Fever 1793 is a story about yellow fever.
The setting is in Philadelphia.
The time period is in 1793.
both mice and mosquitoes carry germs
mosquitoes carried yellow fever
in August, Philadelphia had forty thousand people
in September, over two thousand people died
in September, over 20,000 people left Philadelphia
August 16, 1793
Matilda woke up. It was a hot August morning. Her mother is yelling. Polly is late again for work. A mosquito buzzes in her ear. She tries to go back to bed. Her mother is still yelling at her. Silas, their cat had caught a mouth. Silas is ready to eat it on the bed. Matilda picks up the dead mouse. She thinks about throwing it outside but thinks it might scare onr of the horses. So she opens the window and throws the dead mouse out of the window.
August 16, 1793
Matilda sat at the table. It was bigger then most. She lived with her Mother, and Grandfather. Eliza worked for the family. They owned and operated the Cook Coffeehouse. Father had built their house after the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783. Matilda was four years old when the war ended. Father had been a carpenter. He died when he fell off a ladder, just two months after the coffeehouse was opened.
Grandfather moved in with Matilda and her mom after her father died.
Eliza was the coffeehouse cook. Eliza was not a slave. Like many other people of color living in Philadelphia they were free.
Eliza had been born a slave near Williamsburg, Virginia. Her husband saved his horse shoeing money and purchased her freedom. Now she is saving the money she earns to free him.
Sadly her husband was killed by a run away horse. After a few years Eliza learned how to smile again. Mother had not learned to smile again.
Matilda told Eliza that she was her best friend. Eliza laughed.
Eliza made breakfast for Matilda. Matilda asked about Polly. Eliza told Matilda that perhaps Polly was sick.
Matilda had to get water out of the well. She carried the water to the garden. She poured the water on the potato plants. Matilda wanted to be rich and travel to France. She wanted to own many stores, a restaurant and maybe even a school.
Mother retuned to the coffeehouse. Matilda waved a mosquito from her face. She said that it happened quickly. Polly died from Yellow Fever.
August 16, 1793
Matilda couldn't believe it! They had been cradle friends. They grew up together. Mother told Eliza that Polly came down with a fever, cried out and died. It surprised everyone because Polly was a healthy girl. She was never sick.
Mother checked Matilda for a fever. Mother told Matilda that she did not suffer. She was not in any pain. Mother decided that they were not going to go to the family. She did not want to get sick too. Mother said that Polly was a servant not a friend. Matilda yelled at her mother and told her mother that they were friends.
her mother scolded Matilda. Matilda was told to apologize. She did.
August 16th, 1793
By noon, the coffeehouse was full of people. Matilda's grandfather was Captian William Farnsworth cook. He had been an officer his whole life. He worked for George Washington. Grandfather told Matilda to serve them some treats. They teased her about finding a husband. The men talked about the bad smells down by the Wharf. They thought that maybe coffee beans that we're rotting we're causing people to get sick.
A week later 64 people were dead. No one was sure what was making the people sick and killing them. people that were most likely to get sick we're the people near the docks. Matilda had little time to mourn or feel sad for Polly. Matilda had to do all of Polly's chores. Eight days after Polly died, mother and grandfather discussed their plans for the day.
Mother was exhausted but insisted on going to market to buy more eggs, cheese, and lemons. Grandfather told her to send Matilda. Mother looked like she was thinking it over. Finally mother told grandfather that she was thinking about sending her to the Ludingtons At Gwynedd.
Mother er was thinking that it was best to get Matilda out of Philadelphia were the fever was killing people. Matilda knew the Ludingtons. They had a farm with disgusting pigs and dogs that bite. Matilda thought that any place would be better than the Ludingtons.
Grandfather told mother that she only thought that bad things would happen. He told her she only saw darkness. Grandfather reminded mother that the Ludingtons we're not family.
Matilda reminded mother and grandfather that the sun was growing hotter and that she needed to go to the market before they sold out of eggs and cheese, or that they would spoil.
Grandfather made the final decision. He told mother that beside their castle, the market was the second safest place to be. He told mother that Polly must have died from a weak heart, and doubted that she died from the fever.
Mother decided that she would write out the shopping list for Matilda, but Matilda promised her that she knew already what to buy. Matilda was instructed to come straight home after the shopping was done. Mother also told her not to be hanging out at the Peales house. Matilda blushed.
Matilda suggested that they buy more bread, as they were sure to run out again.
As she crossed Fourth Street, the sounds of the market splashed over her like a wave. People were hollering and trying to draw the customer towards them. Customers argued about the price, and chickens clucked.
