Blaise paused for a brief moment, struck, then carried on with as much obstinacy as her position of power up on the outcrop where no man could reach her could lend her.
Vinzent set his teeth, took a deep breath and a run up, and leapt at the cliff-face. He gained at least four feet with that leap, and grasped the rock at various places, scratching his knuckles badly in the process. With his long legs he had little difficulty in catching up with the nine-year-old girl, and in less than a minute she turned her head to see his dark eyes on a level with hers. She gave a small scream, but Vinzent hushed her.
“Be quiet! Do you want to bring the whole cliff down on top of us? Now, come down and be rational about it.”
Blaise nearly lost her reason, and Vinzent saw it and put a supportive arm round her waist.
“Don’t be a little idiot, or there’ll be a tragedy. I am not having a fight on a vertical cliff fifteen feet off the ground as if I was a kinder baby, even if you would like it. Now, come down!”
Blaise, seeing that he meant it, and having no wish to kill herself despite her tenacity, stepped downwards with a very bad grace.
Vinzent heaved a huge sigh of utter and complete relief. He went down a little faster than her, so as to catch her if she fell, and that momentous occasion occurred when Blaise was just five feet off the ground. She made a false step, slipped, and with a shriek landed safely in Vinzent’s waiting arms.
He carried her to the road, where in just a short while Rob and the car arrived, the other three safely in the back with the equipment. Aoife was shocked to see the state of the pair of them as Dan and Dee moved back and the other two settled beside her.
“Gracious! You’re bleeding all over your hands and knees. What have you been doing, Blaise?”
But Blaise, worn out with various emotions, and overcome with the realisation of her sins, gave a loud snore, and Aoife smiled to see her cousin fast asleep.
“What did she do?” she asked Vinzent.
“Oh, the goose seems to have had an inexplicable urge to do some climbing. No, nothing dangerous,” he responded to the sudden panic crossing Aoife’s face. “I reckon I’ve given her enough to think about. But it would be good if you drummed it into her that she isn’t to go off on some wild expedition, especially on her own.”
“I most certainly will,” Aoife determined. “I’m shocked at her; simply horrified. I’ll make her apologise to you.”
“Oh, don’t. She will probably detest me for some time to come, after yanking her away from her wonderful new game, without that added.”
“Thank you, by the by,” Aoife said warmly, the colour returned to her cheeks as if it had always been there. “If you hadn’t been there I don’t know what I’d have done.”
And Vinzent heartily agreed, ceaselessly grateful that he had been there – for Aoife’s sake.