Fever, 1793 Chapter 20 Summary
September 27th, 1793
- The next morning, Mattie realizes she'll have to bury Grandfather. Fighting back tears, she flags down the man pushing the cart for dead bodies and has him take Grandfather's body to the burial site. Mattie helps push the heavy cart.
- At the burial square, two men wrap Grandfather's body in canvas and prepare to put him in the open grave. Mattie stops them and reads a prayer from the Psalms.
- After the burial, Mattie wanders through the streets of Philadelphia and tries to decide what to do. Go to the orphan house? Return to Bush Hill? Hearing her stomach grumble, she decides food has to happen before she can make a decision.
- The market, unfortunately, is completely empty because the fever's keeping the farmers away. Nothing to eat.
- Matilda walks past the Federal Gazette office where she finds the printer Mr. Brown, a friend of Grandfather's.
- Matilda asks to place an advertisement in the paper for her mother, Mr. Brown informs her that the paper is now being printed on half-sheets and there's no space except for orders from the mayor and physicians notices.
- Mr. Brown and Matilda discuss the epidemic: he tells her that more than three thousand people are dead, "enough to fill house after house, street after street" (20.57). The only creatures living, he adds, are rats.
- Matilda goes by the hat shop, but the Warners have gone away too. A passerby on the street tells Matilda that the family threw the dead body of their apprentice out on the street on their way out of town. Harsh.
- Mattie wanders around the streets some more, and eventually decides that she has to get herself together. That's when she sees a small whimpering child with a broken doll in an open doorway.
- The girl tells Mattie that her mother, like her doll, is also broken.