Matilda stopped at Mr. and Mrs. Epler's stand to buy eggs. They were immigrants from Germany. Mrs. Epler talked about the fever to Matilda. Mrs. Epler told Matilda that anyone who was sick should go to church. She said that the people that were sick were sinners. She told Matilda that God gave the fever because they are sinners.
She asked Matilda I'd she went to church, and Matilda told her that she had. Matilda was told that she would not get sick because she went to church, then asked Matilda how many eggs she wanted to buy.
Next, Matilda went to Mr. Owens stall to look at the cabbages. The cabbages were small Mr. Owens said because of the drought. Matilda was able to pay a cheaper price because of their size.
The next stall had fresh lemons, so Matilda purchased a dozen. There were no savory to be found. The apples that were available for purchase were small and flawed. Mrs. Hotchkiss sold her cheese but charged an unfair amount for it.
As Matilda was approaching the butcher, someone grabbed her basket and spun her around. It was Nathaniel Bensen.
Matilda's stomach flipped like an egg in a skillet. Nathaniel was beautiful. He had sprouted up and had grown broad in the chest.
Nathaniel worked as a painter's assistant and worked long, hard hours. Mother said he was not suitable for her. She said he had no future, was a scamp and possibly a scoundrel.
Matilda greeted him and politely asked for her market basket back. Nathaniel teased her and told her he had expected her push him down like last time. He stated, "I guess you respect my new position as a man of the world."
Matilda said, "You are not a man of the world, you clean paint brushes." She added, "For the life of me, I do not why Mr. Peale bothers with you."
Matilda told him that his shoe was unbuckled and she grabbed her basket back when he looked down.
Nathaniel grabbed an apple from the basket. The impudence!
Nathaniel told Matilda that Master Peale gave him the day off. Nathaniel invited Matilda to go fishing.
Matilda had not been fishing in months. She had known Nathaniel since they were both babies, so she knew she could roll her sleeves up to her elbows as long as her mother did not see her do this.
Nathaniel smiled at Matilda and she got a chill despite the hot day.
The church bell rang. Bong. Bong. Bong.
Nathaniel questioned why it was ringing since it was not on the hour. "Another person is dead," said the butcher. The bell rings once for each year the person lived.
The bell stopped when it reached twenty-one. Nathaniel questioned if the person had died because of the fever.
Theye talked about Polly, and Matilda cried. Nathaniel plac d his hands on her shoulders and apologized for making her cry.
Matilda bid Nathaniel goodbye and told him that he would not catch any fish at this time of day. She curtsied and he tipped his host like a gentleman. She wished him luck in his painting and walked away.
As she walked away she could only think that wishing him good luck was a silly thing to say, and she felt as though she could still feel his hands on her shoulders.
August 30, 1793
As Matilda washed clothes and put it through the mangle to squeeze water from the table clothes, Matilda fondly remembered winter. Grandfathervon the other hand preferred summer.
Grsndfsther took this opportunity to talk about Nathaniel, and spoke that he had been inappropriate to Matilda. Matilda dismissed his concern stating that he gave his condolences about Polly.
Together they hey carried the wet laundry and hung them to dry.
Mother had both Matilda and even grandfather doing errands. Grandfather was in charge of fetching or getting the coffee beans. Father teased Matilda and said that he would rather face the British then to face his daughter-in-law.
Just then the cat, Silas, decided to chase a squirrel and the squirrel and cat headed to where the clothes were hung and made the clean wet linen fall onto the dry red ground.
Matilda had to wash the table clothes again. When Matilda food was on the table. Grandfather and mother were talking about what to do with their extra earnings. Grandfather asked Matilda her thoughts. Matilda suggested that they buy a second coffee urn to serve the customers in a quicker manner. Next, Matilda suggested that they expand the coffee house. She also suggested that they hang paintings and fripperies.
Mother scolded Grandfather. She told him that the reason for the improved business is that people are afraid to go by the docks due to the fever.
Grandfather mentioned that Philadelphia suffers fevers every August. Grandfather blames the refugees for bringing the fever. He stated that the major should quarantine them on Hogs Island for a few weeks.
Mother again suggested that they leave like Emily Bache'ls family.
Grandfather suggested that they were stronger, and that they should remain and continue to make a nice profit.
Then there was a knock on the door. Grandfather to come back in one hour when they were open. The boy said that he had a message, so grandfather went to the door.
Matilda thought that business would further improve if the president and his wife, Martha would go torte coffee shop for tea. In addition if Mr. Thomas Jefferson were to hold his meetings at the coffeehouse, more business would follow.
The note that grandfather had received was something special. It was an invitation from Pernilla, the woman from church. She had a son. This son was deemed to be the same me for Matilda to marry. His name is Edward.
Matilda does not like the idea, and does not like Edward. Grandfather convinces her to go, unless she wanted to remain behind and do a mile long list of chores.
