Study Guide

Chains

Chains Summary

Chains opens with a funeral, which pretty much tells us up front that it's going to be a pretty bleak story. Isabel, our heroine, and her younger sister, Ruth, are attending the burial of their owner, Miss Mary Finch. The occasion presents a great deal of hope for Isabel and Ruth, as Miss Finch planned to free the girls in her will. When Isabel confronts Miss Finch's brother about this, though, he basically thinks she's making it up.

To make matters worse, her lawyer is stuck in Boston, where a major uprising has just taken place over the British colonies' desire for independence. As a result, Isabel's hopes turn to dust.

We'd like to say that somebody texts the lawyer and he makes an emergency trip to Rhode Island to sort stuff out, but unfortunately (a) that doesn't happen, and (b) it's 1776, so that's impossible anyway.

Instead, Miss Finch's brother sells Isabel and Ruth to Anne and Elihu Lockton, two rich British merchants from New York who are loyal to their country in the independence conflict. They're also not very nice people, especially Anne, who makes the girls call her "Madam" and is basically Mommie Dearest, Cruella DeVille, and the wicked stepmother from Cinderella all rolled into one. Ouch. Sounds like a winner.

As she goes about her duties, Isabel befriends Curzon, a slave who works for Mr. Bellingham, one of the chief law enforcement officials for the Patriots. He tells her that if she hears Lockton, Madam, or any of their Loyalist friends talk about sensitive information related to the conflict, sharing it could likely buy the freedom owed to her and Ruth. Isabel initially rejects his offer, saying that her job is to take care of her sister and she cannot put her sister in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, life at the Locktons' gets pretty difficult for the girls. Madam verbally abuses Isabel and makes Ruth into her personal servant. When Isabel comes into Madam's chamber one day to find Ruth crying, she realizes that they need to get away from the Locktons once and for all. She overhears Lockton and some of his Loyalist friends talking about money they have hidden away in a linen chest to bribe the rebel army with, and Isabel makes a daring, dangerous journey to Bellingham's in the middle of the night to pass the news onto Curzon.

The next day, Patriot officials come to search the Locktons' house. This initially overjoys Isabel, until she learns that Lockton hid the money somewhere else because he figured they'd be stopping by. Lockton is arrested under suspicion of treason, but the powerful influence of his aunt, Lady Seymour, allows him to be set free the next day.

Several days later, Isabel overhears Lockton and his friends plotting to kill General George Washington. She goes to Bellingham's associate, Colonel Regan with the news, and he promises to look into hers and Ruth's case in exchange for the valuable information. Lockton flees to England once he hears that the plot has been discovered.

Ruth is plagued by frequent seizures, which make Madam believe she's demon-possessed. As a result, she sells Ruth after giving Isabel a sedative in a milk beverage to keep her from fighting back. When Isabel learns the truth, she confronts Madam, who has her arrested and branded on her cheek with the letter I for insolence. With two failed attempts at seeking help from the Patriots and her sister now long gone, Isabel feels more hopeless than ever.

Curzon comes to see Isabel and tells her how sorry he is that things didn't work out. He explains that Bellingham has asked him to take his place and fight on the American side in the war. Isabel also hears rumors that the British intend to free any slaves who will run away and support them, so she decides to give this a try and heads to a British ship when Madam sends her to run errands. Unfortunately, no one will accept her help. She does, however, experience a welcome break when Lockton farms her out to help Lady Seymour, who is in poor health.

Things get worse when New York City literally catches on fire and the blaze destroys a giant chunk of the city. Isabel rescues Lady Seymour from her burning house, and the two of them develop a friendship after Isabel saves her life. They return to the Locktons' home, where much of Isabel's duties consist of caring for Lady Seymour, who becomes debilitated after the horror of the fire.

When the British capture Fort Washington, all the Patriot troops are thrown in the British prison not far from the pump where Isabel gets the Locktons' water. Isabel learns that Curzon is among them, and begins bringing leftover food to the prison. When she sees that the other soldiers are mistreating him because he is a slave, she makes a deal to deliver messages to their captain, who is out on parole in the city. Isabel thought her spy days were behind her, but she can't just let her friend die.

Isabel's double life as a slave and Patriot spy gets majorly disrupted when Madam learns of her activities. In her string of verbal abuse, Madam lets it slip that she actually still owns Ruth—because she couldn't find a buyer for her, Ruth was sent to the Lockton estate in Charleston. Isabel is understandably pretty upset about this, so Madam locks Isabel in a potato bin and threatens to have Ruth drowned as a punishment for helping the Patriots.

Knowing that Ruth is still in the Colonies gives Isabel the courage to bust out of the Locktons' house. She steals a pass from Lockton that declares that she is a free slave, gives herself a new name, and leaves.

She is about to steal a boat and row across the river to New Jersey when she remembers how kind Curzon has always been to her, and knowing that she can't leave him behind, she goes to the prison and pretends to be cleaning cells. She finds Curzon lying on the floor, delirious with fever, and tells the guard that he's dead. When he gives her permission for her to take him to the pile of bodies outside, she puts him in a wheelbarrow and takes off for the dock.

Curzon and Isabel get a boat and row like mad across the river before collapsing unconscious on the New Jersey banks. When she realizes she's gotten the two of them out of New York to safety, she asks Curzon if he's able to get up and walk… and the story continues in Forge, the next book in the series.

  • Part One / Chapter 1

    Monday, May 27, 1776

    • Our heroine, Isabel, and her younger sister, Ruth, are on their way to the funeral of a woman named Miss Mary Finch, along with a pastor, the wagon driver, and Mary's nephew and only living relative, Robert, who's kind of a jerk. He didn't waste any time getting to her Rhode Island home to care for her—and snatch up her money after she died.
    • Isabel leaves the funeral procession to visit the nearby grave of her mother, who died of smallpox a year before. Things get kind of Poltergeist-like when Isabel starts talking to the grave, saying that the day they've been waiting for has finally come and asking her ghost to make a brief appearance to give her instructions on where to go next. 
    • Miss Mary's funeral is about to begin, and Robert shouts at Isabel to join him in the cemetery for white folks. We learn that Isabel and Ruth are slaves, and Miss Mary was their owner.
  • Chapter 2

    Monday, May 27, 1776

    • The funeral ends, and Isabel is nervous and jittery. She approaches the pastor, asking him where she and Ruth are to stay while she looks for work—Miss Mary freed the girls in her will, which Isabel read herself after it was composed.
    • Unfortunately, this doesn't go over too well with Robert. Actually, it doesn't go over at all, because he doesn't believe her. He doesn't even believe that Isabel can read and threatens to beat her for lying, even though his aunt actually taught her how.
    • You're probably wondering why someone doesn't just bust out a copy of the will as proof to this matter. In fact, this is impossible—Miss Mary's lawyer is stuck in Boston because of a military blockade. Plus, Robert is just unwilling to investigate Isabel's claim, and declares that the girls now belong to him.
    • At least for now. Isabel's nervousness turns to fear when Robert announces that he plans on selling her and Ruth. The girls were sold once before when they were much younger, and it was really traumatic. Her father was sold to a different owner, and when he put up a fight over being separated from his wife and children, he was beaten until his blood ran in the dust. Isabel begins to prepare herself for the frightening unknown of her coming sale.
  • Chapter 3

