Grandfather and Matilda bid farewell to Rush Hill and Mrs. Flagg. They ride into Philadelphia on a wagon with five children being sent to the orphanage.
Matilda sits next to Mrs. Bowles, a Quaker dressed in gray. The two make small talk and Matilda reveals that she'll be fifteen in December. Mrs. Bowles mentions that the orphan house could use an extra pair of hands.
Matilda is happy to be treated like an adult, but tells Mrs. Bowles that she must first think of her family – Grandfather and Mother.
Mrs. Bowles warns Matilda not to go venturing out into the Philadelphia streets (thieves, fever victims, no food in the markets).
The driver interjects that the post office is also closed down.
Mrs. Bowles and Matilda discuss the fate of one of the orphans in the wagon – Susannah. She'll probably be hired out as a servant or, since she's pretty, she may be able to find herself a husband. (So many options!)
Matilda decides that this is not the life she wants. At all.
The wagon arrives in Philadelphia and the city is a ghost town with dead bodies on the side of the streets. Mrs. Bowles mentions that most of the dead are being buried in the Potter's Field in mass graves. Matilda calls it "a field plowed by the devil" (16.49).
The wagon arrives at the orphan house. Mrs. Bowles and Matilda part ways.