Reverend Woodhouse has journeyed from his brother's countryside farm in Surrey to rescue the city's waifs from the threat of plague. But Benjamin's father has other plans for his only son and heir...
“Run home. You know the way. ”
“Then go, go quickly.”
“I told you, I can’t leave him. He is too ill. I’ll try to be home before your father returns, but if I’m not –”
There were people in the narrow street but he was alone outside for the first time in his life. He looked up at the window which was on the upper storey that jutted out from the one below. He could stand underneath out of sight and wait for her but she could be hours. He could run home. He knew the way but if she was not home before his father there would be a mighty rumpus. He was tired of those. He lay in bed most nights with the pillow pressed to his ears.
Fear and excitement battled within him. He looked about. People hurried by, intent on their business. Then his eye fell on a huge red cross painted on a door on the other side of the street. The scrawled writing below said “Lord have mercy on us.”
“Perhaps he is ill,” she had said. “We will go and see.”
He heard the rattling of wheels behind him. A cart drawn by a single horse was approaching. A clutch of boys was crowded on its flat top with an old man in the black coat of a clergyman driving it.
“Why are you out alone, my son? Are you from a plague house? Are your parents dead? Where are you going?”
“How old are you?”
“Speak up then. We are going into the country. You can come if you have been left alone.”
“I am alone. I’ll come.”