Quack medicine
“Mugger” Seymour wound his way through the market goers, an empty green bottle clutched in his filthy hand. He was a man on a mission – one he was trying hard to keep in the front of his alcohol fogged mind. The missus would have gone. But she was laid up, of course, having given birth a week or so previously to her seventh or eight child. The birth hadn’t really put much of a dent in her daily lifestyle. But she was a bit behind now in her washing jobs and she had the baby to nurse, and her broken son to watch over, as well as the other one to worry about – Ed, the one that had been locked up. All in all, the poor woman had much on her mind and much to do so she had sent her wretched husband out to look for the medicine man – McBride.
Mugger, thinking he might somehow get a nip of that very lovely tincture that his wife had been pouring down Fred’s gullet, had accepted the quest therefore. Spying the gaudily painted wagon, he made a rather diagonal line for it and came up on the russet haired young man who was even then hawking his wares to the passers by. Mugger slightly staggered as he approached, and no doubt the reek of stale alcohol wafted off of him like the aroma from a freshly peeled onion. He held the bottle aloft and waggled it about.
” ‘Ere now! Peddler man!” He spoke loudly though Pony was only a few feet away. ”My wife says you’re t’come, t’ouse. My boy Fred, he ain’t doing s’well, ‘n she do say you’re t’come ‘n bring sommat stronger than this ‘ere tonic.” He shook the bottle again. ”T’ain’t doin’ ‘im no good, she says. ‘E needs sommat wot’ll fix ‘im right up, for ‘e be lookin’ mighty poorly.”
Pony had no idea who the man was or his boy. He wanted to cover his face as he could smell the wretched scent of chronic drunk about him but it would seem insulting. There was still little chance he would come to help but the man had said it was his boy. While he didn't like people he wondered if the boy had gotten into some of his father's liquor. Pony's bottle certainly wouldn't help with that!

"Alright. I'll go, but it is probably just an error and you gave him too much or too little." They were customers after all, he had to be somewhat nice so they would keep buying once he helped. He locked up and traveled with the man to the house. By the time they arrived to what he would be kind in describing as a shack, he had already thought up a hundred explanations and excuses depending on what had occurred with the child. When he saw him though, he felt the color leave his face.
Pale as a sheet wouldn't even have begun to describe the white pallor of Fred's face, even compared to the grimy state of the ones he laid upon now. It was a telling sign of the crisis state of his health that he was in the one bed in the house, sharing it as needed with his mother and her new babe at night. His eyes were closed and his face bedewed with clammy perspiration. His chest rose and fell rapidly, but shallowly, with a marked hitch that came accompanied by a groan each and every time. He was still as death beyond this wretched movement, and if one were to inspect his fingertips, and if one could see beyond the accumulated grime under and around his nails, one would have easily seen the purplish-blue coloration - another sign of hypoxia.

Mugger had left off his accompaniment in the outer room, and Mrs. Seymour had taken charge of the snake oil salesman. She gave him a stern but also worried look, touching her son's shoulder gently. "I'm that glad 'ee've come, Maister McBride. It's m'boy, Fred. I've been dosin' i'm up right properly wi' tha' tonic 'ee sold my man. Dosin' 'im up reg'lar, mornin', noon, 'n night, just like 'ee said to. But...'e ain't gettin' no better, Maister. Look at 'im." And if Pony McBride was looking, he'd see a youth as close to death's door as to have one toe already across the threshold.

"What're we t'do, Maister? I know 'ee be a man wot knows all 'bout such things. Better than that there 'ospital, which...we can't afford nohow anyway. Now just tell me....'ow should I go 'bout puttin' my Freddy to rights again, hm?"

The mother looked at the charlatan with almost trusting eyes - as trusting as a woman who'd lived the life Mary Seymour had could be.
Pony stared at the boy. He couldn't believe this, how did this kid get to such a state? His 'medicine' wouldn't even come close to fixing such a thing. He moved to him and leaned in, brushing open his eye lids to check his eyes and every sign showed him the boy was certainly just beyond death. He became a fake doctor to avoid such things as this.

"Did ye... Did you take him to a doctor? If so.. did they say anything about his condition?" He checked his pulse and then realized the grim color of his fingers. The fact he was still alive was shocking. "Can I ask.. what happened? My medicine is great, but.. in such severe cases.. Sometimes it needs alittle.. extra help." He explained, not about to dismiss his stuff, even though it would be as good as giving him some beer or sugar water at this state. He was already trying to figure out what he could do if anything. There was one possibility, but he'd be damned if he tried it other than a last resort.

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