Chapter 35 Summary

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A few days later, Madam Lockton and Lady Seymour go out on a social call. Seeing her chance, Isabel grabs the frozen scrap bucket from its hiding place in the yard and walks to Bridwell Prison. For a long moment, she stands across the street, wondering if she is making the right choice. She will surely be beaten if anyone finds out that she is helping the prisoners. But she cannot live with herself if she does not help Curzon.

Taking her bucket, Isabel knocks on the door of the prison. A fat guard greets her and peeks inside the scrap bucket. When he sees the rice pudding from Madam’s party, he immediately steals it for himself. Isabel realizes that it would be unwise to object to this, so she makes no comment. In return for the food, he allows her to visit Curzon, whom she claims is her brother.

Isabel finds Curzon huddled in a corner of a crowded cell. He has no bed or blanket—not even a pile of straw. His leg wound is wrapped in a bloody bandage, and he is clearly starving. However, he is physically strong enough to sit up and greet her.

Curzon tells Isabel the story of the battle at Fort Washington. During the battle, he saw a friend decapitated by a cannonball, and he got shot in the leg himself. He explains that after the surrender, the British separated the Patriot officers from the lower-ranked men. Officers are considered gentlemen, so they are being housed in local inns, where they get to eat plenty of food and take daily walks. Meanwhile, privates like Curzon are left to freeze and starve.

At this point, the fat guard comes in with the scrap bucket, which is now half empty. When Isabel tries to give the remaining food to Curzon, a big soldier grabs the handle. The man says that no black slave may eat while white soldiers go hungry. Isabel holds on tight to the bucket and demands that the man let go.

At this point, a small sergeant steps up and tells the big soldier to back off. The sergeant apologizes to Isabel, explaining that none of the men in the cell has had anything to eat for three days. He asks her to let the whole group share the food. Isabel knows that nobody will get enough, but she agrees. After all, Curzon will be better off with a tiny share than with nothing.

The sergeant takes the scrap bucket from Isabel and picks out a small piece of pie crust. He passes it to Curzon, who takes a bit of parsnip peel. The bucket goes around the room in this way, and it is not yet empty when it arrives back in the sergeant’s hands. He commends them for refraining to take more than their share and sends it around again.

During Isabel's visit, the sergeant asks her to carry occasional messages to the captain of his regiment. She refuses. After her last experience with spying, she does not trust the rebels. She wants nothing to do with a fight for freedom if she cannot be free herself.

Before she leaves, Isabel tries to give Curzon her cloak. He refuses, saying that it would be "borrowed" by the other soldiers the moment she went away. However, he accepts some old newspapers, which will give him a bit of insulation in the freezing prison. Isabel goes home feeling guilty that she cannot help him more.

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Chapter 34 Summary


Chapter 36 Summary