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Life Of A Slave
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Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One Summary
Chapter one is the chapter in which you meet most of the main characters that you will get to know through out the novel. In Chains, we meet Isabel and her little sister, Ruth. We learn that their mother, Dinah, died of smallpox. The two girls’ owner, Miss Mary Finch, died and she set them free in her will. Now, Isabel is seeking momma's help on what to do and where to go from this point on with her little sister Ruth.
Miss Mary Finch’s funeral ends, and Isabel and Ruth go over to talk to Pastor Weeks and Mr. Robert Finch. Isabel tells them that Miss Mary had freed her, Ruth, and their mother in her will and that she had read it out loud, but Mr. Robert tells her that she is lying and slaves can’t read. Then, Pastor Weeks informs him that Isabel actually can read and was taught by Miss Mary Finch. Isabel suggests asking Mr. Cornell, but he has left for Boston and has taken all of his papers. Finally, Mr. Robert decides to sell Isabel and Ruth. Isabel remembers the last time she was sold when she was a little girl, and her father had tried to protect them, but Isabel does not have the strength to protect Ruth that her father had to protect their family.
Chapter Three Summary
This chapter is very dark and grim. It starts with Isabel searching for a keepsake inside of her old home. Thinking quickly, Isabel decides on a handful of flower seeds. She and Ruth are both brought to a tavern by Mr. Robert Finch to be sold. There they meet Jenny, an indentured servant who knew their mother. After eating, they are sold to the Locktons, a wealthy, malicious couple. At this point, the chapter ends.
It took two full days for Isabel and Ruth to reach New York. During that time, they remained below deck, but Isabel kept getting seasick. Ruth spent the time looking out a porthole, counting seagulls and waves to pass the time. Isabel felt better the second night and went up to the deck, even though she was not supposed to. She could see the moon and the ocean, but not Rhode Island. Isabel thinks that they keep moving over the water and keeping them away from their ancestors and ghosts.
In chapter five the Hartshorn docked in New York. In this chapter we begin to learn more about the Locktons. We learn that the Locktons are loyal to the king and support England in the war. Halfway through the chapter, as the Locktons are removing their belongings, the soldiers start to search their items because they believe that the Locktons are working for the king. The Locktons are beginning to become anxious and angry with the soldiers for doing so. We see Mrs. Lockton's violent side when she violently slaps Isabel when Ruth giggles after Mrs. Lockton defends her underclothes from being searched by the soldiers. Even though Ruth was the one who giggled, Isabel took the blow in order to prevent Ruth from having a fit (seizure). We also meet Mr. Bellingham, who seems to be behind the enforcement of searching the Locktons' items. It would also appear that he is out to find a reason to have the Locktons arrested. However, the Locktons manage to get away without being entirely searched. The Locktons command Isabel to go retrieve water. They have Curzon, Mr. Bellingham's slave, bring Isabel to the water pump. The chapter ends with Isabel putting water from a puddle on the area where Mrs. Lockton hit her.
Curzon shows Isabel, or “Country,” as he calls her, the way to the water pump. They stop at the stationary shop to pick up the things that Mr. Bellingham needed, and Curzon brings out two rolls. Isabel eats hers quickly and Curzon gives her his. They head to the water pump again and discuss the Locktons and how they are Loyalists. Then, Curzon suggests that Isabel help the Patriots instead. Isabel realized that Curzon was asking her to be a spy, and she refuses because she needs to take care of Ruth, even if this could possibly lead to their freedom.
Isabel is lead by Curzon to the Lockton’s house where she meets Becky Berry. Becky is the Lockton’s servant. She tells Isabel to stay away from Curzon. Next, Becky informs Isabel of the rules of the Lockton’s house. Isabel asks where her sister is, and Becky asks if Ruth will cause her any trouble, to which Isabel responds, “Never.” Becky shows Isabel where the library is and tells her not to go in without permission. Then, Isabel is shown other rooms in the house before she and Becky begin to clear the parlor before the Locktons return home. Isabel learns that the Locktons are really Loyalists, even though they had claimed to be Patriots. Becky tells Isabel about Lady Seymour, Mr. Lockton’s aunt. Becky leaves to go to the baker, but not before leaving Isabel with a list of chores so that she would not get in trouble when the Locktons returned home.
