The hills that bordered the École Aéronautique were covered in long grass, and as they dipped to the sea the blades dispersed through the tawny sand, which in turn fingered out into grey water. The slopes were still bright with new growth. Three or four hundred meters away from the school, short of where the smooth coast fractured into cliffs, a small flock of éoles grazed. They were among the smallest of the flying beasts, but each was at least the size of a full-grown bull, and in places they had stripped away the green grass.
“Fly! It’s beautiful, Fly!”
Captain Frank Austen smiled at his sister, for she was beaming at him and paid the little statue in her hand no mind at all.
“You might look at it at least, Jane,” he teased. “It cost me a pretty penny in the Shanghai marketplace.”
“Oh—of course—yes…” She looked at the intricately carved figure and smiled. It was a year and more since Frank had sailed to the South Seas, and his white teeth in his sunburned face were strange and wonderful to her.