When there is no word from Theon, Robb begins to fear the worst.
“You ought never to have sent him. I warned you,” Catelyn tells him.
“Perhaps Theon is not the man I thought he was,” Robb says. He wants to say ‘the man I hoped he was’ but fears that would show his weakness: it would be an admission that he’d made the decision in spite of his better judgment. “But all men deserve the right to choose. Theon deserved that right and I gave it to him.”
“There was a reason your father took him as a hostage.”
“Yes, because he needed Balon Greyjoy’s allegiance. I need it, too, I just wanted to gain it by better means than threatening to harm his son.”
“Well, Theon has not brought you Balon’s longships.”
“Perhaps that is because Theon holds no sway over Lord Balon.”
“Then why send him?”
“To give Theon a chance. Theon deserved that much. Besides, mother, Theon was never any use to us as a hostage. Balon Greyjoy would never have given us his ships in return for his son’s safety.”
“Are you so sure of that? The love of a parent for a child--”
“Balon Greyjoy,” Robb says, emphatic, declamatory, “never once wrote to Theon, nor to my father. Theon might have died years ago and it would have made no difference to the man. He gave him up for dead the day father took him from the Iron Islands. Whatever harm we might have threatened to do Theon would not have moved Lord Balon.”
“And yet you send his son back to him. For what?”
“So that Theon could choose. His father loves him not. I’m sure of it. He will come back to us, mother. His home is at Winterfell.”
Catelyn says nothing but her expression tells him what she thinks of his trust in Theon. She thinks me a fool, Robb thinks, but I am not. I know Theon.