Chapter 28 Summary
On one hot Sunday in September, the war arrives at the Locktons’ doorstep. The cannon fire is so loud that Isabel wonders if God himself is destroying the island. Madam Lockton runs outside and asks a rebel officer what is going on. He advises her to go into her house and lock the door against the advancing British. In the background, all of his men are hurriedly packing. Madam asks if the army is running away and leaving the civilians unprotected. The officer says no—but it appears that he is not being entirely truthful.
Isabel expects Madam to have a fit. Instead, Madam calmly returns to the house and asks for lunch. While she eats, she writes on a scrap of paper. As soon as she finishes her meal, she orders Isabel to take the list down the street and pick up some nice food. The British are surely about to win the war, and Master Lockton will want a good dinner when he returns.
Isabel is shocked that she is being sent out into the middle of the battle. However, she remembers what she heard from the other slaves about the British and freedom. If Isabel approaches the British as soon as they arrive, will they help her? Her mind races, imagining that she will be free by tonight. She will get a job, save up her money, and rescue Ruth as soon as possible.
Madam shouts at Isabel, whose eyes have glazed over. Isabel says carefully that it may take a while to complete Madam’s errand, given the present state of chaos in the streets. Madam sends her out anyway. Isabel gathers a few things and runs outside.
Isabel soon finds herself in a stampede of men and boys. Around her, muskets fire and frightened pigs squeal. Isabel wants to move against the tide of people and animals, but she cannot make much headway in the chaos. She slips into a sacked candle shop to wait it out. While she sits there, she hopes with all her might that the rebels will flee quickly, and that the British will arrive soon after. She does not want anyone to get hurt, but she may not have much time to seek her freedom.
Eventually the streets go quiet. A few final soldiers and militiamen run by. After they pass, they are followed by a group of slaves carrying pickaxes and shovels. When the last of these men disappears, Isabel climbs outside and heads for the waterfront.