Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 22

The afternoon was drawing on as the pony and trap, accompanied by David Ross, made its way into Conwy.

They arrived on the quay. In front of the Griffithses’s door a small group of men were piling the last of the family’s belongings on to the cart with energy and efficiency.

“We’ll have you moved in no time,” David Ross assured Owain.

“Thank you. I’ll be glad if we can be away from here tonight. George Evans will want his cart back by midnight, and I’ve no wish to wait for Harris’s grinning face tomorrow morning.”

“Ah, there you are.” Nain reached Merlyn as she jumped down.

“It’s better than we could ever have hoped!” Merlyn said cheerfully, kissing her grandmother’s cheek. “I’ve made up the beds and the range should still be in when we get back. We can start the proper unpacking tomorrow. You’ll love it when you see it.”

“I’m sure.”

Nain’s frown was distracted. She scarcely seemed to have heard her granddaughter at all.

Owain paused in fetching a bucket of water for the pony and David’s mare.

“What is it, cariad?”

“Oh, dear.” Nain shook her head. There were tears in her eyes. “Didn’t you see, this morning?”

“No,” he said slowly. “What was it I should have seen?”

“Twm from the Liverpool Arms came, just after you had left.” Her hands were twisting in her apron in her distress. “There’s a new paddle steamer down in the quay, right next to the Daughter Of Conwy.”

“A new paddle steamer?” Merlyn stared at her. “It must be from Liverpool. Surely it will be just passing through on its way down the coast.”

“I’ve never heard of a paddle steamer just passing through,” David mused, frowning.

“You’re right, young man.” Nain sighed. “It’s here to stay. That’s what they are saying on the quay.”

“But surely everyone in Conwy knows there are barely enough passengers to keep one boat going,” Owain said. “When the railway is completed, maybe. But until then it would be foolishness.”

Nain glanced around, her voice lowering.

“They’re saying it’s Tudor money that has bought the steamer, as a rival to the Daughter Of Conwy.” The tears spilled over. “And now we’ve this new rent to pay and the expense of moving. They’re saying on the quay that the captain has instructions to undercut the prices of the Daughter Of Conwy and take all our business away for themselves.”

“They can’t do that,” Taid said sharply. “We run a tight ship as it is. They’d be bankrupt in a month.”

“Not with Tudor money behind them,” Nain retorted. “The Tudors have thrown us out of our home for no good reason. And look at the trouble we’ve had to find a place. No-one in Conwy would touch us.
What’s to stop the Tudors from taking away our livelihood, too?”

* * * *

There has to be a way.” Merlyn Griffiths braced herself against the bow of the Daughter Of Conwy as the paddle steamer travelled back down from Trefriw towards Conwy, and gazed out over the swirling waters of the river.

It was a perfect summer’s day and the castle and ancient town walls in front of her were thronged with visitors. But the hard fact was that only three families had gathered on the deck behind her. They stood along with the weatherbeaten figure of Wyn Jones, who’d taken a day away from the mussel fishing in Conwy bay to visit his sick mother the other side of Trefriw, and wouldn’t travel by any boat with the mere whisper of Tudor money behind it, no matter how cheap.

“It’s good company that matters!” he’d shouted loudly to the boy on Trefriw quay handing out leaflets advertising the delights of the brand new paddle steamer. The Golden Lily, with its speed and comfortable seats, also boasted a far more reasonable price than the battered vessel moored alongside. “And I’d rather pay for it than not.”

Merlyn sighed. There were many in Conwy who would not pay money to a Tudor at any cost, but she could hardly blame the visitors, both at Conwy and Trefriw, for choosing the smart new boat rather than the poor old Daughter Of Conwy.

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”.