Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 23

“That is so very romantic!” The middle-aged woman who had joined the boat at Trefriw was standing beside her at the rail and gazing wistfully up at the ruins of Conwy Castle.

Merlyn followed her gaze. A figure stood on one of the battlements, pale blue dress fluttering in the wind, fair hair glowing like a halo around her head.

“Does anyone live there?”

“I don’t think so,” Merlyn replied. “It’s fallen into ruins. But you can visit it, if you would like.”

“Really? What a delightful prospect!” A gleam of excitement appeared in the woman’s eyes. “Did you hear that?” she added to her husband as he joined them.

“Indeed. I think we should go there as soon as we arrive on shore, my dear,” he remarked. “I’ve longed to see the famous walled town of Conwy since I was a boy. That castle must have the most fascinating history.”

“It does,” Merlyn replied, smiling at his enthusiasm, and wishing she could tell him everything he wished to know. “There’s a historian working there at the moment. I’m sure he’ll still be there at this time of day. He’ll be able to tell you more.”

“Wonderful!” The woman tucked her arm affectionately into her husband’s. “The guide who led the way up Snowdon last week had so many stories to tell that I scarcely noticed the climb at all.” Her cheeks were glowing with excitement. “We made camp just below the summit and watched the dawn rise. It was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever done.”

She smiled at Merlyn.

“My friends back in London were so certain a woman could never achieve such a feat.” She patted her husband’s arm. “But Mr Tanner never had a moment’s doubt, and neither, to give him credit, did our guide. I would not have missed the experience for the world.”

Mrs Tanner’s husband was beaming with pride.

“Nonsense, my dear. Why should I doubt your abilities? I’m not ashamed to confess my mother worked as a washerwoman to make sure I could go to school and get on in life. Anyone who has ever seen the strength it took to perform those tasks could never say that a woman is the weaker creature. Many of those buckets I could barely lift, even as a young man!”

Mrs Tanner smiled.

“I’m so glad we came. Mr Tanner and I have never had a holiday before, you see, my dear. We were both working too hard to build up Mr Tanner’s business and bring up our boys. But now Henry, our eldest, has taken over the running of the company, we are free to do as we please.

“I was assured Wales was a perfect wilderness, with nothing of interest to see. I shall be telling everyone at home just how wrong they are. And the people are so friendly, too, and so helpful. Even when they have very little English we manage to communicate somehow.”

Merlyn smiled. It always left her with a warm glow inside when people like the Tanners came on board. She glanced up once more at the battlements. The figure was still there, gazing out over the river, like a princess in a fairy tale.

That was it! What the Daughter Of Conwy needed was to be able to offer something the new paddle steamer could not possibly provide! Merlyn had heard of the guides who made a living in the summer taking the tourists up into the wilderness of the mountains. The most successful were the ones who not only knew the route well, but also could answer the questions of the men and women employing them.

The men running the Golden Lily were, by their accents, all from Liverpool or Manchester. They were here for the summer to do a job of work. They had no interest in Conwy or the history of the river and the town.

Everyone Merlyn had ever met loved a good story. If she could find out as many tales of Conwy and its castle as she could to regale the visitors on the Daughter Of Conwy, then maybe they might have a chance.

She frowned. It would take time for word to get about, and with the new steamer taking so much of their business, time was something the Griffithses did not have.

“You have to make a start somewhere,” she muttered to herself. And the sooner she put her plan into action the better.

She would offer to guide the Tanners to the castle and introduce them to the historian. From what she had seen of him, Mr Appleford appeared approachable and did not stand on his dignity as an important scholar. She would ask him this very afternoon.

The Daughter Of Conwy was now approaching the town and pulling up at the quay. In front of them the new paddle boat was disgorging its full complement of passengers.

“We will not be beaten,” Merlyn vowed, ignoring the mocking smirk of Jack Harris, who was personally supervising the growing crowd waiting for the following trip up the river. “This has to work!”

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”.