How pretty were the three Thimble girls, each in their own way, Sir Humphrey thought.
Blaise, the youngest, though tall for her age, had flame-coloured hair well past her shoulders, and bright green eyes set in a pretty heart-shaped face. She was her mother’s miniature, with the very pale Celtic skin of the redheaded folk and the Irish slimness, omitting Lady Thimble’s hazel eyes. Then she had something else in her face. She had the look of the truly intelligent, as she bent with overwhelming concentration over her cards, and a great overwhelming aliveness as she played her card; something which was very infectious to those around her. It was plain that when she was older she would grow to be very attractive and well-shaped.
Delia had an oval-shaped face, very dark hair and green eyes like her father and siblings. Her skin was pale but not transparent, quaintly textured, and two new pink areas glowed becomingly in her thin cheeks. That was the change of atmosphere, almost certainly, and the healthy life she had been living for the past few days or so. Even so she had a frail, delicate manner which made her body seem just a ghostly wisp which would break at the slightest knock, whereas Blaise was so obviously strong and sturdy, without being in the least bit plump.
Delia was about the same height as her sister, not having grown since her illness, and she had not started her ‘growth spurt’ yet. In her face there was a shy sweetness and a humble timidity, born of her continual illnesses and their consequences. She was by far the obvious beauty of the three.
Then there was Aoife. Aoife was something special. Sir Humphrey felt it, and so did everyone else around her. Indeed, Sir Humphrey thought she was prettier than either of the other girls, though they were his own daughters.
Aoife also had a heart-shaped face, like Blaise, but, along with her long fair hair and olive eyes, that was a legacy of her mother’s family. Her skin was darker than her cousins’, but not much so, and she had healthy pink cheeks. There was something so attractive and trustworthy about her that made her prettier than she was. She was not especially clever, but she was sensible, responsible, and good fun. She could adapt herself to her peers without losing an iota of her gracious personality, becoming first her uncle’s helpful confidante, next an original playmate for her cousins, then a responsible housekeeper fully in charge and quite capable. And she could push herself to do whatever was required of her by other people.
Sir Humphrey thought that at least some of what his children lacked in a mother was made up in Aoife, who truly tried her best, and did very well, all things considered. She had not taken on an easy job when deciding to help bring up her cousins, as what she owed to her Aunt ‘Nymph’, but the fact that she was Aoife Thimble helped her more than anything else could have done, and the children themselves would not have been without her exclusive of a very good reason.
All these things made her so much older than even Rob, who was married and had a child of nearly two years old. There was something just so eye-catching and companionable and ideal about Aoife, not to be found in either of her girl cousins, and Sir Humphrey saw it more clearly for his wisdom, as others only felt it.