Chapter 22 Summary

Isabel awakes to find herself being dragged. A woman is screaming. She cannot make much sense of what is going on, but she dimly realizes that she has been hit over the head. Her eyes are swollen, and she is missing a few teeth. She feels herself being tied to the back of a wagon, which moves and drags her forward. People laugh and point as she stumbles along.

The wagon drags Isabel all the way to City Hall, where she is taken underground and locked into a dungeon. Her only cell mates are rats and a crazy woman who laughs and pulls out her own hair. Every now and then, guards pass by and toss bits of rotting food through the bars. At night, the rats are so bold that Isabel is afraid she will be bitten if she falls asleep. On the second day, she hears cannons and muskets firing. The prisoners in the other cells scream and fight, but Isabel stays still and quiet.

On the third day, Isabel is dragged upstairs to a courtroom. A judge calls the trial to order, and Isabel tries to make sense of what he says. By now, she remembers bits and pieces. She knows that her head is injured, and she knows her sister has been taken away from her. She wants to ask questions, but even in her confusion she can see that her hands are tied and that nobody has any concern for her well-being. Her eyes hurt, but she keeps them wide open anyway. The pain brings a bit more clarity to her mind.

At the trial, everyone calls Isabel by the name Sal Lockton. She watches as a woman—Madam Lockton—climbs onto the witness stand and lies to the judge. The judge asks if there were any other witnesses to the crimes Madam describes. Madam claims that her housekeeper, Becky, is too ill to testify. A neighbor describes Isabel fleeing the scene. Afterward, everyone wonders who else might be able to testify, but they cannot think of anyone. It does not appear to occur to them to ask Isabel to tell her side of the story.

Madam explains that her husband is out of town and that she cannot discipline her slave severely enough on her own. The judge asks Madam what punishment she has in mind, and Madam suggests branding. At first the judge suggests that this is overly severe, but when Madam insists, he sentences Isabel to be branded with the letter "I" for "insolence" on her right cheek. He smacks the bench with his gavel. With that, Isabel’s trial is over.