In this chapter Isabel is on her first day of work for the Locktons. Every time she does something wrong Mrs.Lockton always picks out the wrong things. Also Isabel talks about Mrs. Lockton and how she wakes up late and plays a spinet. Also from now on Mrs. Lockton has Ruth be her own little servent and would have Ruth do whatever she wanted her to do. Mrs. Lockton does this so that Isabel does not see her sister as much.
In this chapter Isabel starts out sharpening knives, imagining that she is cutting the rope that holds her and New York. Then Becky calls her to go to the parlor because Mrs. Lockton wanted to show her friend, Lady Seymour, who Isabel is. Mrs. Lockton changed Isabel’s name to Sal Lockton and told her to get shoes on. Then, Mr. Lockton wanted some refreshments for himself and his guests. Isabel went into the library to give Mr. Lockton and his accomplices their food. She stayed in the library and heard everything that was said about the British invasion.
The Locktons’ guests and Becky all leave, so Isabel takes Ruth downstairs to go to bed. She asks Ruth why she had been crying in the parlor today, but all Ruth responds is “No foolin’,” and “Shhh.” Isabel think that Mrs. Lockton has beaten Ruth. Ruth is nearly asleep when she asks for the doll that she used to have, just as she asked every night. Isabel promises to make her a new one. Later, Isabel sneaks out of the house and out the gate to find Curzon. She tells him what she heard of the Locktons hiding money before being told “Well done,” and going back to the Locktons’ house.
In chapter eleven Ruth and Isabel really experienced the work that would be required at the Lockton's house. The young girls had to sweep floors, air bedding, polish banisters, scrub the back steps, and many other challenging tasks. Through the chapter Isabel keeps bringing up signs of hope of freedom. She is waiting for Mr. Bellingham to come arrest Mr. and Mrs. Lockton and send her and her little sister on the road to freedom. Then Isabel was called to prepare the drawing room, where she could not look out for the rebels. The rebels finally came to the house claiming to need lead for bullets. They took lead pieces off windows in the house, even though they were just looking for the linen chest that Isabel had warned Curzon about. They finally found the chest, hoping to expose money. All they found in the chest was dirty clothes. They arrested Mr. Lockton over suspicion of helping the king. They took him away from the Lockton house. Mrs. Lockton was very shocked, not knowing that their plan had been exposed to the rebels. The chapter ended with Mrs. Lockton snapping at Isabel to clean the dirty clothes.
Soon after Mrs. Lockton fainted, Becky sent Isabel to get Lady Seymour, Mr. Lockton's aunt, who lived two blocks down north of Trinity church. Lady Seymour gave Isabel milk and cookies and asked Isabel to report everything she knew about the events that took place at the Lockton's house. She was very polite, sweet, respectful, and kind to Isabel and treated her like a person, rather than as a piece of property. Not only did Lady Seymour call Isabel by her real name, (rather than Sal Lockton), she also said 'please' and 'thank you' and even poured her own milk! Soon after, Lady Seymour sent Isabel to bring a message to the lawyer with confidence that Mr. Lockton would soon be set free. In chapter fourteen, Mr. Lockton gets back from being arrested. He then has a meeting in his library with other Loyalists, including Goldbuttons and the mayor. During this meeting Isabel hears all of the information about how they are going to stop the Patriots before they pass the Declaration of Independence. They also talk about how they will bribe Patriots to become Loyalists in the future. Some of the Loyalists in the meeting actually wanted to kill George Washington. Mr. Lockton did not believe that killing the General was a good idea because he was a well respected man. If they were to kill a man of that status, they would have the entire state of New York after them.
