“As you command, Sire.” Maege Mormont had ridden south with Robb, Jon knew. Her eldest daughter had joined the Young Wolf’s host as well. Even if both of them
had died, however, Lady Maege had other daughters, some with children of their own. Had they gone with Robb as well? Surely Lady Maege would have left at
least one of the older girls behind as castellan. He did not understand why Lyanna should be writing Stannis, and
could not help but wonder if the girl’s answer might have been different if the letter had been sealed with a direwolf
instead of a crowned stag, and signed by Jon Stark, Lord of Winterfell. It is too late for such misgivings. You made your choice.
“Two score ravens were sent out,” the king complained, “yet we get no response but silence and defiance. Homage is the duty every leal subject owes his king. Yet
your father’s bannermen all turn their back on me, save the Karstarks. Is Arnolf Karstark the only man of honor in the north?”
Arnolf Karstark was the late Lord Rickard’s uncle. He had been made the castellan of Karhold when his nephew
and his sons went south with Robb, and he had been the first to respond to King Stannis’s call for homage, with a raven
declaring his allegiance. The Karstarks have no other choice, Jon might have said. Rickard Karstark had betrayed the direwolf and spilled the blood of lions.
The stag was Karhold’s only hope. “In times as confused as these, even men of
honor must wonder where their duty lies. Your Grace is not the only king in the realm demanding homage.”
Babu exited the cage in the same careful way he had enteredit. The cage had two floors, one level with us, the other at
theback, higher by about three feet, that led outside to the island.
The goat scrambled to this second level. Mahisha, nowunconcerned with Babu,
paralleled the move in his cage in afluid, effortless motion. He crouched and lay
still, his slowlymoving tail the only sign of tension.
Babu stepped up to the trapdoor
between the cages andstarted pulling it open. In anticipation of satisfaction, Mahishafell silent. I heard two things at that moment: Father saying”Never forget
this lesson” as he looked on grimly, and thebleating of the goat. It must
bleating all along,
hear it before.
They had free folk drifting in most every night, starved half-frozen creatures who had run from the battle beneath the Wall only to crawl back when they realized there was no safe place to run to. “Was the mother questioned?” Jon
asked. Stannis Baratheon had smashed Mance Rayder’s host and made the King-Beyond-the-Wall his captive … but the wildlings were still out there, the Weeper and Tormund Giantsbane and thousands more.
“Aye, m’lord,” said Edd, “but all she knows is that she ran off during the battle and hid in the woods after. We filled her full of porridge, sent her to the pens, and burned the babe.”
Burning dead children had ceased to trouble Jon Snow; live ones were another matter. Two kings to wake the dragon. The father first and then the
son, so both die kings. The words had been murmured by one of the queen’s men as Maester Aemon had cleaned his wounds. Jon had tried to dismiss
them as his fever talking. Aemon had demurred. “There is power in a king’s blood,” the old maester had warned, “and better men than Stannis have done
worse things than this.” The king can be harsh and unforgiving, aye, but a babe still on the breast? Only a monster would give a living child to the flames.
He spoke again. “Some people say God died during thePartition in 1947. He may have died in 1971 during the war.
Or he may have died yesterday here in Pondicherry in anorphanage. That’s what some people say, Pi. When I was yourage, I lived in bed, racked with
polio. I asked myself every day,‘Where is God? Where is God? Where is God?’ God nevercame. It wasn’t God who saved me – it was medicine. Reasonis my
prophet and it tells me that as a watch stops, so wedie. It’s the end. If the watch doesn’t work properly, it must befixed here and now by us. One day we will take hold of themeans of production and there will be justice on
earth.”This was all a bit much for me. The tone was right – lovingand brave – but the details seemed bleak.
I said nothing.
fear of angering
That spring Larry Ellison saw Amelio at a party and introduced him to the technology journalist Gina Smith, who asked how Apple was doing. “You know, Gina, Apple is like a ship,” Amelio answered. “That ship is loaded with
treasure, but there’s a hole in the ship. And my job is to get everyone to row in the same direction.” Smith looked perplexed and asked, “Yeah, but what about the hole?” From then on, Ellison and Jobs joked about the parable of
the ship. “When Larry relayed this story to me, we were in this sushi place, and I literally fell off my chair laughing,” Jobs recalled. “He was just such a
buffoon, and he took himself so seriously. He insisted that everyone call him Dr. Amelio. That’s always a warning sign.”
Brent Schlender, Fortune’s well-sourced technology reporter, knew Jobs and was familiar with his thinking, and in March he came out with a story detailing the mess. “Apple Computer, Silicon Valley’s paragon of dysfunctional
management and fumbled techno-dreams, is back in crisis mode, scrambling lugubriously in slow motion to deal with imploding sales, a floundering
technology strategy, and a hemorrhaging brand name,” he wrote. “To the Machiavellian eye, it looks as if Jobs, despite the lure of Hollywood—lately he
has been overseeing Pixar, maker of Toy Story and other computer-animated films—might be scheming to take over Apple.”
Once again Ellison publicly floated the idea of doing a hostile takeover and installing his “best friend” Jobs as CEO. “Steve’s the only one who can save Apple,” he told reporters. “I’m ready to help him the minute he says the
word.” Like the third time the boy cried wolf, Ellison’s latest takeover musings didn’t get much notice, so later in the month he told Dan Gillmore of the San Jose Mercury News that he was forming an investor group to raise $1 billion
to buy a majority stake in Apple. (The company’s market value was about $2.3 billion.) The day the story came out, Apple stock shot up 11% in heavy
trading. To add to the frivolity, Ellison set up an email address, [email protected], asking the
general public to
vote on whether
he should go
ahead with it.