Chapter 27 Summary
A battle occurs near the city, and the British kill about a thousand Patriot soldiers. Suddenly New York is in British hands again. This thrills Madam, who spends her time pacing the house and keeping her ear open for news that the Patriots have finally surrendered.
In a practical sense, the changes of the war make little difference to Isabel's life. The rain continues to fall, so the flooding continues throughout the house. Isabel spends much of her time racing around, attempting to clean up all the water.
Isabel’s head is clear now. Too clear. She cannot stop thinking about the conversation she overheard at the pump. She wonders if the British will really set her free now that they are in power. She wonders if they will help her find Ruth. While she thinks, she tries to build up the fire—but the wood is so wet it smokes and refuses to burn.
The next morning, a fog rolls in. General Washington uses its cover to move most of his troops out of New York and to occupy a better position against the British advance. The Patriots are still unlikely to win, but they have not yet lost. Isabel hears the news and thinks that Washington is “a conjure man.”
One day Becky goes to the market and returns with stories of all the dead and wounded soldiers she has seen. Clearly more excited than disgusted, Becky describes a corpse with a missing head and a living boy who has had his hand cut off. She informs Isabel, who is trying to eat a bowl of porridge with dried apples, that the soldiers’ wounds will be full of maggots by morning. This disgusts Isabel, who cannot help but imagine the dried apples squirming like little worms. She gives up on her food, and Becky finishes it herself.
Next, the conversation turns to local speculation about God’s opinion of the war. Most people on the street think that God is a Patriot. However, Becky believes that the rebels must have angered God when they melted down all the church bells to make cannons. Privately, Isabel thinks that if God cared, He would probably just create a few sea monsters to devour the wrong side’s soldiers.
Isabel’s thoughts are closer to home. For the next eight days, she runs her errands as slowly as she can. Finally she spots Curzon, alive and whole. “It was good to see him not dead nor chopped up,” she thinks.