    Monday, May 27, 1776

    • Apparently, slaves are so considered to be property that they are allowed no possessions of their own. Robert takes the girls back to Miss Mary's to gather their blankets and shoes, believing that having these items will help them fetch a better price. They must leave everything else behind, including Ruth's doll and items that belonged to their parents; Isabel, however, cheats on this rule and takes a pocketful of Momma's seeds from a jar
    • They travel to a tavern in Newport where Ruth and Isabel will be auctioned off. The owner's wife, Jenny, takes the sisters to the kitchen and gives them food. She tells them that she was a close friend of Momma's, and Isabel begs Jenny to buy her and Ruth, but Jenny says she cannot. 
    • Isabel and Ruth are sold on the front steps of the tavern to Elihu and Anne Lockton, a merchant and his wife from New York. 
    • At the last minute, Jenny surprises everyone by saying that she will buy the girls. Just to spite Jenny, Madam Lockton asks her husband if they can increase their offer for the girls, then asks if Jenny is able to offer more. 
    • Jenny goes back into the kitchen, and the Locktons take Isabel and Ruth aboard the ship to their new home.
  • Chapter 4

    Monday, May 27—Wednesday, May 29, 1776

    • The Locktons, Ruth, and Isabel travel from Newport to New York City by boat, but it's hardly a first-class cruise. Isabel finds herself secretly hoping for a shipwreck, preferably at a place that doesn't have slavery. She thinks about Momma and Poppa and how much they'd hurt if they knew what was happening to her and Ruth.
  • Chapter 5

    Wednesday, May 29, 1776

    • When the ship docks in New York, Madam Lockton throws a hissy fit over a giant walnut chest that the soldiers guarding the dock want to inspect. She says it has her underwear in it—back then, ladies' underwear was kind of a big deal. We've got this feeling that if Madam Lockton were alive today, she wouldn't do too well with random searches at airport security. 
    • While all this is going on, a friend, Charles, approaches Mr. Lockton and asks him why in the name of King George he's chosen to come back to New York. Apparently, Bellingham, a local official in charge of arresting traitors to the cause of independence, is looking for reasons to lock him up for his continued loyalty to the King.
    • As if on cue, Bellingham makes an appearance, accompanied by a young slave wearing a red hat. Bellingham engages the Locktons in a conversation that would sound totally ordinary, if not for the fact that they're on different sides of the Revolution. Elihu dispels rumors that he and his family have gone to London, claiming that he's on the side of Patriots, but Bellingham doesn't buy it.
    • The battle over Madam Lockton's walnut chest isn't over yet, though we're starting to think there might be more to this than her alleged dignity. What we do know is that there's something kind of comical about all this, and it's not lost on Ruth, who starts to giggle.
    • When Madam asks which one of the girls was laughing at her, Isabel quickly takes the blame, and Madam smacks her cheek harder than Isabel has ever been hit before in her life.
    • The Great Underwear Chest Debacle is resolved and it's decided that the Locktons can return home with it. They decide to send Isabel on ahead to get clean water. Bellingham's slave in the red hat—whose name is Curzon—agrees to accompany Isabel and give her the grand tour.
  • Chapter 6

    Wednesday, May 29, 1776

    • Curzon takes Isabel to the Tea Water Pump. It's where the rich people get their water because it's really tasty and clear. It's also so important that it gets capitalized. 
    • As he shows her around the city, Curzon has a lot of things to say about the current political situation. For starters, Lockton's a "dirty Loyalist" for opposing independence for the colonies. He tries to persuade Isabel to join the rebels along with him and his master and be a spy. If she does, he's certain that Colonel Regan, the Patriot officer Bellingham works with, would reward her by helping her and Ruth win their freedom.
    • Isabel tells him she doesn't understand how she's supposed to discover information if they won't talk around her. Curzon says that on the contrary, people like Lockton consider their slaves to be objects without ears and will say most anything in front of them, no matter how dangerous the information is.
  • Chapter 7

    Wednesday, May 29, 1776

    • Curzon escorts Isabel across the mile walk from the all-important capitalized Tea Water Pump to the Locktons' house. Once she arrives, she meets Becky Berry, the housekeeper, who's a hot mess over the Locktons' unexpected return. She explains Isabel's duties to her—going to the Tea Water Pump every day and helping Becky with shopping—and the rules of the house, which mainly consist of not going off by herself without a pass (kind of like a hall pass, except for going into the city) and not dawdling during work.
    • Becky gives Isabel the nickel tour of the house and they begin to dust Lockton's library. She explains to Isabel that whatever she does, she can't get her loyalties confused; because the Locktons support the King's side of the conflict, that makes their slaves Loyalists, too.
    • Evidently, this isn't entirely unprecedented, and people all over the city are constantly changing sides.
    • Lady Clarissa Seymour, Lockton's rich aunt, is dropping by later that day to hear the news of the Boston Uprising. Becky explains that while the Locktons don't like Lady Seymour much, she gets whatever she wants every time she visits because they stand to inherit a ton of her money when she dies.
  • Chapter 8

    Wednesday, May 29, 1776—Thursday, June 6, 1776

    • Isabel's got her hands full being the Locktons' new slave. Because Becky lives in a boarding house some distance away and primarily does the cooking, Isabel's responsibilities actually include doing pretty much everything not involving food. She tries to keep up, but Madam enjoys scolding her for even the smallest infraction. Talk about having a bad boss.
    • On this particular morning, Isabel can't find Ruth. Becky tells her that Madam has made Ruth her own private servant, dressing her in finery and forcing her to attend to her personal needs. Becky warns Isabel not to cross Madam concerning her sister, because she's known to be particularly harsh on disobedient slaves.
    • Because Ruth is with Madam all the time, she and Isabel never see each other anymore. Lying awake at night, Isabel begins to consider Curzon's offer to become a spy for the rebels…
  • Chapter 9

