“I am,” Aoife said in German, having begged Vinzent to talk only that language to her during the past week so that she could become more adept.
A quick conversation proceeded. Then Aoife turned to the children.
“This is Franz. Would you like him to take us out in the boat we’ve hired for this month and show us the ropes, literally? It would be better for all of us, I think.”
“Oh, yes, that would be great!” Dan said. “I’d love to know more. How big is she? What’s her name?”
“Kristy is about five metres long,” said Franz in cautious English.
“Kristy? That’s a pretty name,” commented Delia thoughtfully.
“She is Kristiane. A very beautiful boat, if small. Will you come now? It is a good sailing day. Good wind.” Franz said.
“Of course. You can spare the time, can’t you?”
“Yes, of course. I would love to show you about our Kristy. She is the most beautiful boat we have.”
“Then I hope you won’t be too unhappy about her being hired to us, then.”
“No, of course not. I shall see her when I come up to lease other of our boats, and you will let me know if there are any problems regarding maintenance and so on?”
“Oh yes. Do we get to her in the dingy?”
“Yes. It will be stored in that garage – with the red door – and when we return I will give you the key. Now – onwards! Will the little girls climb in first?”
“In you get, girls. Now you, Dan. It doesn’t matter if you get wet.”
Franz gave the dinghy a good shove and it slid down the slipway, giving Aoife’s back a cold bath in the process. Then he jumped in and punted a little way out to where a bonny white sailing boat was bobbing on the soft billows of the lake.
Daniel scrambled up without any difficulty, but the girls were shorter, and Aoife felt very long as she tried to squeeze between the ropes. Then Franz showed them around the boat.
“This is the cabin, where we store ropes, and torches, and things for accidents,” Franz said. “There are four life jackets in this drawer if you wish them, though there really isn’t much need when you are an experienced sailor. Kristy is a stable young boat. You won’t catch her going down in a storm. At the same level, I wouldn’t advise sailing in a storm.”
“Neither should I. I think the girls should have life jackets,” Aoife said, and she held firm to protests. The younger girls would wear life jackets as long as they were on the water, and nothing would persuade her to lift that edict.
The cabin was small, but would provide quite adequate shelter in a storm, and had plenty of storage.
Then Franz taught them about the anchor and sideboard and various gadgets Daniel only had to call forth from memories of his previous experience with boats. Aoife listened hard so she should know about it all next time, and when they were really sailing in earnest she was anxiously going over everything she had learnt and thanking her lucky stars for a good memory. Blaise could also be relied on to remember the important things that everyone else would forget, and come out with them at unexpected times, and Daniel knew enough about boats to invaluable. Delia hadn’t been so keen in the first place, yet she obviously just enjoyed the mere feeling of being out on the lake with the cool wind blowing past her, and seeing the surroundings from a different perspective.
It was a very pleasurable morning, and when they returned to the chalet at two o’clock for lunch, damp and exhausted and starving hungry, but fresh and smiling, Daniel and Aoife knew everything about Kristiane, or Kristy, as Franz had taught them to call her, and the other two had enjoyed themselves immensely in their different ways.