Last time, Readis got infected by a thorn from the sea and it spread to the point where he’s likely to have lasting physical damage, Robinton expressed confidence that Pern won’t exceed its original mandate, and everyone continued to figure out how the dolphins fit into all of this.
The Dolphins of Pern: Chapter IX: Content Notes: Ableism
The narrative fast-forwards four Turns through the run up to and the execution of the plan to alter the wanderer’s orbit to end Thread as a threat forever. Readis is used as a surrogate for everyone who assumed that altered orbit meant the immediate cessation of Thread and Jayge sketches out the idea of Thread leaving after the current Pass ends. Physically, Readis has some effects from the thorn.
Jayge grinned at his son, tall for his eleven Turns, and tried not to glance down at the wasted right leg, which cocked on tiptoe beside the uninjured left foot. He ruffled Readis’s curly hair and thought instead that it was unfair for the boys in the family to have the curls while the two girls had straight hair.
And to think this could have been prevented, had someone actually believed the dolphin report the first time. (The narrative said T’lion got busy and didn’t remind Readis to have his foot checked out. But again, nobody took the dolphin seriously, despite having no reason not to.)
Also, it is apparently either a preference of Jayge’s or of Pernese men that their women have curly hair. How many bets on whether or not the curling iron manages to make itself into the list of technology that’s okay?
As things are, the actual reason for the scene is that Readis and his sisters have been enrolled in a school at Landing. Readis is suspicious.
“You mean, because of my leg I have to go away?”
“There’s not a thing wrong with Kami and Pardure, my young lad!” his father said sternly.
Barring the awkward phrasing there, as Jayge would probably be more familiar with his son, after all, Jayge is not exactly doing a great job of telling Readis that his disability isn’t the reason for his removal. If there’s “nothing wrong” with the other two, all of means is that they got in for some other reason. Given the type of place Pern is about disability, it’s entirely possible that Readis is being sent away because of that disability, so that he, like Menolly, can turn out to be cripspiration for others about what you can do when you put your mind to it.
Readis was not completely mollified. He hated anyone making concessions for him. He rode the small runner Lord Jaxom had trained for him only because Ruth said that he, the white dragon, had selected the beast for Readis, who had been so good about scrubbing his hide all these Turns. The little creature had made it possible for Readis to go wherever the other youngsters of the Hold roamed: the boy was as good a rider as he was a swimmer. Aramina preferred him to use Delky, the runner–anything to keep him out of the water and away from the dolphins. She could not be convinced that the dolphins were not responsible for his illness and subsequent crippling. It was Aramina who had heard about the proposed special classes to be held in the Admin Building, using the information machines that were the legacy of Aivas. Menolly had told Alemi, who had requested the concession not only for his eldest daughter, but for Readis as well.
[…how will he get there? Dragons…]
[Readis had] never been able to convince his mother that T’lion wasn’t in some way responsible for his illness. He’d told her time and again that the dragonrider had told him, twice, to go see Temma for the thorn and he’d forgotten. So his illness, and his bad leg, were not T’lion’s fault, but his own.
And we have Aramina doing what, really, many people would do, but also likely exacerbated by her own experiences – trying to find a spot to plant the blame on when there isn’t necessarily a place to put it. Because humans like to believe they can control things, and Aramina’s trauma is around a thing she theoretically could control by suppressing it. If she could have stopped T’lion, or if Readis wasn’t so obsessed, the tragedy could have been averted. Like if only ten year-old Aramina could not talk to dragons.
Getting back to the plot, the classes at Admin are Robinton’s idea, with AIVAS’s support – train the youngsters, who don’t have preconceptions, so that they will spread the good tech and knowledge, making it possible for everyone to have power generation and electric tools. Jayge is studying wind and hydroelectric power, to figure out which is best suited for what Hold, the powered looms, lights, and fans are good for comfort, and Alemi is very keen about manufacturing ice to keep the fish catches fresher longer.
There is a calculation here – this training, while good for Readis in general, will “also make the boy more acceptable to the Council of Holders when it came time for him to be confirmed in his holding.” – because his disability will work against him, Jayge? How ableist is the Council, then, hmm?
On the day before the planned start for the school, however, Robinton dies and AIVAS suicides, and so there is eventually a very large cluster of loudly weeping adults and keening fire-lizards. The narrative follows Readis as he essentially helps care for the adults during the night and in the next morning when he wakes up, by taking care of morning chores and feeding the smaller children. Eventually, the entire hold is bid to come out to Monaco Bay for the funeral and burial at sea.
Essentially, the entirely of Pern, humans, dragons, fire-lizards, and dolphins alike, turns out for the burial. Ruth stays behind in vigil even after everyone else leaves.
Three days after that, class begins. Readis is part of class twenty-one, named after the Turn, under the direction of Master Samvel, and the Transition Phase (so named later) begins. But Chapter IX ends.
Not a lot of content here that’s unique, because the funeral and material we’ve already covered takes up most of it. Chapter X starts with a time-skip, so we’re again going to be denied seeing the immediate aftermath of the death of Robinton and AIVAS, skipping what is likely a pivotal point in Pernese history. I wish that we spent more time in the interesting and important points in time and instead of glossing over them and spending more time with our heroes, whomever they may be.