Mother decided to wear a dress that she had not worn since the end of the war, and despite its few stains would fit her well. Matilda was harder to fit. She had gotten larger, so annoying of her clothing was too small.
Mother told Matilda to pretend they were going to France. Eliza the cook worked on Matilda's hair, while most their worked on resizing a dress.
Mother told Matilda that it was never too early suitable man. "A bride with an established coffeehouse is the best that Edward could hope for," said mother.
Matilda pleaded with her mother. She said, "I do not need a husband to run the coffeehouse. You don't have one."
Mother told her not to be vulgar, and suggested that when she does marry that her husband not be fool enough to fall off a ladder and break his neck. Mother said, " The last thing this family needs is another miserable spinster."
August 30th, 1793
When they arrived at the mansion, mother was kind to Matilda. She told her that she wanted the best for Matilda. A maid opened the door, and they were escorted inside. Mother was aware of Pernilla's gown. It was beautiful. Mother placed her hand over her coffee stained hip. Mother introduced Matilda and sHe curtsied even though she knew that her dress was barely held together.
Pernilla mentioned that Matilda's father, God Bless his soul would have gone far had b
he been educated. Mother gritted her teeth, but managed to smile.
Pernilla rang a bell, and her two daughters in matching pink and yellow gowns appeared in the doorway. Everyone sat down on the expensive furniture. Two servants arrived and served tea, rolls and bite-sized frosted cakes.
Pernilla asked, "Matilda are you studying French?"
Mother jumped in and said, "You know how old fashioned my father-in law is. He prohibits French, no matter how much I implore him. You are so lucky to have a husband who speaks French. Do your sons speak French?"
Pernilla started to talk all about the French Ambassador. Matilida tried to reach for a pastry. Pernilla's daughter seeing that Matilda was reaching for a pastry, passed the plate in the opposite direction.
Pernilla spoke about the ball or party that she planned. Only two families responded because the rest of the had left Philadelphia.
Jeannine, one of the daughters took out her fan. She held her fan in front of her and stuck her tongue out at Matilda.
Pernilla spoke about the gross injustice that her gala or party should suffer because the "filthy refugees and creatures that live in crowded spaces" had taken sick.
Mother attempted to to change the conversation and inquired about Pernilla's sons. Colette, one of Pernilla's daughters is now engaged to Lord Garthings son. Colette, as Pernilla explained, complained of a mysterious illness during the mornings training.
Again, mother inquired about the sons and whether or not they had a bride. They had not.
Matilda was very uncomfortable in this house. mother had come from a home with great wealth, she did not. Matilda clasped her hands so that she did not slap Jeannine the girl who took the pastry and stuck out her tongue.
Colletta up her tea to drink from it, but spilled it onto her lap. No one else noticed except Matilda. Pernillas told Matilda and her mother that her sons were too good to have a trade. They would become lawyers or bankers.
Jeannine threw down her fan and spoke to her mother. "Mama, must you be so thick-headed? Mrs. Cook is asking if you might consider Miss Cook as a wife for one of my brothers. And I imagine their filthy little tavern is part of the deal."
Matilda stood so quickly that her dress ripped. "First it is a coffeehouse, not a tavern."
Jeannine replied "Grog shop."
Ar this insult, mother stood. I run a coffeehouse. A grog shop is for criminals and others that drink whiskey and fun get."
Colletta stood up and said, "I'm burning." And collapsed.
Pernilla shrieked, and mother touched Colletta's head.
September 2nd, 1793
Following Coletta's collapse, many of the wealthy families headed to the country. Matilda and her family were lucky to get five customers a day!
Eliza told Matilda that the fever was spreading, she heard it during the Free African Society meeting. Grandfather did not believe that the Fever was in Philadelphia.
Grandfather and Matilda ran an errand. They stopped to get a newspaper.
The newspaper had an article from the College of Physicians which suggested that people avoid anyone who was sick, that the homes of the sick be marked and sick people should be placed in the center of a large room. They also suggested that the death bells stop immediately.
The he poor and sick were sent to the Elmshouse. Once a day the bodies of the dead are removed.
Mr. Carris told grandfather and Matilda that over one thousand had died.
"Some doctors warned that one in forty could die. At the beginning of the outbreak of the Fever over 40,000 people were living in Philadelphia.
Mr. Carries told grandfather that he feared Philadelphia, he feared for the people and he feared for himself and his family.
Grandfather and Matilda did not talk at all. On their way home, they saw a man pushing a wheel barrow. The man was dressed in rags. Grandfather said that he looked like he lived along the waterfront, with the other poor people. The man stopped in front of their cofeehouse, and grandfather could see an arm. Both grandfather and Matilda ran towards the man, and were yelling at him. The man looked at grandfather and emptied the wheelbarrow, and dumped a woman on the street.
