Chapter 17 Summary

For Isabel, days seem long and dreary as she waits for the soldiers who will surely storm into the house and arrest Master Lockton. She works as hard as ever, constantly fearful that Madam will sell Ruth. Everyone else in the city seems fearful too, but for a different reason: the rebels will soon fight the British for control of New York.

Since Ruth’s seizure, Madam remains afraid of the little girl. Because of this, Madam spends most of her time locked in her bedroom, allowing only Becky inside. Isabel does not mind this arrangement. As a precaution, Isabel makes Ruth hide in the cellar whenever Madam leaves her room.

On the second day after Isabel’s trip to the rebel camp, a friend of Master Lockton arrives to say that the plot to kill General Washington has been discovered. Lockton immediately begins making plans to run away. He orders Madam to stay behind and burn his papers. She demands that he take her along, but he refuses, saying that the rebels will steal all of their possessions if the house is left empty. Madam points out that the rebels may arrest her, and she pleads with him not to leave her to face dangers he is too cowardly to confront himself. At this, he hits her so hard that she goes flying into a bookshelf.

Soon a man comes and shuts Master Lockton into a box labeled “CHEESE.” More men come and carry him away. Madam, left behind, locks up the house and refuses to let anyone in or out. Isabel has no opportunity to inform the rebels of her master’s escape, so she can only wait and watch while Madam burns the master’s papers.

The following morning, soldiers arrive to arrest Master Lockton. They are angry when they find him gone. As Isabel watches them tear through the library, she reflects that her master is free by now. When the men leave, Becky goes out shopping and leaves the mess from the search for Isabel to clean up.

When Becky returns from the market, Madam asks what she has heard. Becky explains that one of the men involved in the plot to kill General Washington confessed. Nearly all of the conspirators have been arrested, including the mayor. Everyone seems to know that Master Lockton was involved, but he has not been caught. Attempting to reassure Madam, Becky comments that the master is safe. Madam massages her bruises and points out that she is still in danger.