Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 15


In for a penny, in for a pound, Merlyn had told herself. Miss Tudor couldn’t have much of a life shut up in that big house with her father and Rhodri, not being able to move an inch without their say-so. Iona might be a Tudor, but Merlyn had found she rather liked her.

Iona took a deep breath.

“Your mother mentioned you framed paintings for her to exhibit.”

“Yes.” He sounded wary.

“I can pay you –” She came to a halt. From his expression she had offended him.

“I don’t require payment, Miss Tudor. Like my mother, it’s a service I like to perform for those who are in need of it.”

“Oh.”

He smiled.

“If my mother has suggested exhibiting your work, then I’ll be pleased to be of service.”

“Really?” Iona beamed. “Only, it has to be a secret. I can’t even use my own name, and my father and brother must never find out.” She glanced anxiously at her companions. “Not just for my sake – they’d just make sure I was married off to the first man who offered. But I hate to think what they might do to anyone they knew had helped me.”

Merlyn met Taran’s eyes.

“I’m not afraid,” she muttered.

He nodded.

“All we’ll have to do, Miss Tudor, is to make sure you hide your identity under the best name you can think of, and then take care that none of us are caught.”

Taran Appleford, Merlyn reflected uneasily, had obviously never lived in a small place like Conwy, where everyone knew everybody else and secrets were impossible to keep. But at least there was no love lost in the town for Iona’s father and brother. Too many memories that ran too deep. Hopefully that would keep them safe.

*  *  *  *

Lights had begun to appear in each window and the delicious smell of cooking drifted into the quay as Merlyn reached the door of the little cottage. She was exhausted, and her ribs still ached from their contact with the boat, but her excitement at the success of the day had returned. She could not wait to share it with her grandmother.

“Nain?” she called out as she pushed her way through the door. “Nain –”

She came to an abrupt halt. Nain was sitting by the kitchen table, her mixing bowl abandoned and the kettle steaming forgotten on the fire. Next to her stood a well-built man in his early fifties.

“Miss Griffiths,” he said, as she came to an abrupt halt.

“Mr Harris.”

Merlyn swallowed. Rhodri’s steward had barely set foot in the cottages since Hugh had turned their management over to his son. One glance at Nain’s face told her that there was nothing good about this visit by Jack Harris.

“What can we do for you, Mr Harris?”

“Nothing at all, Miss Griffiths.” He smiled, a thin-lipped smile that did not reach his eyes. “I was merely delivering a letter to your grandmother, as I shall be doing for the remainder of the cottages in the row. That is all the information you need. Good day to you, Mrs Griffiths, Miss Griffiths.” Turning on his heel, he was gone.

“What letter?” Merlyn demanded.

Nain handed the paper to her without a word. Merlyn read rapidly.

“They are being knocked down? The whole row of cottages?”

“So it seems.” Nain picked up the mixing bowl, but Merlyn could see her hands were shaking. “It could have been worse, cariad. Mr Rhodri could have given us one week’s notice, instead of two. At least that will give us time to find somewhere else.”

Her eyes filled with tears.

“I shall miss this place, after all these years. Your dad was born here. It holds so many memories.”

“We will find a house out of the winds, with a large garden,” Merlyn said. “At least we can afford to pay rent elsewhere. I’ll start asking tomorrow. You know what Conwy is like. Someone is bound to know of a place for rent.”

“Yes. Yes, of course.”

Nain’s face was bent over her mixing bowl, her expression hidden.

Merlyn swallowed. This was her fault. She knew it. This sudden excuse of the row being beyond repair and being demolished to widen the quay was too much of a coincidence. And if this was Rhodri’s punishment for helping Iona escape this morning, then word would already have gone out. The Tudors were powerful, the most powerful family for miles around.

Hugh would never have harmed the family, aware that he owed Taid his life. But Rhodri was a different matter. What other landlord would now be prepared to oppose their rich neighbour and offer the Griffiths family a home?

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”.