Chapter Four [IV]

They arrived back at the meadow, and found that Lindy and Delia, returning before the rest of them, had set out a luscious-looking picnic in the shade. The two youngest members of the party sat on the rug, short legs crossed beneath their wraps, and Aoife figured that they would all dry off in the heat. Apollo, of course, was not content to rely on variables other than his own uniquely canine talents, and shook himself violently, spraying droplets in all directions to the accompaniment of shrieks from all sides.

“That trifle looks good,” Daniel commented.

“Greedy pig!” snapped Blaise, but her eyes, too, strayed longingly to that magnificent trifle, topped with raspberry sauce, cherries set in the sauce and icing sugar sprinkled over the top in the true style of Aoife’s Trifles, as they were almost reverently known to the family.

After a meal which was, perhaps, all too hearty, Aoife and Lindy, with the much appreciated assistance of Delia, dressed Nathaniel and Serena.

Blaise, following their example with a small tweak of her own invention, changed inside a nearby bush, accompanied by the inevitable, yet quite hilarious, yowls and yells. Daniel in particular enjoyed that happening, especially as his unwise sister emerged from the bush with a long red scratch marring her pretty brow. This was followed by a strict quiet time enforced by the entire vigil of adults, when even Blaise fell asleep curled up on the lush verdant grass.

After the quiet time, Aoife rounded up all who desired some novel employment, and together they began a game of Happy Families, a classic favourite. This quartet consisted of short-time-repressible Blaise, Dan, Rob and Aoife herself, and they took care not to disturb the peace of the others. Apollo went off a little way chasing butterflies, but he knew where his family were and would come racing back when called. Nat and Serena were playing with a pile of light wooden blocks in the grass a little way off, Lindy being awarded a well-deserved rest, for she found the heat very tiring, as did Delia, who slept on well through the hours. Finally, Sir Humphrey settled down with his back against a tree to observe the game and organise his thoughts.

How young and happy his family seemed. There was an unwonted gravity behind all Daniel’s lazy thoughtlessness, Sir Humphrey could see, a scar from the untimely death of his mother, and Delia possessed her fearful air of delicacy. But for all that they looked well, and he was glad to note that they were coming together as a family once again, as they had not done in months or even years.

The End

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