    Thursday, June 6, 1776

    • It's a big day in New York City, and General Washington and his army are parading down Broadway, complete with musicians jamming out on the fife and drum. While practically the entire city turns out for the event, things at Chez Lockton basically continue as normal. Madam and her husband are obviously uninterested in all things Washington, Ruth attends to Madam's needs, and Isabel is sitting on the back steps sharpening knives. 
    • Lost in dreams of earning freedom for herself and her sister, Isabel almost doesn't hear Becky calling her for help. Lady Seymour wants to see her and Lockton's brought his buddies over for some kind of Loyalist Boys' Night. 
    • Madam is in the parlor with Lady Seymour and Ruth, who is dressed in her fine clothes… and looks like she's been crying. Isabel's immediately concerned about this, but remembering Becky's advice, holds her tongue. Isabel introduces herself as "Isabel Finch," but Madam uses it as an occasion to abruptly change her name to "Sal Lockton." Okay then.
    • Madam next asks Becky to send Isa—oops, we mean Sal—to the library to wait on Lockton and his three friends. They're talking about the coming arrival of the British fleet and how badly it's needed to squash the rebel forces (Side note: Why is this starting to sound like Star Wars all of a sudden?). 
    • Lockton sends Isabel (yeah, we'll just keep calling her that) to the kitchen to get more food because they're eating like a bunch of Loyalist pigs. She returns with their requested bread and jam to find the door closed and hear Lockton saying something about having enough money to bribe the rebel army. 
    • She peeks through the crack and sees Madam's walnut chest open on the floor, her underwear thrown everywhere. Apparently no one cares about the dignity of ladies' underthings anymore, because the chest is actually packed with cash. Lockton states the plan: Any rebel willing to switch sides will be given a large sum of money plus two hundred acres of land, plus additional acres if he has a wife and children. 
    • Isabel delivers the bread and jam as requested. Her confusion about Curzon's offer is over. She knows what has to be done.
  • Chapter 10

    Thursday, June 6, 1776

    • At bedtime, Isabel puts her plan into action Mission Impossible style (cue the music). She sneaks up the cellar stairs, prepared to tell anyone who sees her that she's going to the privy (a.k.a. outdoor bathroom), though in reality, she's going to bring news of Lockton's bribery to Curzon.
    • Like a seasoned spy, Isabel dodges the soldiers of occupied New York City, darting quietly through the streets until she reaches Bellingham's home. Curzon meets her outside and she begins to tell him about what she saw in the library (and in Madam's underwear chest); Curzon agrees to take the news to his master the next morning. 
    • Curzon applauds her for doing the right and joining their cause. But is this really about politics for Isabel? Or is she just trying to save her sister before it's too late?
  • Chapter 11

    Friday, June 7, 1776

    • Good morning, sunshine. There's nothing like waking up late to Becky shaking you and asking why you're still asleep and warning you that if you don't get up like right now, you're gonna get a whoopin'. If you think that's bad, try also having a confrontation with Madam when you've been up for exactly two minutes. Welcome to Isabel's life.
    • But things aren't all bad. After her delivery of the news of the Loyalists' bribery to the rebels, Isabel's feeling a renewed sense of optimism. Sooner or later, Bellingham will bust into the house, arrest the Locktons, and whisk her and Ruth away to freedom. 
    • Finally, Isabel's wish comes true, and Bellingham arrives with a team of soldiers. Rather than get right down to the business of getting Isabel and Ruth out of that house, though, they do something kind of strange: They start prying the windows apart, saying that they need the lead in the counterweights to make bullets. 
    • It turns out that getting the window lead is just a cover story for what Isabel knows to be their real mission: finding Madam's linen chest.
    • Isabel approaches the bedchamber to find Madam sitting on it and refusing to move. Lockton, however, tells her there's nothing to be concerned about, and she moves. We soon discover why he's so chill about all this: The money's gone. He hid it in a false bottom in the drawer. D'oh.
    • Regardless, Bellingham still arrests Lockton out of suspicion for helping the British cause. He shoots Isabel a glance on his way out, as if accusing her of giving false information. She's not the only one under pressure, though, and the stress of the ordeal causes Madam to pass out.
  • Chapter 12

    Friday, June 7, 1776

    • After the craziness of Bellingham's search of the house, Becky sends Isabel to get Lady Seymour to assist Madam, who's basically falling apart. Once Isabel gets there, she's surprised to find that Lady Seymour is actually super nice—she even offers Isabel something to eat, which is more than Madam has ever done for her.
    • Isabel describes the scene over at the Locktons', and while Lady Seymour isn't exactly surprised, she seems pretty calm. She writes a note for Isabel to deliver to the lawyer's office and another to Madam, explaining that Lockton will soon be released. Apparently, Lady Seymour's got connections and is pretty powerful for someone Madam desperately wants dead. She offers Isabel more food and a glass of milk before she leaves.
  • Chapter 13

    Saturday, June 8—Friday, June 21, 1776

    • As promised, Lockton uses his Get Out of Jail Free Card and returns home to find Madam packing to flee to Charleston. They have a giant smack down of a fight that involves various household objects being flung across the bedroom. 
    • Lockton continues to have his Loyalist buddies visit over the next several days and asks Isabel to serve them drinks. As a result, she gathers a lot of information about the fallout from Lockton's arrest. She learns that one of Lockton's friends fled the city and is suspected of giving away their secret to Bellingham; Isabel is relieved to know that she is not under any suspicion. 
    • Disappointed that no one has freed her yet, Isabel tries to make the best of her and Ruth's situation. She tidies up the corner of the cellar where they sleep, makes Ruth a doll out of cornhusks to replace the one she had to leave behind in Rhode Island, and plants her mother's seeds.
  • Chapter 14

    Saturday, June 22, 1776

    • Lockton has Very Important Guests in the library, including the mayor of New York himself. He's given his wife specific instructions not to disturb them, but in Madam's eyes, it's rude to not offer refreshments to their celebrity visitor. Knowing Anne Lockton, this is probably code for wanting to meddle in their business and get a glimpse of the mayor.
    • Madam escorts Isabel, loaded down with a tray of wine and goodies, to the library. She tries to get a good look around, but her husband ultimately tells her to leave, allowing Isabel to stay and serve. 
    • One of Lockton's guests explains that their plan to bribe the Patriots hasn't gone over very well, as the land offered by the King is too far away from their current profitable farms. This isn't good news for their side, especially since the Continental Congress in Philadelphia is close to declaring independence. The only logical way to wipe out the cry for freedom is to cut New York off from the other colonies, causing the rebellion to die out. And there's only one way to do that: assassinate General George Washington (dun dun dun…).
    • Obviously, this is kind of a big decision for the Lockton Gang to make. With the colonies and Britain about to erupt into war, they could be executed, so as an insurance policy, Lockton orders that they write down the names of everyone who knows of the plot on a piece of paper, to guarantee that the others will come to his aid if the plot is uncovered. Isabel pretends to be unaware of the conversation, but secretly, she's taking notes and naming names.
    • At least until a deathly scream comes from the kitchen.
  • Chapter 15

