Summary: Chapter Seven: August 30th, 1793

Matilda and Mother arrive at the Ogilvies’ mansion for tea. The Ogilvie daughters, Colette and Jeannine, are present, but the sons are not. Pernilla and Mother talk of people who have left the city due to the fever as well as Colette’s upcoming wedding. No one notices Colette complaining of the heat as they all talk. After Mother asks about Pernilla’s sons several times, Jeannine becomes frustrated, stating that it’s obvious Mother is interested in them as suitors for Matilda, and she then insults their family’s coffeehouse. Matilda angrily defends their family and coffeehouse, but then Colette faints. Pernilla feels Colette’s forehead and exclaims that she has the fever. 

Summary: Chapter Eight: September 2nd, 1793

More people are getting sick with fever and dying. Matilda accompanies Grandfather to the newspaper office, where they discuss the situation with the men who work there. When they return home, they see a man pushing a cart up to the coffeehouse. At first, Grandfather yells at the man to take his cart away, but then the man dumps Mother’s body from the cart into the street in front of the coffeehouse, and Matilda screams.

Analysis: Chapters 7–8

As yellow fever deaths grow more frequent, instead of facing the problems at hand, most of the characters get wrapped up in distractions. When Nathaniel discusses Polly with Matilda, she changes the subject when it becomes too much to bear. The men who drink and gossip in the coffeehouse deny the existence of yellow fever in Philadelphia. Many people blame refugees for bringing sickness and poor people for spreading it. Matilda is kept so busy working that she can hardly think of Polly. Grandfather is more interested in building a second coffeehouse, and he still denies the severity of the situation even as Mr. Brown explains how many have, and will, die. Lucille, who came from a rich family, is more concerned with finding Matilda a wealthy suitor, so she continues to focus on social meetings.  Although they all do it in different ways, all the characters find ways to avoid facing the threats facing them directly.
Throughout the onset of the epidemic, people continue to believe that being of a higher class will somehow prevent them from getting sick. While she wouldn’t allow Matilda to go to Polly’s funeral, Lucille takes her daughter to Pernilla Ogilvie’s house for a social visit, showing her belief that high-class people are less likely to contract and spread yellow fever. Pernilla is more concerned with the cancellation of her gala than people dying, angering Matilda with her disregard for people who have less than her. Lucille shows her desperation to give Matilda an upper-class life when she asks after Pernilla’s son despite his insults and Matilda’s dislike for him. Matilda wants no part of the family, but that doesn't stop Lucille from pushing a match. As the meeting turns argumentative, none of the bickering characters notices Colette complaining of feeling hot until she collapses at their feet. It’s not until Grandfather and Matilda witness Lucille dumped from a cart to the ground in front of the coffeehouse, that reality sets in. Yellow fever is here whether they accept it or not and it cares nothing about the class of its victims.