Chapter Fourteen [III]

Delia’s face lit up and her eyes glowed. “Oh, Daddy! Will Lindy and Rob and Aoife and Vinzent live there? And will we sail on the lake every day?”

“We don’t have a boat,” said Sir Humphrey almost apologetically.

“Will we really live on the lake?” Aoife said. She, too, looked pleased.

“If you’d like to. They finished construction this week. Half a dozen good sized houses built around a big courtyard with a fountain. Two of the houses will be yours. The others I will rent out when we are all settled down.”

“Dad!” reproved Blaise. “Why didn’t you tell us? And can’t we live there too? I’d love that!”

“I wouldn’t,” he said decidedly. “We’ll stay faithful to our manor, thank you. It’s been in the family a long time. It’s yours next, Rob, if you want it.”

“Thanks; I can’t imagine Lindy and Serena and I in a massive place like that, and I don’t reckon there’s any more children coming after Serena, to be honest. We can look after Nathaniel for as long as you’d like. I can’t predict the future, and I’m not throwing the place away, but I rather suspect that it will be Dan having the manor.”

Daniel looked pleased. “Thanks,” he beamed, “and I’d love it, but that would depend on my wife.”

“Your wife?” they laughed, and he winked around at them.

“I’ve heard Basilie likes big houses,” offered wicked Blaise, and Daniel treated her to a murderous eyebrow dance.

“Tell us more, Dad. How do we get there without a boat?” asked Delia when the fountain of mirth had subsided.

“There’s a causeway to the old farm buildings at the end of the lake. Good for bikes, I’d think, when it’s been re-levelled. The houses are closer to Pentingdon village than the manor, as a matter of fact. It would cut at least five minutes off, as we have to drive round the lake. As for boats, there is something planned there, though it isn’t my secret.”

“Whose secret?” they chorused.

“Not mine to say,” Sir Humphrey said. “Now, anyone for an expedition?”

“Me!” they cried. “We want to go across the lake and have a picnic at Buchau.”

“Really? I thought you’d want to climb a mountain?” Rob said, his eyebrows high as he leaned to look out the window glass in accordance with Blaise’s pointing finger.

“Oh, no! We’ve climbed all the mountains I want to climb, at any rate. But there’s a great view of Pertisau from Buchau,” Delia explained. “And Lion hasn’t seen Pertisau properly from that angle.”

“Fair enough,” said Rob. “Fine with me.”

“First one ready gets to have the biggest helping of trifle,” Aoife said, and there was a scramble for upstairs. She had laboured long over that trifle the night before. It was a treat for them all. Lion had never tasted one of Aoife’s Trifles, but he was eager to be introduced to what Blaise and Dan insisted was the highlight of everything about Aoife.

“I’ll miss your trifles when you’re married and gone away from us,” said Delia in a small voice, the last lingering.

“Bless you, Dee, my child! I won’t be going far!” ejaculated Aoife, bestowing a tender kiss on the curly head of her young cousin. “I promise to make you a trifle on your birthday every year for as long as I live!”

Delia scampered upstairs with a wide grin, and I can promise quite truly to you, Reader, that Aoife kept her own promise, and on the ninth of April every year, a magnificent trifle decorated with raspberry sauce, cherries and icing sugar appeared on the doorstep of the house where lived the renowned babysitter Delia Thimble.

Rob and Lindy followed her upstairs with Serena and Nathaniel, and Aoife glanced questioningly at her uncle.

The End

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