31-37. Chapter - Funfair
Frido McClown was satisfied with himself and the surrounding world. He had just lain down in his cosy bed, after he had eaten dinner with Lisa and then broke up with her for a long walk. A few cookies for the hamster he had also included, but when he glanced in the bag, he found that the little animals were still sleeping peacefully. Of the Lord he had nothing to worry about for now, because the was already in his room and was snoring how McClown had already insured. First, however - so the hotel staff reported - is desert scenes were played after the old lord had found that his butler and Lisa had left him so shamefully alone. Content is stretched Frido and was about to turn off the light when he woke up and looked around. He jumped from his bed and ran to the bag in which were the hamster. Relieved, he breathed on, took the bag and went into the spacious bathroom and put it in the bathtub. He glanced at the hamster, who looked at him questioningly.
"Not that I do not trust you, my young friends, it's just that lately some strange things are happening. We do not want that tonight something strange happens. Here in the bathtub you are safe, and no Scottish spirit can you do something. "
He laughed at his own joke and went to sleep. Shortly after that was just to hear his soft snoring and the excited squeaking of the hamster.
"What does the fact that strange things are happening?"
"Because you do not have to worry about it once, Tuffy," growled Botchy, "but we always get the blame when times what goes wrong."
"Exactly," hissed Goldi, "always on the diplomatic way!"
"But the biggest mess is surely that has locked us in the bathtub. This is solitary confinement, yes! This is a case for the Humane Society!"
"Can we get out of here because?" Dodo asked the scolding Flecki.
"And what about our party?" called Dasie and Sasie disappointed.
"Well, uh, my dear hamsters", now cleared his throat, the mayor, who saw the time come for a soothing speech. "Our thing, uh, situation is still great. We did not know it were true, what we want, but we should fully stand behind, if you know what I mean, uh thinks to know either way."
"We should see that we get out of here quickly, a whole night with the mayor brawn I really can not stand again."
"And what do you suggest, Flecki?" Hamstilidamst asked.
"How should I know? Am I a supervisor who is familiar with bathtubs?"
Botchy looked at the steep walls of the tub and expertly knocked against it. Then he looked every inch the coating, leaving a knowing "Ah, yes!" sound, followed by a "Well, well!". Then he examined the drain, nodded his head and pulled the plug on several occasions, he said with a beaming face, "Aha, so that!" uttered. Then he laid his head on the bottom of the tub and knocked several times with his paw at various points. Then he smiled cheerfully and said, "Well then, we've had that same thought"
"What?" cried the hamster excited in the choir.
"We can not get out of here."
A lot of times "Ooooh" now sounded, and all could be disappointed down on the ground.
"But there must be a way yet, get out of here," cried Flecki. "What Super Hamster say?"
"Without the explosive is difficult because there remains only the drain."
"Yes, one of us would have to climb in there. Somewhere yes all come together and outflows if we clog the body, then the water will come up again. Eventually, this bathtub is full and we can climb out!"
After the enthusiastic "Super Hamster, Hamster Super" - cries had ceased, Flecki persisted: "And who is there purely to rise?"
"Well," grinned Goldi, "which must already make a plumber."
Now everyone looked toward the supervisor, the move was a knock on the wall of the tub and began to sweat powerful.
"Uh, we have no tools for opening the drain ..."
"The bag has a zipper, if we arrange the slide, we can take as a screwdriver, and, simply unscrew the screw that holds the Abflusssiel!"
"Thank you, Tuffy, thank you," grumbled annoyed Botchy. "But we have nothing to clog the pipe!"
"But, boss, we pick apart the bag and slide you the scraps through the pipe down. You need it then just tie 'em together and ..."
"Tuffy, I am grateful to you something of" growled the foreman, "I could take you ..."
"Is that happening now, or what?" called Flecki, climbed on the pocket and fumbled on the slider of the zipper. After her Tealeafy and Hamstilidamst had come to help, they managed to solve the part. Together with Dodo Botchy now opened the drain. Sasie, Dasie, Flecki and Tati tore a few large pieces of cloth from his pocket, while Botchy anxiously crawled into the drain pipe.
"Cheer up, my dear chief!" cried the mayor afterwards. "Quite Hamsterton is behind you, if I may say so once."
A hollow, muffled sound that sounded like a curse, came back as a response from the drain pipe.
"Cheer up, site manager, swimming makes you slim!"
"Uh, Goldi," the thoughtful voice of Dodo, was "If swimming is slimming, then what do blue whales wrong?"
"This is therefore determined, mainly because the prowl in salt water, Dodo, and has too much lift. If they would only swim in fresh water, then would the slimmer."
