Chapter 9 Summary
One afternoon, Isabel is called to the parlor, where Madam presents her to Master Lockton’s wealthy aunt, Lady Seymour. When Isabel enters, her eyes immediately find Ruth, who is dressed up like a doll and looks as if she has been crying. Isabel is desperate to know why her sister is unhappy, but it is not safe to ask questions now.
Isabel curtsies and introduces herself. Madam promptly declares Isabel Finch a ridiculous name for a slave and says that Isabel will be called Sal Lockton from now on. This makes Isabel furious, but she knows that it is no use fighting. She allows Becky to call her Sal, but she continues thinking of herself as Isabel. The Locktons generally call her “girl.”
After this encounter, Becky puts Isabel to work waiting on Master Lockton and some of his friends in the library. Isabel brings them a tray loaded with bread, mustard, and cold meat. She stands in the corner, occasionally refilling wine glasses or plates. Her own stomach is empty, and she tries to take her mind off her discomfort by surreptitiously reading the titles of the books on Master Lockton’s shelves. Around her, the men share their opinions about how long it will take the British Army’s ships to reach New York.
After a while, Master Lockton sends Isabel to fetch bread and jam. She runs down to the kitchen and loads a tray. When she returns to the library, she notices through the half-open door that the men are all gathered around the beautiful wooden chest which Madam Lockton protected from inspection on the docks. The men take out her undergarments and toss them haphazardly on the floor. When they see how much cash Master Lockton is hiding inside, they cheer. Lockton explains that the money is meant for bribing people into supporting the King. All those who agree to assist the British will be paid in both cash and land.
Tentatively, Isabel knocks on the open door and asks if she should enter. Master Lockton calls her in and tells her to put the bread and jam on a table. The other men pay no attention to her. Just as Curzon said, she is invisible to them, and they readily discuss their plans in front of her. As she silently returns to her place, the men continue their political discussion. In her corner, Isabel thinks about Curzon’s offer and considers what to do next.