The next chapter, “Candletown,” opens with Althea reflecting on the titular port town and her life on the Vivacia as the Reaper sits in her slip. Brashen confers with her briefly before sending her on to meet with the ship’s captain, who has summoned her.
When she reports to the captain, Althea muses briefly on his sloppy quarters before standing for what begins as a fine review. The captain offers to hire Althea on for another cruise, but Althea demurs, requesting her ship’s ticket so she can force Kyle to surrender the Vivacia to her; the captain vociferously, vehemently refuses, and has her put off the ship with prejudice.
Meanwhile, Brashen finds himself a room in a pointedly tidy inn ashore and considers his situation. He waits for Althea, who takes her time finding her way about the town. At length, she finds him, and the two confer again; Brashen has made himself unwelcome aboard the Reaper, as well, and the rest of the conversation is unhappy. They part less than amicably, and Brashen returns to his inn to find himself turned out of it, too.
The patriarchal superstitious fear of menstruation attracting misfortune emerges again in the chapter, as should be no surprise. Transphobia does, as well, which is unfortunately not surprising, either. Given Hobb’s stated affection for sailors–she married one, after all, and in several commentaries she makes happy reference to some of them–it is not to be wondered at that she would focus her attention on them, but it would be something of a surprise for her to go out of her way to depict them unflatteringly, as in the case of the Reaper‘s captain–or of Kyle Haven. Perhaps it is best to read the character as a motion towards Hobb’s efforts at verisimilitude; the profession is not romanticized, nor are most of its people, but presented as flawed, sometimes substantially so, amid the good things they are and do.