CHAPTER THREE: Fog on the Falzthurnalm
The next morning Aoife woke up crisply at half past six. She drew her primrose-spattered curtains and heaved a sigh a pure pleasure as the clear glass revealed the beloved mountain scene of old memories.
Having refreshed herself with a quick shower, she went downstairs. Blaise was wrapped in a white blanket like a caterpillar in a cocoon, curled up on the sofa with a book balanced on her white knees, and she waved soundlessly before returning to her reading. Aoife, knowing that her small cousin would not take kindly to any disturbance, passed on to the kitchen, where Rob was searching cupboards.
“Ah, Aoife,” he said in a low tone, as she lingered beneath the doorframe. “I was hoping you’d appear. What do you say to a bit of shopping while everyone’s in bed? We finished the loaves we brought last night, and there’s practically nothing to eat in the whole place.”
“Okay,” Aoife replied easily. “Let’s go now. I’ll just get my list.”
“You have a list?” he said in amused tones.
“It’s the same one I print out for normal shopping in Pentingdon,” Aoife said defensively. “You tell Blaise where we’re going, though I doubt she’ll take it in. She’s more than captured in the cobwebs of that mystery of hers. Celia Cryer is her favourite writer at the moment, and I must say I enjoy her books too – but it makes her exceedingly unresponsive at the best of times.”
So when everyone else began to appear at eight, for the curtains were very thin, and the day was already growing warm and sunny, they were greeted on the threshold of the hallway to a display of hot rolls in baskets in the kitchen, jams and spreads of many colours littering the table, and Aoife buttering a gaggle of more rolls for dear life.
Daniel was last, and he arrived just as Serena and Lindy were finishing.
“I’ll clear up when you’ve gone, Aoife,” Lindy was saying with her characteristic brightness. “You need to get off as soon as possible.”
“Oh my goodness! It’s the one and only Daniel!” cried Aoife, catching sight of him slinking down, and clapping her hands with patronising enthusiasm.
“Huh!” grunted Daniel, grumpy that he was up ‘so early’ in holiday time.
“He’s always sulky in the mornings,” Aoife jested to Lindy. She was in an extremely good mood, for some unfathomable reason, and it was engulfing the whole of her being.
They had their various showers in the three pristine bathrooms with a great show of speed – each of the Thimbles had been drilled in their maxim ‘shower in the bathroom, do everything else in the bedroom’, which is a matter of course when six people share one bathroom. Another was being fitted in the great Thimble manor, but it was an almost hopelessly slow job as the diligent plumbers had encountered an array of complicated plumbing problems.
In these circumstances, the family was only too grateful that their own bathroom had been greatly modernised under the instruction of the late Lady Thimble, for the current salle de bains had been an avocado-coloured specimen from at least two centuries ago before her gainful reign had summoned an army of plumbers and builders to the place. Deep in the cold cellar, it is true, resided a lone toilet known as the ‘cell’, but as it was devoid of any form of heating, having instead a cluster of mould growing in one corner, it was not a specially popular place with the family, and more commonly rumoured to be the choice venue for the doing of dark deeds.