Megan was becoming excited on the run up to Christmas day itself. It really thrilled her to see people coming into the tea room carrying gaily wrapped presents, their cheeks pinched and flushed from the frosty air. She’d hear them chatter about their plans for the festive season to one another and to her employer.
“Yes, Peggy, we’ll be spending Christmas with Alf’s folk in the country. They came to us last year, so it’s our turn to go there this year. It won’t be such hard work for me…”
“Oooh Peggy, I’ve bought my little Winifred this beautiful china doll, when I saw it in Edmonds’ Bazaar I knew she just had to have it. Won’t her face be a picture on the big day itself?”
“Could we order a couple of your miniature Christmas cakes to have with our tea, Peggy? They look ever so nice.”
Megan loved all the chatter, but at times her mind drifted back to the workhouse, though she knew that was the one day of the year the inmates looked forward to as the food was heaps better and they could see their relatives also interned at the workhouse. Usually, visits to one another were sparse. They were allowed a visit on a Sunday and sometimes for particular occasions like birthdays or if their relative were unwell. The workhouse divided families—that fact Megan knew all too well. Her family was still divided in a way but at least they got to meet occasionally at Mr and Mrs Evans’s home in Twynyrodyn, and she knew all were well cared for, including herself.
She was becoming increasingly concerned about Griff, he’d been practising hard at the Temperance Hall for a special show during Christmas week. He hadn’t called to the shop nor to Mrs Mathias’s house for the past two days.
She vowed to herself if he did not call tomorrow, she would seek him out herself, even though she hated setting foot in the China district of Merthyr. Mrs Mathias had warned her that young ladies had set foot in that place never to return home again. She said there were bad people there known as, ‘bullies’, who ran gangs of pickpockets and prostitutes. Megan still wasn’t sure what a prostitute was mind you. Though she had a fair idea that maybe the man who had accosted her that time was one of those bullies himself.
As Megan went about her business at the tea room that day, she noticed Peggy had a strange gleam in her eye and kept humming to herself. That was odd, she seemed so pleased with herself, but that was nice as she had worried so much about Eli of late. At the end of the working day, when it had grown dark and the last customers departed, wishing them both a ‘Merry Christmas’ as they left, Peggy locked the door and sat at one of the tables.
“Megan, please sit down, I have something to tell you…”
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