    Saturday, June 22, 1776

    • Madam says that the devil is in the kitchen. Since this is highly unlikely and she's prone to overdramatizing things, we know it has to be something else.
    • Unfortunately, it is: Ruth is having a seizure on the floor and Madam thinks she's demon possessed. Madam responds by beating Ruth with a broom and screaming for the devil to leave. Ruth is defenseless and unaware of what's happening, which makes this latest act of abuse particularly sickening. 
    • Lockton comes in, his meeting evidently interrupted or over, and demands to know what's happening. He and his wife argue about whether or not Ruth should be sold on account of her alleged affiliation with the devil, but Lockton declares that she is necessary to their household and that the matter is closed.
  • Chapter 16

    Sunday, June 23, 1776

    • After the disaster with Ruth's seizure, Isabel finally realizes that there's no way out: She and her sister have to get out of New York, and the plot to kill Washington is powerful enough to help them do it. Isabel breaks into Lockton's library desk and steals the list of names, then sneaks out of the house. She makes her way to the Battery, the fort that serves as headquarters of the Patriots, dodging the authorities along the way. 
    • Once she gains an audience with Colonel Regan, she explains both the list of names and the situation she and Ruth find themselves in.
    • Regan promises to investigate, which is a long way from an actual plan or promise, but it gives Isabel hope anyway. 
    • Regan orders Isabel to put the list back in her master's desk and to go about her business as if nothing happened. He tells her that if she hears of anything else, she must come and report back to him, and gives her the secret password to get into the camp: ad astra, a Latin phrase that means to the stars.
  • Chapter 17

    Sunday, June 23—Friday, June 28, 1776

    • With her espionage career in full swing, Isabel spends the next two days anxiously waiting to hear from Colonel Regan. She's tormented by Madam's hatred of Ruth and constant threats to sell her, but holds onto the hope that the plot to kill Washington will be uncovered before that happens. Sure enough, one of Lockton's co-conspirators shows up at his house with news that their secret is out. 
    • Lockton tells Madam that he'll be fleeing New York to avoid arrest. Not surprisingly, this erupts into another fight, during which he shoves his wife into the bookcase and beats her. Shortly after, a carpenter nails Lockton into a crate for hauling cheese and loads it onto a cart.
    • At dawn, soldiers arrive to arrest Lockton. Obviously, their search of the house turns up nothing, because Lockton ran away in a cheese crate. When they leave, Becky orders Isabel to clean up the mess they left behind and goes to the market.
    • Back at the house, Becky gives a distressed Madam the gossip from the market. The Patriots have basically started arresting conspirators against the cause of independence like cops pulling people over for speeding when they have a monthly quota to meet. Word on the street is that an Irishman named Hickey, one of the conspirators who also served Washington in the military, let the plot against Washington slip, which is kind of a dumb move since he's the one who was supposed to kill him. By all accounts, Lockton was able to escape and is safe.
  • Chapter 18

    Friday, June 28, 1776

    • Hear ye, hear ye! All are welcome to attend the public hanging of one Thomas Hickey, the near-assassin of General George Washington.
    • That includes ye readers of this book, because Isabel, our narrator, is going.
    • Actually, Isabel doesn't really want to see a guy die in public. She really is just hoping to connect with Colonel Regan so that he can live up to his end of the bargain and get her and Ruth the heck out of Dodge; unfortunately, though, he's nowhere to be spotted in the enormous crowd. Curzon comes over and says hello and even lifts Ruth up onto his shoulders so she can see the scaffold better.
    • Hickey's sentence is pronounced and he's hanged for treason against the colonies. Isabel covers Ruth's eyes and closes hers so neither can watch.
  • Chapter 19

    Sunday, June 30—Monday, July 1, 1776

    • Isabel and Ruth are at church with the Locktons and Lady Seymour, seated in the upstairs gallery for the slaves, when a boy interrupts the service to announce that the British have invaded the harbor. Basically, all hell breaks loose: Loyalists like the Locktons hope that the invasion will be their deliverance, while the rebels are furious at their arrival and starting to riot all over the place.
    • Then, in the middle of all this madness, Ruth has another seizure. Frozen in one spot, a blank expression comes over her face as her teeth chatter. Madam is suspicious about what's happening, but Isabel gets away with telling her Ruth is just tired. Isabel believes it's time to touch base with Bellingham or the Colonel to demand that they live up to their ends of the bargain she made with them.
  • Chapter 20

    Tuesday, July 2—Tuesday, July 9, 1776

    • Now that the British have invaded, things are kind of out of control. Madam is super moody and irritable and there's still no word from Bellingham or Regan; even Curzon is nowhere to be seen, which makes Isabel kind of nervous.
    • Ten days later, news breaks that the Continental Congress has declared independence from Great Britain. Huzzah. There's some serious partying, cheering, and celebrating in New York and we're pretty sure there's also a lot of guys in three-cornered hats dancing and singing about it. This is Broadway, after all.
    • The celebrations only increase when a mob pulls down the city's statue of King George and then chops it up with an axe. The mob decides to melt the lead down and make bullets to fire at the British.
    • When Isabel comes home from watching all of this, Becky tells her something quite odd: Madam wants both of the girls to be fed sweet, nourishing food and that Isabel is to get the night off. She even baked them gingerbread and made a sweet milk beverage filled with spices. Isabel wonders if Madam's received a massive head injury, but welcomes the break from her usual moodiness. Meanwhile, we think there's trouble afoot—after all, Madam isn't given to random acts of kindness. 
    • Isabel wants to use her night off to read a book in the library, but finds that she can't keep her eyes open. She quickly falls asleep, and tells us that she can't ever forgive herself for doing so. Uh oh… This pretty much seals the deal that Madam really was up to something.
  • Chapter 21

    Wednesday, July 10, 1776

    • When Isabel wakes up, she realizes to her horror that she's slept late—and Ruth is nowhere to be found. When she confronts Becky about Ruth's whereabouts, Becky dances around the question until Isabel finally demands an answer. It is as she fears: Madam sold Ruth the night before and has sent her to the West Indies. Becky's theory is that the milk had a sedative mixed in with it to knock Isabel out and keep her from interfering. Ugh.
    • Isabel confronts Madam about the news. In her anger, Madam grabs a painting off the wall and smashes it over Isabel's head, so Isabel runs out of the house and into the street, not caring about how badly it looks to be a slave running down the street as Madam Lockton chases you. 
    • In her mind, there's only one clear solution to all this: Go to Colonel Regan and demand that he make good on his promise. She goes to his headquarters and shouts the ad astra code until someone lets her in and takes her to the Colonel. Before she even gets a chance to open her mouth, though, Madam barges in and demands to know what's going on.
    • Madam berates Isabel to Regan for her disobedience, while Isabel begs him to help her. Regan's sentries, though, pressure him against keeping his promise. He tells Isabel that his hands are tied—by law, he can't interfere with Madam's property (that's Isabel, in case you forgot).
    • In one last attempt at freedom, Isabel runs for an open window and almost makes it out before being pulled back in.
  • Chapter 22

