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Presented by State Library Victoria

The Medicine Thief Pt 2 | A short story

The Medicine Thief Pt 2

By booklover

A sudden cough sounded from upstairs. She darted across the room to where she broke in. Her sudden movement caused a small creak on the floorboards, but it was enough for the doctor to hear. Elizabeth’s heart rate increased, her brows were furrowed as she quickly dived out of the window and onto the street. It wasn’t as smooth as she thought it would be. A piece of her tattered clothing got caught in the lock, but at least it slowed down her fall. The whole window came crashing down, but the sounds of the breakage could not muffle the sounds of the doctor shouting. Avoiding having to look back at the mess she created, the young pauper sprinted as fast as she could towards her home, which seemed more welcoming than ever.
“Mother! I got it! I got you some medicine!” She rushed to her mother, the hand she was holding the bottle with was trembling.
“Medicine?” the weak woman muttered, her eyelids starting to open.
“Yes mama!” Elizabeth exclaimed, she could barely contain her excitement. She poured the liquid into a cup and pressed it against her mother’s lips.
“Drink it, it’ll make you feel better.”
The liquid was gulped down and then she laid back onto the bed. “How did you manage to get it?” her mother asked, looking proudly at her daughter.
“Oh mama! I stole it! I just had to! I couldn’t go back empty handed and I had to quite him! The doctor was so daungerous!” Elizabeth said unhappily, “but you will forgive me mama, will you?”
“My pearl, don’t be like this. I will forgive you, but him lest it back, so return it to the doctor.” Mama said calmly and then slowly drifted off again.
Day slowly turned to night, the wet pavements glittered under the candlelight from the houses. Elizabeth looked across the cramped room at her mother, colour started to blossom on her cheeks, but mysterious black blotches formed on other parts of her body.
“Mama?” She walked closer to the bed. Her mother was moaning due to the pain, she shrieked and hollered like a dying animal. Blood was pouring out of every black pore, dying the blankets red. “Mama!” her daughter yelled, horrified at the sight.
Without a second to spare, she rushed to the doctor as fast as she could with her feeble legs. She bolted through the doorway and called for the doctor with great urgency.
“Sir! Come at once! My dear mama is passioun!”
“It’s you again! What ’tis with you at this time of night?” The little man scowled, grabbing his carpet bag and following the girl into the darkness.
“Bitymes!” she called to him, “Quickly!”
They blasted open the hatch to the attic and crowded around her. “Oh sokour hir please!” Elizabeth pleaded again, “I don’t wish to buy any medicine which means I shan’t pay a single penny.” The Doctor nodded and grabbed the essentials to do a check up. He closely looked at the pores and the blood oozing from it and as he looked away, his face was a face full of utter horror.
“THE BLACK DEATH!!!” He screamed, grabbing his carpet bag and trying to run away.
“The Black Death?” The young girl grabbed him and stopped the doctor, “what is it?”
“You must get her away! It’s the bubonic plague! You must’ve harkened about it sometime! There’s no cure, you must get hir away before it spreads!” The doctor hurries down the hatch and then alerts the owners and neighbours of the terrible phenomenon.
“Mama, it’s alright,” she turned around, shocked, but still tried to comfort her poor mother. Her mother’s face had turned starch white, the blood drained from her were all pooled on to the wooden floorboards. Elizabeth could hear the owners downstairs shouting at her, to get rid of her mother.
“No!” She yelled back in defiance, “I shan’t leave my mother’s side. If any of you had any kindred spirit in you then you would understand!”
Tears swelled in her eyes as she touched her mother’s burning forehead.
“My pearl, pardee me that you would always be kind to others and thank everyone single person that kept me alive to this day…” She slowly sighed and then the life in her mother’s eyes faded away.
Elizabeth closed her mama’s eyelids and whispered, “I pardee.”

MIDDLE ENGLISH GLOSSARY
Noon: no
Moot: must, ought to
Han: have
Morewe: morning
Clepe: call
Swich: such
Pyne: pain, misery, suffering
Seye: say
Catel: property, possessions
Quite: pay back, return
Lest: have
Passioun: soon, quickly
Bitymes: suffering
Sokour: help
Hir: her
Pardee: an oath, promise

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