotionless.

“I came to see Bran,” Jon said. “To say good-bye.”

Her face did not change. Her long auburn hair was dull and tangled5. She looked as though she hadaged twenty years. “You’ve said it. Now go away.”

Part of him wanted only to flee, but he knew that if he did he might never see Bran again. He took anervous step into the room. “Please,” he said.

Something cold moved in her eyes. “I told you to leave,” she said. “We don’t want you here.”

Once that would have sent him running. Once that might even have made him cry. Now it onlymade him angry. He would be a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch soon, and face worse dangersthan Catelyn Tully Stark. “He’s my brother,” he said.

“Shall I call the guards?”

“Call them,” Jon said, defiant6. “You can’t stop me from seeing him.” He crossed the room,keeping the bed between them, and looked down on Bran where he lay.

She was holding one of his hands. It looked like a claw. This was not the Bran he remembered. Theflesh had all gone from him. His skin stretched tight over bones like sticks. Under the blanket, his legsbent in ways that made Jon sick. His eyes were sunken deep into black pits; open, but they sawnothing. The fall had shrunken him somehow. He looked half a leaf, as if the first strong wind wouldcarry him off to his grave.

Yet under the frail7 cage of those shattered ribs8, his chest rose and fell with each shallow breath.

“Bran,” he said, “I’m sorry I didn’t come before. I was afraid.” He could feel the tears rollingdown his cheeks. Jon no longer cared. “Don’t die, Bran. Please. We’re all waiting for you to wake up.

Me and Robb and the girls, everyone …”

Lady Stark was watching. She had not raised a cry. Jon took that for acceptance. Outside thewindow, the direwolf howled again. The wolf that Bran had not had time to name.

“I have to go now,” Jon said. “Uncle Benjen is waiting. I’m to go north to the Wall. We have toleave today, before the snows come.” He remembered how excited Bran had been at the prospect9 ofthe journey. It was more than he could bear, the thought of leaving him behind like this. Jon brushed away his tears, leaned over, and kissed his brother lightly on the lips.

“I wanted him to stay here with me,” Lady Stark said softly.

Jon watched her, wary10. She was not even looking at him. She was talking to him, but for a part ofher, it was as though he were not even in the room.

“I prayed for it,” she said dully. “He was my special boy. I went to the sept and prayed seventimes to the seven faces of god that Ned would change his mind and leave him here with me.

Sometimes prayers are answered.”

Jon did not know what to say. “It wasn’t your fault,” he managed after an awkward silence.

Her eyes found him. They were full of poison. “I need none of your absolution, bastard11.”

Jon lowered his eyes. She was cradling one of Bran’s hands. He took the other, squeezed it. Fingerslike the bones of birds. “Good-bye,” he said.

He was at the door when she called out to him. “Jon,” she said. He should have kept going, but shehad never called him by his name before. He turned to find her looking at his face, as if she wereseeing it for the first time.

“Yes?” he said.

“It should have been you,” she told him. Then she turned back to Bran and began to weep, herwhole body shaking with the sobs12. Jon had never seen her cry before.

It was a long walk down to the yard.

Outside, everything was noise and confusion. Wagons13 were being loaded, men were shouting,horses were being harnessed and saddled and led from the stables. A light snow had begun to fall, andeveryone was in an uproar14 to be off.

Robb was in the middle of it, shouting commands with the best of them. He seemed to have grownof late, as if Bran’s fall and his mother’s collapse15 had somehow made him stronger. Grey Wind was athis side.

“Uncle Benjen is looking for you,” he told Jon. “He wanted to be gone an hour ago.”

“I know,” Jon said. “Soon.” He looked around at all the noise and confusion. “Leaving is harderthan I thought.”

“For me too,” Robb said. He had snow in his hair, melting from the heat of his body. “Did you seehim?”

Jon nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

“He’s not going to die,” Robb said. “I know it.”

