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Author's Chapter Notes:



They were all tired when they arrived, having travelled solidly for almost a day. Augusta had bought train tickets as far as Berne, where they hired a car and drove the rest of the way. David had flatly refused to allow his wife to take on any of the driving, saying that it wasn’t worth it for the nervous strain on the rest of the family.

“There’s nothing wrong with my driving,” said Augusta with dignity. “Have I ever had a car accident?"

“Not quite,” said David, deep meaning in his tones. “It’s when you take short cuts across fields, or forget how to stop.”

“That was when I’d only just started driving – I never forget that now. And the field thing was because I was chasing those people. Don’t you remember? The burglars who stole your book because it was locked up and they thought it was some priceless antiquity. I couldn’t face your reaction when you found you had to rewrite eighty thousand words, so I went after them and got it back.”

“How could I forget? There I was, innocently taking Sphinx and Amy for a walk, when suddenly you come belting out of a cow pasture in my new sports car, yelling blue murder, and vanish off into the distance.”

“Caught them though, didn’t I?” said Augusta, smiling complacently.

“Yes, and came home looking as though you’d been in a prize fight.”

“Well, I had. Apart from the prize part, of course.”

“Mum always wins,” said Phoebe from the back. “It’s no wonder she’s got the job she has, really. It’s perfect for her.”

“Bah,” said David and drove a little faster. Amy and Phoebe began to discuss Phoebe’s latest admirer, Sphinx throwing in the odd comment here and there and Constance Rose ostentatiously ignoring them, instead reading a book about ancient Egyptian religion.

“He’s sweet,” Amy was saying.

“I know, but he’s so dull. Imagine having to spend much time alone with him, when all he can talk about is me and how wonderful I am. I don’t say that’s not interesting for five or ten minutes, but an hour of it is a bit much. I’d start crawling under the tables and biting people’s legs just for something more interesting to do.”

“And I don’t suppose that would go down too well,” said Amy with a snort of laughter.

“Hence me not going out with him,” said Phoebe.

“He’s not intelligent enough for you,” said Sphinx with the slight twitch of his mouth that, for those who knew him, indicated a smile.

“I wasn’t going to put it that bluntly, but I suppose you’re right. This holiday looks like being fairly boyfriend – sorry, Sphinx – admirer-free. I don’t expect there’ll be many people around at a ski resort in the middle of summer.”

Sphinx raised his brows.

“I daresay we’ll survive the deprivation.”

“I didn’t say it’d be a bad thing. At least we won’t have to worry about you breaking every female heart in sight.”

“I’m going to be working on the revised edition of Granddad’s Egyptian Grammar. I shan’t have time for anything else.”

“I thought you’d decided to give it a miss until you could go through his notes properly,” said Amy.

“Gran sent me practically all of them a month or so ago so I could carry on. I’m sure I told you.”

Amy considered.

“He did,” said Constance Rose, looking up from her book for a moment. “It was just before we found the mummy so I expect you forgot all about it.”

“I’m impressed you didn’t,” said Amy. “What with the old bat taking up most of your attention at the moment.”

Constance Rose flushed.

“I wish you’d stop calling her that. People worshipped her for thousands of years, and now she’s calling to me to follow her. And she isn’t a bat – she’s called Bat. She’s the incarnation of the Milky Way, and sometimes she takes on the likeness of a cow.” She scowled as Amy and Phoebe dissolved into helpless giggles and even Sphinx allowed his face to relax into a rare grin. Giving up the struggle, she returned to her book and ignored them pointedly.

By the time they had been driving for an hour conversation had dwindled and by the time they reached the Gornetz Platz Constance Rose was asleep with her head on Phoebe’s shoulder and Ricky and Randa had reached the stage of whining and arguing. Augusta, tired herself, oversaw the making up of the beds, chivvied everyone into them, then fell into her own beside David.

“Do you really mean to inflict yourself on these people?” he said with a frown as she found a comfortable spot on the unfamiliar mattress.

“No, I mean to visit them,” said Augusta with a sleepy smile.

“Well, I’m not coming.”

“Of course you are. You’ll like them; they’re quite sensible, though a bit eccentric.”

She smiled again as her husband grunted and shut his eyes.


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