As Betty, a Texas rancher, describes the situation to her boy:
“It’s like the Yellow Fever: Clawing her fingernails on my door to take Preston. And you. Came up the Guadalupe from the Gulf, came upstream, slow-ly, slow-ly: you cannot see what memories these fingers hold. I clung to your daddy. I would not give him up. . . I’d look out, check these screens for holes. I’d be seeing those mosquitoes, gorged fat, sleepy, around all the window frames, squeezing to wedge themselves in. And the green, fever flies. .Those hot nights breathing air sifted through screens black with mosquitoes too puffed up with blood to get in here. This house — such as it is — saved us. Once. Shut out the fever at night while it slunk along the windows.
In town, they laid the poor out in long gullies. Muddy, red clay gullies. I.G. Tedford and his boy dumping dirt to bury them. All night long, eating and sleeping there, tar fires protecting them. You’re too young to remember.
We wondered, could we get away before the fever would take us? And –hadn’t one of us, right then, or both, had the Fever in our blood? Out there: Silence— darkness—- no moon those nights—- your daddy’s hand warm and good in my hand, his arms holding me close. Out those windows, just the Fever moving up along the creek.
How many already were infected? Our last trip to town seeing the green flies streaming after the furniture wagons with the red cedar coffins stacked so high— another friend, gone. In the roadways: Fever fires burning. In the daylight! Like now, you could touch, dress, breathe. You could be with the dead all day long and never catch it! But nights! It’s a night disease. Just as much a part of night as darkness. And strikes a body when she’s at her lowest. . . . Got to close those shutters!"