The next chapter, “Hiring Fair,” opens with a brief commentary on slavery in the Six Duchies before moving on to Fitz’s difficulties in setting out to reach Verity, as he has been commanded through the Skill. The geography of his expected path is glossed, and he begins to look for means to cross the intervening distance. He also considers his circumstances and the fact of his isolation.
As he makes his way onward and resupplies, Fitz is offered gold for the earring he had from Patience, that had been Burrich’s, as well as information about its earlier provenance. With difficulty, he refuses the offer, keeping the earring and looking for work that will take him in the direction he needs to go. He does not find it that day, but he does learn local gossip: Chade is being hunted as he is, with hefty rewards offered that would likely not be paid. And when Fitz sleeps, he dreams of Chade.
The next day sees him find some work and the promise of a caravan to accompany. He works throughout the day on odd tasks to see him through, and he muses on the kind of life he might otherwise have had as he considers how to answer Verity’s demand.
It is good to see the earring Fitz has deliberately retained come up again. Authors keeping their characters’ equipment in mind is always good to see; narratives do well to follow their own rules. Too, having the earring appear in the chapter both on Fitz’s person and in descriptions of him promulgated by Regal’s forces serves as a reminder of the dangers of sentimentality and nostalgia (and I am not unaware of the irony of my making such comments; I am more nostalgic than is good for me and more sentimental than is comfortable for most folks). Keeping too tight a hold on the past imperils the present and the future.
Fitz’s musing on his individual inadequacy early in the chapter is of some note. Many “heroic” narratives go to great lengths to identify their protagonists as sufficient to all the tasks that confront them–perhaps with struggle, perhaps with training, but still sufficient. (It is for such reasons that many who are themselves execrable look to “heroic” narratives for inspiration and seek to link themselves therewith; they imagine themselves as the protagonists, feeling adequate for once.) Fitz, although long since a subversion of “heroic” narrative tropes, is, by his own admission, not enough on his own; he cites the contributions of others to his skill and performance, confessing his insufficiency in their lack. It is something to which Donne speaks, of course, that all are interconnected, and others echo him.
More would do well to listen better and to heed what they hear.