While Dodo satisfied withdrew and the strange tones listened from the drain, Goldi climbed to Sasie, Dasie, Flecki and Tati, who plucked the bag and shouted: "We should use the bottom of the bag after the boat, because he's made of cardboard and floats determined well! "
"Oh, you know, since when do you have even a reasonable idea, Goldi?" blasphemed Flecki, "a hook somewhere there must be yet."
Before Goldi could respond, they were to loud noises coming from the drain ago, attentive.
"I think the chief causes anything," said Tuffy firmly, "but he speaks so clearly."
"I'd say that sounds more like the bubbling of water," Trample intervened, "he determined to make progress."
"Well, my dear friends, as I've always said to my, we Hamster let anything or anyone stop. As I mentioned in one of my earlier speeches again and again ...." The Mayor interrupted his witty remark and stared at the bubbling outflow in which something brown, furry was seen. He brought just a "What 's that?" forth, then was followed by a loud 'plop', and the chief flew screaming through the air. At the same time, a strong gush of water swept the mayor with such force into the back of the tub, it would have broken every bone in him, if he had not landed on soft Trample. Fascinated now followed the hamster the trajectory of the project manager Botchy: He almost reaches the ceiling, then he headed for the faucet of the bathtub, slapped with an ugly noise and a loud squeal on and clung desperately to the slippery cock. For a moment it looked as if he could hold on, but under the disappointed "Ooooh" shouts the hamster he lost his footing and fell into the bathtub with a Bludger back, now filled more and more with water.
"Good watch, Dodo, here you see even a real plumber at work."
"Honestly, Goldi, I did not think that this is so exciting."
"Huh? Some say yes, that any use of our site manager is an adventure," grinned Goldi.
The Mayor was now waddled to Botchy and congratulated him on his class work, but there was not really addressed again, but was still in the very dirty water that slowly oozed out now out of the drain pipe.
"Iiiiih" was to hear the cry Flecki, "you see it out this filth broth at! My fur I never get clean again properly!"
"Jammer not around, but come on board," cried Goldi, who had now made it comfortably on the former bottom of the bag. He did not have to be told twice, because now all rushed to the pasteboard to and made themselves comfortable. As last of the mayor and Tuffy, who helped the visibly struck Botchy to climb on board came. Curious now pursued all, as the water rose slowly higher and higher in the bathtub.
"My love hamsters, I am pleased to inform you that everything continues to go according to plan. Once again we have shown hamster that we find solutions even under difficult conditions and problems, uh, solve, so to speak."
"Really great, we float on a board in a dirt broth and wait for the party starts," whispered Tealeafy and Goldi bawled: "Hey folks, I just remembered a joke one: What is yellow and can not swim A Backhoe And! why can not he swim? Because he has only one arm, ha, ha! "
Hours later the hamster was no longer really feel like laughing. The bathtub was filled halfway and their boat had already disbanded. Each hamster clung desperately now on a small piece of cardboard and looked questioningly to the edge of the bathtub, but seemed beyond reach. It was now light in the bathroom, because the sun had risen and signaled that the day began.
"That's probably the party," complained Flecki and saw the mayor of evil. "Difficult conditions and find solutions, ha!"
"Um, we have done what we could, but more was not in it, if I may say so once. Only the supervisor might have to exercise a bit more care and ..."
"One more word from you, mayor and I will eat your piece of cardboard on!" now roared Botchy and prepared zuzuschwimmen to the mayor. At this moment, the hamsters were horrified. There was a knock at the door! After a weary 'Yes' the butler heard in response was to hear the voice of Lisa:
"Good morning, Frido, breakfast is waiting for you!"
"All right, Lisa, thank you. I'll come in a few minutes!"
Yawning is stretched Frido McClown and sat up. Finally a real breakfast! He looked forward to this day, although of course he again had to take for a few days goodbye to Lisa. Yesterday she had promised him yet, just today at noon to call George and tell him the latest. Would be determined which can not stop laughing. Grinning, the butler stood up and went to the bathroom. At first he was not sure if maybe he was still in bed and dreaming when he saw the mess in the bathtub. Then he knelt beside the tub down, looked at the unhappy in dirty water driving hamster and said:
"Really, sometimes you have really sick ideas Let me guess. You are doing a swimming competition at the Sunflower Seed Cup No Did you want a mud bath and you had not had enough Moor?"
He laughed aloud at his pun and went to the sink to freshen up. He soon realized that something did not work out with the water flow, as there was a knock at the door.
"Yes, Lisa, I'm coming!" he cried a little angry.
"Sir, here is the room service. We seem to have a burst pipe or something similar, so please use neither taps nor toilets. Under the stairs to the entrance portal is still an intact toilet that you can use! Thank you for your understanding, sir. We strive to repair the damage as quickly. A good day! "
Frido McClown thanked him for the information, took a towel and freed the hamsters from her unhappy, moist location. He put them on a fluffy carpet and carefully wrapped the towel around her. Large button eyes, which were surrounded by of soaked, shaggy coat, looked at him gratefully. Then he dressed himself, took his washing utensils and left the room.
