As Matilda recovers at Bush Hill, she hears stories about the fever epidemic in Philadelphia: orphaned children, dying men, craven thieves, and the kindness of strangers. Matilda is thankful she hears no stories about a painter's assistant named Nathaniel or a cook named Eliza.
On the tenth day, Matilda is visited by the Dr. Deveze, a Frenchman who advises her to eat and rest.
Matilda is filled with questions, but Mrs. Flagg advises her simply to eat (mutton and bread! rice with boiled prunes!) – and concentrate on getting well.
Matilda is moved to the barn for the final stages of her recovery.
Grandfather keeps himself busy at Rush Hill – organizing the food deliveries, attending the committee meetings, flirting with Mrs. Flagg, and so forth. You know, important stuff.
As she recuperates, Matilda thinks of distant friends and family: Would Nathaniel be painting flowers for the Peale girls by now? Why hadn't Mother written to them? Did Eliza get sick?
A clerk informs Matilda that they've been unable to contact her mother; therefore, when she is released, she will be taken to an orphan house. Matilda protests. (Obviously.)
Grandfather steps in and says that he'll act as her guardian. Rather, "No kin of mine goes to an orphan house, not as long as I have breath in my body" (15.42).
Grandfather and Mattie plan to take a wagon into the city the next day. In the meantime, Grandfather gallantly continues his flirtation with Mrs. Flagg, the lady whom he's "promised to take to a ball one day" (15.47). What a charmer!