Do you remember Pertisau in the Austrian Tirol? We went there six years ago, so I’m not certain that the girls will remember. Daniel might. I’m sure Aoife does.”
“Pertisau? Oh, dear Pertisau!” Aoife cried rapturously. “Are we really going back? That was my favourite place on the planet, and I’ve been to a lot of places before I lived here. How wonderful!” And Aoife slipped into a delighted reverie, her soft eyes alive with dreamy animation.
“Is that the place with the big lake?” Delia put in quietly. “I would only have been five but it would be nice to go back. Do you remember it, Dan?”
“It was just another holiday,” Daniel replied airily. “Is Rob coming?” The girls weren’t much company for thirteen-year-old Daniel, who liked to assert himself as their superior, and Rob was more entertaining company than Nathaniel, who was just a baby to the teenage boy.
“I’ve just spoken with Rob, and he and Lindy have agreed to think about it. I expect they will decide to join us, and bring Serena, naturally.”
“Well I don’t remember it but it sounds okay,” Blaise said from the end of the table, scraping her chair as she stood up. “I’ll look it up on the internet. How do you spell it?”
“Wait a moment, dear. I haven’t finished yet, and you haven’t finished your dinner.” Blaise sat down unwillingly. “I’ve rented a chalet in Pertisau until the third of September, so we get back a couple of days before school starts again. It has six bedrooms, which should suit us adequately for a few weeks.”
“When do we go?” Aoife inquired, her voice regaining its mercilessly efficient tone.
“Saturday morning,” began Sir Humphrey, but a howl drowned whatever he had been poised to add.
“Saturday? But that means we’ll have nearly two months on holiday. That’s horrible! We’ll come back exhausted and utterly dying for home, and we’ll have to go back to school straight away.”
“I know what I’m doing,” Sir Humphrey responded firmly. “It’s all booked. It’s my opinion that we all really need this holiday. It’ll be a great chance to become a family again and forget about all our home worries.”
“And come back knee-deep in them,” Daniel grumbled.
“Does Apollo come?” queried Delia quickly.
“Oh, of course – how could we leave behind such an important member of the family? I’ve made arrangements, and he is coming with us.”
“Good. He’s part of the family, after all.”
“What about school?” Blaise asked. She was the most intellectual of the family by far, frankly intending to become a barrister when she was older. Even at nine years old, she had a clear idea of her own future and was looking forward to the end-of-year exams the following week. Another howl drowned her out.
“School? Why do you care about school? There’s our hockey tournament on Thursday, and I’m playing left wing. There isn’t a single other person in the team or any of the reserves who could play left wing, either. And while they’re failing at hockey I’ll be letting down the team, sitting round with my married brother, two babies and a bunch of girls in Austria. What a sickening waste of a summer!”
And with this, Daniel got up, stalked to the door and slammed it so hard the crockery rattled in the shelves. A moment later his feet could be heard as they thundered up the stairs. There was silence for sixty seconds, Blaise rolling her eyes with careless nonchalance; then Nathaniel demanded ice-cream in his most imperious manner. Aoife got up to attend to his whim.
“Well!” her back ejaculated as she turned to the fridge.