Chapter 45 Summary
Isabel pushes the wheelbarrow, with Curzon inside, for several blocks. When she nears the wharf, she finds sentries keeping watch. The wheelbarrow is loud on the cobblestones, so she is afraid that she will be caught if she tries to roll Curzon past. She makes him stand up, but he collapses and takes her down with him. She orders him to do better than that. He mumbles an apology and, with her help, staggers two blocks to the water’s edge.
Overhead, fireworks explode to celebrate the birthday of Queen Charlotte. This keeps Isabel and Curzon safe. Every eye in the city is focused on the sky. Isabel finds a rowboat and helps Curzon climb inside. She gets in after him.
All night long, Isabel rows. She soon gets blisters all over her hands. They burst and bleed. More blisters form, and they pop again—but she keeps rowing. Curzon, near-dead from his fever, sleeps in the bottom of the boat at her feet. Isabel’s mind wanders. In her pain and exhaustion, she begins to hallucinate. She thinks she sees ghosts of her family in the fog, and she reaches out for them. This makes her drop an oar, and she has to stick her hand into the ice-cold water to retrieve it. Afterward she rows on, her hands too numb from the cold to feel any further pain.
Eventually exhaustion overtakes Isabel, and she falls asleep. When she wakes up, she thinks she has died and gone to heaven. She sees a pink-gold sky and smells wood smoke. This last detail surprises her. As far as she knows, the Bible never says anything about wood smoke in heaven.
Isabel sits up and finds her rowboat stuck in some frost-covered bushes along the edge of the river. Her clothes are covered in ice, which cracks when she moves. She studies the empty shoreline. She checks the direction of the rising sun and the flowing water and tries to figure out where she is. After a while, she realizes that she has made it. She and Curzon are across the river in Jersey.
Curzon is a bundle of rags at the bottom of the boat. Isabel kicks him gently and asks if he is alive. He groans and sticks his head up from beneath the blankets. He asks where they are, and Isabel grins at him. “I think we just crossed the River Jordan,” she says. As Chains ends, she offers him a hand and asks if he is strong enough to walk.