Chapter Three [III]

“Right, let’s go,” she said briskly. “Come on, Blaise.” She grabbed her cousins’ arms rather too forcefully for her to be called a girl of placid long temper, and pulled them along with her as her long legs ran to join Dan.

They passed the Gasthaus in minutes, and were walking swiftly back to the Alpengasthaus Falzthurn. “An hour of fast walking would do it,” Aoife muttered under her breath, and Daniel, also, was trying to conjure speed on a stomach that had turned to water. But Blaise was not in an observant mood, and Delia’s energy was fading.

It was not half an hour before the mist descended on them in the pinewoods, and they were encircled by a cold damp blanket, clinging and clogging. Following the path became more and more difficult as the fog thickened, and soon the four had to cling together to keep from straying.

“Typical English weather,” grumbled Daniel.

“This is thicker than in England. You never get it this bad at home,” Blaise said in a patronisingly bright tone.

“Let’s stop and put our Macs on,” Aoife instructed. “They’re in your rucksack, Dan. They’ll keep out the wet, at least.”

“How long will it last?” quavered Delia.

Aoife glanced down at her ash-hued face, and flinched. She hadn’t realised it before then, but Delia’s fatal walk home from Brownies had been in fog as well as rain. Of course she’s terrified of fog, thought Aoife. What an idiot I am! Why couldn’t we just have stayed at the other Gasthaus? We’ll just have to find shelter soon. She’s not so far from that bout of pneumonia yet, and I am not returning her to poor Uncle Humph in a bad way.

“Let’s go faster, Daniel, please,” she said sharply, trying not to be a bossy killjoy, and failing miserably. “But don’t lose the path, whatever you do. It would be idiotic to cut through the woods, Dan, even if the path does curve. Besides, I don’t want to be in this experience longer than I can help.”

“Give me some credit for common sense!” protested Daniel, though he followed her instructions and lengthened his stride. “I’m not an idiot, Aoife, though you often seem to think so!”

“What if we go the wrong way at the fork?” Blaise said tactlessly, and Aoife held her breath. “We’ll ask the first people we meet.”

“But no one’s going out in this,” Daniel pointed out.

“I don’t suppose hikers let it worry them. Mist comes and goes in these parts.”

“But we don’t know any German,” protested Blaise.

Aoife decided to disregard her. Talking about difficulties before they arrived would only produce more difficulties, and she was not anxious for the children to be worried. It was just a bit of fog, after all, she reassured her own doubts – and Dan and Blaise seemed to be taking it as an adventure. Making a mental decision, Aoife smiled grimly. It was an adventure, and nothing could convince her that mist could be a threat to the precious lives of her cousins!

The End

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