Chains

by

Laurie Halse Anderson

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Madam Lockton Character Analysis

The primary antagonist of the novel, Madam Lockton is Master Lockton’s wife; the Locktons own both Isabel and Ruth. Madam is extremely cruel and selfish. She wants to purchase enslaved people rather than take on indentured servants because she believes indentured servants do nothing but complain and steal—and in contrast, Madam can exert total control over someone who’s enslaved. So Madam renames Isabel Sal, insisting that Isabel is a “ridiculous” name; and she essentially turns Ruth into a human doll to be with her at all times and make her look wealthy and powerful. She’s also cruel to Lockton’s elderly aunt, Lady Seymour, as she finds Lady Seymour improperly kind and generous—and Isabel suspects Madam can’t wait for the elderly lady to die so she can take control of Lady Seymour’s money and properties. Madam is just as committed to the British winning the war as her husband is, though her focus is slightly different. Whereas Lockton insists on doing whatever necessary to support the cause, Madam’s concerns are more selfish: she wants to entertain officers and regain the lavish lifestyle she lived before the war started. Madam is superstitious, so when she discovers that Ruth has epilepsy, she believes Ruth is possessed—and vows to sell Ruth the first chance she gets. When Madam is finally successful, and Isabel insults her and runs away in protest, Madam lies about her altercation with Isabel and asks the judge to brand Isabel with an I, for “insolent.” This, she believes, will put Isabel in her place. Madam also goes out of her way to make Isabel feel powerless and insecure, such as by forbidding Isabel from visiting Curzon and feeding prisoners at the prison. But Isabel continues to resist—and when Madam finds out that Isabel is delivering messages for Patriot soldiers, she angrily reveals that Ruth is actually on the Lockton estate in Charleston. But Madam’s desire to be a respected, high-society lady overpowers her need to punish Isabel right away—and so when Madam is at a ball honoring the Queen’s birthday, Isabel runs away.

Madam Lockton Quotes in Chains

The Chains quotes below are all either spoken by Madam Lockton or refer to Madam Lockton. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Freedom Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Atheneum Books for Young Readers edition of Chains published in 2010.
Chapter 9 Quotes

“What is your name, girl?” she asked me.

“Isabel, ma’am,” I said. “Isabel Finch.”

“Ridiculous name,” Madam said. She opened her fan and waved it in front of her face. “You are called Sal Lockton now. It’s more suitable.”

I forced myself to breathe in slow and regular instead of telling her that my name was not her affair. “Yes, ma’am.”

Related Characters: Lady Seymour (speaker), Isabel (speaker), Madam Lockton (speaker), Miss Mary Finch
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

“The child’s curse will poison us all. I want her sold, Elihu, sold today.”

[…]

“They are sisters, Anne. One must remember that.”

“Please, Madam,” I said. “She’s too little. She’ll be hurt.”

Related Characters: Madam Lockton (speaker), Master Elihu Lockton (speaker), Isabel (speaker), Ruth, Becky Barry
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

“She is not suffering her particular ailment, is she?” Madam asked, her voice cutting like a blade.

“No, ma’am,” I lied again. “She helped carry out the ashes this morning, and it tired her.”

Madam glared a moment longer.

Lady Seymour stepped in front of Madam. “The heat affects small children more than most. Make sure your sister drinks some water before any more chores.”

Related Characters: Madam Lockton (speaker), Isabel (speaker), Lady Seymour (speaker), Ruth
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

As the crowd marched off to make bullets and celebrate liberty and independence in the taverns, I realized dark was fast falling, and I had tarried overly long. I picked up a sliver of lead that lay in the street. It was fringed with gilt; my own piece of majesty. Tyrants beware, I thought as I put it in my pocket.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Madam Lockton
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

I would turn myself over to the rebels. I had helped them fair and square. Now it was their turn.

We were all fighting for liberty.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Colonel Regan, Madam Lockton, Ruth
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

The fire in my face burned on and on, deep through my flesh, searing my soul. Stars exploded out the top of my head and all of my words and all of my rememberies followed them up to the sun, burning to ash that floated back and settled in the mud.

A few people at the edge of the crowd had fallen silent. They walked away with their heads down.

My momma and poppa appeared from the shadows. They flew to me and wrapped their arms around me and cooled my face with their ghost tears.

