"I believe I heard the first crack this morning."
Lord Baelish was referring to the quarrel between King Robert and Eddard Stark on proposed murder of Princess Daenerys Stormborn. Robert wanted her murdered along with her unborn baby to deal with the threat of potential Dothraki invasion to restore Targaryen monarchy. All quotes are from the same chapter.
“Robert, I beg of you,” Ned pleaded, “hear what you are saying. You
are talking of murdering a child.”
“The whore is pregnant!” The king’s fist slammed down on the council
table loud as a thunderclap. “I warned you this would happen, Ned.
Back in the barrowlands, I warned you, but you did not care to hear
it. Well, you’ll hear it now. I want them dead, mother and child both,
and that fool Viserys as well. Is that plain enough for you? I want
The other councillors were all doing their best to pretend that they
were somewhere else. No doubt they were wiser than he was. Eddard
Stark had seldom felt quite so alone. “You will dishonor yourself
forever if you do this.”
“Then let it be on my head, so long as it is done. I am not so blind
that I cannot see the shadow of the axe when it is hanging over my own
“There is no axe,” Ned told his king. “Only the shadow of a shadow,
twenty years removed... if it exists at all.”
Most of his council agreed.
“This ‘dragonspawn’ is in his mother’s belly,” Ned said. “Even Aegon
did no conquering until after he was weaned.”
“Gods! You are stubborn as an aurochs, Stark.” The king looked around
the council table. “Have the rest of you mislaid your tongues? Will no
one talk sense to this frozen-faced fool?”
Varys gave the king an unctuous smile and laid a soft hand on Ned’s
sleeve. “I understand your qualms, Lord Eddard, truly I do. It gave me
no joy to bring this grievous news to council. It is a terrible thing
we contemplate, a vile thing. Yet we who presume to rule must do vile
things for the good of the realm, howevermuch it pains us.”
Lord Renly shrugged. “The matter seems simple enough to me. We ought
to have had Viserys and his sister killed years ago, but His Grace my
brother made the mistake of listening to Jon Arryn.”
Grand Maester Pycelle cleared his throat, a process that seemed to
take some minutes. “My order serves the realm, not the ruler. Once I
counseled King Aerys as loyally as I counsel King Robert now, so I
bear this girl child of his no ill will. Yet I ask you this-should war
come again, how many soldiers will die? How many towns will burn? How
many children will be ripped from their mothers to perish on the end
of a spear?” He stroked his luxuriant white beard, infinitely sad,
infinitely weary. “Is it not wiser, even kinder, that Daenerys
Targaryen should die now so that tens of thousands might live?”
Littlefinger was the last. As Ned looked to him, Lord Petyr stifled a
yawn. “When you find yourself in bed with an ugly woman, the best
thing to do is close your eyes and get on with it,” he declared.
“Waiting won’t make the maid any prettier. Kiss her and be done with
it.” “Kiss her?” Ser Barristan repeated, aghast. “A steel kiss,” said
Eddard and Barristan Selmy on the other hand were of the opinion that it was dishonourable. Robert was enraged and told Eddard to do as he was commanded to do. Ned also made several comments that insulted Robert.
“Mercy is never a mistake, Lord Renly,” Ned replied. “On the Trident,
Ser Barristan here cut down a dozen good men, Robert’s friends and
mine. When they brought him to us, grievously wounded and near death,
Roose Bolton urged us to cut his throat, but your brother said, ‘I
will not kill a man for loyalty, nor for fighting well,’ and sent his
own maester to tend Ser Barristan’s wounds.” He gave the king a long
cool look. “Would that man were here today.”
Robert had shame enough to blush. “It was not the same,” he
complained. “Ser Barristan was a knight of the Kingsguard.”
“Whereas Daenerys is a fourteen-year-old girl.” Ned knew he was
pushing this well past the point of wisdom, yet he could not keep
silent. “Robert, I ask you, what did we rise against Aerys Targaryen
for, if not to put an end to the murder of children?”
“To put an end to Targaryens!” the king growled.
“Your Grace, I never knew you to fear Rhaegar.” Ned fought to keep the
scorn out of his voice, and failed. “Have the years so unmanned you
that you tremble at the shadow of an unborn child?”
Robert purpled. “No more, Ned,” he warned, pointing. “Not another
word. Have you forgotten who is king here?”
“No, Your Grace,” Ned replied. “Have you?”
“Mormont craves a royal pardon,” Lord Renly reminded them.
“Desperately,” Varys said, “yet he craves life even more. By now, the
princess nears Vaes Dothrak, where it is death to draw a blade. If I
told you what the Dothraki would do to the poor man who used one on a
khaleesi, none of you would sleep tonight.” He stroked a powdered
cheek. “Now, poison... the tears of Lys, let us say. Khal Drogo need
never know it was not a natural death.”
Grand Maester Pycelle’s sleepy eyes flicked open. He squinted
suspiciously at the eunuch.
“Poison is a coward’s weapon,” the king complained.
Ned had heard enough. “You send hired knives to kill a fourteen
year-old girl and still quibble about honor?” He pushed back his chair
and stood. “Do it yourself, Robert. The man who passes the sentence
should swing the sword. Look her in the eyes before you kill her. See
her tears, hear her last words. You owe her that much at least.”
In the end, Eddard resigned. Robert then threatened to have him killed in anger (He did not mean it).
“I will not be part of murder, Robert. Do as you will, but do not ask
me to fix my seal to it.”
For a moment Robert did not seem to understand what Ned was saying.
Defiance was not a dish he tasted often. Slowly his face changed as
comprehension came. His eyes narrowed and a flush crept up his neck
past the velvet collar. He pointed an angry finger at Ned. “You are
the King’s Hand, Lord Stark. You will do as I command you, or I’ll
find me a Hand who will.”
“I wish him every success.” Ned unfastened the heavy clasp that
clutched at the folds of his cloak, the ornate silver hand that was
his badge of office. He laid it on the table in front of the king,
saddened by the memory of the man who had pinned it on him, the friend
he had loved. “I thought you a better man than this, Robert. I thought
we had made a nobler king.”
Robert’s face was purple. “Out, “ he croaked, choking on his rage.
“Out, damn you, I’m done with you. What are you waiting for? Go, run
back to Winterfell. And make certain I never look on your face again,
or I swear, I’ll have your head on a spike!”
Baelish compared Eddard's policies and behaviour as akin to a man dancing on rotten ice, liable to break. He considered this disagreement between the King and the Hand as the first crack in the ice.
"The first and last," said Ned. "I've had my fill."
Here, Eddard says he would no longer serve as the Hand. He had had enough of serving as the Hand and he was going home. (Which he never did as Robert reinstated him and made his peace).