Matt, Branch, Kira, and Thomas are investigating the floor of the Edifice beneath the one on which Kira and Thomas. Branch is usually eager to run through new places, but now he’s quiet and cautious—indeed, the only sounds are the tap of Kira’s walking stick and her lame leg. Kira hears Jamison’s voice around the corner. Even though Jamison has been her defender in court, and in large part the reason why she lives in the Edifice now, she is afraid of him in this moment.
Branch’s behavior seems to externalize what the other three members of the group are thinking. It’s significant that Kira is afraid of Jamison without having any reason to feel this way—she’s an artist, and therefore a highly intuitive person. Her, her intuition steers her away from her guardian.
Kira hears a child’s cry, following by Jamison’s voice. Then, she hears a child singing, in a high, clear voice. Then the child begins to cry again, and Jamison speaks again, in a harsh tone that Kira’s never heard before. After listening to the child’s voice, Matt whispers to Kira that the child is a friend of his, Jo, who lived in the Fen. Kira, Matt, and Thomas decide to return to Kira’s room and talk there.
In this section, Kira’s intuition is proven to be correct: she was right to be afraid of Jamison, since he’s being rough with a small child. Matt proves himself to be a useful companion: he knows many people who Kira and Thomas, with their limited access to the village and Fen, have never heard of.
Back in Kira’s room, Matt explains how he knows the child from the lower floor. She was a gifted singer, he explains, and brought joy to everyone in the Fen who heard her. She is an orphan now, since her mother and father died—the same thing that happened to both Thomas and Kira’s parents, they note. The child’s mother died of sickness, Matt says, and her father stabbed himself in the Field after taking his dead wife there. Kira finds it difficult to believe that a man would kill himself and leave behind a tyke. Thomas notes that orphans are always passed on to other family, “unless they sing.”
It’s becoming clearer how the Council brings children to the Edifice—their parents are all dead. This could mean that the Council murders the children’s parents, and then lures them to the Edifice with promises of art and luxury. It’s interesting that Kira refuses to believe that a man would kill himself when he has a child to care for. Almost everything we’ve seen so far in the village would indicate that this is actually quite possible—people have done far worse. Yet Kira continues to think the best of everyone.
Later in the day, Jamison comes to Kira’s room. By this time, Thomas has returned to work and Matt has left the Edifice. Jamison examines Kira’s progress, and while his tone and expression are friendly, Kira can’t shake her memory of the way he treated the child earlier in the day. Jamison tells Kira that her work is excellent, and better than her mother’s. He asks Kira if she’s able to walk to Annabella’s cottage every day, and mentions that he’ll install a fire pit in the Edifice so that Kira need not leave as frequently. Kira insists that she’s strong enough for the walk, but tells Jamison that she’s afraid of beasts. Jamison responds that she needn’t be afraid as long as she stays on the path. Jamison encourages Kira to trust Annabella, with her four-syllable wisdom, but when Kira tells Jamison that Annabella told her there were no beasts, he responds that Annabella’s mind is “beginning to wander.” Without saying anything, Kira doubts Jamison: Annabella is an excellent teacher, whose mind is clearly very sharp.
Struck by what she’s witnessed downstairs, Kira can’t give Jamison the same respect she’s given him previously. But it’s also worth remembering that Kira already had some misgivings about Jamison—his behavior at the trial was somewhat cruel, and she had noticed the urgency in his voice. Kira’s “intuition,” then, might really consist of good observational skills more than anything else—she feels as if she can “predict the future” because she’s reading the present. Jamison’s behavior in this section is obviously contradictory—first he wants Kira to respect Annabella, then he wants her to ignore Annabella for being old and senile.
Kira continues to question Jamison about beasts, asking him if he’s seen the beasts himself. Jamison tells her that he’s seen them many times, and reminds her that he saw her father being taken by beasts. He tells Kira that she’s doing an excellent job with the robe, and leaves. Kira touches her cloth, but it brings her no comfort. She thinks she can hear a child crying.
The chapter ends on a note of anxiety. All the usual things that brought Kira comfort—her cloth, Jamison, her art, her comfortable room—fail to make her feel better. Yet it’s this same feeling of discomfort that has helped Kira mature. It’s likely that her discomfort at this moment will help her grow even more.