    Wednesday, July 10—Monday, July 15, 1776

    • From this point on, Isabel has little to no idea what's happening to her. Outside, they tie her to a wagon and a horse drags her down the street while people nearby laugh and point at her. They beat her in the head, knock out a few of her teeth, and give her black eyes.
    • Before she knows it, she's in the dungeon under City Hall with an insane lady, dozens of panicked prisoners, and giant rats. She stays there for two days.
    • The next thing she knows, she's on trial for the incident between her and Madam. Madam's wish is that Isabel be given a permanent reminder of her disobedience by being branded with the letter I for insolence on her cheek. The court abides by this desire and sentences her.
  • Chapter 23

    Monday, July 15, 1776

    • Isabel is imprisoned in the stocks as a man next to her begins to heat the irons for her branding over a fire. A crowd gathers to watch her punishment, just as they gathered to watch the hanging; Isabel sheds tears of embarrassment and fear.
    • To distract herself, she thinks of her old life in Rhode Island with Momma and Ruth. None of these thoughts, though, can take away the jeering crowd and the sizzling of the irons on her cheek. When it's over, she imagines Momma and Poppa's ghosts coming to comfort her and shower her burned face with tears.
  • Chapter 24

    Monday, July 15—Sunday, July 21, 1776

    • After the horror of the branding, Isabel wakes up in a comfortable bed in a nice, small room with lace curtains. She's disoriented by her ordeal and unable to piece together what happened. Lady Seymour comes in and gives her water to drink; apparently she is at Lady Seymour's house, where she has spent the last six days unconscious.
    • Lady Seymour puts together the jumbled pieces of the last several days. She adds that after her punishment, the authorities left Isabel in the stocks, where she would have died if Curzon hadn't run to Lady Seymour and told her that Isabel was in trouble.
    • Worst of all, though, Lady Seymour has been unable to find out where Ruth is. Madam refuses to give out this information and insists that Isabel return to the Lockton home to resume her service once she wakes up. Which pretty much means right now.
  • Part Two / Chapter 25

    Sunday, July 21—Tuesday, August 20, 1776

    • If you think Isabel and Madam had a chilly relationship before Madam sold Ruth, you ain't seen nothing yet—when Lady Seymour brings Isabel back to the Lockton house, Madam won't even speak at her, let alone make eye contact. 
    • You know who does want to talk to Isabel, though? Curzon. He spends a lot of time hanging around outside the Lockton home trying to get her attention. Still sore about how Colonel Regan and Bellingham broke their promises to her, though, she continues to ignore him. 
    • Becky finally tells Isabel that she has to talk to Curzon and tell him to stop stalking her; if she doesn't, Madam will probably have him arrested. Not wanting to have that on her conscience after everything else, Isabel finally approaches him. 
    • Curzon tells Isabel how sorry he is about everything that's happened, but tries to persuade her that the cause of freedom is still worth fighting for. Isabel, however, is about fed up with the rebels and their alleged liberty cry—the Patriots want freedom, but refuse to see their slaves as humans deserving of freedom, too. She tells Curzon to take a hike and that she never wants to see him again.
  • Chapter 26

    Wednesday, August 21—Sunday, August 25, 1776

    • Isabel goes to the Tea Water Pump to get fresh water and encounters a dozen or so slaves arguing about the war. Apparently, the British Lord Dunmore of Virginia has offered freedom to any slave who will fight for the British army. 
    • Some say this is an offer worth considering, but others say it's a political maneuver to ruin the Virginia plantations—no slaves plus no harvest equals a major blow to one of the most profitable rebel colonies. They argue that the British don't care anymore about the slaves than their masters do. Still, many of the slaves gathered there believe that the British will free them if they win the war.
    • In the midst of the British rumors, Curzon steps forward and declares that he is now an American soldier—Bellingham has agreed to free him if Curzon fights in his place. The other slaves tell him that Bellingham is lying; if Curzon doesn't die, he'll be right back under Bellingham's thumb the minute the war ends.
    • Grandfather, the old man who works the Tea Water Pump, calms everyone and tells them that the war is not the slaves' fight; rather than argue about choosing the British or American side, then, they must focus on finding their own way through the conflict and surviving their own fight for freedom. He tells Isabel in particular that the scar on her face isn't a sign of shame—it means she has strength and the ability to live through her difficulties. 
    • As everyone disperses, Curzon picks up Isabel's water buckets and carries them back to the Locktons' house for her. Right now, it seems like Isabel's resistance to him is one of his own difficulties—and he's not giving up on her that easily.
  • Chapter 27

    Monday, August 26—Saturday, September 14, 1776

    • The British beat the tar out of the Americans at a battle in Brooklyn. As Madam cheers the victory, Isabel finds herself even more confused about the war. Her biggest concern is which side would most willingly help her find Ruth—if either side really would help her at all. 
    • Becky returns from the market full of gross stories about the horrors she saw at the soldiers' campgrounds (think: blood, guts, missing limbs, and wounds filled with maggots). She also talks about this stuff while Isabel's trying to eat breakfast so, you know, thanks a lot, Becky. Nobody's hungry now. 
    • In light of these sordid details, Isabel continues to watch for Curzon on her trips to the Tea Water Pump and market, concerned that he's been injured, maimed, or worse. She finally sees him alive and well at the Rebel campgrounds. Whew—it's a relief to know he's still all in one piece.
  • Chapter 28

    Sunday, September 15, 1776

    • Newsflash: New York has been invaded. The first strike took place while Isabel and the Locktons were at church, causing a panic as the congregation fled the building. Outside, total chaos ensues, with soldiers, horses, and freaked out citizens running everywhere. 
    • Since Becky is off that day, Isabel prepares Madam's afternoon meal and serves it. In return, Madam presents her with a totally insane request for the rest of the day: Isabel is to go to the market in the middle of this madness and buy the items on a list she's prepared. 
    • Um, what did she just say? There're cannons and weapons and a war happening outside and she wants Isabel to go shopping? Yep. We heard her right. 
    • In spite of the danger she faces, Isabel still feels a surge of hope that the rumors that the British will free the slaves are true. She decides that she will join their side and run away. 
    • The conditions outside are about as bad as Isabel expected. The chaos has only worsened, and she's forced to take refuge in an abandoned building, until finally, the madness outside passes and she crawls out the window.
  • Chapter 29

