Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 43

Merlyn bit her lip to stop herself crying out as she recognised the voice. It was Harris. Rhodri’s grip had loosened. She pushed herself carefully upright, peering through the lower branches of the trees.

“I’d have said so, wouldn’t I?” one of the men replied sullenly.

“Anyhow, they couldn’t have overtaken us,” another pointed out.

“They can if they know the shortcuts,” Rhodri whispered grimly.

He had pulled himself up out of the leaves a little and was peering through the branches beside her.

There was a rapid discussion up ahead, followed by the men tethering their horses to a tree and making their way rapidly on foot across the fields.

In the faint glimmer of moonlight streaking between the trees, Merlyn met the sheen of Rhodri’s eyes. She stood up.

“Come on. They’re going to the cottage!”

He shook his head.

“I sent word to the local militia before I left, as soon as I guessed what Harris might be up to. They should be here before long. What can you and I do? There are three of them and you can be sure they are armed. I should have known the man would need to take his fury out on someone.”

“Haven’t you got a pistol?”

“Of course not!” He was indignant. “I’m not in the habit of winging the locals, whatever you might think. Besides,” he added gloomily, “I’m a rotten shot. Papa would never let me near a firearm.”

“Well, I can’t just stay here while Nain is on her own. Heaven knows what they might do.” She set off towards the cottage. “You don’t have to come. You can wait for the soldiers to arrive.”

Rhodri eyed her with exasperation.

“That could be hours. I’m not letting you go on your own,” he muttered, catching up with her as she reached the edge of the trees.

Ahead of them, the path meandered through fields silvered with dew and moonlight towards a faint glow in the distance where the cottage stood. There was no sign of the men.

Merlyn glanced back towards the forest. There was no sign of David and his men, or the militia, either. Silence reigned.

“Come on,” she said, picking up the sturdiest branch she could find in the darkness. Followed by Rhodri, she made her way cautiously over the damp of the fields, keeping as low as possible so as not to be seen.

The cottage stood dark and peaceful in its little garden. A candle flame danced in the kitchen window. Nain must be sitting up, waiting. Merlyn prayed her grandmother had taken the precaution of bolting the door and closing all the windows. That might at least give her warning. At least give them time to reach her.

They crept closer. There was still no sign of Harris and his men. Hopefully they could get there first, while Harris and his men were planning what to do next. If they could get inside to join Nain they could barricade the door and those windows low enough to reach from the ground, and keep Harris and his men at bay until help came.

But it was too late. Shouts erupted, then a banging against the door of the cottage. A shot was fired followed by the splintering of glass.

“Stay here,” Rhodri hissed, grasping her arm as Merlyn’s grip tightened on the branch. “There’s nothing you can do, and getting yourself killed won’t help your grandmother.”

But Merlyn scarcely heard. She pulled herself free and, grasping her branch, ran as fast as she could towards the house.

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”.