But worst of all was the horror that took place in London. Nothing could match the inhumane and barbaric ways of those people: The city folk first slaughtered every cat and dog that happened to be unfortunate enough to exist in the city, for the people had begun to believe that the plague was somehow being caused by these animals. More than 40,000 dogs and 80,000 cats were killed; decapitated in victory by the English. Little did they know that by the innocent deaths of these 120,000 they had only increased their chances of being infected by the evil they feared for the real cause of the plague, the black rats and their parasites, now had no predators to reduce their population. They could now roam and breed freely into every corner they wished without worry.

Yet the madness does not end there-far from it. Listen to what the Londoners did to their own people, their own kind. When it was discovered that a person was possessed with the plague, that person was given no mercy, treated as if he were already dead. The ill person and all the people who lived with him when he had been first infected were locked into their own homes so the sickness would not spread further, condemning those who were not even sick to perish of starvation and the disease which, in time, they could not escape. The doors were nailed shut. A blood red X would be painted upon it, dripping the message to any passerby that the house was hopeless and lost to the plague. Guards were set about everywhere to make sure that none of the ill escaped. So many people were forced to die this way, forced to be held captive in their own sanctuary like a prison cell, forced to give up their precious lives for no purpose.

Those with no homes died slow and treacherous deaths out on the filthy forsaken streets, wrapped in only rags, despair, and madness. Some could not stand the pain and committed suicide, throwing themselves into wells to drown or set themselves on fire. They simply could not take the suffering any longer.

Upon every sunset, a creaking of wheels on the battered stones of the road could be heard, along with the solemn and lonely dong of a cowbell that echoed throughout the night. “Bring out your dead!” hung in the chill night air, the dreaded cry that families feared, for the call commanded them to depart from their loved ones. A cart came about every street collecting those who had gone to disease and death. Bodies upon bodies were loaded into the wagon, stacked to the top with carcasses, letting the deceased limbs of those passed plop and hang over. The edge of the cart. Once the cart was full, the corpses were simply thrown into deep dug pits and ditches, left to decay and rot in their sickness, left to be erased from memory. When there were no pits left, no more room in the ground to even give the dead an improper burial, the bodies of the dead were left on the streets to waste away into nothingness.

But as helpless as the Englishs’ situation may have appeared, all was not lost; the climate was growing chillier, the wind whipped more brutally, the temperature dropped: winter had come. The cold weather slowly killed the fleas that infested the black rats’ fur, freezing them to death. Slowly, very slowly, the number of infected began to drop. The amount of dead reported became less and less. But the plague did not really end until a great fire in London in the year of 1666. This fire killed most of the remaining black rats and their fleas, sending the last of the creatures that had caused so much anguish at last to the Black Gates.

It will never be known exactly how many really died in the Great Plague, for there must have been many beggars and peasants who were never found dead in streets, wells, or other places. Also, some families were known to have hidden a dead family member who had died of the plague so that the rest of the household residence could escape being locked in their homes to die of plague. Considering these facts, historians estimate that at least 100,000 lives were taken in the dreadful year of 1665.

It is hoped that this true tale of the past may stick with you and never fade. No matter how much time may pass, we must never elude ourselves from the truth of times long ago. Remember.

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