Chapters 4-5 Summary

In the boat to New York, Isabel and Ruth ride with the cargo: “six sheep, a pen of hogs, three families from Scotland, and fifty casks of dried cod.” Throughout the trip, Isabel feels devastated to be leaving Rhode Island. Ghosts cannot travel over water, so Momma's ghost cannot follow Isabel and Ruth to the Locktons' house in New York. From now on, the girls are on their own.

When the ship docks, Isabel and Ruth stare in wonder at the busy waterfront. They see people of every color, including more black people than they have before seen in one place. Rebel soldiers patrol the area, armed with muskets. Poor workers scurry around, dressed like country people. A few wealthy people walk among the crowds “like peacocks wandering in the chicken pen.”

Onshore, Isabel and Ruth watch silently as a man named Bellingham, an official who works for the Patriot leaders of New York, demands to search the Locktons' cargo. Bellingham accuses the Locktons of being Tories—supporters of the King of England—who want to spy on the rebel army.

Isabel has previously heard the Locktons declare their support for the King, but now Master Lockton changes his tune and claims to support the rebel cause. Madam says that she does not care if Bellingham wants to search her husband's cargo, but she refuses to let him search her own luggage, a beautiful walnut trunk.

When Bellingham says that all of the trunk must be searched, Madam throws a fit. She says that nothing, not even a fight for freedom, justifies a gentleman to rifle through a lady's underwear. She speaks so loudly that everyone on the dock stops working to watch. Bellingham is obviously embarrassed, and the workers smirk at his discomfort.

Isabel thinks this scene is hilarious, but she is smart enough to keep quiet. Ruth, however, laughs aloud. Madam Lockton turns around and asks who made the noise. Isabel claims responsibility, and Madam hits her hard across the face. Isabel staggers under the blow, comforting herself with the thought: “Better me than Ruth, better me than Ruth.”

Bellingham has a slave, a young boy in a red hat, who looks like he feels sorry for Isabel. Nobody else pays her any attention. The crowd watches Bellingham, waiting to find out what he will decide about the trunk. With a sigh, he tells his men to let Madam take it home. Meanwhile, he busies himself searching the rest of Master Lockton’s cargo.

The Locktons load Ruth into their carriage with them, but they order Isabel to fetch a bucket of water and carry it to their home. She does not yet know where they live, but Bellingham’s slave, Curzon, overhears the conversation and offers to show her.