Chapter 15

Bed & Breakfast

 

Holiday! The truck driver thought with a sigh and sat down on the soft bed. Looking at the red and gold coverlet he could not suppress a yawn. He lay down, folded his hands behind his head and looked at the blue and green stripes which decorated the ceiling. A few minutes later he was sound asleep and snoring.

“Who knows no parties?” Trample sounded indignant. “Is he talking about us? Now, Sir, I’ll tell you something…”

“Mijnheer”, Hamstilidamst shouted, “you call them Mijnheer. That’s Dutch. In Great Britain you call them Sir!”

“Who wants to know? You heard that daft first name of him?” Sasy jeered and Taty sang: “Take Vim and everything’s as licked!”

“This room is a disaster. Did you ever see anything as hideous as this? Pink curtains and yellow walls! And the ceiling’s quite a miracle of clashing colours. Blue and green stripes on light yellow ground, that’s insulting to my eyes! Look at this horrible bed, this ghastly coverlet and the butt ugly pillows. And a light grey carpet. I think I’m going to be sick! Where’s the loo?”

Curiously, Flecki ran into the bathroom and a moment later her voice sounded again: “Yuk! That’s even worse, absolutely warped, these colours!”

In the meantime Hamstilidamst, Trample, and Tealeafy curiously watched Botchy and Goldi climb upon the table and examine a water kettle standing beside a basket with tea, coffee and biscuits.

“This thing has no visible function”, Botchy said and knocked at the silvery metal while Goldi discovered the On- and Off-button.

“Certainly some wellness-unit or suchlike. What else would it be in the sleeping room for?” Goldi climbed up the curtain until he could look into the kettle. Then he jumped back onto the table and shrugged: “Nothing but water in it. We should switch it on!”

Dodo was called and ordered to sit on the button. Everybody waited if anything was going to happen. Of course exactly those things happened which use to do if one switched on an electric kettle. The water began to boil, the unit switched off and the button sprang up…

“Outch!” Dodo shrieked and held his bum. “That bugger hit me!”

“You have to sit on the button properly. I bet it’s somehow broken.” As all the others, chief Botchy never in his life had met an electric water kettle. A stove or even a baking oven they knew but this thing? Anyhow, they needed to be a bit careful for this unit was fastened to the wall by a cord. Certainly it was very valuable – it only could be fastened to the wall by a cord so that nobody took it away. The chief engineer rubbed his eyes as he could no longer see clearly. Beside him some loud bubbling was audible and he spun around. Steam – steam everywhere!

“People, that’s a sauna-machine”, he cried and looked around. “Who gets some bath sheets from the bath?”

Sasy, Tealeafy, and Flecki ran and a few minutes later Sasy and Tealeafy came back with a loo roll.

“We only found this”, they said, “probably these are disposable sheets for tearing off.”

While each hamster now ripped off a piece of bath sheet, also Flecki showed up again. She rolled along a tin with green paint, critically looked at the walls and beckoned Trample to help her pitching up the tin.

“These yellow walls are insulting to me. Help me to open the lid!”

Helplessly Trample looked around and finally saw a shoe horn which was just made for this job. In the meantime the visual range within the room had considerably decreased. Wafts of steam filled the room when Trample jammed the shoe horn under the lid. As well as possible, Flecki held the paint tin and Trample tried to push open the lid.

“That won’t work”, they heard the voice of chief Botchy. “You now step onto the opener and I pull!”

There was a plop, the lid fell to the ground and Trample into the paint tin. Everybody looked at the events breathlessly. The lid was lying on the floor and left a round, green dab on the light grey carpet. Then the paint began to move, first two ears showed, followed by a hamster head the eyes of which looked very, very unhappy

“You all right? The green suits the colour of your eyes beautifully”, Flecki tried to console him.

“Well, I think in future we may tell off our friend Trample for very special duties. For dangerous jobs when sneaking through the shrubs is necessary, he would be my first choice!”

After the mayor had said so, Goldi looked unlucky Trample over and asked: “Tell me, do storks also eat hamsters? What I mean is, if they think he is a frog…”

“Water’s used up”, at this moment Dodo cried through the thick water steam. “May I get up now?”

