Chapter 39 Summary

Two days after Christmas, Isabel goes to the fish market with Sarah. As she walks, Isabel thinks about the suffering prisoners, especially Curzon. She has not delivered any food to the prisoners since Christmas Eve, and she wonders how this will affect her friend. Surely the other prisoners will steal his blanket soon, if they have not done so already.

Lost in thought, Isabel gets separated from Sarah. Just then, Captain Morse—Curzon’s superior officer—grabs her arm. He begs Isabel to carry a message for him. Isabel begs him to go away because she knows she will be in terrible trouble if Sarah sees her talking with a rebel officer. He hangs onto her arm and refuses to leave until she promises to stop by his boarding house in the afternoon.

On the way home, Sarah says that Madam does not want Isabel to go to the water pump anymore. Isabel says that she likes going, and Sarah admits that she is glad not to have to send any of the white women. They agree that Isabel will continue doing the chore and that they will simply hide this fact from Madam. This should be easy since Madam does not get up in the mornings until long after Isabel comes home with the water.

Isabel still needs to fulfill her promise to visit Captain Morse. In the afternoon, she purposely spills the water bucket all over the floor, and then she offers to go out and get more. Sarah grants permission, but she seems suspicious of Isabel’s motives. After all, it is highly dangerous for Isabel to go to the pump when Madam forbids it. In the middle of the day like this, it is highly likely that Isabel will get caught.

Captain Morse gives Isabel a loaf of bread and begs her to take it to the prisoners. When she asks why, he quickly explains that a note is baked inside the loaf. It contains a happy message that will bring comfort to the suffering prisoners. Captain Morse cannot go near the prison himself, so he needs her to do it for him.

As quickly as she can, Isabel takes the loaf to Curzon’s cell. She whispers that there is a note inside and runs away. Shortly afterward, she hears a huge cheer rising from the prison. The note contains a message which, to the rebel prisoners, seems almost too good to believe:

The rebels had attacked instead of running. The rebels had advanced instead of resisting. The rebels had won a battle.