Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 524
Isabel comes home from an errand one afternoon to find Becky and Ruth at work in the kitchen. Madam enters, looking sweaty and disheveled, and tells Isabel to serve her husband in his library. Tentatively, Becky points out that Master Lockton asked not to be disturbed. Madam brushes off this objection, saying that her husband dare not entertain the mayor without offering the man food or wine.
Madam loads a silver tea tray and makes Isabel carry it up to the library. Shouting through the door, Madam says that the mayor should have some refreshment. Master Lockton hesitates but eventually unlocks the door and asks Isabel to bring the food inside. Madam tries to enter, too, but Master Lockton stops her. Isabel carries the tray into the room and sets it down before the men. Then she takes her place against the wall to listen to a conversation between Master Lockton, the mayor, and another man.
The men have a map of the coastline laid out on the table, and they are all grumbling about the rebels and the war. In her corner, Isabel privately wishes that she could pull down Robinson Crusoe and read. She has frequently listened to Master Lockton and his friends complain about Congress and the rebels for hours on end, and she is sick of it.
But today’s conversation is different. The mayor tells Master Lockton that people are refusing to be bribed into supporting the King. The rebellion has grown too strong. Now the Tories must take action to weaken the rebellion. Listening in, Isabel immediately realizes that the mayor may say something incriminating. She holds perfectly still, willing the men not to notice that she is still there.
The mayor explains that a plan is in place to assassinate the rebel leader, General George Washington. Master Lockton balks at this, saying that killing is too strong an action. The mayor dismisses this objection. After all, the English Parliament will certainly issue an assassination order in hindsight if they learn that the traitor Washington is dead. The loyalists have a trusted spy among the rebels, in position to kill the general if he receives the order. In the meantime, money is all that is needed to make the plan a reality.
After some deliberation, Master Lockton agrees to provide this money. However, he demands that the mayor write down the names of everyone who knows about the plan. Lockton explains that a list of names could provide insurance in case he is captured. “It will motivate you and our friends to do everything possible to secure my release,” he says.
The mayor agrees to this condition. As he writes down the names, Isabel pretends that she is dozing. The three men look over the list, commenting that several respectable people are represented. When the men call for a toast, Isabel does not react. Master Lockton snaps at her to pour them some wine, and she gives a jerk as if she is just waking up. The wine bottle is empty, so he sends her to get more. On her way downstairs, Isabel hears a terrible, high-pitched wail.