“I’ll come with Serena. She would love a paddle,” Lindy assented in her gently curving voice. “She can splash in those clothes. I have a change for her.”
“I want to go properly swimming,” Blaise said staunchly. “And I’m wearing my swimming costume under my clothes, so you can’t stop me.” And Miss Blaise promptly pulled her shirt over her head to prove her assertion, and shedding her layers on the spot.
“If you really want to,” Aoife said dryly, “I won’t stop you.” She had her own ideas concerning the temperature of the water, and was convinced that she was safe in what she said, though she was not entirely assured of the common sense of the person in question.
Daniel glanced at his brother apprehensively.
“Is he coming?” He put the question to Sir Humphrey, who was buried in his detective story.
“Hm? Oh, if he likes. Nathaniel, would you like to go swimming with the big boys and girls?”
“Swimming!” cried Nathaniel, dancing round and round with giddying excitement. Apollo, sensing in the boy’s movements that the mood was stirring, bounced up and butted Delia in the stomach in the hope of hurrying her up.
“It’s alright. I shoved a change for Nat in one of the bags,” Aoife said. She glanced down at her own attire, recalled that she had no spare clothes for herself at all, and resolved that, mishaps regarding Blaise without, she would not wet herself further than her knees. “Right, people – let’s go! I hope we all won’t freeze to death. You might want to kick off your sandals, Dee.”
The small procession crossed the lake path and onto the tiny dirt beach just below. Eager Blaise was first to wade in, and much splashing accompanied her advances. She winced a little at the freezing water, but the greater part of the fuss was forthcoming when she discovered that though she had waded far from the shore, the lake was scarcely any deeper.
Delia, anxious not to be last, touched a toe in the water, but drew it away with an ungainly yelp.
“It’s freezing, Blaise! I don’t know how you can!” she called across the tiny billows. There was a very slight breeze over the lake, and one that rippled the clear water with a comely charm.
“It’s fine, you cowards!” Blaise called back, though her feet were white with the chill and her cheeks pink with the shock.
Apollo, without waiting for permission, charged straight in the water after her voice, and paddled out to where Blaise huddled so bravely, displaying no outward clues as to the fact that she thought her legs were freezing off.
“Apollo! That’s cold!” squealed Delia, hiding her face from his splashes, and the others laughed.
Daniel, recalling that he was a man and therefore he should be should be handling cold water much more bravely than both his younger sisters, plunged in next with a bitten ejaculation.
“That’s quite icy, actually, seeing as we’re in the middle of summer.” He recovered himself in a matter of seconds, and managed to speak loftily. “Not too bad; I’ve felt worse.”
“Bad enough,” Aoife shuddered as she stepped in, but she waded faithfully up to where Blaise was complaining about the shallowness. Indeed, the water wasn’t nearly up to Aoife’s thighs, though she had very long legs.
Serena was content to splash about in the shallows with Lindy, and Delia, who found the lake really very icy, was happy to stay with them and play with the little girl. Delia liked babies, as a matter of fact, and understood them with a wisdom beyond the average capabilities of an eleven-year-old girl. Therefore her understanding of small children could only be labelled as a gift, and in the future she hoped to make babysitting for a family like her own her ultimate career.
Blaise, to the complete contrary, frankly hated babies, and was then employed in ducking her head underwater and swimming as best as she could in the shallow water. To her dismay Aoife and Daniel refused to be splashed, so she contented herself with splashing Apollo, who retaliated with interest!
After half an hour they were all shivering, as Aoife had predicted, and though Blaise protested inevitably, she was shuddering despite herself and Aoife ordered them all out with the remark that she didn’t like living oxymorons who advertised their contradictory qualities.