Chapter 18 Summary
A few days after Master Lockton escapes, New York City fills with excitement. The rebel army is going to hang Thomas Hickey, the spy in their ranks who was planning to kill General Washington. Madam is in her room sleeping off a drunken binge. She does not seem likely to awake soon, so Becky tells Isabel to go to the hanging and have a good time.
Isabel does not like the idea of watching a man die. However, she imagines that the event may present her with an opportunity to speak to Colonel Regan. She takes Ruth along, reasoning that the colonel may be able to put both girls on the next boat out of the city.
The crowd at the hanging is cheerful, much like the crowd at a fair. Isabel looks around for uniforms and sees that the soldiers are all lined up according to rank. She realizes that she will have no chance to speak to Colonel Regan, so she whiles away her free time playing with Ruth. They stop their game only when they hear drummers announcing the arrival of the traitor.
As the girls follow the crowd toward the gallows, Curzon approaches them. Isabel pounces on him, begging him for information about when she and Ruth will be able to leave New York. He shushes her, afraid that spies will overhear them. He tells her that the world is totally chaotic right now, but he says that Isabel will eventually get what she wants.
Ruth’s legs are tired, but Isabel says that the little girl is too big to carry. Curzon thinks otherwise. He gives Isabel his hat, and then he lifts the little girl up on his shoulders. Ruth squeals and giggles. Isabel glances at the hat and sees the name James sewn inside. She reads this out loud, wondering who James could be, but Curzon does not hear.
Rebel soldiers march the traitor to the gallows. The crowd boos and throws rotten fruits and vegetables. One person even throws a dead cat. The captain of Washington’s guard chops the epaulettes and buttons off of Hickey’s Continental Army uniform. A preacher speaks privately with Hickey, who is then marched up to the gallows.
Drummers pound on their instruments as Hickey climbs the stairs. The hangman makes Hickey stand on a barrel with the noose around his neck. The captain reads out the sentence, announcing to the crowd that Hickey has been convicted of treason against his own country. Finally the hangman kicks the barrel out from under Hickey’s feet. At this point, Isabel covers Ruth’s eyes and closes her own.