“Gracious, Aoife! You have certainly found yourself a handsome fiancé,” laughed Mrs Thimble as she and her husband stood to greet him.
“I have indeed,” agreed Aoife, sharing a thrilling mother-daughter look with Mariel Thimble. “But he’s a million times more than that, Mum.”
“Well, of course he is,” Mr Thimble said, sitting down again. “I would not expect a Thimble girl to be shallow. Sit down, Aoife. There’s plenty of space. These sofas are the biggest I’ve seen in a while.”
Aoife shook her head. “Just a moment.”
She vanished into the kitchen, but a second later reappeared with half a dozen glasses and a big bottle of champagne.
“The children can wait to know,” she said. “They can’t drink this anyway. Talking of children, how long are you going to stay up, Dan?”
Dan, who had been congratulating Vinzent, turned to his cousin. “Till you do. I wouldn’t miss the champagne for the world!”
“No champagne for you, you cheeky boy! We’ll have a real celebration party on Thursday and invite the Atkins’. How long will you be here, Dad?”
“As long as you want us. We will find a hotel in the morning. We’d like to go back to England for a fortnight or so, before we think about going anywhere next. We would have stayed there; it was vital that we saw Aoife. Ten years is a long time, but it took all of that for us to catch up with time.”
“We’d be very happy to keep Lionel with us while you have a rest in England,” said Sir Humphrey. “He is very welcome to stay here with us. I’m afraid we don’t have quite enough room for all of us here, though.”
“Oh, yes!” Aoife interrupted. “We want Lionel. Very much. I must get to know my brother as well as I can before November.”
“Where do you propose to get married?” Lindy said quietly.
Aoife exchanged a glance with Vinzent. “In Vienna,” she said without a hesitation. “Where Vinzent was christened. Where his mother’s funeral was.”
Mariel Thimble nodded. “We will make arrangements to be in Europe in November. We could go to Switzerland meanwhile, Geoffrey. As beautiful as here, I’d think, although we haven’t seen the lake in the sunshine yet.”
“Just wait till tomorrow,” Aoife said loyally, warmth and love in her voice. “You’ll fall in love with it. Is there any chance of getting a holiday home here, Uncle? I would happily come here every summer holiday for the rest of my life.”
Sir Humphrey looked thoughtful. “I’ll look round,” he promised.