Puma, meanwhile, sat on my lap and regarded the steaming pool doubtfully.
‘Is it nice in there?’
‘I think so.’
‘Why not you in there then?’
‘Because I’m talking to you.’
She thought about this for a moment.
‘Mother can swim?’
‘Is it a hard learn?’
‘No. It’s easy. Even easier when you are an imp with no wings to get in the way.’
She thought about that for a moment.
‘You hold my hand?’
‘Better than that, you can ride on my back if you like.’
She beamed and clasped her hands in delight.
I put a jacket on her and shucked off my garment and sandals. Sitting on the edge of the pool I beckoned her to climb on my back. When she was securely wedged between my folded wings I stood up and dived into the pool. Puma shrieked with delight as we hit the water, and when she found I was a much better swimmer than Aascko she was almost unbelievably smug. After a few laps she leaned forwards and spoke in my ear.
‘Puma try now?’
‘You can. Just slip off my back into the water and see how it feels.’
She slid into the warm silky water and rolled onto her back.
‘It does. Now roll over and see if you can swim to Owlet and Tiger.’
She eyed me apprehensively but rolled over obediently and kicked her legs. Of course the jacket kept her afloat, and she moved slowly towards her brothers.
‘I swimming’ she shouted exultantly ‘Puma swimming.’
Tiger and Owlet very kindly gave her a round of applause, and Silver joined in the general hilarity by smacking her tiny hands against the water and yakking in happy baby talk.
Excerpt from Aaspa's Eyes by Jane Jago.