Chapter 44 Summary
Isabel goes downstairs and puts on all of the clothes she owns. She packs up a basket of food from the kitchen. Just before she leaves, she remembers Lady Seymour. It is Isabel’s job to make sure the old woman stays warm, and it is unlikely that anyone else will think to stoke the fire tonight. Isabel’s feelings for Lady Seymour are complicated, but she does not want to let the old lady freeze.
Isabel stokes Lady Seymour’s fire quickly. Tempted by the lady’s purse, Isabel reaches inside and pulls out a bag of coins. Then she notices that the old lady is awake and watching. Isabel explains that she is going to be sold if she does not run away. She gives the old lady a drink of water and, feeling guilty, offers to put the coins back in the purse. Through gestures, Lady Seymour communicates that she wants Isabel to take the money. She manages to speak one clear word: “Run."
Isabel tries to do just that. Her plan is to sneak to the harbor, steal a rowboat, and get across the river to New Jersey. From there, she will set out walking to Charleston. But her conscience tugs at her, and she finds it impossible to abandon Curzon.
Cursing herself for her stupidity, Isabel hurries to the prison and finds the fat guard at the gate. She lies to him, saying that she has been sent to clean the cells in preparation for an upcoming prison inspection. He helps himself to some bread from her basket and then lets her inside. He gives her a wheelbarrow and some keys, and then he tells her not to ask him for any help. She cleans out one cell, gagging over the brimming chamber pots. She wheels a load of muck past the guard dumps it in a pit she finds behind the prison.
Next, Isabel rushes to Curzon’s cell. She finds him in a corner, barely alive, burning with fever. Most of his original cellmates are dead, replaced by men who are strangers to her. She leans over Curzon and whispers to him to stay quiet and still. She tells the other prisoners that he is dead, and she lifts him into the wheelbarrow.
As she wheels past the guard again, Isabel comments that she has “a nasty load here.” She tells him it might be a while before she returns. The she pushes the wheelbarrow out into the night.