Chapter Six [III]

Later on, and returned to the small cottage they had rented for a few weeks, the trio were lazing about subtly around the garden, as when we met them a few hours before, when Coralie spoke up.

“We said we’d do the Scholastika walk today. If we go now we’ll be back by the time we need to make tea. Or, even better, we could take a picnic tea and eat it in Pertisau, and come back here after. Can we do that, Élodie?”

“That’s a good idea. It would save my cooking something. It’s quite a long walk, though, and we’ve been busy all morning. Do you think you can do it?”

“She’ll be fine,” said Basilie without sympathy – or just with a dislike for fuss and pampering. “Now, shall we go? I’m bored just sitting here.”

They all jumped up with newfound liveliness, and scuttled to fetch their walking shoes and rucksacks. A few minutes later saw them setting out towards the ferry landing, all set for a pleasant afternoon’s expedition.

The ferry took them right down the other end of the lake, which they had only seen from the sunnier end of the lake when they troubled to glance in that direction. The village Scholastika was flat with a backdrop of misty hills, framed by the dark mountain slopes rising ever-steeply on either side.

The three girls walked speedily through the village and began on the path, which started off to be even and easy, and led the girls into some false security for the goings ahead, which an old visitor would know to be somewhat strenuous. The girls discovered this interesting fact soon enough.

Basilie, who loved scenery, found it increasingly difficult to keep her eyes on the clear view back up the lake, and found them straying to the path, which became very irregular. It led up and down and around, up steps, down tricky roots, along a narrow ledge, over a small mountain stream trickling downhill over the path, across a series of wooden planks which substituted the path as it leapt over dizzying gorges and waterfalls, down a dangerous-looking slope covered in loose rocks and rubble, across the slipping mess of a landslide, and to cap, up a long steep run of slippery wet limestone where another stream crossed the path and followed it downwards in an intensely maddening manner.

They were hot and panting, having been hard at it for more than an hour, when they saw Gaisalm, the half-way point. Marked with a picturesque-looking café, it was a welcome sight as they hauled themselves up the last slope, and prepared to run, if necessary, down the fifty or so steps to get a drink.

Basilie insisted on pausing to take a picture on her digital camera, the setting and simplicity of the scene capturing her delight, and so they paused at the top of the steps. There was a small bay which the water had carved into the rock, and where the land holding the café jutted out in a colourfully pictorial peninsula. The Gasthaus had gay vermilion shutters, with verdant pines behind giving the landscape the air of a natural gold course. The sapphire sky shone in the background of the image, and the mountains in the afternoon haze made it oddly surreal but distinctly dramatic.

Coralie, to cull Basilie’s enchantment with one stray ejaculation, was horrified to observe that there were several swimmers in the frosty lake, and they occupied her attention for several moments as she ranted. The only consequence of her offensive gestures was to behold Basilie’s unimpressed back as she descended the stairs, her moment of glee untimely ruined.

The End

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