“Erm, certainly, my dear Dodo”, was the mayor’s good-humoured answer. “Herewith I declare the sauna-party open.”

“And bring some biscuits!” Goldi shouted, making himself comfortable on his bath sheet. He lay there grinning and looked over to Flecki who was standing beside the paint tin. “And how do you intend to paint the ceiling? Your short legs will do for the baseboard at the best – haha!”

Next moment there was a jar and Goldi held his head. That had been the lid of the well known paint tin. Angrily he took the lid and wanted to hurtle it back but now the mayor decided to ease the situation.

“Peace, dear hamster-friends! Peace, charity, and tolerance!” he bawled and stepped between the quarrelling hamsters. “Never forget that we are one family, sticking together in all circmabobs, er, cumstances. Never we are to hurt each other and the evil spirit of envy shall be far from us because…”

Another jarring and this time it was the mayor who was lying on the ground with a lump at his head.

“Sorry, Mayor”, Goldi grinned, “but you ran right into the fireline.”

Moaning, the mayor got up and felt the lump at his head. Slowly he turned his aching head into Goldi’s direction. Hunger for revenge burnt in his eyes and taking the lid into his paws, he glared at Goldi vengefully. Slowly he approached his prey who by now grinned on the other side of his face. The mayor smiled but his eyes were wide open in rage and pain when he, lid in paws, came closer.

“W-we are a family, Mayor, never to hurt each other”, Goldi panted, whirled round and fled under the bed where Vim van der Slampe was sleeping innocently.

“Wait, dear chap”, the mayor bawled, running after Goldi, “I’ve got some charity for you!”

Shrieking, Goldi now zigzagged away from the furious mayor. A scruffy piece of biscuit awakened the interest of the fleeing hamster and made him lose valuable seconds. Too late he saw that his pursuer was close behind him and just striking out to slaughter him. Equally too late he saw the bedpost in the thick fog. It towered in front of him, evading was pointless and Goldi full power crashed into the wonky bedpost. Another jarring and rumbling and also the mayor had reached the bedpost. Followed some gritting, a collective hamster-shriek and the bedpost gave way. Van der Slampe rolled out of the bed and with an ugly, loud noise his head hit the heating. Falling, he had instinctively held to the pink coloured curtains and when curtain pole plus curtain came down to the floor, the truck driver’s eyes were already closed again.

“But he’s a profound sleeper”, Dodo marvelled.

“I’d say he’s sleeping again, poor chap”, Flecki explained. “Well, at least those ugly curtains are down now, that’s something after all.”

“Clear case of rotten wood”, chief Botchy expertly stated. “That part should have been replaced since long. If you ask me…”

“Take cover!” Hamstilidamst excitedly rowed with his arms. “Somebody’s coming up the stairs!”

Under the bed the hamsters now ran in panicked circles when the door was opened with a low creak. Mrs. McKenzie came in, screwed up her eyes, blinked and looked around.

“Did you knock, Mr. Slampy!” she called. “It’s quite foggy in here, the weather forecast had said nothing like that. If you like something to eat, come down to kitchen in half an hour, please. I have some broth which I will warm up for you.”

When Mrs. McKenzie received no answer, she slowly walked around the foot of the broad bed until she reached the window under which her guest was lying.

“Oh, Mr. Slampy, I see you are still tired from the long journey. I will not disturb you any longer. I have to go shopping. So help yourself, the broth is in the kitchen.”

She turned and walked back to the door. On her way one of her small feet got stuck in the paint tin but she did not notice and walked on. Fascinated, the hamsters listened to the clack-clack of the paint tin when the old lady trotted down the stairs.

“Hey, is she off her rocker, the…”

“Shut up!” Flecki interrupted the nagging Goldi. “That’s an old, genteel lady. You know nothing about that.”

“Right”, Goldi admitted, “but she said something about something to eat in the kitchen, and some genteel supper would be just the thing.”

“She said broth, I’ve heard that somewhere already”, Dodo shouted.

