Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 48

“It looks almost the same as it did before!” Merlyn gazed around the freshly painted walls of the cottage. She sighed. “But, of course, it won’t be. It won’t ever be.”

“There, there,” Nain replied, patting her hand soothingly. “Once we get the old furniture back in its place and that range up and running, it will feel like home. Just you see. By the time your taid is sitting in his chair by the fire we won’t know we ever left.” The lines on her forehead eased a little.

“My, it’s good to be back in Conwy, among our friends.”

“It is.” Merlyn kissed her.

“And, cariad,” her grandmother said gently, “we will find a way. Whatever it takes, we will find a way. I can take in washing –”

“No!” Merlyn exclaimed fiercely. “You’ll have enough to do, looking after Taid until he is better. I’ll find some kind of work to support us.” She bit her lip. “There’s a place going at the mill in Trefriw. Bethan has already put in a word for me. She says it’s mine if I will take it.”

“Oh, cariad.” Nain eyed her in despair. “You and Owain hoped you’d be earning enough with the Daughter Of Conwy to bring Bethan back home.”

“Well, it can’t be helped.” Merlyn spoke as cheerfully as she was able. “At least we are all safe, and the Tudors won’t be troubling us again. Once Taid is well, we’ll think of something, just you see.”

Later that evening, she left Nain happily placing her best plates on the old Welsh dresser, and made her way out on to Conwy quay.

The tide was in. The harbour was almost empty, with just a few masts rattling in the gentle breeze. Where the paddle steamers had once been moored, just blackened slabs remained.

Visitors wandered along the front, then made their way up towards the castle and the waiting carriages for hire. In the distance came a roar and a rush of steam as a train made its way over the new bridge, speeding towards the English borders.

Merlyn gazed over the darkening sea, and felt the wind creep into her very bones. She hadn’t seen David Ross since their return to Conwy. He had left with the other engineers to set up the workings of the new bridge over the Menai Strait.

A respected engineer, rising through the ranks, and a factory girl? It was unthinkable. They would be further apart than ever.

*  *  *  *

Iona gazed round the gallery and smiled at the animated throng of men and women moving from painting to painting. She still had to pinch herself to believe that she was here, that amongst the watercolours and oils several of her own paintings were displayed.

Just as she had to pinch herself each morning, as she made her way from Lillian Carter’s rambling house through the streets to her little studio near to Mr Garamond’s offices.

She loved that morning walk, through streets stirring into life. She drew in the excitement of city streets, and the rush of people of all different races and colours arriving in the port from all over the world, and felt its vibrancy fill her each day with new energy.

“You must meet my protégée!”

Iona looked up as Lillian swept towards her accompanied by a large, middle-aged man, who gleamed expensively from his well-groomed head to the shiniest of boots.

“You are always saying your London galleries need new talent, Henry; something to shake them into life. Well, if it’s life you want, you need go no further than our talented Miss Thomas.”

Mr Garamond’s sister had become her loudest champion, and the London gallery owner had no chance of escape.

Iona smiled. She took a deep breath, threw the doubts that still assailed her now and again to one side, and held out her hand in a businesslike greeting.

Some time later, as the gallery began to empty a little, she made her excuses to Lillian and went to stand in front of her paintings. She still found it a little sad to say goodbye to any of her work, but all three had been sold within the first hour, securing the rent of her studio for the next year.

What was more, with several further commissions already taken, she could afford paints and canvas. Even a new winter coat!

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”.