Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 12

There was no doubt about it, Sara Appleford told herself as her guests settled themselves in the armchairs of the conservatory with a general air of contentment – luncheon at the Snowdon View had been a success. The visit to the spa had also been a cause of great excitement, with several families already planning to return.

As Sara turned to praise the kitchen staff for rising to the occasion, Alice finished dispensing tea and coffee and paused next to the fair-haired young woman sitting on her own in the corner nearest the door, as if to escape to the garden at any minute.

Sara frowned. There had been no mistaking Hugh’s daughter. From the moment she had set eyes on her, Sara had been in no doubt of Iona’s identity. She hadn’t quite been able to resist a glance now and again at her face during lunch. Iona had appeared fragile, almost childlike, with her delicate features and shy manner. Too shut away inside Plas Arthur, Sara had thought to herself. Too unaccustomed to dealing with the world. Just as her father had been, all those years ago.

Now, watching the two young women smiling and joking with each other, Sara was caught by the bright intelligence of those blue eyes, which were observing Alice closely. Sara gave a wry grunt. So Iona had not been hiding herself away in her corner, but had rather taken up a position where she could view her fellow guests without being seen to watch them.

“You’ve caught me exactly!” Alice was exclaiming. “How on earth did you do that, with just a line or two?”

Iona inspected the sketch on her lap.

“It’s only very rough,” she replied earnestly.

Intrigued despite herself, Sara made her way towards them.

“May I see?”

“Yes, of course.” Iona held out the little sketch without any false modesty. “It was only for my own amusement.”

“I’d know that was Alice anywhere. May I?” Sara reached for the sketchbook.

Iona hesitated, then nodded.

Sara turned the pages slowly. She had expected the conventional scenes of an amateur lady artist. The ruins of Conwy Castle, perhaps, followed by a view of the river. Instead, the arch of the paddles of the steamer sprang out from one page, the cave of the spa from another.

She paused over a more detailed sketch of the woollen mill, with the workers returning inside. The hastily drawn figure of a young woman, who was unmistakably Bethan Griffiths, had been etched in one corner, as if as a reference for a future painting.

“You like industrial scenes, then?” she remarked, looking up.

“Yes.” Iona bit her lip. “I’m sure I didn’t remember it right.”

Sara eyed her more closely. Iona must only have seen the mill for a short while, and the girls returning there to work for only minutes. The drawing had been made largely from memory.

“I think you did. And what’s more, you captured the atmosphere of the place. Are you planning to make a full painting?”

Iona nodded.

“I’ve never tried anything quite like that before. But I’m going to. I like beauty, but I also like the way things work.” She hesitated slightly. “And the way people work. I’m not romantic about it. I know what hard work those women do at the mill, and I couldn’t do it at all. But I’d like to try to show it.”

“Good for you.” Sara smiled.

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”.