Night crept into my soul.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Madam Lockton, Momma/Dinah, Poppa
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 25 Quotes

Melancholy held me hostage, and the bees built a hive of sadness in my soul. Dark honey filled up inside me, drowning my thoughts and making it hard to move my eyes and hands. I worked as a puppet trained to scrub and carry, curtsy and nod.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Madam Lockton, Ruth
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 36 Quotes

“Please, ma’am,” I tried again. “How did you know?”

Her gaze returned to the logs in the hearth. “Take care how you go, Isabel. Many people think it is a fine and Christian thing to help the prisoners. I do not think my niece is one of them.”

“Yes, ma’am,” I whispered.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Lady Seymour (speaker), Curzon, Madam Lockton
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:

A thought surfaced through my ashes.

She cannot chain my soul.

Yes, she could hurt me. She’d already done so. But what was one more beating? A flogging, even? I would bleed, or not. Scar, or not. Live, or not. But she could no longer harm Ruth, and she could not hurt my soul, not unless I gave it to her.

This was a new notion to me and a curious one.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Madam Lockton, Ruth
Page Number: 346-47
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 40 Quotes

It would have eased her mind if I thanked her for wanting to buy me away from Madam. I tried to be grateful but could not. A body does not like being bought and sold like a basket of eggs, even if the person who cracks the shells is kind.

“Isabel?”

She awaited some word from me. I did not know how to explain myself. It was like talking to her maid, Angelika, who was so much like me and at the same time so much different. We two had no string of words that could tie us together.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Lady Seymour, Madam Lockton, The Dutch Maid/Angelika
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 43 Quotes

Everybody carried a little evil in them, Momma once told me. Madam Lockton had more than her share. The poison had eaten holes through her soul and made room for vermin to nest inside her.

[…]

The evil inside of me woke and crackled like lightning. I could wrap my hands around her throat. I could brain her with a poker, thrust her face into the flames. I could beat her senseless with my fists.

I shook from the effort of holding myself still, clutching the crumpled paper. Momma said we had to fight the evil inside us by overcoming it with goodness. She said it was a hard thing to do, but it made us worthy.

I breathed deep to steady myself.

I threw the Captain’s note into the fire.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Madam Lockton, Momma/Dinah
Page Number: 280-81
Explanation and Analysis:

I touched it, smooth and warm, flesh made silk.

The scars on Poppa’s cheek had been three lines across his cheek, carved with a sharp blade. He was proud of his marks. In the land of his ancestors, they made him into a man.

I traced the I with my fingertip.

This is my country mark. I did not ask for it, but I would carry it as Poppa carried his. It made me his daughter. It made me strong.

I took a step back, seeing near my whole self in the mirror. I pushed back my shoulders and raised my chin, my back straight as an arrow.

This mark stands for Isabel.

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Poppa, Grandfather, Madam Lockton
Page Number: 286
Explanation and Analysis:

I was not a Lockton. Nor a Finch. Isabel Rhode Island? That would not do. Isabel Cuffe, after Poppa, or Isabel Dinah, after Momma?

I closed my eyes and thought of home; the smell of fresh-cut hay and the taste of raspberries. Robins chasing bugs in the bean patch. Setting worms to work at the base of the corn plants. Showing Ruth what was weed and what was flower…

I opened my eyes, dipped the quill, and wrote out my true name: Isabel Gardener, being a Free Negro […]

Related Characters: Isabel (speaker), Ruth, Madam Lockton, Momma/Dinah, Poppa
Related Symbols: Seeds, Plants, and Gardens
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chains PDF

