Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 03

Hugh turned back to the fire.

“Well, just this once,” he said, his voice softening. He stabbed at the log in the centre of the blaze with the poker. “But there will be no more of this. I’ve neglected you for too long. Your brother is right: you are no longer a child, my dear. I should take more care of you. I shall write to my aunt Hannah to act as a proper companion to you until after the summer.”

“Papa!” Iona looked at him in dismay. Her memory of her great-aunt was of a sharp-featured, severe woman as ancient as the mountains themselves, who had terrified her as a child.

Hugh flushed slightly. He straightened his shoulders.

“Aunt Hannah is a good woman, Iona. There is much you can learn from her.” He held up his hand as his daughter attempted to protest further. “Meanwhile, you’ll oblige me by being here tomorrow. We have guests.”

“Guests, Papa?”

“Sir Edward Wynne and his daughter.”

Iona stared at him in dismay.

“But I thought we agreed last spring that Sir Edward is far too old for me. Besides, I have no wish to be married.”

Hugh sighed.

“My dear, dreams are all very well, but you are a young woman now. You can’t go gadding all over the countryside sketching everything that takes your fancy. Painting is an excellent accomplishment for a young lady, but it can be nothing more. We have to be practical.”

“It was you who taught me to draw, Papa,” Iona returned, the delicate curve of her mouth settling into an unexpected stubbornness. “Mama was right: you were the best teacher I could ever have had. She used to tell me that the only times she saw you truly happy were when you had a pencil in your hand. Surely you, of all people, must know how I feel.”

Hugh took her hands in his, his eyes searching his daughter’s face.

“Of course I understand,” he said sadly. “Every time I see you I’m reminded of myself. But don’t you see, my dearest child, it is for that very reason that I cannot bear to see you break your heart? You are all I have left of your mother. I would never forgive myself if you ever came to harm through my foolishness.”

He kissed her forehead.

“I have let things drift along for too long, living so quietly as we do. Your brother has been out more in the world. He is quite right to remind us how easily a woman’s reputation can be lost, however innocent she might be, and with it all her prospects of a good marriage. I could not bear to see you die an old maid, melancholy and unfulfilled. And dependent on Rhodri for a roof over your head,” he added as Iona began to speak.

Iona repressed a shudder. Her half-brother was some ten years older than herself and had never quite been able to hide his resentment of her existence. Mama had tried so very hard when she was alive, but even she had been unable to bring Rhodri round to accept his father’s new family. The thought of being dependent on Rhodri in any way filled Iona with dread.

“I’ll speak with Sir Edward,” she murmured.

“Good, good,” Hugh said with a smile. “The choice will always be yours, my dear. We shall look around and see what other eligible bachelors are about. Perhaps we might look for one a little nearer your own age.”

“Thank you, Papa.” Iona sighed as she turned back to where her maid was waiting for her.

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”.