"Mother," I screamed.
September 2nd, 1793
They picked up mother and carried her inside. She was alive. Grandfather said she was overcome with heat. Mother looked at them in confusion, and they told her that she had fainted.
Something was terribly wrong. Mother was sleeping midday. Mr. Rowley had dirty hands and smelled of rum. He went up to mother and took her pulse. Mother did not wake. At last Mr. Rowley declared that she was not sick with the yellow fever. Grandfather beamed. He told them to bathe her every four hours, then held out his hand waiting for this fee.
Matilda and Eliza bathed mother. Mother shivered so hard, that her teeth rattled. Later in the evening Eliza went home. Matilda sat with mother, and watched her sleep.
Matilda was suddenly awaken when she heard her mother. Mother was violently ill. She was vomiting blood which was all over the bed and the floor. Her eyes rolled back.
Mother yelled at Matilda, "Leave me!"
Mother continued to shout demands, "Out! Don't want you sick, Go away!"
September 6, 1793
Mother slept. She was still alive. Grandfather and Eliza found Dr. Kerr, an educated doctor from Scotland.
Dr. Kerr told Matilda that Mr. Rowley was an impostor. Dr. Kerr explained that Mother did have Yellow Fever. He explained that she must be bled. They took ten ounces of blood from mother. Mother woke, and saw Matilda and again said, "Out!"
Grandfather was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. He told grandfather that mother had yellow fever. Dr. Kerr suggested that grandfather send Matilda out of town immediately. Matilda wanted to take her mother, but the doctor said that she would be turned away, since no town wanted the fever. Dr. Kerr said that the cook would care for Mother, and that Grandfather was to travel with Matilda.
As Eliza was preparing a bag of food, she handed Matilda a package that had arrived earlier in the day. It was from Nathaniel. Inside the package was a picture of a vase. Inside the package was a hand written note.
"Mattie- I write you in haste. Mr. Pease is closing up shop and leaving the city to protect all of us from the fever. We shall watch balloons race again, once the plague passes. Wishing you well. Nathaniel.
A short time later, a wagon was waiting.
Matilda and Eliza bid each other goodbye. Eliza told Matilda that she would make sure her mother got well. When grandfather left the house, he was dressed in his military uniform.
"Captain William Farnsworth Cook, Pennsylvania Fifth Regiment, her to escort you beyond the lines of dread and terrible enemy, Yellow Fever, Miss Matilda." King George, grandfather's parrot flew over head the wagon, and the horse pulled them down the street.
And as Matilda left home, it in a manner quite unpredicted.
September 7th, 1793
With the half-starved horse, it took nearly an hour to clear the city line. The insects were vicious.
On the way, grandfather asked Matilda many questions about fighting as a soldier. He asked Matilda, "What three things does a soldier need?
Matilda laughted, " A full belly, a good night's sleep and a good pair of boots."
The wagon stopped. Grandfather and Matilda woke up. When grandfather asked why they had stopped, the farmer pointed at four men on horses with a musket blocking their way.
The men were not robbers. They were hired by the town to prevent anyone who was sick with fever from entering their town.
Grandfather began to cough. He said his throat was dry from the trip. The men told the farmer and his wife to turn the wagon around. They said that grandfather was sick with the fever. The men took Matilda and grandfather off of the wagon. The farmer told them that he just picked them up, and insisted that they be allowed to continue.
Matilda and grandfather stood there, and watched the wagon leave without them. The doctor told them to go back to Philadelphia. Grandfather asked them for help, and they were denied.
September 8, 1793
Matilda and grandfather had not walked very far when grandfather shook with the chills. They were over 10 miles away from Philapelphia and had no food or water. Grandfather was already sleeping under the Chestnut tree. Matilda climbed a nearby hill, and looked around. She saw willow trees. This was an old soldiers trick to finding water. Matilda found water, and then picked the raspberries that were growing nearby. Matilda thought where there are raspberries there are rabbits. She thought about catching one. When she returned she gave her grandfather water. She told him that in the morning they would move closer to the willow trees, as it was much cooler there.
Grandfather spoke and said that "General Washington told him once that his only flaw was that he was stubborn." Grandfather turned to Matilda and told her that they needed a plan. Matilda waited for the plan. Then she told grandfather that they would leave the area in the morning.
Grandfather responded, "Whatever you say, Captain."
ROLES HAVE JUST CHANGED! MATILDA IS GROWING FROM A MERE GIRL TO A WOMEN WHO NEEDS TO TAKE CHARGE.
