Chapter 31 Summary
Isabel wakes up coughing. Outside the window, she sees bright light, but it is not yet morning. The neighbor’s house is on fire, as is the roof of Lady Seymour’s house. Isabel puts on her shoes, grabs Ruth’s doll, and begins making her way through the thick smoke.
As Isabel passes Lady Seymour’s room, the door opens. Lady Seymour asks Isabel to help carry out some valuables. These treasures are locked in a heavy trunk that is too heavy to lift. Isabel begs Lady Seymour to leave it behind and get out, but the lady opens the chest and begins pulling out her most important possessions. Isabel grabs a picture and some letters and shoves them into her pocket. She also carries a couple of small boxes, balancing Ruth’s doll on top. Lady Seymour grabs some bags out of the trunk and then lets Isabel lead the way out of the room.
Halfway down the stairs, Isabel hears a crash, and Lady Seymour calls out for help. Isabel drops her armload of treasures—including Ruth’s doll—and drags the lady outside. Every house on the block is on fire. Isabel helps Lady Seymour up the street, passing locals trying to save their homes as well as British soldiers attempting to steal valuables from abandoned houses. At one point, they pass a wagon holding a large tank of water. Some men are trying to pull it to the fire, but one of the wheels is broken, and the men are not strong enough to drag it. Eventually Isabel decides it is safe. She and Lady Seymour collapse on the edge of a graveyard.
Isabel lies still, exhausted and half-conscious, for quite some time. When she comes back to herself, Lady Seymour is still beside her in the dirt. The lady’s speech is garbled, and she is muttering about bells. It takes Isabel a moment to realize that none of the church bells are ringing a fire alarm. This is because there are no church bells; the rebels melted them down to make cannons.
Lady Seymour begins to cry, and she is in no shape to make any decisions. Isabel takes charge. She props the lady up and helps her through the streets. They pass charred bodies and a few straggling survivors, some of whom are half-naked because they did not have time to get dressed before fleeing their burning homes. Lady Seymour’s legs keep giving out, but Isabel is not strong enough to carry the woman entirely. Isabel pinches the lady several times to wake her up and make her try to walk. Eventually they reach the Locktons’ house, where Isabel, helping Lady Seymour, walks in through the front door.