Aoife beamed even harder, and she couldn’t control the joy that was spilling out of her and infecting everyone else.
“Goodness! Really?” Rob cried.
“Who is it?” Mr Thimble said, bewildered.
“His name is Vinzent Watersheen. He’s half-English, half-Austrian, and he is very clever and brilliant with the children. He’s going to apply for a job in a bank in Vienna, isn’t he?” Sir Humphrey took up the tale, as Aoife could not speak for joy.
“Oh, not any more,” added Rob. “He’s moving back to England with us, right? He couldn’t stay in Austria now.”
Aoife could only nod, and Lindy sat smiling candidly in a corner – a smile so sweet and so powerful that Aoife could only smile back with doubled intensity.
“Well, congratulations, my daughter,” said Mr Thimble resignedly. “Congratulations, and I wish you every possible happiness.”
“I’m glad,” said a gruff voice from the doorway, and six pairs of eyes turned to see Daniel sidling into the room.
“Dan! Why aren’t you in bed?” scolded Sir Humphrey, but he was so obviously not cross that Dan paid him no heed.
“I knew you and Vinzent were engaged,” he claimed evenly.
“How?” whispered Mrs Thimble.
“She ate plum jam with her toast at breakfast,” he declared proudly, and Aoife could only bless him with a tight embrace.
“We aren’t getting married till November, the Friday after my birthday,” she said as he extracted himself from her arms. “We want to be married in Vienna, too, in memory of his mother, who died about eight weeks ago. Then we will go to England, and we want to find a small house near Pentingdon and Uncle Humph. I couldn’t abandon him and the children with no help.”
“Well, actually there are a couple of arrangements,” Sir Humphrey said with an uncomfortable cough. “During these holidays some workmen have been building a small cottage very near to our manor. It is meant for Rob and Lindy, and they will take Nathaniel with them in addition to Serena. While the workmen are about it, and if you and Vinzent would like it, I reckon we could build another house nearby, so that you would not be going far away from us at all. There will be enough room for Lionel with us, brother, and I’m sure Dan would be appreciative of some boyish company. I can find somebody to do the house cleaning by day. There are plenty in Pentingdon who want work now that the swimming resort has closed down.”
“I will ask Vinzent,” promised Aoife. “We shan’t want anything till Christmas, though, of course. I expect we will honeymoon here at the lake.”
“Lionel would love that. He’s always wanted to live with other children, and have brothers and sisters,” Mrs Thimble smiled.
“And I’ve always wanted a brother nearer my own age,” said Dan, glancing dubiously at Rob.
“Then it will all work out fine,” Sir Humphrey said. “Where are you going, Aoife?”
“Looking for Vinzent. I rang him up to say my parents had turned up unexpectedly, and he set out straight away. He’s bringing two members of the family he wants me to meet without the kids around.”
“At ten at night?” said Rob. “Does he mind?”
“No; he likes a walk in the dark. So do I, for that matter. I’d better go and keep watch. If he rings the doorbell all the kids will be up.” Aoife vanished, and the adults exclaimed glances.