    Sunday, September 15, 1776

    • Already, Isabel is second guessing herself, thinking that maybe she should go back to the Patriot side, or even return to the Locktons, as bad as that would be. Nevertheless, she decides she's made the right choice. As she makes her way to the waterfront, she passes the rebel camp and sees that their tents are deserted. Everything they own—including blankets and food—is abandoned. On a night as cold as this, these abandoned provisions can't mean anything good.
    • British boats begin to arrive at the waterfront and soldiers jump out, heading in search of rebel soldiers. 
    • Isabel approaches one of the British captains and attempts to persuade him to employ her as a cook or washwoman. He ignores her, but perks up a little when she offers information about the abandoned camp and the location of General Washington's headquarters. He tells her that Isabel is correct in saying she's useful—but then quickly loses interest when she says that she belongs to a Loyalist household.
    • The army's policy is to only hire slaves from rebels. 
    • Just when things can't get any worse, they do. A crowd of British men begins to exit the boat and Isabel is confronted with a familiar face… Mr. Lockton. Lockton asks about the mark on her face and is actually enough of a creep to mock her for it. 
    • So much for getting support from the British. Isabel finally goes and buys the items on Madam's list, then returns to the Locktons' house.
    • Once again, she has no idea what side she's on.
  • Chapter 30

    Monday, September 16, 1776—Saturday, September 21, 1776

    • The next day, there's a huge Loyalist pep rally on Broadway as the British army parades up the street. Isabel hears the details from Madam that evening as she and Lockton have dinner with two Loyalist officers who are staying with them. This is a common practice now that the invasion of New York has happened—Loyalist officers are being boarded by supporting families across the city. To make matters worse, Becky's up and headed for the hills, making Isabel the only servant left in the house.
    • The Locktons aren't the only ones struggling. Lady Seymour sends a message to Lockton asking to borrow Isabel for awhile, as her house is packed with Hessians, German soldiers aiding the British in the fight. Madam refuses to let Isabel to go, though, because doing so would mean she'd have to actually do housework like a normal person, and we can't have that, can we?
    • Lockton, however, isn't willing to let the issue go. He says that they owe Isabel's service to Lady Seymour, presumably because of the giant chunk of cash he hopes to get when she dies. While Madam tries to override his authority, Lockton demands that Isabel leave immediately to go to Lady Seymour's service.
    • You'd think that getting away from Chez Lockton would be a welcome vacation for Isabel, but you'd be wrong. The Hessians are way worse than the British; they eat bloody meat, are messy, and have no table manners, or any manners at all, really. As a result, the work is much harder. Lady Seymour, though, makes sure that Isabel has a proper bed to sleep in and three meals a day.
    • The Hessians finally decide to take their party elsewhere and the house is quiet for the first time since Isabel's arrival. She serves Lady Seymour her evening meal, then goes to sleep in her bedroom with Ruth's doll that she's continued to hang onto. 
    • When she wakes up, the entire city is on fire.
  • Chapter 31

    Saturday, September 21—Sunday, September 22, 1776

    • Outside, the fire burns with such intensity that Isabel thinks it looks like daylight. From the window, she sees that Lady Seymour's house, as well as every house visible to her eyes, is engulfed in flames. Isabel panics, grabs Ruth's doll, and runs to Lady Seymour's room to wake her. 
    • Apparently, though, Lady Seymour doesn't understand the urgency with which fire burns, so rather than let Isabel help her downstairs, she starts rifling through an old trunk for her possessions. She finally hands Isabel a portrait of a man with blonde hair and a stack of old letters and allows Isabel to help her out of the room.
    • On their way downstairs, the ceiling gives in from the fire and Lady Seymour is knocked unconscious. Isabel drags her out of the house and a safe distance from the fire, and then they make their way to the Lockton house. Isabel has saved Lady Seymour's picture and letters, but Ruth's doll is lost in the blaze.
  • Chapter 32

    Sunday, September 22—Thursday, September 26, 1776

    • The New York fire is a disaster of catastrophic proportions: Five hundred homes are destroyed, thousands of people are left homeless, and the death toll is so high that the stench of charred flesh literally fills the air and makes everyone sick. First the war, and now this—these people can't catch a break.
    • Isabel and Lady Seymour are among the survivors, though Isabel can't stop coughing up soot and Lady Seymour appears to have had a stroke brought on by the flames. Lockton insists that she come to stay with him and his wife as she recovers. You can imagine how Madam feels about this.
    • The Locktons have more guests than just Lady Seymour, though, and because the abandoned rebel homes many British soldiers were occupying have now been destroyed, their commanding officers order anyone with a functional home to take homeless soldiers in. So eleven soldiers and their wives now live with the Locktons. 
    • While the house is crowded, having other women around takes the pressure off Isabel to do all the work. Sarah, a soldier's wife who is expecting a baby, takes over the kitchen and assumes the role Becky once held before she fled. As a result of all this, Isabel's life is disrupted even more than it was before the fire.
  • Chapter 33

    Friday, September 27—Saturday, November 16, 1776

    • Winter is rapidly approaching, and as if mud from the rain and blood from the war weren't enough, New York is now covered in layers of ash from the fire, which turns everything from the ice on the ground to the tops of buildings an ugly gray color. Isabel feels gray inside and out, filled with depression and sadness. She considers joining Curzon and becoming a rebel again, but quickly silences the voice in her head. To her disappointment, Isabel discovers that the plants from the seeds she planted that belonged to her mother are dead from neglect.
    • Lady Seymour is getting better, and she surprises Isabel by having the seamstresses she hires to sew her a new wardrobe make Isabel a new cloak and long skirt for winter as well. 
    • One morning, Isabel goes to the Tea Water Pump to find a crowd of people in chaos. The British have captured the rebel forces at Fort Washington, and rows of American soldiers taken prisoner are being marched to the prison near the pump. Isabel catches a glimpse of Curzon, whose red hat is now faded to brown, and watches the prison guards lock the American soldiers in.
  • Chapter 34

    Sunday, November 17—Sunday, November 24, 1776

    • Seeing your best friend get locked up has to be a pretty terrifying experience, but Isabel has no time to worry about Curzon since Madam wants to throw a huge party to celebrate the taking of Fort Washington, which is obviously way more important. Isabel, Sarah, and the rest of the soldiers' wives are put on constant duty to prepare the house and the meal. Meanwhile, Madam basks in her bedchamber, putting sweet-smelling water on herself and doing her hair and makeup.
    • The dinner guests include several prominent British officers who spend the meal gloating about the victory at Fort Washington. While they took over three thousand prisoners and this should be a huge triumph, instead they wish that they could just kill them. The prison isn't nearly big enough to hold them all, and they've decided to leave nature to its own devices—eventually, starvation, the cold, or a plague will kill them off. Lady Seymour questions whether the rebels might retaliate against the poor treatment of their troops, but the officers ignore her.
    • As Isabel and the servant women clean up after the dinner, Isabel is plagued by thoughts of what could happen to Curzon. She begins to think of a plan, and the more she considers it, the more she knows what she has to do.
  • Chapter 35

