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More Than a Cough


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The doctor covered his face with a handkerchief the moment he saw the man in bed. "How long has he been this way?" The patient was gaunt, covered in sores, and coughed hoarsely.


"Been several days," the frail wife replied. "He weren't feeling well after a job he done pounding open a lead safe. We thought he had hurt his back, but that don't explain no cough. He has some sort of summer cold. Maybe the lead done poisoned him somehow." She started her own cough.


"This is no ordinary sickness. Has he been out much?"


"He saw some gent that owed him money, and a few other blokes that did too. That was before he felt so bad."


"Madam, I need you to keep him in the house and I need you to stay in the house. Lock the door and let no one in until your husband's condition gets better. There is a chance that he could infect others meantime."


"He'll get better then?"


"I will go and see whether a tonic might be brewed," the physician replied, conveniently not answering the woman's question. "I'll send someone by later tonight to bring you tonic and food." The woman nodded her understanding.


Once outside, the doctor scurried away, back towards his office. The Lord Mayor needed to be notified. The door to the house would need to be painted with a red mark. The plague had returned to London! Rather than stay and combat it, the doctor planned to pack up his family and go on a visit to relations in the country. Things were about to get worse.

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