My Story - The Great Plague - A London Girl's Diary 1665-1666
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A time of horror has come to London. In one terrible summer, more than 15% of its population will perish. As the bubonic plague ravages London's streets, mercilessly plucking up victims and filling the plague pits with corpses, 13-year-old Alice Paynton records the outbreak in her diary. "It seems that in the past week 700 people have died of the plague. So the plague has well and truly come to London... One of the houses in the next street had a red cross painted on the door. Above the cross someone had chalked Lord Have Mercy Upon Us." Alice's chilling diary brings alive one of the darkest moments in British history: the Great Plague of 1665-1666.
ran off before I could do so. Determined not to lose my dog to the dog-catcher I hailed a young woman who was passing the house with a posy of herbs held to her nose. I promised her a silver pin as a reward if she could find Poppet. “A King Charles spaniel,” I said. “And handsome. Brown and white with a smudge of black over his left eye.” She was deliberating what to make of this offer when a commotion arose and, as if on cue, Poppet himself appeared round the corner of the street. My delight
sounded lamentably weak. Her innocence would be impossible to prove. Ignoring me, the large man shook the old woman again and she began to sob, clasping her hands imploringly and begging for mercy in a thin whining voice. As I wondered what to do next another voice spoke up. “The young woman speaks the truth. Belief in witchcraft is for the ignorant.” It was a young man, well bred. He wore a fine suit with a hat trimmed with a feather. The son of a wealthy merchant, perhaps. He looked at
he told me. “When he abandoned me, I swore I would never return to him but he was a good enough master before he fled the city.” “There are so many dead,” I said, seeking to cheer him. “Papa says there will be a great demand for servants and the like. You may be able to name your price.” “The same thought has occurred to me.” He grinned and went on his way with my good wishes ringing in his ears. November 21st At last I have my diary to hand again. I have spent some weeks with Uncle John
Maggie’s help ’tis amazing how the hours fly by. I fall into bed each night and sleep at once. Only a few weeks and Christmas will be with us again. Life is slowly returning to normal. A few of the street-sellers are once again calling their wares in the street. Rain has finally washed the dirt away so that the city looks clean again. There are many, however, without employment and some of these are set to work to pull weeds from the cobbled streets. Others beg. Mistress Capperly returned two
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