Chains Chapter 34 Summary
by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Chapter 34 Summary

Madam Lockton decides to throw a party to celebrate the British victory. She buys turtles for turtle soup and hires a chef to cook. She picks out the prettiest of the soldiers’ wives to wait on the guests, and she assigns the rest of the women to help the chef in the kitchen. Isabel’s job is to clean, run errands, and bring food up and down the stairs to the drawing room, where the party will be held.

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As Isabel cleans the house, she watches Madam primping to prepare for the fine occasion. A hairdresser arranges Madam’s hair into a tall sort of wave, which Isabel expects to fall down at any moment. When the hair is finished, Madam whitens her face with make-up. Then she applies glue to her eyebrows and affixes two pieces of mouse hair on top to make them look fashionably bushy. Isabel thinks this looks ridiculous.

Shortly before the party, Isabel helps Lady Seymour to her place at the table. The lady comments that when she was growing up, her family held fine meals like this all the time. Isabel cannot believe this. The table is covered with linen and crystal. There is salt and pepper within reach of every place at the table, and there are dozens of bottles of wine standing ready. It seems impossible that anyone would constantly live in so much luxury.

All night, Isabel runs up and down the stairs carrying heavy trays of food. First she delivers the turtle soup. Next, she brings tongue and mushrooms. After that, she carries stuffed pheasants, stewed oysters, and several vegetable dishes. Each time she enters the drawing room, she takes a peek at the party. There are many officers and gentlemen, all dressed in fine clothes. Lady Seymour and Madam Lockton are the only women. A young soldier rushes around keeping wine glasses full as the dinner guests chat and enjoy themselves.

Dessert is rice pudding, cookies, tarts, and cake. As Isabel brings the heavy dessert tray into the room and helps the serving women pass the dishes around, she overhears a conversation about the prisoners from Fort Washington. The British officers complain that it will be impossible to keep thousands of prisoners fed through the winter. They loudly wish for a disease to kill the men off. Master Lockton suggests forcing the local Patriots to feed the men, but everyone knows that the Patriots have no food to...

(The entire section is 622 words.)