September 10, 1793
Matilda awoke suddenly. Her mouth was parched. She had no water left in her canteen. She had to go back to the stream. Grandfather's parrot followed. Matilda wondered how she could get help. They needed food and grandfather needed a doctor. The parrot landed on her shoulder and yelled, "Tea, Mattie, I want tea!" Matilda threatened to turn him into a pillow.
As Matilda was in the water cooling off, she heard fish jumping from the water. She attempted to catch a fish using her petticoat as a net. She was about ready to lift her petticoat with a trout in it, when King George the parrot swooped down in front of her, to eat a bee that was nearby. Matilda fell forward, and was soaking wet.
When Matilda returned, grandfather was awake. His eyes were still clear. Grandfather told Matilda that he was cold, despite the heat. Matilda told him that she would make a fire, and all he could do was to nod.
Grandfather asked about food, and Matilda told him all that they had was berries. Grandfather told Matilda that they needed food. Grandfather took money out of his vest, and told her to find a nearby farm. He told her to buy a meal and to get some blankets on loan.
Matilda found a farmer, but he told Matilda to go away. As Matilda walked on she stepped on a rotten piece of fruit. This made her look up, and she found some pears in a tree. She climbed the tree, and headed back to find grandfather.
Somewhere along the way, the pears grew heavy. Matilda heard voices. She felt like she was sliding backwards. She felt that the sun was now a giant snowball. Her teeth chattered together. She tried to call grandfather's name, but could not make a sound. Matilda wondered why she was carrying rocks. Matilda wanted to sleep. Then blackness.
"Is she dead?" asked a man named Barney.
Matilda opened her eyes and saw a name and women. She heard moans on both sides of her. She wondered where she was. She felt colder than she had ever felt before.
Two orderlies who spoke French, walked over to the body next to Matilda. Matilda stole a look, and realized it was neither mother or grandfather.
A woman, Mrs. Flagg told Matilda that she was going to be ok. She told her that her grandfather was alive and well. She told Matilda that grandfather did not have yellow fever.
Mrs. Flagg gave Matilda a broth, and Matilda ate it. Then Mrs. Flagg washed her, telling her that was the best medicine. She added that if she did not get sick, she would be able to eat rice at night.
Grandfather walked in, and teased Matilda about being in bed.
Matilda asked where they were, and Mrs. Flagg told them that they were at Bush Hill. Matilda began to panic. She told Mrs. Flagg that they could not stay.
The city had turned a mansion on BushHill into a hospital. She told her that she was in a good place, one with actual doctors, nurses, food, and medicine.
Matilda asked about mother, and grandfather explained that they had been away five days already. He told her that when he rode back into town, the house was locked up tight. Grandfather predicted that mother and Eliza had already left for the country.
September 22, 1793
When the doctor checked Matilda, he told grandfather that she would live. Matilda was sent to the barn, to continue to find her strength. She liked the barn. She liked that they patients were healthy and recuperating. Grandfather helped the people at Hill Bush. He was happy to have things to do. Grandfather and Matilda had sent a letter to mother, but she had not responded.
With every passing day, Matilda felt stronger. One of the men wanted to send Matilda to an orphan house. Grandfather told this man, that was out of the question. He told the man that he himself had served General Washington. He threatened to turn the man in to the president for being dishonest.
Grandfather fell into a coughing fit. Both Matilda and Mrs. Flagg were worried. Grandfather told Mrs. Flagg that he had a little girl to take care of now, and a woman to take to a ball one day.
September 24, 1793
Grandfather and Matilda were placed in a carriage with five orphans. Grandfather rode in the front of the wagon. Mosquitoes, gnats and flies followed the wagon. Mrs. Bowles, who was also on the wagon asked Matilda how old she was. She stated that she was fourteen and would be turning 15 in December. Mrs. Bowles asked Matilda if she had any intentions of helping. Matilda was surprised. "How can I help anyone, I am only a girl?"
She told Matilda that the children were not going to an orphanage, They were taking them to a house. She wanted Matilda to come with them and to help with the children and to do chores. They approached a dying town. Businesses were closed. Sick people lay in the street. Now that it was 20 days later, the death toll had raised over two thousand people.
September 24, 1793
By the time they reached the coffeehouse it was midday. A yellow ribbon was still tied to the handle of the front door, which was open.
Matilda jumped out of the wagon and burst through the doorway. They had been robbed. Mother was not upstairs. The sickness lingered, so Matilda opened the windows. Whoever that had robbed the downstairs, had not gone upstairs. The strongbox that held their money was still in its hiding place. They had taken the food. Silas the cat, came from the back door. Matilda went into the garden and found a small handful of beans, a few sour cherries and four small squash that mice had already nibbled.
Matilda put a bean in her mouth and said a pray to look over her family and Nathaniel.
