The lords were anxious to question her further, but Catelyn raised a hand. "No doubt we will have time for all this later, but my journey has fatigued me. I would speak with my son alone. I know you will forgive me, my lords." She gave them no choice; led by the ever-obliging Lord Hornwood, the bannermen bowed and took their leave. "And you, Theon," she added when Greyjoy lingered. He smiled and left them.
There was ale and cheese on the table. Catelyn tilled a horn, sat, sipped, and studied her son. He seemed taller than when she'd left, and the wisps of beard did make him look older. "Edmure was sixteen when he grew his first whiskers."
I will be sixteen soon enough, Robb said.
And you are fifteen now. Fifteen, and leading a host to battle. Can you understand why I might fear, Robb?
His look grew stubborn. "There was no one else."
No one? she said. "Pray, who were those men I saw here a moment ago? Roose Bolton, Rickard Karstark, Galbart and Robett Glover, the Greatjon, Helman Tallhart... you might have given the command to any of them. Gods be good, you might even have sent Theon, though he would not be my choice."
They are not Starks, he said.
They are men, Robb, seasoned in battle. You were fighting with wooden swords less than a year past.