“You Starks are hard to kill,” Jon agreed. His voice was flat and tired. The visit had taken all thestrength from him.

Robb knew something was wrong. “My mother …”

“She was … very kind,” Jon told him.

Robb looked relieved. “Good.” He smiled. “The next time I see you, you’ll be all in black.”

Jon forced himself to smile back. “It was always my color. How long do you think it will be?”

“Soon enough,” Robb promised. He pulled Jon to him and embraced him fiercely. “Farewell,Snow.”

Jon hugged him back. “And you, Stark. Take care of Bran.”

“I will.” They broke apart and looked at each other awkwardly. “Uncle Benjen said to send you tothe stables if I saw you,” Robb finally said.

“I have one more farewell to make,” Jon told him.

“Then I haven’t seen you,” Robb replied. Jon left him standing16 there in the snow, surrounded bywagons and wolves and horses. It was a short walk to the armory17. He picked up his package and tookthe covered bridge across to the Keep.

Arya was in her room, packing a polished ironwood chest that was bigger than she was. Nymeriawas helping18. Arya would only have to point, and the wolf would bound across the room, snatch upsome wisp of silk in her jaws19, and fetch it back. But when she smelled Ghost, she sat down on herhaunches and yelped20 at them.

Arya glanced behind her, saw Jon, and jumped to her feet. She threw her skinny arms tight aroundhis neck. “I was afraid you were gone,” she said, her breath catching21 in her throat. “They wouldn’t letme out to say good-bye.”

“What did you do now?” Jon was amused.

Arya disentangled herself from him and made a face. “Nothing. I was all packed and everything.”

She gestured at the huge chest, no more than a third full, and at the clothes that were scattered22 all overthe room. “Septa Mordane says I have to do it all over. My things weren’t properly folded, she says.

A proper southron lady doesn’t just throw her clothes inside her chest like old rags, she says.”

rthe room. “Septa Mordane says I have to do it all over. My things weren’t properly folded, she says.

A proper southron lady doesn’t just throw her clothes inside her chest like old rags, she says.”

“Is that what you did, little sister?”

“Well, they’re going to get all messed up anyway,” she said. “Who cares how they’re folded?”

“Septa Mordane,” Jon told her. “I don’t think she’d like Nymeria helping, either.” The she-wolfregarded him silently with her dark golden eyes. “It’s just as well. I have something for you to takewith you, and it has to be packed very carefully.”

Her face lit up. “A present?”

“You could call it that. Close the door.”

Wary but excited, Arya checked the hall. “Nymeria, here. Guard.” She left the wolf out there towarn of intruders and closed the door. By then Jon had pulled off the rags he’d wrapped it in. He heldit out to her.

Arya’s eyes went wide. Dark eyes, like his. “A sword,” she said in a small, hushed breath.

The scabbard was soft grey leather, supple23 as sin. Jon drew out the blade slowly, so she could seethe24 deep blue sheen of the steel. “This is no toy,” he told her. “Be careful you don’t cut yourself. Theedges are sharp enough to shave with.”

“Girls don’t shave,” Arya said.

“Maybe they should. Have you ever seen the septa’s legs?”

She giggled25 at him. “It’s so skinny.”

“So are you,” Jon told her. “I had Mikken make this special. The bravos use swords like this inPentos and Myr and the other Free Cities. It won’t hack26 a man’s head off, but it can poke27 him full ofholes if you’re fast enough.”

“I can be fast,” Arya said.

“You’ll have to work at it every day.” He put the sword in her hands, showed her how to hold it,and stepped back. “How does it feel? Do you like the balance?”

“I think so,” Arya said.

“First lesson,” Jon said. “Stick them with the pointy end.”

Arya gave him a whap on the arm with the flat of her blade. The blow stung, but Jon found himselfgrinning like an idiot. “I know which end to use,” Arya said. A doubtful look crossed her face. “SeptaMordane will take it away from me.”