Mr. Lockton returns after being arrested and is looking for Mrs. Lockton. Mr. Lockton gets into a fight with Mrs. Lockton, and they are yelling and breaking things upstairs. Isabel, Ruth, and Becky listen from the bottom of the stairs, but never mention that they have heard. When the fight is over, Isabel takes a cold compress and a drink up to Mrs. Lockton, who claims that she fell because Isabel had not scraped the candle wax off the floor, though they both knew that this was not true. During the next few weeks, Isabel served Mr. Lockton and his friends, and she made sure to listen in on ever conversation, but she found nothing that could be reported to Curzon. Becky brought back gossip from the market, but there were no facts. Later, Isabel is given the job of getting water from the Tea Water Pump every day, and quickly begins to call the man there “Grandfather.” Curzon reminds her to keep her ears open for any useful information. Isabel makes Ruth a cornhusk doll, and that night goes to the library to take
and read it. The next day, Isabel plants the mystery seeds that she had taken from Momma’s jar.
In this chapter Isabel has to serve master Lockton and the mayor of New York, and Goldbuttons. They talk about the murder of president Washington and that a man named Thomas Hickey. Also they talk about bribing the Patriots with money to either surrender or join the British side.
Chapter 15 Summary
In this chapter, Ruth has a seizure. Mrs. Lockton thinks that she is possessed by the devil and tries to beat her with a chair but Isabel protects her by laying on her. After her fit is over Mrs. Lockton wants Ruth sold because she thinks that Ruth will poison her. Mr. Lockton, on the other hand, is calmer and is trying to figure out what’s wrong with Ruth. Isabel is pleading to Mrs. Lockton that she’ll be hurt if she gets sold. Ruth doesn’t get sold, but Mrs. Lockton warns Isabel not to get used to her presence.
Chapter summary 16
In the middle of the night Isabel goes downstairs and finds the list of names in Master Locktons desk, she hides the note in her skirt as she runs to the Battery fort. Isabel knows she has to find a general that would understand the importance of the list. When she reaches the fort she is escorted into a room with Colonel Regan, where Isabel told him the entire story. After, he gave her back the list to return it to its former home.
Chapter 17 Summary
In this chapter Isabel is practicing the password just in case she needs to use it in the near future. While polishing the door, Mr. Goldbuttons knocked on the door and rushed into Mr. Lockton's room even though he is sleeping. He wakes him up and tells him that the Americans have uncovered the plot to kill the Americans. He then sends Isabel to get Madam home. Mr. Lockton then flees the city in a crate labeled CHEESE. Mrs. Lockton is upset about this because she wants to go with him and not get in trouble either. He wants her here so they don’t take all that they own.
In this chapter Isabel and Ruth go to attend the hanging of Thomas Hickey. They are hanging Hickey for the plot to kill General Washington. While waiting for the hanging to begin Ruth and Isabel run into Curzon. Also Isabel thinks that colonel Reagen is there and that he will come down and escort them to the wharf.
In this chapter Isabel and Ruth go to church with Mrs.Lockton and Lady Seymour. Also the Partiots start attacking the British while they are still in church. After the British retreat the Partiots start tearing apart the King George statue.While this is going on Ruth almost has a fit because of all of the firing and excitement.
In this chapter congress signs the Declaration of Independence. The patriots tore down the monument of the king on his horse, they then took the lead from it and made bullets out of it. At the end of the chapter Mrs. Lockton was really nice to Isabel, Becky, and Ruth that night. She baked them gingerbread milk, and a cake for them to eat.
