CHAPTER NINE: Dan is Crafty
Blaise received a very thorough talking-to from Aoife that afternoon, when they were all fed, washed and well-slept. Sir Humphrey was even furnished with a hint as to the anxiety suffered that morning, Aoife not wishing to worry or vex him, and Aoife herself was entirely unconscious as to the fact that she herself hadn’t heard the whole story.
Blaise certainly didn’t tell her. The few chilling remarks regarding her cousin that Vinzent had made whilst they had been waiting for Rob had startled her, and she promised not to tell Aoife the particulars of her exploit. Vinzent, in demanding this promise, was in his turn trying to shield Aoife from worry. He knew she had enough on her mind without further cause for fretting, and he had seen how hard she worked in everything she did, and he succeeded in his swift action of ordering that pledge.
Daniel watched the proceedings with a wary eye. He was more observant than he had been just two weeks ago, and he had known more accurately than the others what had happened when Blaise had taken it into her head to do some rock climbing. He himself was of the opinion that she was totally mad to go off as she had done. In some respects she took after him, but he had always had a good deal of solid common sense which prevented him from indulging in such things as his sister did. Blaise was having a spell of few self-enforced limits, and Daniel surprised himself by wondering what he could do about it. Blaise could not continue as she did, and he was her closest sibling, due to their many and involved purposeless quarrels.
Later that evening when they all sat down for dinner as always, Rob was moved to comment on Blaise’s escapade.
“Did Vinzent have to fetch you down, or did you come down yourself?” he asked tactlessly, and Aoife nearly hit him for his thoughtlessness.
Sir Humphrey, luckily, was having a conversation with Lindy, Serena and his youngest son, so he had not caught the words, but Blaise blushed bright red.
“Oh, shut up, Rob,” Aoife begged. “How would you like it if I told everyone about your antics with the CD rack seven years ago?”
Rob ignored her, surprisingly, and fixed interested green eyes on his youngest sister.
“I just want to know,” he said.
“Well it’s over and done with now, so mind your own business,” Aoife said, calmly as usual, but with a stern hint in her voice that Rob heeded.
“What do you think of Vinzent, then? Is he English or German?”
“Half of both,” Delia put in, glad of the change of subject, for though she, too, was curious, she didn’t want to bait her sister.
“He’s not German,” Aoife explained. “His mum was Austrian, Viennese to be exact. Austria and Germany are separate countries.”
Aoife was suddenly aware that Daniel’s green eyes seemed to be boring into the back of her neck, and she quickly looked round to see that he was indeed looking at her strangely. Aoife blushed slightly.
“I thought Austria was German,” Blaise said.
“No; they speak German, but Vienna is in Austria. How come Vinzent speaks English, then?” said Rob, turning to Aoife as if she would know far better than he.
“You can’t speak English,” reproved Aoife with a laugh. “‘How come’ indeed?”
“I just want to know,” repeated Rob innocently.
“He went to primary school in England,” Delia said, obviously hating the sidetracking tendencies of her family.
“What do you lot think of him, then?”
“He’s part of our gang now,” Blaise said fiercely. “And he’s good at swimming, and running, and he likes playing games with us.”
“He looks lonely when we see him out alone,” Delia mused. “As if he hadn’t any relatives or anyone to talk to.”
Aoife raised an eyebrow. “Mm,” she acknowledged. Delia was shrewder than Blaise, and Aoife suspected that, had she not missed so much vital schooling over the years, she would have been just as academically bright as her sister, if not more so.
“He’s great with the kids,” Aoife remarked evasively.
“Yeah – like the man version of Aoife!” cried Blaise, pleased with her own comparison. “I’m sure they’re exactly the same inside.”
Aoife shook her head at her cousin with mock anger, but she couldn’t stop the slow blush that spread over her face. Feeling herself grow hot, she stood up to run the washing up water while she cooled her cheeks, and thereby missed the next snatch of conversation.