Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 13


She should move away, return to her work. However Iona had managed it this time, young ladies of good character were not in the habit of being permitted to roam the countryside, and Hugh had always been anxious of the disapproval of those around him. Sara could smile and walk away, and they would never need to meet again. She would be safe.

“Do you exhibit your paintings?” she asked instead.

“No.” Iona flushed. “Papa would never allow it, not even with other lady artists who exhibit in Conwy.”

“That’s a pity. You have real flair. Perhaps you can persuade your papa to change his mind.”

A shadow passed over Iona’s face.

“You could show them here,” Alice put in quickly. “Aunt Sara always displays local artists on the walls of every hotel she manages. She sells their work, too.”

“Really?”

A gleam had appeared in Iona’s eyes. Her mouth set in an unexpectedly determined line.

Sara flinched slightly. At Iona’s age, Hugh had been an unhappy mixture of stubbornness and fear. Eagerness to follow his heart had been tempered by terror of his overbearing father. It had been fear that had won out in the end, and it had been her own heart that had been broken.

“Yes,” Alice was continuing. “Aunt Sara’s known for her support of up and coming artists. She’s really quite famous for it.”

“Not at all,” Sara replied. “But I do my best for those who have skill and passion but do not have the money or the advantages to pursue their profession.”

“Oh, I have all the advantages,” Iona replied. “Papa is rich, and I have all the leisure I need. I will never have to earn my living or work in a mill.”

“There are other kinds of disadvantage, perhaps?” Sara said quietly. “Such as being a woman, and not being taken seriously?”

“Oh.” Iona flushed deepest crimson. Pain filled the deep blue of her eyes. “Yes, I see what you mean.”

Sara glanced around. The young engineer who had been monopolising Iona throughout luncheon was nowhere to be seen. Merlyn had been cornered by a middle-aged man who was firing questions at her concerning the true health virtues of that vile-tasting water. The remaining guests were too absorbed in their own conversations to be paying any attention.

Sara cleared her throat. She was going to regret this, she could feel it. But she could no more stop herself than she had once been able to turn away from the path to a broken heart.

“Some of the women who exhibit with me choose to do so under a masculine name.”

“Like the novelist George Eliot, you mean?” Iona asked eagerly.

Sara nodded.

“I handle the publicity and the finances, and there is no need for anyone ever to know.”

“Taran does the framing for them,” Alice said. “You can trust Taran. He’ll never tell.”

“Taran?”

“My son,” Sara explained. “He’s working as a historian at the castle. But he has a practical streak in him, as well as being an academic.”

“I’ll think about it. Thank you. I’ll see how my painting turns out,” Iona said. The stubborn look was back on her face.

The painting would be more than good enough, Sara acknowledged to herself as she made her excuses and escaped. Iona’s skill was obvious, and she had the true artist’s drive towards perfection, however long that took.

“What have I let myself in for?” Sara asked herself as she made her way to heap well-earned praise on the exhausted nerves of her kitchen staff. “Will I never learn?”

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 aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.