Chapter 21 starts off with a description of Isabel’s dream. In this dream, she is on a beach, with her little sister Ruth who always tags along in her dreams. Then in the dream, she is being scared off by eels, afraid they would bite her. When Isabel wakes up from this dream, she tosses and turns as if she is still in the dream. When she finally realizes that it was only a dream, she looked to her side, and Ruth wasn’t there. Isabel thought that she had gone to the privy. She went to the privy, but Ruth was not there. She called for Becky, and with teary eyes, she told Isabel she couldn’t find her. Isabel had the feeling that she was taken away and sold in the middle of the night while she was sleeping. Enraged, Isabel went looking for Mrs. Lockton. When she found her she confronted her. She asked what she thought, did she take her baby sister and sell her. Mrs. Lockton took steps back from Isabel and told her to get back to her work but Isabel didn’t budge, she had to know the truth. She stepped forward again after Mrs. Lockton told her if she did she could have her hung. After Isabel still took this step, Mrs. Lockton took a painting off of the wall and threw it on Isabel’s head. Isabel ran, as fast as she could. She ran fast, without any care that anyone might see her. She went to Colonel Regan. She started to tell him what happened with Ruth when Madam Lockton barged in claiming that Isabel abused her violently. She demanded Isabel back to her immediately. As Isabel fought to stay, Colonel Regan said that he could not do anything about it, and as she was being returned to Mrs. Lockton she bolted for the window…she almost made it.
In this chapter Isabel wakes up with the barrel of a gun to her chin.Also people beat up Isabel by stomping, pumching, swating, and dragging her, because she was convicted of attempt of running away so she was to have the letter "I" be branded into her cheak to resemble Insolence. Isabel was dragged by a horse to the stocks. Where she was to first let people do whatever they wanted to, to her, and then she would be branded. But before that she was stuck in a jail cell with a crazy woman. Every day she was in there though Curzon would watch out for her.
In this chapter Isabel is finally let out of the dungeon after two days of being in there. When Isabel gets out imediatly a guard grabbs her and pulls her to the stone where she is to be branded. After being branded she passes out and people begin to beat on her again.
Isabel had just been branded and woke up later in Lady Seymour’s house. She didn’t know about what happened until Curzon told her. Isabel was passed out for six days after she was branded. Lady Seymour took care of her, but she still needs to go back to Mrs. Lockton’s when she is better.
In this chapter, Isabel is suffering from depression because her sister has been sold. Madam Lockton will not look at her, and all of Isabel’s orders go through Becky, even if Madam Lockton and Isabel are in the same room. Much to Madam’s displeasure, Curzon keeps trying to talk to Isabel, even though
she does not want to talk to him and purposely avoids him. The British have invaded Staten Island by the end of August, so Isabel is sent to the market in place of Becky because she was afraid to go herself and get caught up in cross fire. While Isabel is coming home from the market, Curzon comes up to Isabel and starts talking to her. Isabel just ignores him and goes home. Finally, Madam Lockton threatens to have Curzon arrested if he does not stop coming to the house, so Isabel goes out and tells him to leave. He apologizes for everything that has happened and tells Isabel that he knows a sailor who might know where Ruth was sent. When Curzon asks Isabel to spy again, she tells him that she will not. She slams the gate in his face and says, "I will never speak to you again."
In this chapter Isabel is on her way to the water pump. Before, she left to go, she cut her palm on a blade at breakfast, and therefore, she couldn’t even carry an empty bucket. At the water pump, there was a crowd of people. They were all talking about how the British Lord Dunmore offered freedom, for any slave that escapes to his camp. As they are talking, Curzon came and joined. Curzon tells the people that Master Bellingham promised him freedom for enlisting his place. However, everyone tells him that’s not true. Grandfather tells the crowd that everything that stands between the people and freedom is the river Jordon. He tells Isabel to look hard, and promises that she will find it. As she walked back the buckets were too hard to carry, with her hand. Curzon came and took the buckets and brought them home for her.
In this chapter, the windows are leaking from the rain. Madam waited and waited for news of the final British victory. Isabel is with Becky discussing the war. Becky was talking about what she had seen when she’d passed by at the campgrounds, describing every injury and every detail she saw. Many of the men had had their arms blown off or another part of their body. Isabel was disgusted; she could never be around anything like that. They talk about how Washington melted the church bells down to make them into cannons
In the beginning of this chapter, Isabel is standing in the street, debating whether she should go back to the Lockton’s or run after the rebels and join them. She headed for the waterfront, the cannons were still booming. Military voices came from the waterfront and she hurried away from the Barracks and hid behind a barrel. A Half-dozen flat-bottomed boats were being rowed to the docks and two were already tied up. Lobsterbacks, folks called them were striding down the street.
