We set out like prisoners off to their execution.
We left the house, went through the gate, entered the zoo.
It was early and the zoo hadn’t opened yet to the public.
Animal keepers and groundskeepers were going about theirwork. I noticed Sitaram, who oversaw the orang-utans, myfavourite keeper. He paused to watch us go by. We passedbirds, bears, apes, monkeys, ungulates, the terrarium house, therhinos, the
elephants, the giraffes.
We came to the big cats, our tigers, lions and leopards.
Babu, their keeper, was waiting for us. We went round anddown the path, and he unlocked the door to the cat house,which was at the centre of a moated island. We
entered. Itwas a vast and dim cement cavern, circular in shape, warmand humid, and smelling of cat urine. All around were greatbig cages divided up. by thick, green, iron
bars. A yellowishlight filtered down from the skylights. Through the cage exitswe could see the vegetation of the surrounding island, floodedwith sunlight. The cages were empty – save one: Mahisha, ourBengal tiger
Above the King’s Tower the great golden battle standard of House Baratheon cracked like a whip from the roof where Jon Snow had prowled with bow in hand not long ago,
slaying Thenns and free folk beside Satin and Deaf Dick Follard. Two queen’s men stood shivering on the steps, their hands tucked up into their armpits and their spears
leaning against the door. “Those cloth gloves will never serve,” Jon told them. “See Bowen Marsh on the morrow, and he’ll give you each a pair of leather gloves lined with fur.”
“We will, m’lord, and thank you,” said the older guard.
“That’s if our bloody hands aren’t froze off,” the younger added, his breath a pale mist. “I used to