    Monday, December 2, 1776

    • Three days later, Madam and Lady Seymour are invited to visit a friend for the day, and Isabel gets the chance to put her plan into action. She sneaks away to the prison, taking a bucket of leftovers from dinner with her. As she walks there, she debates with herself about whether or not to do this—the punishment she'd get from Madam would be way worse than being thrown in jail and branded. Still, Curzon is her friend. He's always been there for her, and she owes him one.
    • A huge guard towers over her at the prison entrance. Isabel says that her older brother is in prison and she's brought food for the prisoners. He lets her in, but insists that he take her bucket in order to "inspect" the contents. Translation: he wants to stuff his face.
    • Isabel immediately finds Curzon. He's alive, but freezing, and can't stop shaking; he describes the horrors of the battles and begins to cry.
    • The guard returns the bucket with half the food gone. One of the soldiers, Private Dibdin, attempts to take it away from Curzon, arguing that it's not fair for a slave to get to eat while everyone else starves to death. His sergeant instructs the men to pass the bucket around the room so everyone gets a fair share of the food. 
    • Then the sergeant springs a pretty big favor on Isabel: He wants her to deliver messages between the prison and their captain. Uh oh…
    • Here we go again. As you might expect, Isabel tells him this isn't happening. She does tell Curzon, however, that she will be back to visit him.
  • Chapter 36

    Tuesday, December 3—Friday, December 13, 1776

    • Lady Seymour gets sick again, and Madam attempts to persuade the doctor to send her to Charleston to recover. The doctor says that the journey would kill her, though, which is, you know, precisely what Madam has in mind. Lockton decides that Isabel will take care of her until she's well.
    • While conditions in the prison have improved by the time Isabel makes it there several days later, she's still shaken by the sight of frozen bodies piled up in the halls. She continues to visit Curzon, although he's not in the mood to talk. 
    • The next day, Lady Seymour calls Isabel in and makes her a list of things to get at the market. Isabel tries to persuade her to eat a biscuit, telling her that she needs strength from food as she heals. Lady Seymour says that she thought Isabel liked her eating less—after all, it means more food for her to take to the prison. 
    • Isabel is stunned that Lady Seymour knows her secret, but Lady Seymour tells her that she thinks what Isabel is doing is honorable. She should, though, be careful, as Madam would definitely not agree. 
    • One of Isabel's errands is to visit the bookstore. The bookstore owner gives her a copy of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, saying that the book is so controversial that he should really burn his remaining copies rather than give them away. Still, the message is essential for anyone who desires liberty, which most definitely describes Isabel.
  • Chapter 37

    Saturday, December 14—Monday, December 23, 1776

    • Lady Seymour is feeling much better by the end of the day, much to Madam's dismay. With her aunt restored to health, Madam orders Isabel to get busy with preparations for Christmas, especially the baking frenzy that accompanies the holiday. 
    • When Isabel arrives at the prison the next morning, the guard tells her that the rules have changed and she can't come inside.
    • Furthermore, any provisions she brings will be inspected and she'll be arrested if any of it is considered contraband. Isabel walks around the building and figures out where Curzon's cell is. 
    • Dibdin comes to the window and Isabel asks him to bring Curzon. When he appears in the window, she barely recognizes him—he's pale, shaking with fever, and covered in vomit stains. She demands that Dibdin tell her what's been going on and figures out that he and the soldiers have been eating Curzon's rations and taking his blankets; he's a slave, after all, and can't be treated the same (as far as they're concerned, anyway). 
    • Dibdin says that he'll start feeding Curzon again, but only for a price. Isabel must go to Captain Morse, who is on parole, and tell him that the soldiers have the pox so that he can get them medical attention. In spite of her sworn vow not to spy anymore, Isabel promises to do it.
    • Isabel goes to the tavern where Captain Morse is staying and delivers the message. She agrees to return every morning to deliver messages between Morse and the prisoners, even though she's terrified of the consequences. If she doesn't do it, though, Curzon will likely die.
    • That night, Isabel tries to read Common Sense, but the first sentence repeatedly confuses her. She reads it four times before understanding what Paine is trying to say, then attempts to tackle the next sentence.
  • Chapter 38

    Tuesday, December 24—Wednesday, December 25, 1776

    • We wish you a merry Christmas… or in Isabel's case, a merry decorating the house with holly and mistletoe as per Madam's orders.
    • Even though Christmas is supposed to be Isabel's day off, Madam continues to push her around and delay the beginning of her free time.
    • When it's finally time for her to enjoy the day, Madam pulls her aside and demands that she stop hanging around the prison and disgracing the family. 
    • Isabel spends her Christmas evening free walking all over New York, thinking about this threat. It occurs to her that the only way Madam can hurt her is with her consent—even if she beats Isabel, even if Isabel doesn't survive it. 
    • When she returns home, she thinks of Momma's Christmas tradition of making bread pudding. Rather than mourn her family's absence, she chooses to honor Momma by celebrating anyway. She makes bread pudding and takes it to Canvastown, where she gives it to a British family living in one of the tents.
  • Chapter 39

    Thursday, December 26—Tuesday, December 31, 1776

    • A couple days after Christmas, Sarah asks Isabel to go to the market with her because, due to the holiday season, there's no food left in the house. Isabel is still super confused about what to do regarding her associations with Captain Morse. On one hand, she has responsibilities to the American soldiers, but on the other, Madam pretty much promised to make her life even more of a living hell than it already is. 
    • You know what would make this already confusing situation even worse? Running into Captain Morse himself at the market. Morse begs her to take a message to his men in the prison and Isabel begs him to go away; finally, though, Isabel gives in and agrees to come to the tavern that afternoon to get the message.
    • Later, Isabel finally gets her chance to go for water—a.k.a. visit the tavern. Captain Morse gives her a loaf of bread with a note baked inside of it and asks her to take it to Private Dibdin. The note contains the super fantastic news that Washington's army has beaten the British at Trenton. You go, General Washington. 
    • Isabel takes the bread to the prison, gives it to Dibdin, and takes off as quickly as she can; not long after, cries of celebration break out from the prison and the news begins to spread.
  • Chapter 40

    Wednesday, January 1—Tuesday, January 7, 1777

    • Happy New Year. We've got more reason to celebrate: The Americans have won another battle, this time in Princeton, New Jersey. Not coincidentally, the British start treating their prisoners better.
    • Not everyone's celebrating, though. Lockton has bumped up a planned trip to England so that he can take the news of the rebel victories to Parliament. On the day Lockton leaves, Isabel goes to the prison early and brings more food. 
    • A couple big events happen at the Locktons' in the next few days, including the master's departure for London and the birth of Sarah's baby. She names him George… as in King George… or George Washington. Whatever. No matter who wins the war, she's good to go. 
    • Lady Seymour is sick again, and Isabel resumes her job of spending time with her as she recovers. During one of her visits, Lady Seymour asks her to sit down and says she has something serious to discuss with her. She asks for Isabel's forgiveness because at one point, Lady Seymour wanted to buy her. Isabel gives the forgiveness Lady Seymour wants, but feels even more torn inside about not being free as a result.
    • That night, Isabel reads more of Common Sense. She begins to understand Paine's argument more and see the reasons why the colonists are justified in seeking independence: that people with wealth and influence were never meant to rule over those who lack it. The message begins to give her hope.
  • Chapter 41