September 25, 1793
Matilda took a bath. She boiled water and poured it into the tub. Normally she bathed once a month, but today felt like a special occasion. Grandfather and Matilda had survived another day and night.
Matilda made soup with water and herbs. It did not taste very good, but it was the only food that they had. Matilda had grandfather take a bath when he woke up.
Matilda talked about leaving the house to go buy food somewhere within the town, but grandfather refused, telling her that they were safer at home.
Matilda watered the garden with the bath water. She picked the healthiest plants to water. She eventually found six potatoes. Matilda was so excited that she danced. The meal was good. It helped ease the ache in their stomachs.
September 26, 1793
Matilda was dreaming about food. Lots and lots of food. In her dream she is about to eat a piece of pie, when she is suddenly awaken by the sound of a heavy footstep by the window. There were two men outside her window. They peered into the window and decided that there was no one inside and entered through the window. The short man, told the other man, that earlier in the day, he saw smoke coming from the chimney. One of the men said,"They have plenty of pewter and silver hidden, no doubt," and began to search the drawers.
The first thing that they put into their bag were grandfather's chess pieces. The taller man lifted grandfather's sword off the mantle, and said that he could sell it for a lot of money.
Matilda could hid from the thieves no longer. She was not safe. She bolted towards the back door. She ran down the stairs. Suddenly two bony hands curled around her shoulder like the claws of a panther and yanked her backward. Matilda hit the ground so hard it knocked the breath out of her. The tall man picked her up and carried her back into the house. He tied her hands together and demanded that she tell them where they hid their money and treasures.
Matilda spat at the tall man. The tall man hit Matilda.
Just then, grandfather was on the stairs. He told the tall man to step away from his granddaughter. He had his rifle in his hands and it was pointed at the tall man. The short man was already crawling out of the window.
Grandfather did not look well. He counted to three. The gun went off and knocked grandfather back. The tall man ran up to grandfather and punched him in his face. Matilda kicked the tall man, but was knocked down to the ground again. Grandfather's sword lay on the ground where the robber had dropped it. Matilda picked it up with two hands. Grandfather had taught Matilda how to use the sword. She yelled at the tall man to let her grandfather go.
The man ignored Matilda. His hands were around grandfather's throat. The tall man hit grandfather and grandfather hit his head on the ground.
Matilda swung the sword and gashed the thief's shoulder. The man could not believe that Matilda could cut him. She threatened to cut out his heart.
The tall thief crawled out the window. Matilda chased him for at least one block screaming at him the entire time.
When Matilda returned, grandfather was sitting up.
Grandfather told Matilda was he was sorry. He told her that he was leaving her alone. He said, "My time. Too early. So sorry."
Matilda begged her grandfather not to die. She told him that she loved him. Grandfather's last words were "Love you."
Matilda cried along side of her grandfather. She would miss him.
September 27th, 1793
A man yelled, "Bring out your dead."
Matilda looked out the window, and a man pushing a cart with two bodies waited. Matilda went outside. Minutes later grandfather was loaded in the cart. The man treated grandfather's body with respect, for Matilda was walking with him. The cart was heavy. Matilda helped push the cart. Thirty to forty men dug holes for the dead. Matilda insisted that grandfather not be buried without prayer. Grandfather was buried.
As Matilda walked home, she saw one of the windows open at the local newspaper. She entered and saw Mr. Brown. Matilda said that she wanted to put an advertisement in the paper, as her mother was missing. Mr. Brown told Matilda that five other newspapers had closed, and there was no paper to print within one hundred miles.
Mr. Brown explained that in the beginning of August, Philadelphia was the largest city in the United States, and now more than half of the city had fled. Mr. Brown told her that the rats are thriving, and the people are dying. There is no food to eat.
A women approached Matilda. She hit her with her cane, knocking her down, when she found out that Matilda herself had survived the fever. Matilda proceeded to walk towards the coffeehouse. She saw a broken doll on the sidewalk and a bag of clean linen. A little girl appeared. She told Matilda that her mother was broken too.
September 27th, 1793
The girl's mother was dead. The girl's name was Nell. Her mother was clearly a victim of yellow fever. Nell needed someone to take care of her, and her mother needed to be buried. Matilda passed by drunk men. Matilda thought one of the women ahead of her was Eliza. She began to run after Eliza. One of the drunk men ran after Matilda. Matilda was able to outrun him.
Matilda looked for the two women. She thought one of them was Eliza. She entered an unlocked door. There was a man, a women and two children. The children were eating hard rolls. The man told Matilda that two angels from the Free African Society had delivered the bread.
Matilda went back outside, and did the only thing she knew she could do. She screamed Eliza's name, over and over again.
"Mattie, Mattie, Mattie," she cooed. "What on earth are you doing here? And where did you find that baby girl?"
