The next chapter, “Paragon and Piracy,” opens with Althea tending Clef, who has been on the receiving end of Lavoy’s anger. Althea tries to remain outside the conflict, but she muses on its circumstances and the near-confrontation between the first mate and Amber about the incident. After Clef is finished and heads off to his rack, Althea muses on her situation and her thoughts about her family’s. When, still musing, she speaks with the ship, she is surprised to hear the figurehead speak eagerly of confronting Kennit. It disquiets her somewhat, and she is soon joined at the railing by Amber, with whom she confers about Clef and Lavoy. Althea notes that Amber seems unwell, and the carpenter notes it is an occasional, non-contagious malady; Althea directs her to inform Brashen, which prompts consideration and conversation of the Paragon‘s captain.
The talk is interrupted by Jek’s arrival at the railing with the other two women; Althea considers her and her freedom briefly before talk returns to Brashen by way of the rarity of people fulfilling and enjoying their dreams. Some good-natured teasing of Althea ensues, although it does not necessarily all land well. Amber gently rebukes Jek for pushing the jokes farther than they ought to go, and Lavoy interrupts the conversation with a summons from the captain for Althea. Althea tries to defuse the tension between Amber and Lavoy before she reports, but she is unsuccessful.
Althea considers the ship and the captain as she reports, and Brashen confers with her regarding ideas Lavoy has put across to him, seeking to verify them before pursuing them. Between them, they suss out Lavoy’s biases, that his advanced plan to play at piracy as a means to get close to Kennit to attack him and forcibly retake the Vivacia is a ruse for him to take the Paragon for his own. The two confer about the likelihood of violence, Althea considering her lack of experience in that regard, and Lavoy arriving to report Amber unconscious on the foredeck interrupts them; Althea hastens off in worry to see to the carpenter.
As I reread the chapter, I found myself taken by the comments about how few people are able to live out their dreams, and how few of those find that their dreams are what they wanted them to be. I know I am being an affective reader again to think on it in the terms I do, but I cannot help but consider my own abortive dreams once again, my having wanted to be first a band director, then an English teacher, then an English professor, and succeeding at achieving and retaining exactly none of those positions. I was unable to achieve them, and I found and continue to find–because I remain in contact with a number of people in the field, not only because I continue to do such occasional bits of scholarship as this and continue to participate in the Tales after Tolkien Society–that the life of the mind that I had thought to follow is not at all what I had thought it would be. I know I am better off where I am now, but I continue to have trouble adjusting to life outside the ivory tower, despite never really having done well in it; I do not know that I will ever be free of the folly.