Half an hour later the quartet was to be seen sauntering down to the ferry landing clad in swimming costumes and towels. They waited there until the tall man dismounted the boat, and when the ferry had moved away and the waters were once again still, they took possession of the little jetty and shed their towels and outer layers.
The water was very cold, but none of them minded. Even Delia, her pale cheeks stung a healthy and comely pink, was not troubled by the chill, her eyes sparkling with the joy of swimming in a cold lake near the end of July.
Vinzent proved to be as funny and fascinating as was Aoife, not erecting his dignified age as a wall over which he could not jest and make ridiculous jokes, ignoring his twenty-one-year-old majesty and also contriving to win a great deal of respect from his youngers. Mentally, all three of the younger Thimbles decided to accept him into their gang, and Aoife, too, relieved he didn’t mention her embarrassment yesterday evening, was glad to see how well her cousins liked him. He had the same firm friendly methods of quelling them, and the same adaptable approach maintaining that he was very suitable to be a playmate for them as well as a responsible adult.
“You’ll come and sleep outside with us tonight, won’t you, Vinzent?” Blaise said as they dried off and set out to the little Pertisau shop to buy postcards and a pocket dictionary each.
“If I can, I will,” he promised. “I must go back to the hotel later to get some things, if it comes off.”
“Good. You can be part of our gang now. You’re promoted,” Blaise said decidedly, with a vague recollection of a recent conversation of her father’s, and Vinzent looked down at her with grave brown eyes.
“I feel honoured,” he assured her quite solemnly.
“Ooh, look at those lovely mugs!” Delia exclaimed, pointing through the glass of the show window. “There must be hundreds. They all have German names on. I’ll see if mine’s there.”
“Delia isn’t a German name,” scoffed Daniel. “And Blaise is a man’s name.”
“Sounds better on a girl,” Blaise rejoined.
“Well they’re both romantic names anyway. My French teacher says so.”
“What do you mean?” the girls chorused.
“They’re from the Romance languages,” Vinzent explained. “That means French, Spanish, and anything descended from Latin. English is a Germanic language, on a different branch. I have a family tree of languages somewhere. I must show it to you sometime. It’s very interesting.”
“I’d love to see it,” Delia said with a smile. “What is Daniel in German?”
“The same,” said Vinzent with a grin. “It’s the same in at least fifteen languages. Delia and Blaise don’t exist in German. As for Aoife…” he trailed off, looking Aoife in the eye fearlessly and letting the pause lengthen till the moment when she would complete his sentence.