Chapters 3-4 Summary

Chapter 3

Mattie cannot believe her mother's words. She and Polly had been friends from the cradle and had grown up playing dolls together.

Mother explains that the girl had been taken with a fever only briefly, and three quarters of an hour later had cried out and then died in her own bed. Everyone is mystified as to the nature of the deadly and mysterious malady that had stricken Polly as she had been in robust health and had never been known as sickly.

Mattie closes her eyes, picturing her friend "happy, joking, maybe stealing a kiss with Matthew." Startled, Mother lays a hand on her forehead, asking if she is feeling all right.

Eliza suggests that Mattie should go over to the Logans' house to take some food for the family and pay her respects, but Mother does not want her daughter near there, "not with a sickness in the air." Mother says that Mattie has not played with Polly "for years" and callously adds that "the girl was our servant, not a friend."

Desperately Mattie argues to the contrary and begs to at least attend Polly's funeral, but her mother will not allow even that. Infuriated, the girl shouts, "Why are you so horrid?" causing Mother to demand an apology at once. Mattie complies with words that are dutiful but without feeling.

Chapter 4

Although they are forced to work together serving the guests at the coffeehouse that afternoon, things are still strained between Mattie and Mother and each avoids making eye contact with the other.

Mattie goes over to serve Grandfather, who sits at a table in the corner of the crowded room with "two government officials, a lawyer, and Mr. Carris," who is the owner of an export business.

Grandfather, known to his contemporaries as Captain William Farnsworth Cook of the Pennsylvania Fifth Regiment, had been an army officer under General Washington and is "the heart of all...

(The entire section is 626 words.)