Rebecca decided to accept Doctor Owen’s proposition and the following week she found herself sitting in a carriage accompanying Hannah to Llanbadarn Fawr. It was the longest journey she had ever made in her life and she wondered throughout how her parents had managed to go all the way to Great Salt Lake and back again. Or even why her father should choose to make the journey one more time.
The doctor’s cook had made up a wicker basket of food for their journey which was mainly crusty bread, cheese, and fruit. There was also a small bottle of homemade ginger beer and some water to sustain them.
So far Hannah had not uttered a word. It had been heartbreaking seeing the doctor say goodbye to his emotionless wife with tears in his eyes. Once he realised Rebecca had noticed his upset, he quickly looked away and bade them a safe journey. Now they were off to the village of Llanbadarn Fawr for some fresh clean air.
As they took the Brecon Road, Rebecca watched the grey clouds belching from the chimney stacks of the Cyfarthfa Ironworks in the distance, as she breathed in the sulphurous air. Why people left places like Cardigan to come to dirty smelly Merthyr Tydfil she had no clue. But her mother had always told her they came for the money as they thought the streets were paved with gold. Poor farmers who had almost lost their livelihoods and struggled through hard times, got the shock of their lives when they came to Merthyr having to live in hovels where diseases like Cholera were rife, or else had little choice other than to bed down with lots of others in doss houses peppered around the town. There had been an explosion of the population. Merthyr had once been a farming community itself. Now no more. It was something entirely different. A boom town, a heaving metropolis where iron was King and coal its Queen.
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