    Tuesday, January 7—Wednesday, January 15, 1777

    • Things may have taken a turn for the worst for the British, but Madam still finds plenty of cause to celebrate, so there will be a ball in honor of Queen Charlotte's birthday. Madam demands that a seamstress make her a new gown for the occasion, because she can't wear something people have already seen her in. 
    • Lady Seymour has a seizure after dinner. It's so bad that the next morning, she can't talk or move her legs. It's virtually impossible for her to take care of herself, so the duty falls to Isabel. She overhears Madam ask the doctor point blank when Lady Seymour will die, but he can't answer that. 
    • There's a lot at stake here besides money, since if Lady Seymour dies before the ball, Madam will have to be in mourning and won't be able to wear her new gown. Heaven forbid.
    • The next morning dawns with a beautiful sight behind the Lockton house: The sheets hanging out to dry are covered with frost and frozen solid, creating an astonishing winter wonderland. Thoughts of how much Ruth would love the icy sheets break through Isabel's mind and she forces them away, warring with herself to let these thoughts go. 
    • Isabel has never been this angry and angst-ridden about being a slave. She blames Lady Seymour for telling her that she wanted to buy her and rescue her from Madam Lockton's Chamber of Horrors, and she also blames the message from Common Sense, which is becoming clearer and clearer. She imagines ways that she might buy her freedom, until reality sets in and she realizes Madam would never allow it. She smashes one of the icy sheets, sending sparkling bits of snow everywhere.
  • Chapter 42

    Thursday, January 16—Saturday January 18, 1777

    • To say that Lady Seymour isn't doing well is an understatement. Her body has completely lost the ability to move. Isabel thinks of how Lady Seymour is a prisoner in her own body, just as she is enslaved to the Locktons and Curzon is locked in the British prison.
    • Meanwhile, plans for the ball are in full swing, from Madam's gown and makeup to preparation for dancing, fireworks, and an enormous banquet.
    • Isabel finally finishes reading Common Sense and sees why it's so dangerous. She feels empowered by its message that all people are created equal and do not deserve to be ruled over—or owned. If America could break away and make its freedom, she should be able to do it, too. The thought was unimaginable before she read the book, but she's beginning to believe it.
    • One morning, Isabel goes to Captain Morse, who asks her to take a penny to another American captain, Farrar. The two made a bet that the British would not hold the birthday celebration out of fear of an American attack, and Morse obviously lost. Isabel takes the penny to Captain Farrar, who asks her to deliver a message from headquarters to Captain Morse. It's extremely important and she's to be quick about it. 
    • Before delivering the message, though, she has to stop back at the Locktons and make an appearance since she's been gone for a while.
    • She returns to find Madam standing in the doorway holding a riding crop, furious at Isabel. It seems Isabel's secret is out. Gulp.
  • Chapter 43

    Saturday, January 18, 1777

    • It happened like this: One of Madam's friends told her that she saw Isabel talking to a rebel officer. It also doesn't help that her friend happens to be the biggest gossip in New York City. Her friend saw Isabel take a note from him and it certain it was she because of that blasted mark on her face.
    • Madam demands that Isabel give her the note. In an act of defiance, Isabel throws it into the fire, causing Madam to completely lose it and threaten to sell her… along with Ruth.
    • Wait a second. Didn't she already sell Ruth? Isabel is wondering the same thing. It turns out that Madam actually still owns her—she couldn't find anyone to buy Ruth, so she sent her to the Lockton estate in Charleston. Madam threatens to tell the estate manager to drown her as a punishment for Isabel's dishonor. 
    • Madam orders that Isabel be locked in the potato bin until after Queen Charlotte's birthday bash. Isabel feels desperate, but also hopeful since Ruth is alive in a town she could easily travel to. She just has to find a way out. Isabel busts out of her potato prison by kicking away some rotten boards. She has a plan and is determined to put it into action.
    • Free from the basement, Isabel goes to Lockton's office, where she takes a map of the colonies and fills out a pass signifying that she is a freed slave. When it comes time to write her name, though, she pauses. She thinks of gardening with Ruth in Rhode Island, and chooses to call herself Isabel Gardener.
  • Chapter 44

    Saturday, January 18, 1777

    • Isabel must act quickly. She puts on all the clothes she owns and puts her remaining seeds from Momma and her copy of Common Sense in her pocket. 
    • She stops off at Lady Seymour's room to throw some logs on the fire. Afterward, she notices Lady Seymour's coin purse, and decides to steal some money from her. Just as she opens it, though, Lady Seymour wakes up. Oops.
    • Lady Seymour, though, tells her with her eyes and a curve of her mouth that Isabel can keep the money. Her gaze indicates the picture of her husband, and Isabel knows that it's repayment for the kindness she showed her in rescuing Lady Seymour and her husband's picture from the fire. She then forces herself to speak, telling Isabel to run.
    • Isabel plans to steal a boat and cross the river to New Jersey, then walk to Charleston to find Ruth. Something stops her from making a break for it, though: Curzon. He's been her only friend during this hard time without Ruth, and she can't just let him freeze to death in the prison.
    • Upon her return to the prison, Isabel tells Fisher that she's been sent to clean the cells. She finds that a fever is running rampant in the prison and that numerous prisoners, including Dibdin, are dead. 
    • Isabel finally finds Curzon lying dazed and sick on the floor. She tells Fisher that she's found another dead body and asks if she can carry him to the pile of bodies outside. Outside, she loads Curzon into a wheelbarrow and tells him to play dead and be quiet. Then, she makes a run for it.
  • Chapter 45

    Saturday, January 18—Sunday, January 19, 1777

    • Isabel runs the ten blocks from the prison to the wharf, still pushing Curzon, who is pretending to be dead. This can't be an easy job, but she's on fire and freedom is in sight. There are British soldiers up ahead and she isn't sure how she'll get past them. Then the sky lights up with fireworks in honor of the queen, though, and everyone is distracted. Isabel praises the perfect timing and claims their boat.
    • She rows the river like a mad woman, until her whole body aches. At some point, she reaches the shore and passes out; when she wakes up, she's coated with frost and sore, but knows she's in New Jersey and is free. 
    • There's more good news: Curzon is still alive. When he asks where they are, Isabel says she thinks they've just crossed over Jordan, the river of trouble Grandfather spoke of long ago. She asks if he's strong enough to walk.
    • And that's how it ends. If you're wondering what the heck's up with this and feeling a little frustrated right now, don't despair—Isabel and Curzon's story continues in Forge, the sequel to Chains. Time to head to your local library or bookstore.