September 27, 1793
Seeing Eliza made Matilda emotional. She cried and cried.
When Matilda was done crying, she asked, "Why aren't you on the farm with your mother?"
Eliza decided that she was going to take Nell and Matilda to her brother's house. Eliza gave Nell a roll and she ate it immediately.
Eliza fed herself, Nell, Matilda, Mother Smith, Eliza's brother and his two sons. The food never tasted so good.
Eliza and Matilda and shared stories about the last month. Matilda told her everything about grandfather.
Eliza told Matilda that Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote a letter to the Reverend Allen from the Free African Society, asking for help. He said it was a change for black people to show how we are as important and helpful as white people. The Free African Society organized for folks to visit the sick and to care for them and bury them if they died.
She added, that she had only hoped that the doctors were correct.
Many people from the Free African Society started to get sick.
Matilda asked Eliza if they were going to die, and she was told "No." She added, "We have too much to do."
September 28th, 1793
The next morning, Matilda had to bathe Nell, and the two young boys. She had to wash their bedding. Then she had to wash the dishes, beat the rug, and all the while Mother Smith complained that she did not do the job well enough.
Mother Smith told Matilda not to love Nell. She told Matilda to bring her to an orphanage.
Matilda told Eliza of her plan, but was heartbroken. When they arrived at the orphanage she was greeted by a woman holding a screaming baby. "Not another one!" she shouted, then apologized. She told her that Mrs. Bowles was in charge, and that she was meeting with the major. She told Matilda that the orphanage had to be the last resort.
Eliza turned and told Matilda that it appears that Nell will be better off with Matilda.
The stopped in front of the Pernille's mansion. Eliza tells her of the Coletta girl. She said that they parents paid for the finest doctors to come and cure her. Coletta is on her death bed and starts to hollar "Loueey! Loueey!" It turns out that she married a man named Louis, even though she was engaged to marry Roger. Louis was her French teacher. They had eloped just before she got sick. Her younger daughter throws a fit, because she too is in love with this French teacher. Her mother faints, and the dog bites the doctor. Coletta did not die, and they are all making each other miserable.
On their way home, they saw daisies falling from the sky. They looked up and saw a person take a handful of flowers and throw them out of the window. The window shut when they saw Matilda, Eliza and Nell down below. It was the Peale's house. This was where Nathaniel was living. Matilda felt much happier knowing that Nathaniel was alive.
The next day, Mother Smith said that there was a family of eight that they would be helping.
Joseph, Eliza's brother was now better, even though his wife had died. He said that he was strong enough to take care of his two sons. He said that he did not need Matilda's help with the boys.
So it was decided, that Matilda would continue to help Eliza.
October 1, 1793
It was hard working taking care of the sick and the dying. Even though it was October, it was hot like July. Rumors had it that the fever was over, but that was not true. When they arrived home, they found Joseph sitting, with tears in his eyes. The boys had the fever! Nell Lay on the floor, feverish as well. The house was too hot. They decided to move the children to the coffeehouse.
October 14, 1793
Mother Smith scrubbed the cart with vinegar. Matilda and Eliza got blankets and bed linens. Joseph prayed over the three children. When they arrived, they dragged the mattress out of the cart and carried the children. They pushed the tables together and put the mattress on top of the table. They decided to keep the windows open, but both had weapons on them, if necessary.
Matilda was in the kitchen, when her toe hit something hard. It was the painting of flowers by Nathaniel.
Caring for the children was harder than caring for any of the other sick people that they had helped. They cried, they screamed. They bolted upright out of a solid sleep. They used vinegar to wash the bedding. They used a fan to keep the bugs off of the children. On the fifth day, the boys became sicker.
When Matilda went outside to get more water, she realized how tired she was. She had great difficulty pulling the buckets up from the well. She remembered last January when she and Nathaniel watched the hot air balloon rise above the treetops and houses. Nathaniel had grasped her hand as they watched. Matilda was so tired. She laid down and rested her head on the ground.
October 23, 1793
Silas licked Matilda's face. The ground had a faint dusting of white. Matilda shivered. She was cold. It was not a cold from having a fever. It was frost.
For the first time in months, the air smelled pure. This was to be the end of the fever.
Matilda ran inside and announced that they frost was finally here, and that they would be saved. Matilda and Eliza carried the children outside. A messenger from Joseph arrived along with eggs, pumpkins, bread and meat! The farmers had returned to the town. They ate well.
Later in the day, Eliza started to move the furniture outside. She said that they would be having another frost tonight. This was they would destroy the germs. Joseph arrived the next morning with toys for the children. Everyone cried from happiness. Joseph said the town was full of gossip, and predicted that Matilda would find out news about her mother very soon.
