Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 41

Merlyn stepped back into the shadow of the building as she recognised this second voice. The last thing she needed at this moment was a confrontation with Rhodri Tudor. She might not be able to prevent herself from giving him a piece of her mind, and where would Nain and Taid be then?

“Going soft, are you?” Harris’s voice held a sneer. “You were eager enough for that Griffiths boat to lose its trade.”

“That was business.” Rhodri sounded defensive. “And I gave instructions that no-one was to be physically harmed.”

“How do you think these things are managed?” Harris was no longer bothering to hide his contempt. “Not with kid gloves, that I can tell you for free. It takes a few broken heads to put a stubborn old man out of business.” His tone lowered as if speaking to himself. “And I will not be beaten, especially not by some old fool and his granddaughter. I am not in the habit of losing.”

“I suggest you leave Conwy tonight before I set the constables on you,” Rhodri retorted. Merlyn could hear his voice shaking with anger. “I was a fool to hire you. I shall not be making that mistake again.”

Merlyn held her breath as Rhodri’s boots faded away into the next street. Harris, however, did not move. He stood for several minutes, lost in thought. She could just make out the fury contorting his features.

At last he straightened, with the air of a man whose mind was made up. The next minute, he was striding off into the town.

Merlyn’s relief at not being spotted by either of them was short-lived. The look on Harris’s face had been one of a man unaccustomed to being thwarted, a man looking for revenge.

Not even Harris would dare harm Rhodri Tudor, not unless he wanted to find a hangman’s noose around his neck. She shivered. It was Taid whom Harris had threatened. Though he might not vent his feelings on a Tudor, an old man was a different matter. Or an old woman, on her own in an isolated cottage, with no witnesses and no rich and powerful family to pursue the matter . . .

She glanced back towards
Dr Osian’s house. Taid, at least, was safe. But there was no telling how long it might take David to rouse his men, let alone find and saddle horses for them all. By then it might be too late.

The next minute, Merlyn was racing up through the town, out beneath the arch, hurrying towards Nain as fast as her legs would take her.

* * * *

The railway carriage was deserted. Iona was glad of the solitude as her train sped through the darkened countryside away from Conwy, towards Chester and the English border.

She clutched her little carpetbag tightly. It was now all she had in the world. Terror streaked through her. She had never been alone – never had to fend for herself. She had never had to question if she would have a roof over her head, nor from where her next meal might come. She had never even had to dress herself!

“It can’t be all that difficult,” she muttered. “Plenty of others manage. And I never expected freedom would be easy. At least I have my commissions, and a means of earning a living with my paintings. At least that has given me the choice.”

She gazed out of the carriage window at the wide expanse of sea, bathed in moonlight. Her fear steadied, leaving a sense of desolation in its place. Taran had made it clear he saw her as no more than a client whose paintings he framed. Another artist with dreams, just one more of his mother’s protégés.

His time at the castle would soon be ending, he had told her. Perhaps his mother would not choose to stay at the Snowdon View once her son had gone, but would move on, find another hotel to bring back from the brink of ruin. Iona could not write to him in Conwy for fear of her whereabouts being traced. And once he had left . . . She would never see him again.

Iona leaned against the cold pane of the window. She fought back the tears, setting her mouth in a determined line. The steam train curved inland, taking her away from the sea and everything she had ever known, rushing her through the night to the great cities of the north and towards the future, whatever that might bring.

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”.