“Not if she doesn’t know you have it,” Jon said.

“Who will I practice with?”

“You’ll find someone,” Jon promised her. “King’s Landing is a true city, a thousand times thesize of Winterfell. Until you find a partner, watch how they fight in the yard. Run, and ride, makeyourself strong. And whatever you do …”

Arya knew what was coming next. They said it together.

“…don’t … tell … Sansa!”

Jon messed up her hair. “I will miss you, little sister.”

Suddenly she looked like she was going to cry. “I wish you were coming with us.”

“Different roads sometimes lead to the same castle. Who knows?” He was feeling better now. Hewas not going to let himself be sad. “I better go. I’ll spend my first year on the Wall emptyingchamber pots if I keep Uncle Ben waiting any longer.”

Arya ran to him for a last hug. “Put down the sword first,” Jon warned her, laughing. She set itaside almost shyly and showered him with kisses.

When he turned back at the door, she was holding it again, trying it for balance. “I almost forgot,”

he told her. “All the best swords have names.”

“Like Ice,” she said. She looked at the blade in her hand. “Does this have a name? Oh, tell me.”

“Can’t you guess?” Jon teased. “Your very favorite thing.”

Arya seemed puzzled at first. Then it came to her. She was that quick. They said it together:


The memory of her laughter warmed him on the long ride north.


