Just reread your Winter Queen Essays, great BtW, prompting this Question: Do you think that Wyman Manderly went through all the motions just prior to the Frey boy's departing from his care because he was trying to protect his immediate family from any potential backlash from the Frey pies saga or was it to protect the legacy of House Manderly for his future descendants? Was this a personal attack on the Freys, never meant to see the light of day or would he have publicly reveled in his deceit?
Thanks for the question, Anon.
Oh, I definitely think Manderly was being very careful in how he treated the Freys who came to White Harbor. He knew what revenge he wanted, but I think he wanted to be very clear that he was not some accursed oathbreaker like the Freys; he was going to follow all the rules of guest right, and then take his revenge. He hints as much to Davos at what he is going to do:
“The Freys came here by sea. They have no horses with them, so I shall present each of them with a palfrey as a guest gift. Do hosts still give guest gifts in the south?”
“Some do, my lord. On the day their guest departs.”
“Perhaps you understand, then.” Wyman Manderly lurched ponderously to his feet.
That giving of a guest gift is a very important stage in the host-guest relationship; the act marks the end of a host’s obligation to a guest. Wyman explicitly tells the Freys in Winterfell that he gave his guests “guest gifts” when they left White Harbor, and that “many and more bore witness to our parting”; Manderly was putting on the most obvious show possible to indicate that his obligations as a host - namely, to do no harm to his guests - was at an end. I have no doubt that the minute those Freys made one step outside the gates of White Harbor, Manderly men had them arrested and executed.
Still, Manderly is not exactly subtle about what he did:
… Wyman Manderly himself served, presenting the first steaming portions to Roose Bolton and his fat Frey wife, the next to Ser Hosteen and Ser Aenys, the sons of Walder Frey. “The best pie you have ever tasted, my lords,” the fat lord declared. “Wash it down with Arbor gold and savor every bite. I know I shall.”
She gestured toward Lord Manderly with her wine cup. "Have you ever seen a fat man so happy? He is almost dancing. Serving with his own hands.”
It was true. The Lord of White Harbor was the very picture of the jolly fat man, laughing and smiling, japing with the other lords and slapping them on the back, calling out to the musicians for this tune or that tune.
And then, toward the end of the feast, he gets even more blatant:
Lord Manderly was so drunk he required four strong men to help him from the hall. “We should have a song about the Rat Cook,” he was muttering, as he staggered past Theon, leaning on his knights. “Singer, give us a song about the Rat Cook.”
Now, that said, I don’t think Manderly was necessarily going to point-blank tell anyone “Hey, by the way, I killed those Freys and made you eat them”; even drunk, all Manderly does is give broad hints toward it, and he refuses to admit to Hosteen that he did anything to the Freys who visited White Harbor. I think it’s enough for him that he knows what he did, and that he not only stuck himself to all the rules of the host-guest relationship, but avenged his son and all the men who died at the Red Wedding too. Every Northerner knows the story of the Rat Cook, and Manderly would not be similarly cursed; “a man has a right to vengeance”, as that story went, and Manderly had taken his, but had done everything he needed to do as a host before he took it.
The Queen Regent (NFriel)