Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 02

Owain Griffiths paused to watch the slender form of his granddaughter making her way to the little booking office on the harbour. One hand steadied herself on the rail, the other kept the bonnet secure over escaping curls of chestnut hair. She was turning out to be a fine young woman, that one. It hadn’t been easy, losing both her parents so young and taking on the responsibility for her younger sister.

Merlyn was a good worker, too. She’d proved it, throwing herself into every job that came her way, from packing bales of wool to taking over the post of clerk in the family shipping business when old Mr Jones finally retired.

Owain clucked under his breath. He’d had hopes of one day being able to hand the running of the business over to Merlyn when it came time for him to retire, woman or no woman. But now these infernal steam trains were taking over. It had happened all along the North Wales coast as the railways worked their way into the heart of the mountains. The railways could take passengers and freight at impossible speeds across the country, putting the carts and the coastal shipping out of business as they spread.

That was what would happen here, Owain just knew it. Already there was talk of a line going up the valley past Trefriw, all the way up to Llanrwst, and even as far as Betws-y-Coed, beneath the slopes of Snowdon itself. What chance had the shipping trade against that?

But with the railways there always came the visitors, tourists from Chester, and as far afield as Birmingham and London, now that the journey was only a few hours and the lurching and the swaying of the old mail coaches a thing of the past. Tourists liked novelty, and what was more novel than a paddle steamer making its way up the river to the Roman spa at Trefriw, in the beautiful Conwy Valley?

Owain squared his shoulders and made his way back down to the oily darkness of the engine room. Of course the tourists would be fighting each other for the experience. They had to!

* * * *

But, Papa, it’s only a trip up river in a paddle steamer to the Roman baths in Trefriw; it’s perfectly respectable!” Iona Tudor paused at the door of her father’s library. She turned back to where her maid was hovering anxiously behind her. “And besides, I’ll have Elspeth with me as a chaperone.”

Her father grunted, looking up slowly from the fire burning within the outsize marble mantlepiece. Hugh Tudor was a tall, slightly built man with fair hair fading towards white at the temples and skin so pale it appeared to have retreated long ago from any touch of sunlight. His face showed every one of his forty-seven years, with the skin wrinkled around the eyes and deep lines of disappointment cut into the flesh on either side of his mouth.

Iona met the gaze of his faded blue eyes and swallowed hard.

“You gave me permission to go and sketch in Trefriw today,” she said quickly.

Hugh frowned.

“On the understanding that John would take you in the carriage, not that you would be making a public spectacle of yourself on a paddle steamer that should by rights have been scuttled years ago.”

“But it’s the boat’s first voyage, Papa. You know how hard it has been for Merlyn and her family since her parents died of the typhus.” A dangerous glint appeared in her father’s eyes, but Iona hurried on. “Didn’t you always tell us Owain Griffiths once saved your life? Surely the least we can do is support them now.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.