Disclaimer: I do not own Fever 1793 and Nightjohn. The rights of both books go to either Laurie Halse Anderson or Gary Paulson ©.
Note: I apologize profusely ahead of time for the sucky ending of my first, in speak, crossover fic. This note and the disclaimer do not count for any words.
Corner of Seventh and High Street,
235 SE 59th Ave, New York
July 4th, 1866
This is Sarny. How are you? I am in Pennsylvania, taking care of a white family's coffeehouse. How I ended up in a white person's business, you are probably wondering as you read this. It is actually a long story. You might want to sit down for this.
After the Civil War ended, I had no clue where to go. I knew you were writing articles for the Liberator, but mammy did not want to bother you. Instead, she decided to take a long overdue visit to her mother in Philadelphia. Therefore, we went there, staying at camps set up for the slaves here and there on the way.
I am sorry to say that mammy passed away from the influenza being passed around near the borderline between Maryland and Virginia. Sitting in a small stool next to her when her soul faded away is one moment I will never forget, especially when she whispered with her last breath the words "Find the Cook's Coffeehouse." I did not know what a coffeehouse was back then; one of the disadvantages of growing up on a plantation, so finding the place two weeks later was a huge challenge.
The minute I stepped off the train in Philadelphia, I knew instantly that finding the place was going to be hard. The city was completely packed with people wherever I looked. I was nearly pickpocketed twice. Despite Philadelphia being a North state, almost every white person I had met treated me like scum. Many black people I had talked to did not know where the place was or gave me directions leading to broken-down shops that were empty for months. It took me two days, a rather sleepless night in an unpleasant-looking dark-skinned lady's apartment, and a hoarse voice to find the bustling coffeehouse mammy had whispered with her last breath.
When I walked through the doors, I was very surprised to find equilibrium of Africans and Americans in the main room. Pushing my way what I thought to be the kitchens, the thought that whoever this Cook person mammy wanted me to meet might be hostile appeared in my mind. When I saw the white lady standing next to the stove, the strength of my fear increased. Obviously, a person of a different race than me is not going to be kind. When she greeted me, however, her demeanor was very kind and did not portray any hatred I had experienced from Waller. Her chestnut hair was striped with small streaks of gray and her face showed great wisdom and happiness. When she asked if I came looking for work, I explained to her about mammy's expedition to find her mother her. At that moment, an elderly woman of about eighty-five tottered in. She asked what mammy's name was in a shaking voice. I told her mammy was named Dealie and she just burst into tears then.
After comforting the lady of her outbreak of cries, she explained to me that she was the mother mammy wanted to see and introduced herself as Eliza. Eliza had been raped in an ally by a drunkard a year after the Yellow Fever had gone away. She did not give away mammy when she was born, no, Eliza raised her for ten years with the proper love a child should have been given while running the coffeehouse part-time and cooking the menu used. The lady that had greeted me earlier was Mattie Cook, the other owner. Mattie, who married and kept her maiden name around the same time of Eliza's impregnation, had helped support her with a room to live in and the best doctor around.
Nevertheless, it did not stop the kidnapping.
Mammy had been stolen right off the street and sold into slavery in front of the shop. Eliza still blames herself for not having her own child stay upstairs, especially around a time when Africans were being taken, young or old. That was where the story ended for her until just now. She then asked if I wanted to stay here for a while until I figured out where I should go. I took up on her offer and ended up deciding a week later to stay there. Well, why not? The Cooks-Bensons were a welcoming family of three girls and four boys and it seemed that they needed other people to help take care of the younger children while the shop was still running. Mattie had asked me a couple days before, anyway.
So here I am, writing you a letter about what happened in the candlelight and trying not to wake up Melissa, bless the four-year-old's heart. I am sharing a room with her on the second level of the coffeehouse. I close this letter with hopes you will receive it soon.