Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 20

“They would pay me money?” Iona bit her lip and gazed at Taran. “Real money?”

“Of course.” Taran smiled at her mixture of excitement and undisguised panic. “The castle needs more visitors. What better way to promote interest in visitors coming in from London and Birmingham on the railways than illustrations, both here and in the London magazines? ‘Mr Ioan Thomas’ is fast gaining a reputation for his skill with a pencil and brush, you know.”

“Oh.” Iona blushed furiously. She glanced at him sideways. “Is he? You’re not just saying that?”

“Never,” Taran said seriously. “I would never lie to you, Iona, and certainly not about your work. You are far too modest, you know. You really have no idea of just how good you are. I have so many people wishing to meet you, I’m spending half my time fending them off.”

Iona beamed.

“I still can’t believe people have actually paid money for my paintings in your mother’s hotel. She’s sold six already. I can hardly keep up with replacing them.” She took a deep breath. “Yes. The answer’s yes.”

“You can have time to think it through; you don’t have to give an answer now. I said it would be a week at least before I would have an opportunity of speaking to ‘Mr Thomas’, as he was out of town visiting family in London.”

“I don’t want to think,” Iona replied earnestly. “If I think I’ll only do the sensible thing and say no. I don’t want to do the sensible thing.

“I’ve loved earning my own money. I love painting, knowing that I’m not just playing at it, and I don’t want to stop. So yes. Mr Ioan Thomas will undertake the illustrations of the castle.”

“Bravo!” Taran grinned. “I thought you might. The commission will be reasonably well paid, and could well lead on to other things.”

“Really?” Iona smiled at him.

Then she sighed.

“Oh, if only I could. But I fear it’s far too late for that already.”

Taran gazed at her wistfully.

“Iona . . . ” Laughter echoed through the castle walls as a party of tourists made their way towards them.

“I’d better go,” she said hastily.

*  *  *  *

“Well, now, Merlyn,” Owain Griffiths said, eyeing his granddaughter anxiously as he turned the horse and cart away from the main road winding itself into the heart of the Conwy Valley, down a narrow lane through which the cart could barely pass. “What do you think?”

“It will be quite a walk from Conwy,” Merlyn replied dubiously. The lane was no more than two ruts of cart tracks with grass growing down the centre. The branches of a small wood formed an arch above them, through which the blue of the sky could only just be seen.

Merlyn shivered. She was accustomed to walking, and if the Daughter Of Conwy continued to be successful they could hire the pony and trap once a week to enable Nain to get to Conwy. They might even, one day, be able to afford to buy their own.

She should be grateful that they would have a roof over their heads at last. If it had not been for Sir Edward Wynne’s offer of a cottage, they would have been homeless by tomorrow evening.

But she could see how isolated their new home was to be. In the streets of Conwy she had never been afraid, but the thought of walking down this overgrown lane of a dark winter’s morning and evening made her uneasy.

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”.