The four walkers waved to the car, which set off without delay and could be seen just a minute later, turning off the road and bumbling down the short drive to a pretty chalet visible from the lakeside.
“What do you think, Dan?” Blaise was saying.
“It’s better than I thought it would be, but I expect we’re going to get really bored here. I’d rather go somewhere cold and rainy.”
“I’m sure you would,” Aoife put in. “But trust me: this will not be a boring holiday. We’ll have you all on your feet and dancing around, and enjoying yourselves more than you would back in Pentingdon.”
“I really don’t have the energy,” Delia protested.
“Trust me: you will have,” Aoife repeated.
“I don’t see how.”
“Look! There’s a yacht race on the lake!” cried Blaise, pointing eagerly out over the blue gem of the lake.
“That’ll be a yacht school of some such. That’s Buchau over there, and Seespitz is just round the corner we just passed. I think that’s Maurach all the way over there.”
“What’s that place right down the other end?”
“That’s Scholastika, and we’ll probably walk there this week sometime. It’ll take four hours, though.”
“Four hours? But it doesn’t look far at all.”
“The path is very up-and-down and covered in snags. At some places you have to cross dry riverbeds to get across – or that’s what I remember from six years ago.”
“Then what’s that place we’re walking to now?” Daniel inquired.
“Oh, Dan! That’s Pertisau, of course! Pay attention!”
“That’s the first time you’ve said it,” Daniel said reasonably.
“Even I can work out it’s Pertisau, and you’re four years older than me,” retorted Blaise swiftly. “Even Delia knows that.”
“Well I don’t study where I go on holiday, then,” retorted Daniel.
“That’s because you aren’t specially clever. I know more capital cities than you and I’m nine!” Blaise said with a characteristic little raise of the chin. “And you can’t contradict that, after that test thing Aoife did two weeks ago at the dinner table.”
“That was a capital city crossword, and I wasn’t really trying, if you must know,” Daniel replied quite calmly.
“Alright, Dee?” Aoife asked quietly, as the other two strayed ahead, arguing cheerfully.
“I’m fine,” Delia said, raising her head to smile timidly at Aoife. Aoife knew the smile meant that Delia was nearly at the end of her tether, and being brave as usual, but she was grateful for the short walk. It might do Delia a lot of good to breathe some fresh air and gather a picture of her surroundings. Travel sickness did so distort all awareness, but already the pink roses were returning to her cheeks, and Delia was looking more alive than she had in months. What a brainwave Dr Kennedy had to send the family to Austria! One only had to look at Blaise and Daniel, arguing away to their hearts’ content, Aoife thought, to see that they were becoming a family once more.