Madam Lockton Character Timeline in Chains

The timeline below shows where the character Madam Lockton appears in Chains. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Freedom Theme Icon
Slavery and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...amusement in the parlor” and Isabel can help Becky. She tells Isabel to call her Madam. (full context)
Freedom Theme Icon
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...to pay cash. Isabel prays to God that Jenny will be able to buy them—but Madam says the girls are a deal at twice Mr. Robert’s asking price. Jenny can’t top... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
...in the morning, a sailor brings down some wormy biscuits for Isabel and Ruth, and Madam Lockton shouts for someone to bring the girls to her. A sailor beckons to Ruth... (full context)
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Near the carriage, Madam tells two men to take a handsome walnut chest to the carriage, not to the... (full context)
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...taxes. But Bellingham responds that according to rumors, the Locktons “still lick the King’s boots.” Madam is offended, but Lockton insists he’s just a merchant—Bellingham won’t find British soldiers stashed in... (full context)
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Bellingham tells the soldiers to search the cargo and agrees that Lockton and Madam Lockton can go home. But rather than follow her husband, Madam Lockton asks Bellingham if... (full context)
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Instead, Isabel takes Ruth’s hand and follows Master Lockton and Madam Lockton to the carriage. Madam tells the men to put Ruth up with the driver;... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Once water is heating, Becky tells Isabel the rules: do what Madam says. Isabel will go to the Tea Water Pump daily, and she shouldn’t wander too... (full context)
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
...people are constantly switching sides to protect themselves. But what will never change is that Madam wants lemon cakes with tea. Lady Clarissa Seymour is coming this afternoon; she’s Lockton’s rich... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...She saves the cobwebs she removes, since cobwebs are good to stop bleeding from cuts. Madam complains whenever she sees Isabel, so Isabel makes sure she always knows where Madam is.... (full context)
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The morning after the big fight, Madam sends for Ruth. Isabel, distraught, wants to know why, but Becky gripes that Madam’s desires... (full context)
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Becky says she’s sure Isabel doesn’t like this, but she has to be careful—Madam isn’t afraid to beat enslaved people. The Locktons keep about six in their Charleston home.... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
...that she and Ruth can walk home on the exposed sand. Ruth is upstairs with Madam; Master Lockton is in his library. Becky is watching General Washington and his soldiers parade... (full context)
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Becky waves Isabel inside. Isabel instantly notices Ruth, who looks like “Madam’s pretty pet.” Ruth also looks like she’s been crying, but she stays silent. Isabel curtseys... (full context)
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...bribe half of the rebel army.” Through a crack in the door, Isabel can see Madam’s linen chest open inside—and in it is money. The men are talking about bribing rebels... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...to bed. Ruth won’t tell Isabel why she was crying earlier, but Isabel is certain Madam beat her. Momma wouldn’t let anyone beat her children. As Isabel settles Ruth in bed,... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...Isabel awake as soon as Isabel falls asleep. All day, Isabel hurries through her work. Madam is in a mood, too, so she tells Isabel to do things like air the... (full context)
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...at first. As she rips sheets off the furniture, Becky mutters that it’s ridiculous that Madam wants the drawing room prepped when there’s no real staff and the city is about... (full context)
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Madam races downstairs, enraged, as Bellingham’s men start to remove the windows with metal bars. As... (full context)
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Isabel follows everyone upstairs to the Locktons’ bedchamber, where Madam is again sitting on the walnut chest and refusing to let the soldiers open it.... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...to tell her what happened. Lady Seymour isn’t surprised Lockton was arrested and says that Madam should under no circumstances leave for Charleston, which is what she wants to do. Lady... (full context)
Chapter 13
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As Isabel is coming down the stairs with Madam’s full chamber pot the next morning, Master Lockton comes in the front door. He clearly... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...eel pie, and apparently, Master Lockton does too. But when Isabel gets into the kitchen, Madam comes in, sweaty and impatient. She says that Isabel will serve Lockton and his guests,... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Ruth is lying at Madam’s feet, convulsing. Madam shrieks that it’s the devil and hits Ruth with the broom, but... (full context)
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...Becky back to the library with wine and then asks how often Ruth experiences fits. Madam interjects that she won’t allow evil in her house—they must sell Ruth today. Lockton insists... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Once Ruth falls asleep that night, Isabel knows what she has to do. Madam’s threat is serious—the girls have to get out of the city. Isabel knows that Bellingham... (full context)
Chapter 17
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The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
...seem normal for the next two days; Master Lockton is busy visiting the mayor, and Madam stays upstairs. Madam insists that only Becky can serve her, since she’s afraid of Ruth.... (full context)
The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
...in anger. The plot to kill General Washington has been uncovered. Isabel runs to fetch Madam home from a friend’s house. (full context)
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The Personal and the Political Theme Icon
When Isabel and Madam return, Lockton is pacing. He says he’s sent for a cart, and they must burn... (full context)
