Chapter Four: Sweltering Heat at Seespitz

CHAPTER FOUR: Sweltering Heat at Seespitz

The day was beautiful – too beautiful, Sir Humphrey thought.

“Sorry, family,” he said as he took his place at the breakfast table, having parted with the other three adults after a quick consultation. “The Dalfazalm is off today.”

“What? Why?” Blaise cried in an indignant fit of surprised temper, slamming the blunt end of her knife down into the table. “I was looking forward to it.”

“Oh, wonderful. Does this mean we aren’t going anywhere, then?” Daniel slurred lazily. “Or must there be a B-plan?”

“It’s a Bravo-plan, actually,” said Blaise heavily, stressing her energies on the new subject, with the purpose of exerting her intellectual superiority having become far weightier than her disappointment at a decision made without her knowledge and without her approval. “Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf. I learnt the whole thing with Summer and Nicola at school.”

“Wrong alphabet,” Aoife said with a grin. “That’s the phonetic alphabet, not the Greek one.”

“Why can’t we go to the Dalzfazalm?” Delia said, returning the conversation back to its rightful topic. She had not such powers of mental nimbleness as her relations, and the constant leaps of focus matter bored her intensely.

“It’s too oppressively hot to go up there, and if we want to walk down afterwards it will take at least two hours in the glare. I remember aching for days after doing that, and that was on a relatively cool day. We won’t be able to do anything much in this heat with any degree of comfort, although with luck we might get a nice mountain breeze tomorrow. Besides, I think we’d be better exploring today. We can walk round to Seespitz, watch the train come in, and maybe paddle around in the lake.”

“Can’t we go on the train?”

“It goes down to Jenbach. I thought we’d go there on Saturday and do our shopping. There’s not much point just now, because we don’t need anything. If we go round Seespitz way, we might inquire about yachts and bikes.”

“Bikes?”

“Wouldn’t they be useful to hire? You could get across to the other side of the lake in half an hour.”

“It doesn’t look far to walk,” Daniel said, looking out the window. “And where’s Seespitz?”

“Round the corner. You’ll know it when you see it,” Aoife said, as she pulled on her enthusiastic face. “How about it? We can eat around there somewhere, and take our books and relax. We might swim, too.”

“That sounds good,” Blaise said, complying despite her previous contempt for the alterations in the day’s agenda. “Swimming in the lake, I mean. Though I expect Dan’s too lazy to be bothered with all that.”

“Thanks – swimming is one of my favourite sports, I’d thank you to know,” Daniel replied without fire. “But isn’t the lake a bit cold?”

“Well, it’s spring-fed, so it will be comparatively cold, but that’s only to be expected.”

“Can I swim?” Delia turned imploring eyes on her cousin.

Aoife glanced inconspicuously at Sir Humphrey, who gestured with his expressively bushy brows that she should decide.

“If you want to. Not longer than half an hour, I reckon, though I expect we’ll all be shivering by that time.”

“I won’t go in, then,” said Delia. “Not if I’ll shiver. I hate cold water.”

“Cold water’s fresh and stimulating,” Blaise argued.

“It’s still cold,” shrugged Delia.

“What does stimulating mean?” Daniel asked innocently.

Blaise giggled, and Dan glared at her, to which she responded with a patronising purse of the lips.

“Look it up in a dictionary, Dan – and Blaise, you look like you’ve swallowed a lemon, Little Miss Sourpuss,” Aoife taunted playfully. “We’ll set off in about an hour. It won’t be an especially interesting expedition, but it’s still only Wednesday. We’ve only done three expeditions so far: to the Sonnjoch, up the Barenbad and to Maurach and that Scholastika museum yesterday. We have so many weeks ahead of us. Tomorrow we’ll do the Dalfazalm, with the long Scholastika walk on Friday, or next week sometime. On Saturday we’ll have our Jenbach shopping trip, with a quiet Sunday tacked on the end.”

“We have a whole summer to do it in,” complained Blaise. “Why must we do everything immediately?”

“I’m sure you’d rather do things than just stay here,” Aoife replied, as scathingly as she could manage with the rather dry words with which her brain supplied her lips. “Who’s always moaning that she’s bored?”

Blaise had no retort prepared, and whether it was this that made her loath to reply anyway, or the energy-sapping heat, it remains to be stated that she did not speak in response.

“I’ll start chasing everyone to get ready in about forty-five minutes,” said Aoife, “and perhaps we’ll be outside and ready to go through the gate at the end of an hour.”

The End

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