“Well, we should be on our way”, chief Botchy declared and tripped towards the door. “Everybody there? Where’s the mayor?”

They all looked around in panic and finally had their eyes on Goldi.

“What’s on?”

“What’s always on”, Flecki frowningly said. “You know something and are in it.”

“Nope, not really”, Goldi replied innocently. “It’s just that he doesn’t dare to come out from under the bed.”

On this Sasy, Dasy, and Tealeafy disappeared under the bed and returned soon, tittering and shouting: “He’s gluing to that lid and doesn’t dare to come out!”

“Shall we bring back something to eat for him?”

“Ha ha, no need, my dear chief. Of course this little mishap will not hinder me to do my duty…”

“Taking lunch, he means”, Taty whispered to Dasy and both grinned.

“And what about the truck driver?” Flecki ask. “Shall we leave him here?”

“Can’t do anything about him just now”, Botchy said with a shrug. “Moreover we should take our chance on the shopping, if that genteel hag is out. Er, by the way, what is broth?”

“I’ve read about that somewhere”, Hamstilidamt cried. “That’s a soup with lots and lots of vegetable in it.”

Now nobody could stop the hungry animals. Cheering, they stormed down the staircase and with each jump the mayor gave a clank. Quickly they reached the kitchen and their delicate noses sniffed the smell of the soup.

“Hey, hey, get at the soup”, Goldi bawled and made a sign to Dodo to shove the pot from the table so that they could get at its contents. The fat hamster did not think but pushed so pot so hard that it crashed down to the floor. There was a very strange noise which made Dodo ponder and he looked down from the table to see what he had done.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Mayor, but Goldi said…”

“Cut it short and come down to help getting the mayor from under the pot, you crank!” chief Botchy scolded.

Soon however, they all were sitting on the tiles and enjoyed their meal. Only the mayor seemed to be a little battered and just nibbled a little. Suddenly his eyes fell on Trample.

“Who invited that frog?” he asked in surprise.

“That’s only Trample”, Goldi explained. “He fell into the paint.”

“Which paint?” The mayor was more surprised yet.

“Why, which Flecki got for renovating…”

“Which Flecki? What funny sort of paw have I got?”

“Flecki’s a hamster and your paw is a paint tin lid.”

“What’s a hamster?”

“Fellows”, Goldi shouted with a smack. “Time again. The mayor’s loopy!”

“Neat!” Tuffy cried delightedly. “He’s sure to rescue us again!”

“I knew right from the start that this would be a disaster”, Flecki hissed. “No idea how to get there, no idea how to get back. Even if we get there, no idea what to do there. Mayor’s loopy again, our driver swooned beside the heating.”

“Yep”, Goldi smacked, “but the soup’s really yum-yum!”

“First of all we must free the mayor from the lid”, Botchy proposed.

“And what about me? I don’t want to look like a frog!” Trample lamented.

“Well, Trample, we can’t help that, all the pity”, the chief engineer consoled him. “That’s varnish and just has to grow out. But you’re still young and it won’t take long.”

“We might shave him”, Goldi said, licking the last soup from the floor.

“No, I don’t want that!” Trampled cried and lifted his paws in protest. “I don’t want to look like some gerbil!”

“What’s a gerbil?”

“Dodo, do hold him!” Botchy groaned.

“What’s a Dodo?”

“Got him, chief.”

“Fine, now I need Goldi, Hamstilidamst, and Tealeafy. Trample, you’re not yet dry, so stay were you are. Dodo now holds the mayor and we all tear at the lid – heave ho!”

The mayor wailed like mad and the lid stayed where it was. It stuck like hell.

“We should go back to our room and take a rest. Perhaps later on we can explain the whole matter to the truck driver”, the chief engineer exhaustedly proposed.

“That’s it”, Hamstilidamst cried. “We’ve got a map. Perhaps he sees what we want if we show it to him.”

“Exactly!” chief Botchy cried cheerfully. “That’s the way we do it. With a bit of luck we’ll be taken to Dunollie Castle.”

“Erm, ahem, what’s a dun holly?”