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#150 Roger Harington The Race of the Rat

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And there were even those who did deliberately cough over those stricken in years and cry out to them “Die, bitch.”

Roger Harington

Now it came to pass in those days that there was a plague in the land and many there were who did sicken thereof and die. And there did come a decree from the rulers of the land that everyone must go even to their own house and dwell in isolation there. Henceforward no-one should be seen in the street, except they be there to purchase necessary victuals or profit from some bodily exercise.

Now some were able to enjoy this time, for they no longer had to run the race of the rat to earn their daily bread. Moreover, on account of their wealth, they were able to provide for themselves a substantial supply of food and drink, and now were blessed with the peaceful leisure to enjoy the same. They did also profit from the great variety of entertainment available to them even in their own home.

Many such persons were assisting family, friends and neighbours wherever this was possible. Others, perchance, were content to allow their many comforts to cocoon them from their neighbours’ needs.

But many merchants who had goods to sell had no-one now to buy them. They therefore could only watch in despair as such wealth as they possessed did swiftly and thoroughly evaporate.

They also suffered greatly who were much stricken in years, for not only did they lack the strength to walk abroad to acquire what they needed, in many cases they were also without any neighbour to assist them, and so they did rapidly sicken from their lack of adequate nourishment.

Now there were many physicians who gave of their time and skill to assist all those afflicted by the plague. Even at great risk to their own health they did daily minister to the sick with ceaseless devotion. And the people with one voice did acclaim this heroic compassion. Also the number of those who volunteered to assist the needy did greatly cheer the heart.

But by lamentable contrast there were those who, when they did not receive from the apothecary the medicine they expected, did swear at those who sought to assist them there and said all manner of foul thing against them.

There were also those who, happening to find some vehicles being used to carry medicine to the sick, did wantonly destroy the wheels of these vehicles so they could not further be employed.

And there were even those who did deliberately cough over those stricken in years and cry out to them “Die, bitch.”

Now many were not surprised by what they saw, for they knew full well that man is a giddy thing and few there are who can claim to be constant in their practice of compassion. But in a time of plague it is more than ever required of us that compassion doth prevail. For if the plague does not abate, if the number of the impoverished increases, if many are thereby devoid of the means to buy their daily bread, if, in short, plague, poverty and famine are still our masters, and many are driven thereby to respond in violent affray, in such a testing time, what then? Will compassion run out like toilet paper?