Matilda went to the market. The sound of laughter was back. Most of the conversations were about lost relatives and friends. It would take some time before all of the people were accounted for.
Matilda got candy for the children, eggs, and chicken. She talked to the vendors and told them that mother was missing. They all promised to ask around, to find out about Mother.
All the vendors were generous. Their prices were low.
Matilda realized that she had changed. The fever made her thinner. She was still the daughter of Lucille, and granddaughter of Captain William Farnsworth Cook. Suddenly she heard a small voice near her ear. "I was hoping I might find you here!
He said that he was much better after finding that Matilda was alive and well. She told Nathaniel that his painting of the flowers was on the mantle. He had not gotten sick.
Nathaniel offered to walk Matilda home. He explained that he was surprised to see her with Eliza, and thought she had gone to the city.
Even though everything had changed, nothing had changed. Nathaniel reached into Matilda's basket, and took out an apple. He said, " I will always snatch apples from your basket, as long as I may live."
Nathaniel told Matilda that her mother would be home soon, as they watched one of the neighbors pull back. He teased Matilda,"Your mother will be home soon, and she'll chased me off the front porch and try to marry you to a lawyer."
Matilda stood taller then ever before, "I won't let her do that."
October 30th, 1793
Nathaniel stopped by the house daily.
As the word of the frost spread, more and more people moved back into the city. The returnees were all well-fed. They had not suffered. With ease passing day, Philadelphia looked much like a ghost town, and more like the capital of the United States.
They decided to have a thanksgiving meal, and invited Mother Smith, Joseph and Nathaniel. While they were eating the wonderful meal, Joseph suggested that Matilda sell the coffeehouse, and Eliza find a new job. Matilda told everyone at the table, that she
would not be selling the coffeehouse. She stated that she was taking on a partner. Matilda turned to Eliza and told her that she wanted Eliza to be her partner. She stated that she was not selling part of the business to Eliza, she was giving it to her. Mother Smith hit her cane on the table, and said that Eliza accepts the partnership!
They decided that they needed lawyers to draw up the papers to make it legal, because many white people won't think it as proper for a black woman to move up.
As they were finishing their meal, there was a knock on the door. A delivery boy had coffee beans, and told Matilda that the warehouse was open for business. Matilda placed his order, as one of the new owners of the coffee shop.
November 10, 1793
Three days after Matilda and Eliza opened the coffeehouse, every chair was filled. Matilda gave out free samples of apple bread. Business was steady. Matilda had a lot of ideas. Nathaniel offered to paint a sign for them and an advertisement. Nathaniel's painting were now on the wall. He had already sold two of them. Mr. Watson, next door, was interested in selling his lot next door.
Even though things were now going well for Matilda, she felt empty. Grandfather's chair was empty, the parrot's cage stood empty, and mother was still missing. She also worried about all of those people that had died during the fever.
Nathaniel opened the door fast,and everyone stopped. Nathaniel told everyone that President George Washington was back, and making his way past the coffeehouse. If George Washington was back, it truly meant that the fever was over.
Matilda threw her arms around Nathaniel and kissed his cheek. Following the president were many wagons. A man said, that the people were returning back to town, now that they know the fever was gone.
In front of the coffeehouse a carriage stopped. A frail women with grey hair was helped down from the carriage. She raised her face upward. It was tired, familiar and beautiful.
Mother had come home!
November 10, 1793
Matilda and Nathaniel greeted mother. Mother introduced Mrs. Ludington. Mother could not walk on her own. She required assistance. The room fell silent when they saw mother. She had changed dramatically.
When mother realized that Matilda and grandfather had not arrived on the Ludington's farm, she went wild. Despite being sick with the fever, she tried to search for Matilda and grandfather. The doctor told mother that she was to live a life of leisure. She was not to work. The fever had damaged her heart. Mrs. Ludington told Matilda that mother was no longer able to operate the coffeehouse, and would need to sell it.
Mother asked questions. She wanted to know about everything. Mother took all of this information very hard. Mother was frail. She was calm and idle. She asked to be escorted upstairs. She stated that she needed her rest.
Matilda has a sudden seince of what was to come, and blinked away the tears.
December 11, 1793
Matilda woke early and went downstairs to start the coffee. Mother, Nell, the boys, and Eliza were all sound asleep.
Mr. Peale has recently said that Nathaniel's talents were progressing, and would be able to support a family in three or four more years.
Looking down the street early in the morning, was so peaceful. No one looking at these same streets would have been able to imagine all that they had endured. Philadelphia had moved on.
The sun rose like a giant yellow balloon, filled with prayers, hope and promise.
Matilda shook the memories of Polly, grandfather and many others from her head.
The day had begun.