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David and John walked across the cliff path and down to the beach below; the weather had been pleasant all day, it was good weather for swimming and they had another two hours until dinner. John was quiet, he was thinking of Switzerland and if it would work out.

“You should take it slowly and not strain yourself,” David said to him, as they undressed to their swimming trunks. “I know you've made a remarkably fast recovery but the tide is pretty fierce.”

“I will. Thanks for coming down with me.” John hesitated. “Is the scarring really awful?”

David looked up, considering, “What scarring? Oh - the operation. It's not too bad, honestly. Anyway, I stitched you up afterwards and I think I did a fine job.”

John laughed, which was what David had wanted. “I didn’t know that. Thank you.”

“It was the least I could do.” David frowned as he looked over at the sea. Tomorrow they would all go to Armiford for the San’s general meeting and from there, they had arranged to travel to the Oberland together. David would stay for a short while - two weeks, he thought - then he would head back, leaving John to stay to help out Walter Maclaren, the Registrar, and Jack Maynard. He knew that John still had nightmares and had moments of post-traumatic stress and he was hoping that a change of scene would help. Mollie and Dick hadn't wanted their son to leave the Quadrant so soon, so that had all had to be sorted out diplomatically and small Thomas had also sleepwalked last night, knocking over a sideboard and giving them all a broken night’s sleep.

John moved over to paddle in the water’s edge; his attention briefly caught by some gulls flying out over the sea. The sea wasn't as cold as he had thought, he went in quickly and under, before he could change his mind.

He'd forgotten how much he loved swimming here. He struck out and swam out quite far, avoiding the drag of the tide and leaving David behind, although he was careful to heed his advice. He was out of condition, he thought ruefully, as he turned and floated on his back, catching his breath. He'd always been so fit. Daphne had written to tell him that they went swimming in the summer at Lake Thun and there was no end of alpine walks.

He'd also managed to speak to his father last night, quite seriously about the Quadrant and about money, that he had signed his substantial yearly dividends from the San over to them and how he thought there should be an estate manager to take the work from Rix, who was clearly unhappy and yearning to go back to surgery.

“You look distracted,” David joined him, splashing water.

“I might go into Bideford tomorrow morning, I need some new shirts.” John didn't want David on the subject of Rix not working in medicine.

“Armiford might be better. You'll have to bring them yourself on the train anyway, our trunks to Switzerland went this morning.”

“I'm to be presented with my award in October. I thought I'd fly back then out again to Switzerland, would that be all right?”

“Sure.” David was easy.

“I can take three guests. I'm taking Mother and Dad and Captain Walsh. He's been very good to me and it's the least I can do.”

“Very nice,” David squinted at the shoreline. “Is that Rix and Mary-Lou?”

“It's your parents.” John waved. “They must have just arrived.”

David laughed, ruefully. “Here was me thinking we could have a proper swim. I'd better go in, but you can stay out a bit longer. Don't overdo it though and come a bit closer in.”

“OK boss.” John pushed his wet hair out of his eyes and waved again to his aunt. “I'll just have another five minutes, then I might have a bit of a walk. Tell them I'll be back for dinner.”

“They'll want to see you.” David said, before turning and swimming back to the shore.

He kissed his mother and shook hands with his father, before grabbing his towel and clothes.

“You're looking well, darling,” Lady Russell said, evidently delighted to see him.

“It's good to see you both.” David said, taking his mother’s arm as they climbed the path back to the Quadrant. “Did you come straight here?”

“We dropped the bags and Dick told us you were swimming, so we thought we'd walk down. What's this yarn about John going to Switzerland?”

“Is John well enough to be out there alone?” Madge asked, but as they all turned around they could see he was heading back to the shallows. “Shall we wait for him?”

“No, he's fine and he needs to go out alone sometime. I thought you would be going straight to Armiford?”

“We thought we could take some of the luggage and we really wanted to see Rix’s triplets. It's been a while.” Madge said, fondly. David nodded.

“Sorry Dad, yes, Switzerland. It's a good plan for him. I'll travel out too but stay a week or two then head back to Armiford. He's doing well. Did Auntie Mollie tell you about the GC?” David looked over at John, who was a tiny figure below, but was getting out of the sea, and reassured, led the way to the Quadrant.



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