Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 31


Merlyn tucked her arm into her grandfather’s as Twm scuttled off across the deck to a better vantage point.

Owain was still staring towards the quay, where Hugh could be seen striding off into the distance, leaving Harris to his near-empty boat.
“Well, it’s probably too late anyhow,” Taid said to himself, a worried expression on his face. He patted his granddaughter’s hand reassuringly. “Can I leave you to take our visitors to the spa, cariad?”

“Of course.” Merlyn smiled.

“Good, good.” Taid scarcely seemed to have heard. “There’s something I need to do. Just in case. Nothing to be worried about.”

He shook himself and gave a wry smile.

“Besides, I can’t be letting Twm be visiting with too many beers inside him, not with a new baby to think of.”

Merlyn took one last glimpse towards the quay. All was quiet once more. Even The Golden Lily stood still, without the sound of the engine starting or the paddles moving. Ever since Harris had brought the paddle steamer Merlyn had longed for a day she would see the boat standing idle. But today she found herself shivering.

*  *  *  *

Owain paused at the entrance to the walled herb garden, just out of sight of the morning tea drinkers in the Snowdon View.

Sara Appleford was bent over the fragrant spikes of a rosemary bush, lost in thought. Her face was calm, but Owain could sense anguish.

His heart contracted. He could still see in that tear-stained face the small, motherless girl who had sat by the fire that Christmas Day, clutching the rag doll her father had made for her from the ends of fishing rope, her eyes large with the knowledge that he was gone for ever.

He still saw the passionate young woman who had been so heartbreakingly certain that she could battle the world and its injustices, and that love could never die.

Cariad,” he called gently.

Sara started.

“Owain!”

She struggled for a moment to keep her composure, to portray again the calm, no-nonsense businesswoman the world knew her to be. But as Owain reached her, her face crumpled.

“There, there.”

Owain held her tight as she wept. As she had done once before, he remembered grimly – angry, humiliated and betrayed.

The next time Hugh ventured on to the Daughter Of Conwy Owain vowed to give him a piece of his mind, Tudor or no Tudor, and for all his promises.

“All I’ve ever done is bring trouble on you,” Sara said at last, swallowing her sobs and drying her eyes.

“A Tudor doesn’t need an excuse for trouble,” Owain replied wryly. “And don’t talk nonsense, girl. You’ve always been a daughter to me. What’s a man supposed to do if he can’t stand by his children?”

Sara gave a faint smile.

“You were the one who taught me not to be afraid. Who found the money so I could go to school and be the equal of anyone. Without you and Nain I’d have spent my days in the workhouse, and heaven knows where I would be now.”

“You’d have found a way,” he replied gruffly. “You always had the spirit in you, cariad; you’d have found a way.”

Sara sighed.

“I always knew I’d have to come back one day, if only to settle things in my mind. Maybe I thought – hoped – that he might have changed. That after all these years . . .” She shook herself.

“You always saw the best in people,” Owain said. His glance sharpened. “Brought out the best, too. Appleford thought the world of you.”

“I know. I am grateful, and I loved him dearly and he gave me Taran. I will never regret marrying him, or stop grieving his loss.” She picked up the basket of herbs.

“I should never have come back. I should have let the past lie. I know now that Hugh could never love me. Maybe he never did, not really.” She grasped Owain’s hand.

“If only you would let me help you, Owain. I could take you and Nain away from here. You could live your lives in ease.”

“But not in Conwy,” Owain said, returning the pressure. “This is where we belong, cariad. Nancy and I are too old to start again. We have friendships here, and our families. What would we do in a city far away?”

“Even if you stay, I have money –”

“No.” He shook his head. “As I’ve told you before, do you think the Tudors wouldn’t know where our good fortune came from? Do you think that wouldn’t give them even more of a reason to drive us away?” He met her eyes. “But you can’t stay.”

“I know.” She gazed at him wistfully. “That’s the thing that grieves me most of all, I find. That I can’t be with you. That I can never live here again.” She gave the faintest of smiles. “I’ll always be a daughter of Conwy. However long I live, or how prosperous I become, there will always be an ache in my heart for my true home.”

“You will always be here in our hearts,” Owain replied gently.

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”.