That was all, yet Vinzent was satisfied. And he was gratified that Aoife moved no muscle when he reached out and clasped her hand in his. He was right: she was no child. She could not have been. She was sensitive to every move, to every word, to every touch. No wonder she had been so worked up about her parents. She had, after all, been bottling it all up for at least three years, possibly ten years.
They stood there for a few minutes longer, shielded from prying eyes from the cottage by some helpful bushes, and fifteen minutes after Aoife had left the cottage, the pair returned to the living room where the children were trying to get around the room without touching the floor, the adults having retired to the kitchen to drink coffee and eat biscuits. Nathaniel and Serena, though both well past their bedtimes, were cheering Delia on ecstatically, and Aoife, coming in when young Dee was about to make a terrific leap onto the arm of a chair, held her breath for fear of startling Delia’s concentration and so making her fall.
The leap was accomplished successfully, if not safely, and then Aoife set about lecturing the children on how to behave in someone else’s sitting room. But she had to laugh after Coralie assured her quite frankly that she and Basilie did it all the time.
“When your sister is around?” Vinzent asked dryly.
Coralie cocked her head on one side. “Well, she’s around. Around and paying attention are different things, you know.”
“Yes,” Blaise said thoughtfully. “Dad’s usually one or the other, and Rob’s neither, but Aoife’s always both, so we can never get away with anything like this!”
“What are we doing tomorrow?” Daniel asked abruptly.
“Mercy! It’s still today, isn’t it?” Aoife cried. “Is there something special you want to do?”
“I want to climb the Hochiss,” Daniel announced proudly. The Hochiss was the mountain reached via a ‘black’ path from the cable-car which went to the alp near the Dalfazalm. Dan had wanted to climb it the first time, but Aoife, with consideration for the smaller ones, had forbidden it. She groaned inwardly as he brought up the subject again.
“I really don’t think I should let the girls do it,” she persuaded.
“I’ll take him,” said Vinzent.
Aoife stared. Simple as that. And it was settled, and Daniel met Vinzent down by the cable-car centre the next morning at eight hours of the clock.