The chapter that follows, “A Bingtown Trader’s Daughter,” begins with Malta complaining as Keffria and Ronica prepare her for her first formal courting meeting with Reyn. She muses with aspersion on her situation, thinking herself beleaguered and the women of her family unfit for her father. Suddenly inspired, she begins to maneuver for control.
Ronica is suspicious of Malta’s turn. She muses with aspersion on her granddaughter before assessing the situation–until interrupted by a visit from Davad Restart. After an awkward exchange of pleasantries, Restart pleads to be able to sit in on the meeting with the Khuprus visitors, calling on his old friendship with the Vestrits and citing his own poor fortunes. Ronica is about to send him away when Keffria enters and notes that the Khuprus visitors have arrived–in number and splendor.
Resigned to the social awkwardness, Ronica proceeds to greet the Khuprus visitors. Jani is complimentary of the Vestrit women and disdainful of the unaware and inept Restart. At some length, amid the excitement of the young couple, Keffria is able to bundle Restart off, and Jani and Ronica confer closely.
Malta exults in the attention paid her and the splendor of the Khuprus visit. Reyn’s forwardness unsettles her slightly, but not for long. Coquettishly, she turns the conversation to her advantage, working to steer matters to her own liking.
One of the points the chapter makes that seems particularly prominent to me as I reread it inheres in the friendship between Ronica and Davad. She makes clear that she has known the man for years, that her family and he have been friends for that long–and that friendship, to her mind, makes much of his otherwise-objectionable behavior tolerable. And perhaps it should make the repeated faux pas he commits pass without (much) comment; long-standing friendship should pass over foibles of inattention. But Davad’s insistence upon slave labor seems something that should not continue to be tolerated. (Nor should Ronica’s continued employment of Rache, frankly, though there seem to be mitigating factors in it.)
It speaks to an argument that has been more prominent of late, although not nearly so much as it should be. Friendship should not extend to the acceptance of evil. And remaining friends with those who deny the fundamental humanity of others is a tacit endorsement of that denial. As more people should recall.