1 swirled eb40fca2632f9acaecc78417fd6adc53     
v.旋转,打旋( swirl的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The waves swirled and eddied around the rocks. 波浪翻滚着在岩石周围打旋。
  • The water swirled down the drain. 水打着旋流进了下水道。
2 liking mpXzQ5     
  • The word palate also means taste or liking.Palate这个词也有“口味”或“嗜好”的意思。
  • I must admit I have no liking for exaggeration.我必须承认我不喜欢夸大其词。
3 stark lGszd     
  • The young man is faced with a stark choice.这位年轻人面临严峻的抉择。
  • He gave a stark denial to the rumor.他对谣言加以完全的否认。
4 chamber wnky9     
  • For many,the dentist's surgery remains a torture chamber.对许多人来说,牙医的治疗室一直是间受刑室。
  • The chamber was ablaze with light.会议厅里灯火辉煌。
5 tangled e487ee1bc1477d6c2828d91e94c01c6e     
adj. 纠缠的,紊乱的 动词tangle的过去式和过去分词
  • Your hair's so tangled that I can't comb it. 你的头发太乱了,我梳不动。
  • A movement caught his eye in the tangled undergrowth. 乱灌木丛里的晃动引起了他的注意。
6 defiant 6muzw     
  • With a last defiant gesture,they sang a revolutionary song as they were led away to prison.他们被带走投入监狱时,仍以最后的反抗姿态唱起了一支革命歌曲。
  • He assumed a defiant attitude toward his employer.他对雇主采取挑衅的态度。
7 frail yz3yD     
  • Mrs. Warner is already 96 and too frail to live by herself.华纳太太已经九十六岁了,身体虚弱,不便独居。
  • She lay in bed looking particularly frail.她躺在床上,看上去特别虚弱。
8 ribs 24fc137444401001077773555802b280     
n.肋骨( rib的名词复数 );(船或屋顶等的)肋拱;肋骨状的东西;(织物的)凸条花纹
  • He suffered cracked ribs and bruising. 他断了肋骨还有挫伤。
  • Make a small incision below the ribs. 在肋骨下方切开一个小口。
9 prospect P01zn     
  • This state of things holds out a cheerful prospect.事态呈现出可喜的前景。
  • The prospect became more evident.前景变得更加明朗了。
10 wary JMEzk     
  • He is wary of telling secrets to others.他谨防向他人泄露秘密。
  • Paula frowned,suddenly wary.宝拉皱了皱眉头,突然警惕起来。
11 bastard MuSzK     
  • He was never concerned about being born a bastard.他从不介意自己是私生子。
  • There was supposed to be no way to get at the bastard.据说没有办法买通那个混蛋。
12 sobs d4349f86cad43cb1a5579b1ef269d0cb     
啜泣(声),呜咽(声)( sob的名词复数 )
  • She was struggling to suppress her sobs. 她拼命不让自己哭出来。
  • She burst into a convulsive sobs. 她突然抽泣起来。
13 wagons ff97c19d76ea81bb4f2a97f2ff0025e7     
n.四轮的运货马车( wagon的名词复数 );铁路货车;小手推车
  • The wagons were hauled by horses. 那些货车是马拉的。
  • They drew their wagons into a laager and set up camp. 他们把马车围成一圈扎起营地。
14 uproar LHfyc     
  • She could hear the uproar in the room.她能听见房间里的吵闹声。
  • His remarks threw the audience into an uproar.他的讲话使听众沸腾起来。
15 collapse aWvyE     
  • The country's economy is on the verge of collapse.国家的经济已到了崩溃的边缘。
  • The engineer made a complete diagnosis of the bridge's collapse.工程师对桥的倒塌做了一次彻底的调查分析。
16 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
17 armory RN0y2     
  • Nuclear weapons will play a less prominent part in NATO's armory in the future.核武器将来在北约的军械中会起较次要的作用。
  • Every March the Armory Show sets up shop in New York.每年三月,军械博览会都会在纽约设置展场。
18 helping 2rGzDc     
  • The poor children regularly pony up for a second helping of my hamburger. 那些可怜的孩子们总是要求我把我的汉堡包再给他们一份。
  • By doing this, they may at times be helping to restore competition. 这样一来, 他在某些时候,有助于竞争的加强。
19 jaws cq9zZq     
  • The antelope could not escape the crocodile's gaping jaws. 那只羚羊无法从鱷鱼张开的大口中逃脱。
  • The scored jaws of a vise help it bite the work. 台钳上有刻痕的虎钳牙帮助它紧咬住工件。
20 yelped 66cb778134d73b13ec6957fdf1b24074     
v.发出短而尖的叫声( yelp的过去式和过去分词 )
  • He yelped in pain when the horse stepped on his foot. 马踩了他的脚痛得他喊叫起来。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • A hound yelped briefly as a whip cracked. 鞭子一响,猎狗发出一阵嗥叫。 来自《简明英汉词典》
21 catching cwVztY     
  • There are those who think eczema is catching.有人就是认为湿疹会传染。
  • Enthusiasm is very catching.热情非常富有感染力。
22 scattered 7jgzKF     
  • Gathering up his scattered papers,he pushed them into his case.他把散乱的文件收拾起来,塞进文件夹里。
23 supple Hrhwt     
  • She gets along well with people because of her supple nature.她与大家相处很好,因为她的天性柔和。
  • He admired the graceful and supple movements of the dancers.他赞扬了舞蹈演员优雅灵巧的舞姿。
24 seethe QE0yt     
  • Many Indians continue to seethe and some are calling for military action against their riotous neighbour.很多印度人都处于热血沸腾的状态,很多都呼吁针对印度这个恶邻采取军事行动。
  • She seethed with indignation.她由于愤怒而不能平静。
25 giggled 72ecd6e6dbf913b285d28ec3ba1edb12     
v.咯咯地笑( giggle的过去式和过去分词 )
  • The girls giggled at the joke. 女孩子们让这笑话逗得咯咯笑。
  • The children giggled hysterically. 孩子们歇斯底里地傻笑。 来自《简明英汉词典》
26 hack BQJz2     
  • He made a hack at the log.他朝圆木上砍了一下。
  • Early settlers had to hack out a clearing in the forest where they could grow crops.早期移民不得不在森林里劈出空地种庄稼。
27 poke 5SFz9     
  • We never thought she would poke her nose into this.想不到她会插上一手。
  • Don't poke fun at me.别拿我凑趣儿。


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