Chapter Three [VI]

The fogs vanished within the half-hour, and soon enough the quartet and Apollo were sitting outside on the terrace, enjoying the truly awe-inspiring view of the Sonnjoch.

“It’s strange,” Blaise said, looking up from her digital camera. “I’ve been flicking through the pictures I took earlier, and the Sonnjoch doesn’t look any closer here than at Pertisau. In fact, it looks further away. See, Aoife?”

Aoife compared the small image on the camera screen to the view. “You’re right, Blaise. I expect there’s some scientific explanation I can’t tell you.”

“But look. I took this from practically underneath it, and it looks quite small from there. Why, Aoife?”

“I honestly can’t tell you. Science was never my strongest point – or maybe it’s just some optical illusion. Haven’t you had enough of your Kaiserschmarr’n yet, Dan?”

“It’s delicious,” he protested with a grin, stuffing his fiftieth forkful through the opening of his jaws. “And I hate waste.”

The three girls had ended up sharing one plate of the sweet pancakes; Daniel had one to himself and Apollo having gobbled down a third in a short space of time.

“I’m going to ask Dad,” decided Blaise. “I want to know.”

Aoife shook her head. “What has two legs, a loud voice and a curly top?”

“I don’t know,” said Delia unassumingly, since the other two were thinking hard. Aoife was joyfully relieved she could find sufficient breath to speak in any case, and supposed that the Kaiserschmarr’n had revived her energy, as predicted.

“Blaise, of course – question mark on legs!” Aoife replied, and her cousin went pink.

“I don’t have a loud voice, Aoife!” she cried out.

“Any self-respecting questioner always has a loud voice,” Aoife replied. “Or he wouldn’t be heard, and so would never get to know what he wanted to know.”

“And my hair isn’t curly, either. It’s dead straight, just like yours!”

“Good thing too,” Aoife responded calmly. “Or it’d be a right job to brush it every day. All I can say is that Delia is very unlucky. Aha! Is this Rob with the car?”

The big black car drew up, and Aoife got to her feet. “I’ll just go and pay,” she said. “Entertain Rob while I’m gone, and for goodness’ sake don’t drive away without me.”

That afternoon Delia had another nap, more to sleep off the effects of the long walk that morning than anything else. The remainder of the family amused itself in the fight to win a rowdy Ludo tournament, and as darkness fell, the thick mists descended once again and rendered the party house-bound.

The evening was a quiet one, and the younger ones were all in bed before nine, which was a record for Daniel, who preferred to stay up much later. Even so, he was tired with the stimulating air and vivid colours of the scenery, and fell asleep as his head touched the pillow, as the average book likes to state.

The End

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