The morning was still. Hot and still. Dew hung on everything like crystalline jewels, waiting for the sun to peak up and boil it away. Wisps of smoke rolled through the streets and gaps between the wooden houses. It was acrid, pungent, and made Jack long for the days when smoke meant a well stoked hearth, and not a plague pyre.
“Ring around the rosy.”
Carter had started in on that damned rhyme again. It was something his mother had sung to him when he was a babe in arms. Said he used it to keep time as he rang the bell.
“Pocket full of poises.”
Jack figured the man for half-simple, but let him be. He snapped the horse reins, keeping the long, flat cart moving. At the next block, in front of the boarding house, he saw their destination: a pile of bodies, wrapped in the sheets the unfortunate souls had expired in.
As they pulled closer, Jack’s breath stopped for a moment. At the top of the pile of packaged corpses, swaddled in fine white linen, was a bundle smaller than all the rest. A baby, taken by the fever.
“We all fall down.”
The Yellow Fever epidemic decimated Memphis. More than decimated. One outbreak left the city with barely a quarter of it’s population, and on such shaky footing the city’s charter was revoked. Luckily, we got better.