Just when you think you can get way from the terror in Philadelphia, it gets you and it gets your family while your each sleeping in your own little beds, dreaming of fairies and marshmallows, and the boy down the road. You have no idea it is here, and you have no idea it would come for you it's the yellow fever and nothing less.
The setting of this story is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the year of 1793. Philadelphia is a peaceful town, well actually the capital of the newly found United States. But rumors of disease start going around.
One of the main characters, and the narrator of the story, is Madeline Cook, or Mattie for short. Mattie is a 14 year old girl who is ambitious, and not to mention adventurous. She has brown hair and is very nice.
Another main character is Mattie's grandfather. He is your stereotypical grandfather. He has gray hair and spoils Mattie more than anything. Grandfather was in a war and is very proud of it. He displays the sword that he used in the front room of the family coffeehouse.
The city of Philadelphia is very peaceful. That is the way that it should be because it is the home of the president of the United States. People are coming to the Cook coffeehouse, which is owned by the Cook's. The president is happy, along with just about everyone else. Even with all the happiness, disease is spreading near the docks but people think it is just a rumor and pay no attention till they absolutely have to.
One day, Polly, the Cook's helper doesn't show up for work. Mrs. Cook decided that she must have forgot, or had been doing something else so she goes to investigate. When Mrs. Cook returns, she comes with bad news. Polly had caught the fever and died overnight. .
Eventually the whole town of Philadelphia is getting yellow fever. The president leaves, the rich leave, and even some of the poor leave by spending just about all the money they have. When Mattie's mother gets the fever she orders that Mattie and Grandfather leave the city to visit with friends in the country until the cold weather comes to kill the fever.