Chapter Two [VI]

Very soon all nine of them were walking in a body down to the lakeside, marvelling at the soothing evening atmosphere. It took just five minutes to get down to the lake, where few visitors were out – ‘They’re all eating dinner in their hotels,’ as Blaise said.

“Are we going out on the lake at all?” Daniel asked. He had been keen on sailing the past two summers, and had been on a yachting course with several of his friends.

“If you want to, I’m sure we can fix something up,” Sir Humphrey said. “I’ll inquire about yacht-hiring. I’d probably need a license of some description, but I’ll have a search.”

“What are we doing tomorrow, Daddy?” Blaise said eagerly.

“I thought we’d have a relaxing day tomorrow, and go to Mass at the church over on up there.” But this idea was vetoed at once with as much vehemence as to render it impossible to enforce.

“No, Dad! I want to do something!”

“I don’t want to go to a stupid Mass in German!”

“It’s exactly the same words as at home, Daniel,” Sir Humphrey said, amusement in his voice.

“But we’ve just got here. I don’t want to be bored already.”

“I thought you were bored as soon as we set foot in Austria,” Blaise chimed in slyly.

“What do you say, Delia?” Sir Humphrey turned to his other daughter.

“I think I’d like to go somewhere – maybe a short walk. I don’t want to spend all day in the chalet. I’ve spent months staying doing nothing at home and I’m so bored of it!”

“Fair enough. And Aoife?”

“I’ll do what the kids do, of course.”

“How about I go to Mass, then, and you explore this area?”

“I want to go up there to the foot of that mountain,” Blaise said decidedly, in a way that meant they’d have no peace until she got her way.

“Which one?”

“That one at the back. The big grey pointy one.”

“The Sonnjoch,” murmured Aoife. She raised an eyebrow. “But, Blaise, it would take about four hours to walk all the way up there. An hour through Pertisau, another to the restaurant, and two more to the foot of the thing.”

“Can’t Rob or someone drive us to the restaurant, then, before he goes to church, if he’s going there, and we’ll walk the rest, and eat lunch at it.”

“That isn’t a bad idea,” Daniel said, disentangling the pronouns of this sentence with ease, for his sentence construction was of more of less the same quota.

“Could you manage it, Dee?” Aoife asked Delia, who had been relatively silent, as always.

“Of course,” Delia flared up. “I’m neither a baby nor a cripple!”

“That’s fine, then,” Aoife continued, passing over her cousin’s rudeness with a remark made in breezy tones entirely detached from the subject of Delia herself. She could tell the girl was getting tired now, and irritated with the constant allusions to her weakness. “This is the ferry landing, here, and that big hotel is the Furstenhaus. Shall we go back soon? It’s getting dark across the mountains.”

Blaise took a few photos of the family, the blue beauty of the lake behind them, and they turned back, Blaise latching tightly onto Aoife, seeking place names for further reference.

Everyone was in bed by ten that night, tired out with the hassle of travelling, and also the stimulating air, which, as Delia owned to Aoife, made her feel strangely satisfied and able to sleep straight away. “It makes you feel as if you’ve spent the day doing the opposite to moping about the house,” Delia said. “And my chest feels tons looser. It’s so much easier to take a breath.” Aoife was glad that this was the case – nevertheless, she felt an inkling of worry for her young cousin, and how well she would adapt back to the sleepy atmosphere of Pentingdon when the holiday came to an end.

“Never mind,” she thought dismissively, yawning as she drew the buttery curtains of her bedroom, and pulling back the eiderdown. “Time enough to worry about all that. We’ve got a whole summer to come before we have to think about going back.”

The End

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