The officer stood alone at the foot of the dock, and Isabel knew this was her chance. She forced herself to walk toward him and got his attention. Isabel told him what she could do including washing, cooking and sewing. He did not care and told her not to bother him. She didn’t give up after that though. He proceeded to talk to his soldiers. Captain Campbell did not know where Washington’s headquarters were so Isabel chimed in. She told them where it was and the captain was surprised she had. She was correct, and the Captain thanked her
for that and told her that she was useful like she had said she was, but they didn’t want troublemakers in camp. She touched the “I” on her face and told the man what it stood for and about Ruth. He understood because he had his own younger sister. Isabel told him everything, too much…she told him of how her owners were not rebels. This was not good. Captain Campbell told her that he couldn’t accept her service because they only employ slaves run away from rebel owners…Isabel was taken back. Captain Campbell told her that he doesn’t hold with slavery, but can’t help her because they don’t interfere with loyalist property. He went back to ordering his men. One of them was familiar. It was Master Elihu Lockton. He approached her and asked why she was there. He observed the “I” on her face and guess what it meant, his guesses were wrong. Captain Campbell knew though, he said it was a common brand among the people of Boston. Captain told Master Lockton I greeted him in the name of the King and thanked him for rescuing the city from rebels. Master Lockton told Isabel to head back home, all around her there was the sound of the victors celebrating and the smell of meat they roasted, around her, all was darkness.
In this chapter the British invaded New York. The soldiers were staying in empty and full houses including the Locktons.
There was also Hessians joining the British cause. They were known as fearsome and mean soldiers from Germany. Isabel goes to Lady Seymour’s house to be a servant from her. The Hessians were at Lady Seymour’s house also. Later that
night she woke up and all of New York was burning.
During this chapter Nathan Hale was convicted of burning the city and was hung for it. Isabel also lost Ruth doll in the fire that took Lady Seymour’s house. Isabel and Lady Seymour then go back to the locktons house where Mrs. Lockton isn’t happy about them going back. Even more British soldiers stay with them because there is no where else to go. Five soldiers and their wives were in the basement with Isabel now.
After the fire Isabel thinks everything has a gloomy feel to it. There were also still ashes raining down from the sky. While most of the servants went down to the barracks Isabel stayed behind with the hard and what seemed to be “never ending” work. Lady Seymour is also recovering quickly and is able to walk with aid. Isabel hears loud cheering in the street to find that the British have captured many of Washington’s men and were taking them to the jail.
In the beginning of the chapter, Madam Lockton is bossing Isabel around telling her to get her seamstress to have a dress made for Queen Charlotte's birthday. First, Isabel listens to the soldierwives talking about the Queen. Next, she helps Lady Seymour with everything, because she has been paralyzed. Then, Madam Lockton asked Lady Seymour's doctor when Lady Seymour would die. However, doctor could not answer. Madam Lockton had Lady Seymour move down to the parlor bedroom so she could have the big bedroom to herself, therefore, she had Isabel air out the room because it smelled like death. The next day Isabel went outside to get the laundry, and thought of Ruth and the snow.
Starting off the chapter, Doctor Dastuge is visiting Lady Seymour in her bed. She is paralized and cannot talk, so she nods yes or no. Madam Lockton has a dress that the seamstress had to come as frequent as the doctor. Later that week, Isabel finishes common sense. She reads a long sentence, that says that all men are equal, and that no one "deserved the crown" or born higher that one another. She finds Captain Morse signaling to her and she runs over. He starts to talk about giving a penny to a man named Captain Farrar. Later, she meets him and gives him the penny and she describes him as a horse faced man with an easy laugh. He gives her a piece of folded paper. Then the chapter ends with a cliffhanger, Madam whipping Isabel with a small riding crop and spatting, "How dare you?"
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