Chains Chapter 36 Summary
by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Chapter 36 Summary

Lady Seymour falls ill with a fever, and the doctor bleeds her in hopes of healing her. Isabel overhears Madam suggesting that it might be best to send Lady Seymour to the Locktons’ estate in Charleston, where the warmer weather will do her good. The doctor points out that the roads are far too bad and that the lady would surely die during the journey. Privately, Isabel thinks that this is what Madam wants.

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It becomes Isabel’s job to wait on Lady Seymour, keeping a hot fire burning in the room. Isabel enjoys the lazy hours in this room, where she gets chances to take surreptitious glances at newspaper headlines about the progress of the war.

Twice during this period, Isabel sneaks table scraps to the prison. Conditions have improved a bit since her first visit. The British have provided a small number of blankets and a few food rations. However, the prison guards do not allow fires, so the prisoners are forced to eat their meat raw.

When Isabel visits Curzon, the guards always steal some of her food. She learns to mix fat in with the scraps to make them more filling for the prisoners and less tempting to the guards. Meanwhile, to keep the guards happy, she places a few choice bits of food on top of the bucket for them to steal.

Once, on her way into the prison, Isabel has to walk past piles of dead, frozen bodies in the halls. The corpses are mostly naked, their clothes stolen by the living. Inside Curzon’s cell, she finds him sickly and either unwilling or unable to speak to her. This bothers her, but she reassures herself that at least she knows he is alive.

Isabel’s scar makes her quite distinctive, and people soon notice that she has been visiting the prison. One day, Lady Seymour says that she knows what Isabel has been doing. The lady says that it is a Christian act to feed people in need, but that Isabel should not let Madam find out.

That same day, Isabel goes out on an errand to a bookseller, who also comments on the fact that she has been visiting the prison. He, too, approves of this choice. He gives Isabel a copy of a pamphlet called Common Sense and tells her that every rebel sympathizer should read it. Isabel reluctantly accepts the gift, even though she knows it is a bad idea to keep inflammatory political literature in Madam's house.