Chapter 7 Summary

Isabel has to walk about a mile from the water pump back to the Locktons’ house. The water bucket is heavy, and her arms are killing her by the time she arrives. When Curzon points out her new home, she forgets about the pain. The Locktons’ place is an enormous, four-floor stone mansion. Curzon tells her to go to the back entrance. As a slave, she is not allowed to use the front.

In back, Isabel meets Becky Berry, the Locktons’ white servant. Becky immediately begins describing Isabel’s duties in her new home. Isabel will fetch water, carry wood, scrub floors, and help with the cooking. Although inclined to bark orders, Becky seems relatively kind. She warns Isabel that it is unsafe for a slave girl in Madam's home ever to be caught idle.

For the moment, Isabel does not particularly care about her duties. All she wants to do is check on her sister. Ruth is out back, but Becky refuses to let Isabel go out there. Madam will not like it if she catches the girls chatting instead of working. Isabel looks out the window and sees Ruth sitting down on a bench outside to peel potatoes. The little girl is clearly fine, so Isabel relaxes and begins doing her own work.

Becky takes Isabel upstairs, where they clean and air out the parlor so that Madam can drink her tea and receive a visit from Master Lockton’s aunt, Lady Seymour. Becky barks many brusque orders at Isabel, but she shows no inclination to be cruel. She chatters quite a bit, and she warns that Madam can be “a harsh mistress to slaves.”

As Isabel cleans the parlor windows, she spots some soldiers passing. Becky murmurs that she wishes the soldiers would leave the city. This makes Isabel curious, and she asks if Becky dislikes the rebels. Becky shushes her, saying:

You listen good. Them that feeds us…they’re Loyalists. Tories. That means we’re Tories too, understand?

Isabel says yes, but after all she has seen today, she is a little confused. She points out that Master Lockton claimed to be a rebel down at the docks. Becky shrugs this off, saying wryly that people change their political convictions whenever it is convenient to do so, but that Madam’s predilection for lemon cakes never changes. The message is clear: for Becky and Isabel, it is far more important to please Madam than to concern themselves with politics.