Chapter 33 Summary
Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 571
For the next two months, gray ash settles on the city. Isabel’s mind goes gray as well. She feels emotionally dreary. She looks dreary, too, because her skin gets dry and flaky in the winter air. Back home, her mother used to make a bear fat lotion to prevent her skin from going scaly like this—but here nobody cares. Dimly, Isabel wonders how Ruth’s skin is doing.
Sometimes Isabel’s depressed mind wonders whether she and everyone around her really died in the fire. Perhaps they are all ghosts doomed to walk the earth in an eternity of gray horror. This makes her think of Curzon, who would tell her to have hope. She pushes him out of her mind because his brand of hope involves trusting the rebels—an idea she finds impossible. Nevertheless, she wonders how Curzon is doing and hopes that he is safe with the other soldiers in Fort Washington, a well-built stronghold which people expect to stay safe from attack until spring.
The wives of the soldiers do most of the work at the Locktons’ house now, but the hardest and dirtiest tasks fall to Isabel. She spends her time hauling water, chopping wood, and cleaning chamber pots. She also runs errands for Colonel Hawkins, the officer who is living in the Locktons’ library.
Food grows enormously expensive. This poses no problem for the Locktons, particularly since Master Lockton’s business interests are thriving in the war. However, Isabel knows that ordinary people are starving. Those who lost their homes in the fire are now living in a tent camp in the burned-out district. Many are reduced to begging for the food they need to stay alive.
Lady Seymour’s health improves dramatically. This fact annoys Madam, who wishes the old woman would just die and bequeath her fortune to Master Lockton. The lady continues to have trouble speaking and moving the left side of her body, but she is able to write letters and order new clothes to replace what the fire destroyed. When a team of seamstresses arrive to sew Lady Seymour a new wardrobe, she adds in an order for a warm winter skirt and cloak for Isabel. When Isabel protests that she has no money, Lady Seymour just points to the picture that Isabel rescued from the fire.
More British soldiers move into the Locktons’ house, and Isabel grows exhausted with the work it takes to serve them. Soon she begins falling asleep almost every time she sits down, and her brain gets too fuzzy to notice what happens around her. One day when she goes to fetch water, everyone around her begins shouting. It takes her some time to register what is going on. When her mind wakes up enough to notice, she follows a crowd toward a sad sort of parade.
The British have just taken Fort Washington, months before anyone expected them to do so. They killed many Patriots and captured many more. Now the survivors are marching into New York City, where they will be locked up as prisoners of war. Isabel watches the men walk past, but she does not cheer or throw clods of dirt with the rest of the crowd. Her eyes find the slaves at the back of the parade. Among them is Curzon, his red hat now almost brown from filth. He is limping, but at least he is alive.