Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 26

A few days later, Sara Appleford paused, one hand on the ornate gates of Plas Arthur as she gazed towards the house. The place, for all its grandeur, was cold, even a little vulgar with its overstating of wealth. Those within, she told herself firmly, were nothing to her. They would never have any power to harm her, nor those she loved, ever again.

She had sworn to herself she would march straight in, whoever tried to stop her. She was known to be fearless. Her stare could send a drunken reveller scuttling down a side street. She could silence a bullying tradesman, making much of having only a woman to deal with, with a single word.

Her fierce determination that she and Taran would never end up on the streets, facing inevitable separation in the workhouse, or the terrible choices she had seen so many destitute women forced to make, had been the burning flame that had kept any fear for herself at bay all these years.

Yet today, in the bright sunlight with the birds singing and the sea quiet and still, a carriage waiting for her and wealth and position shining from the lace of her bonnet to the striped green silk of her gown, Sara’s knees were still trembling.

She shook herself. She was not the naïve, eager girl who had once stood here with love and hope in her heart. That girl had gone and the love had died many years ago. There was nothing that could touch her now.

Taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders, Sara pushed the gate open and strode over the gravel towards the house.

*  *  *  *

“My father is not expecting visitors.”

Rhodri frowned at his visitor. How had she had managed to force her way past the footmen and the butler? Not to mention the maids still giggling in the hallway!

From the corner of his eye he caught the housekeeper pausing, her hand on the handle of the open door, a look of astonishment on her face.

“I have not made an appointment,” Sara said, a look of determination on her face.

“Then I suggest you make one, Mrs Appleford.”

“No. Your father will hear what I have to say, whether he likes it or not. I take it he is in your grandfather’s study?”

“Well, yes . . .”

Before Rhodri could move, Sara stepped past him, making her way without hesitation to the small room at the end of the hallway.

“Mrs Appleford!” Collecting the last of his dignity Rhodri raced after her, uncomfortably aware of the stifled giggles of unmistakable enjoyment erupting behind him.

Rhodri arrived just in time to catch the look of deep annoyance on his father’s face at the interruption. Then a flush made its way over Hugh’s pale features.

“Sara!” He took a glance at his visitor’s face. “Mrs Appleford, that is. This is an unexpected pleasure. Please take a seat. Can I offer you tea?”

“Certainly not,” she replied. “I’m here on business.”

“Of course.” Hugh cleared his throat. “Thank you for showing Mrs Appleford the way, Rhodri. Since this is a private matter . . .”

“I think Rhodri should stay,” Sara replied firmly. “What I have to say concerns him, too.”

“It does?”

“Of course. It concerns your treatment of the Griffiths family.”

“What of them?” Hugh blinked. He glanced briefly at Rhodri. “They have been treated fairly, as with any other tenants. If they have any complaint, they can bring it to me.”

“Oh, Hugh.” Sara sat down on the chair in front of the desk, her anger turning to exasperation. “Have you really changed so much over the years? You know perfectly well that if they came to you with a complaint against your son, it would be dismissed. Not only that, but their situation would only be made worse.”

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”.