Chapter Four [VII]

As they packed away the rugs and toys littering their patch in the meadow, Aoife stole the chance to go back to the lakeshore and check the skies once again. As she gazed, she became aware that a tall, dark and exceedingly handsome man was walking quickly down the path towards her.

She lowered her head with a brief frown, and saw that he was evidently bent upon speaking to her. She did not enjoy speaking to strangers in foreign countries, and was wary of his purpose, but pulled herself together sufficiently to be civil to him.

He spoke to her in German, and Aoife, knowing quite a few weather phrases from her research that day, caught the words for storm and bad weather. Coming up beside her rather uncomfortably, though Aoife felt oddly trusting when she beheld the honest passivity of his dark eyes, the stranger led her a little way along the shore, and flung his hand out back towards Pertisau.

Aoife gasped as she turned her head in that direction, for great grey clouds were frothing low behind the mighty Sonnjoch, as if contained by a dam half-broken, and rolling with terrifying swiftness down the mountainside. A quick flash of lightning appeared from behind the mountain.

The stranger then asked a question Aoife recognised from her previous studies of the language years ago, and she answered that she and her family were staying in Pertisau. Then the stranger said something else, but Aoife shook her head. He was asking if he could show her and her family to a hotel where she would be safe, but she knew she had responsibilities to get them home if possible, and they would all prefer to be back at the chalet.

“The time?” she said in German.

“You have about half an hour or so. May I escort you to Pertisau?” he said with manly courteousy, meeting her eyes with dark sad-looking pools of warmness.

“No, I am fine, thank you very much,” Aoife said, politely enough, and looking away with an effort. Something about those eyes was magnetic, even though she did not entirely understand the strange language in which he spoke, and even though she was everlastingly wary of strangers.

The tall dark man uttered a few more unintelligible sentences, and strode off with a respectful smile, as was Aoife’s influence on young men in general, leaving the girl to face the storm alone.

The End

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