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...find nothing, so they stomp away. Becky heads for the market, and when she returns, Madam demands to hear the news or gossip. Madam’s face is bruised, and it’s clear she’s... (full context)
Chapter 18
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On Friday morning, Becky insists that Isabel take Ruth and go watch Thomas Hickey’s hanging. Madam will be fine without the girls’ help, since she’s stayed drunk since Lockton left. Isabel... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Isabel and Ruth follow Madam and Lady Seymour to look at the docked British ships. Madam is thrilled, but the... (full context)
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British ships sail up the river all day and all the next night. Madam tells Isabel to polish the silver; she hopes they can entertain British commanders soon. When... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The week passes slowly. Militia units enter the city and frightened civilians leave it. Madam is alternately excited for the impending British victory and upset that the British won’t invade.... (full context)
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...to the Lockton house, the lights are on in the front parlor. Becky says that Madam visited the reverend’s wife and came home a changed woman. She asked Becky to give... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...measuring flour for bread and says she should’ve stayed to do it last night, but Madam wanted a quiet house. She wouldn’t have left had she known. (full context)
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...the hallway, yelling for Ruth and ignoring Becky’s warnings. Becky grabs Isabel and says that Madam sold Ruth—the milk last night probably contained a sleeping potion. When Becky arrived this morning,... (full context)
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Just then, Madam comes down the stairs and asks what’s going on. The paintings of her dead ancestors... (full context)
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...where an enslaved barber is shaving Regan’s face. Isabel begs him for help just as Madam and a tall gentleman squeeze into the room. Madam says that Isabel committed a crime... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Identity, Memory, and Family Theme Icon
...and who threw a painting at Isabel, speaks. Isabel finally remembers that the woman is Madam Lockton, and she sold Ruth. Madam pretends to cry in her handkerchief and tells lies... (full context)
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...crimes of insolence, property destruction, and running away aren’t bad enough for the death penalty. Madam asks that Isabel be branded with an I, to convey to everyone that Isabel is... (full context)
Chapter 24
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...is. Isabel asks if she works for Lady Seymour now, but Lady Seymour says that Madam wants Isabel back and there’s no legal way for Lady Seymour to keep Isabel. Once... (full context)
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...finishes her meal, Lady Seymour enters and says it’s time. Isabel follows the lady to Madam’s house and, at Madam’s prodding, goes around to the back door. (full context)
Chapter 25
Freedom Theme Icon
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...up. The honey makes it hard to think or do anything but scrub and carry. Madam refuses to speak to Isabel and gives her orders through Becky. If Isabel is working... (full context)
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...it.” Later that evening, Becky says that Isabel needs to tell Curzon to go away. Madam wants him arrested. (full context)
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...can’t figure out how (lots of things look different after the branding). Curzon asks if Madam has gotten letters from Lockton, and Isabel snaps. She says that the rebels don’t want... (full context)
Chapter 26
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When Madam calls for tea, Isabel takes her buckets to fetch water. Bees fly out of her... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...a battle in Brooklyn, capturing or killing 1,000 Patriots. It then promptly starts to rain. Madam paces, and Isabel wishes the bees would come back to her brain so she doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 28
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...of New York begins. After three cannon blasts shake the church, Isabel follows everyone outside. Madam asks an officer what’s going on. He says that war is here, but the generals... (full context)
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...and give her work, and Isabel will save so she can afford to rescue Ruth. Madam angrily calls Isabel back to attention and asks if she’s ill. Isabel says she’s fine,... (full context)
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...the basket. Isabel watches people passing outside and urges the British to land soon, before Madam decides to send someone to find Isabel. Finally, things are quiet outside, so Isabel crawls... (full context)
Chapter 29
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...person on the street. She heads for the waterfront, wondering how long she has before Madam becomes suspicious. At the Patriots’ campground, Isabel peeks in a tent. The soldiers abandoned everything.... (full context)
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...it’s an I for insolence, and she got it after trying to run away when Madam sold her little sister. (full context)
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Captain Campbell deems this “regrettable” and understandable. But then he asks if Madam is a rebel supporter. Isabel says Madam supports the Tories; she can’t wait to entertain... (full context)
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...come ashore—and one of them is Master Lockton. He calls to Isabel. She pulls out Madam’s list and says she’s headed for the market. Lockton asks about the I on her... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...long since she polishes silver and irons tablecloths while it’s cooking. It doesn’t matter when Madam scolds her for the dry chicken. That night, Isabel puts her head down next to... (full context)
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...since her Dutch servants left and she has a dozen Hessians staying at her house. Madam says she can’t do the housework herself, but Lockton says they owe Lady Seymour. And... (full context)
