Chapter 30 Summary

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The British Army needs shelter, and they find it in the homes of New Yorkers. Two officers move into the Locktons’ house. Becky has not been seen since the day the rebels fled, so Isabel is forced to do all the work for the whole household by herself. This work multiplies quickly, not only because the house now has extra occupants, but also because Madam demands perfection for the two guests. On the first day of this, Isabel spends so much time running around polishing silver and cleaning rooms that she ends up burning the chicken dinner to a crisp.

Madam is furious with Isabel for this mishap, but Isabel does not care. She is so disappointed that she has once again failed to achieve freedom, she cannot seem to care about anything. She does not pray when she goes to bed, and for the first time since Ruth disappeared, Isabel fails to kiss Ruth’s little doll before falling asleep.

The next day, Madam makes Isabel work “like a donkey.” When everyone else goes to sleep, Madam orders Isabel to stay awake and bake rolls. The bakers in New York were all rebels who fled with the army, so there is no bread to be bought. Isabel attempts to follow orders but, in her exhaustion, finds that she cannot make proper dough. She dumps her dough in the outhouse and mixes up cornbread instead. While it bakes, she falls asleep. It burns, but she does not care.

The next day, Master Lockton informs his wife that they are going to loan Sal to Lady Seymour for a few weeks. His aunt's only servant is gone, and she is boarding a dozen Hessian soldiers. Madam protests, saying, “I will not perform housework like a common wench.” Master Lockton tells her that she will need to work hard for a week or so until poor Loyalist women come from the countryside to look for work. He adds that the situation would not be so bad if Madam had not sent Ruth away.

Isabel goes reluctantly to Lady Seymour’s house. She has heard that Hessian soldiers are “fire-breathing monsters,” but they are just huge, horribly uncouth soldiers who track mud all over the house and use their thumbs instead of knives for spreading butter. They speak strangely, but Lady Seymour knows their language. She explains to Isabel that they mean no threat when they say danke. This is just their way of saying thank you.

Isabel still goes to the pump for water every day, but she does not know anyone there. Grandfather is gone, and so is Curzon. Most of the black people she meets are freed slaves who left rebel owners in order to serve the British. Isabel cannot bring herself to look at them.

Soon five more Hessians move into Lady Seymour’s house. Isabel spends most of a day chopping cabbage for their dinner. When she finally gets a chance to rest, she falls into bed with Ruth’s doll, which she has brought from the Locktons’. She still cannot kiss it. She still cannot pray. She goes to sleep instead.

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Chapter 31 Summary