A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 156: Mad Ship, Chapter 18

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “Wishes Fulfilled,” opens aboard the Vivacia, with Wintrow grilling Kennit regarding the fate of the ship’s previous captain. Kennit deflects the inquiries, reminding Wintrow that he had asked his father be spared and put out of the way, before sharply returning to a voice of command. As Wintrow serves him at table, Kennit reflects upon his condition and recent exertions before dismissing Wintrow to commune with the ship.

Not quite this bad, but moving that way.
Image from Jean Léon Gérôme’s The Death of Caesar, which I am told is public domain; it’s used for commentary.

Wintrow confronts the Vivacia regarding her silence as her former captain was spirited away. The ship replies that she is glad to be free of him–and that Wintrow should be similarly glad. They turn their discussion to their relationships with one another and with Kennit, the ship urging Wintrow to draw closer to the pirate captain. As she is doing.

In Bingtown, Althea retrieves and considers her formal Trader’s clothing. She also rehearses the events of the day, and she muses on Brashen and Grag, both. Not long after, she and Malta confer, surprisingly amicably, regarding their conveyance to the coming meeting; Davad Restart is not entirely pleasing to either of them. When he arrives, Althea and Malta join Ronica and Keffria in swiftly entering his carriage and getting underway. Talk along the way is distractedly polite, in the main, and Restart reports the rumor that the Satrap is himself bound for Bingtown.

There is some tumult as they arrive at the Traders’ Concourse, and Althea is rocked by her brief conversation with Grag. She is similarly unsettled to find Brashen and Amber present. Being seated with the Teniras and welcomed openly by them does not help matters amid the pre-meeting politicking. The meeting is called to order and business conducted, eventually reaching the Teniras’ concerns regarding tariffs. Discussion is heated, and Althea interjects herself into it forcefully; not all are pleased at it, though some are, and Althea is ejected from the meeting.

Outside the meeting, Althea finds Restart’s carriage vandalized. Other Traders emerge from the now-recessed meeting, seeing the vandalization and isolating Restart; Althea pleads to help the man, though others argue against it, and she ends up driving him home.

Of note in the present chapter is the Vestrit women’s travel to the Traders’ meeting with Restart. There is much in the passage that rings of quiet toleration of repugnance because of long practice and familiarity; it reads to me of the “Oh, that’s just his way; he doesn’t mean any harm by it” that is too often used to cover over speech and behavior that should be rebuked in the old no less than the young, and perhaps more in the beloved and befriended than in the stranger. And it does highlight the tension inherent in confronting those who have been and still are helpful and friendly when they do and say things that bespeak inattention and disregard for human dignity. Is it cowardly not to make an open confrontation from a position of disadvantage?

Send a holiday present my way?

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