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...breathe fire and are always covered in blood, so she figures they’re as bad as Madam. She’s somewhat correct: they spit when they talk and eat their meat rare, and their... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...seeds from the flowers. As the weather gets colder, Lady Seymour’s health improves. In private, Madam grumbles about this—she can’t wait for Lady Seymour to die. One day, after Madam reads... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Madam throws a celebratory supper complete with turtle soup. She hires the cook from a well-known... (full context)
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...drawing room at the dinner party. Master Lockton is well-dressed, but it’s obvious he’s overworked. Madam’s tall hairdo looks ready to fall at any moment, and Lady Seymour looks like “an... (full context)
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Madam changes the subject and raises a toast just as her eyebrow falls into her rice... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Isabel’s chance to sneak to the prison comes three days later, when Madam and Lady Seymour leave to visit a friend—and in their absence, the soldiers’ wives leave... (full context)
Chapter 36
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Lady Seymour comes down with a fever after the visit to Madam’s friend, so Madam calls the doctor. When the doctor is done seeing to the lady,... (full context)
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...Isabel that while many people think that feeding prisoners is a Christian thing to do, Madam doesn’t agree. Isabel must be careful. (full context)
Chapter 37
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...Isabel no longer spends her days in the lady’s warm chamber. Christmas preparations begin, and Madam crafts a long list of sweets she requires. Isabel is constantly fetching wood and beating... (full context)
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...recognizable, and she’ll be hanged along with the prisoners and Captain Morse as soon as Madam finds out. But she visits the prison daily from then on. (full context)
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A few nights later, Lockton and Madam fight. Lockton plans to get the next ship to London, and Madam wants him to... (full context)
Chapter 38
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...the prisoners, and Curzon is doing better. Isabel then spends her morning cutting holly for Madam and helping to decorate the house. She’s never seen a house decorated for Christmas like... (full context)
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...Christmas morning, Lady Seymour gives Isabel a new pair of shoes that fits her properly. Madam gives the soldiers’ wives money and gives nothing to Isabel. After the church service, Madam... (full context)
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Isabel’s heart stops as Madam says that Lady Seymour insists she’s sending Isabel to the prison, and that it’s good... (full context)
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...at the shore, waiting for their children to return. Suddenly, it occurs to Isabel that Madam can’t “chain [her] soul.” Madam can hurt Isabel’s body, but she can’t hurt Ruth or... (full context)
Chapter 39
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As Isabel and Sarah head back down the street, Isabel asks if Sarah has heard Madam say anything about her. Sarah says that Madam doesn’t want Isabel fetching water anymore, even... (full context)
Chapter 40
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...Parliament the bad news. Isabel continues to visit the prison early in the morning, terrified Madam will find her out. Her fears seem to be coming true when on the morning... (full context)
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As soon as Lockton leaves, Madam goes to play cards with a friend. In her absence, Sarah gives birth to a... (full context)
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...and she seeks forgiveness. She wanted to buy Isabel right after they first met, but Madam wouldn’t sell Isabel. Lady Seymour says she should’ve demanded to take Isabel once Lockton returned... (full context)
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...and an hour later, to escape the smoke, Colonel Hawkins leaves for headquarters. Then, since Madam is guaranteed to be playing cards for some time and Lady Seymour is asleep, Isabel... (full context)
Chapter 41
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The next morning, Madam demands hot scones and a seamstress. Queen Charlotte’s birthday ball is in 10 days, and... (full context)
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...do but make her comfortable. Isabel again takes over caring for the lady and hears Madam asking the doctor when Lady Seymour will die. She figures that Madam wants Lady Seymour... (full context)
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...has heard of other enslaved people who bought their freedom by working on Sunday afternoons. Madam will never allow Isabel to work. (full context)
Chapter 42
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...twice daily. The lady’s mind is still sharp, though she can barely move her body. Madam’s seamstress also visits often to work on the red, navy, and gold ballgown. Hannah and... (full context)
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...to Farrar. Isabel is confused since the task seems so silly, but she figures that Madam will be too busy preparing for the ball to notice Isabel’s absence. (full context)
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...outside. She jumps in fear, but Hannah laughs that that was the royal salute. Later, Madam invites a friend for tea. When the friend accepts, Hannah sends Isabel to fetch more... (full context)
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...enters the kitchen and puts the water down. Just as she starts to boil water, Madam storms into the kitchen with a riding crop and hits Isabel in the face with... (full context)
Chapter 43
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Hannah enters the kitchen as Madam hits Isabel across the shoulder. Madam tells Hannah to stay and then mimics her friend,... (full context)
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Enraged, Madam shrieks that she’ll sell Isabel on Monday—and will sell Ruth too. Hannah leaves to answer... (full context)
Chapter 44
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...stealing from a woman who was kind to her, but then again, Lady Seymour let Madam sell Ruth. (full context)
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...larger purse, and then realizes Lady Seymour is awake and watching. Isabel apologizes and says Madam is going to sell her. She helps Lady Seymour drink water and then asks for... (full context)