“Okay, then,” Blaise said, bobbing up again with incredible buoyancy. “Let’s play Ludo.”
“No,” groaned Daniel. “We’ve played Ludo four times already and it’s only Day Three. I refuse to play it again. I’m going to give Apollo a run in the garden.”
“Well said!” Aoife applauded beneath her breath.
“Oh, I’ll come!” cried Blaise.
“Actually, I’ve decided to play cards,” Daniel said sweetly. “I think Patience is a one-person game – or the type I’m going to play is, at any rate.”
Blaise grimaced at him, but turned hopefully to the remainder of the breakfast gathering.
“Will anyone play Ludo? Aoife?”
“Sorry, Blaise; I’m going to practice my German. I’ll tackle weather today – it seems to be fairly topical.”
“Fair and tropical?” grinned Blaise.
“That isn’t a bad idea,” Delia said softly, and the rest of the gang decided unanimously to adopt it as their morning employment.
They set off a while later, slowly in the great heat, with Serena and Nathaniel both in chairs pushed by Lindy and Aoife, who walked along chatting companionably. They got on very well, having ‘clicky’ personalities, though Lindy was without that spark which made Aoife so special to the children. Rob walked with Daniel, with whom he rarely had the chance to talk, and Sir Humphrey devoted himself to his two daughters, the Energetic and the Not-So-Energetic. Apollo, who also seemed to be rather dampeningly affected by the heat, plodded along in company with the general languid feeling.
It took a little more than forty-five minutes to reach Seespitz, walking at a mild pace along the lake path. It was not very busy yet, as the school term hadn’t yet finished in most neighbouring countries. Most of the tourists were middle-aged couples snatching the opportunity to have a few days to themselves, or young couples without children. Aoife was not slow to notice that everyone seemed to be very happy and friendly, and more than once she heard the pretty Tirolean greeting ‘Gruss Gott’ being spoken, mostly by people with poor German accents, but spoken nevertheless with the community spirit she so loved to feel.
They watched the picturesque mountain train glide up and dock at the tiny station, half-loaded with tourists fanning themselves with papery brochures. Blaise and Delia purchased a wodge of postcards at the small shop, and also a small golden telescope Delia insisted on paying for with her own money, and then they continued on along the path.
A little further and out unfolded a meadow-type stretch near the lake, and the nine found a shady spot in a corner, where they spread out the rugs and indeed themselves, sprawling in an impressively varied array of slothful-looking positions.
For a while the whole party were content with books and ipods, but Blaise’s impatience was quick to emerge and disturb. Aoife stood up with a resigned sigh, casting a regretful glance at her notepad on which she had been sketching industriously for the past half hour, and unzipped one of the fat ‘expedition bags’.
“If you must paddle, Blaise, we’ll do it now. Half an hour or so, and then we’ll eat lunch. And perhaps, if I’m very lucky and very credible, I can persuade you all to have a nap when you’re full of food.”
“Not really, Aoife? What a horrible idea!” cried Blaise, who despised sleeping in the day, as can be imagined. One with such vast supplies of energy can only be fearful at the thought of sleep, though observers will be evermore drawn to the concept as they survey her vigour, tiring in its very tirelessness.
“We’ll see,” Aoife said darkly. “Now, who’s coming?”
Daniel heaved himself to his feet, and Delia sat up with a yawn. Maybe the book had been dull, and the figures had danced and merged till she was dizzy and faint and the letters no longer formed comprehensive words.