"Well, that's probably saved the party. At least we have the kind butler", Trample brought the matter to the point.
"That was really nice of him," Dodo agreed. "Although we have made much tonight, but what we did was of no use."
"I'd say. Forget it, people, if we shut up, no one learns what it and that's the best," added Botchy.
At this moment McClown entered the room again, grabbed his washing utensils on the bathroom console and put some cookies before the hamster.
"With best wishes from Miss Lisa," he laughed. Then he left the room and went right down the hall to the large dining room, from where in the distance the mountain Buachaille was to be admired in all its grandeur. The Lord was already sitting at the table and wore a bored expression, while he played with the salt shaker.
"Thank you for honoring me, McClown, then Miss Lisa is perhaps time to point out that I'm already starving."
"Did you sleep well, sir?"
McShredder did not answer, but nodded and continued to play with the salt shaker.
"Is not it amazing, McClown, as it always manage to refill the salt through the narrow holes?"
This time it was the butler who did not answer, but only stunned shook his head. At that moment, Lisa McGyer approached the table.
"I hope Frido" she said, smiling, "you were uncomfortable because of water damage."
"Water damage?" crowed the Lord, "how did I not notice anything? Why not tell me something?"
"Well, sir," replied McClown, "this is probably because you never go to the toilet, because you want to save water!"
"True," cried Lisa, "I have already noticed in the castle. His avarice unit always goes namely on the neighboring property to ..."
"I would appreciate if you would divulge confidential Interna here!" hissed the Lord slightly acidified. "I do it just like in the good old days when water was close!"
"It does have its advantages," grinned the Butler, "we have thus little flies and midges in the castle. Sir, it's actually that McToffee had so recently shot with the shotgun than you ..."
"All lies, McClown. I had accidentally put me on thumbtacks, you leave lying around!"
Grinning, Lisa looked at each other and Frido, then she asked: "The usual breakfast of ham and eggs and coffee"
"And I would like to toast with jam and tea!"
"I'm afraid your Hochwohlvergoren, such unusual requests take a little longer!" Lisa replied McGyer snippy, turned around and landed with a clatter and a crash in the next table.
"Is it really true, McClown" whispered the Lord, "that all the signs saying 'quiet location' each time be removed as soon as Miss Lisa working here?"
After an hour both were finished with breakfast, and the Lord had to get some smaller obstacles, such as carpet and folding door jamb, his breakfast.
"Sir, I should finish the coach and the luggage?"
"All right, McClown, I will move times go," replied the Lord and looked sadly at his clothing, which was after Lisa's last fall full of jam and tea.
"Do not forget to pay, sir," cried the butler and saw that he got away, because already approached Lisa McGyer, put a note with many numbers before McShredder and said, "Will you just take a look at the bill, or shall I equal to call the police, your Lord scoundrel? "1
After another hour, the coach stood ready outside the hotel, and Frido McClown took of Lisa McGyer farewell. Then the horses began to move, and it went through the magnificent Glencoe.
Lord and Butler were satisfied, they had spent a pleasant and quiet night, were rested and in good spirits. Before them lay 375 km, and the Lord had not yet decided where they would make the next night station.
Lisa McGyer swept just in this moment together the dishes that she had slipped the dishes on the table edge. She glanced at the calendar and realized that the holiday period in 11 days would be over. She was curious, in which new home they would then pull with Frido McClown.
The hamsters were not so good mood, especially Botchy had a lousy mood and scolded constantly with Tuffy around. At least the biscuits and the nuts that had given them before the departure of Butler, the mood of small animals raised slightly. However, the majority of hamsters was offended that they had to live in a disused cardboard now, in the far pies were transported in their personal dignity. Unfortunately, found himself in the entire hotel nothing better what was suitable for a hamster transport. Moreover, this cake box proved to be a problem for some hamsters that now continually had the delicious pie smell in the nose fine. Especially Goldi received several warnings from Flecki, as he tried to nibble the carton. After a short time, however, was quiet in the box, and the hamsters lay down after a very busy night sleep.
George had just gotten up to this point and enjoyed drinking his morning tea in peace. He looked forward to the nightly round of cards with his friends Angus and Steve. Yet he knew nothing of the events to Dunollie Castle, and that Lisa McGyer would call him today.
Also Vim van der Slampe was satisfied. He had slept wonderfully that night, he had spent in a small bed and breakfast accommodation in Melvich. He decided to take advantage of this day and to make a trip to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the Scottish mainland. Five relaxing days without stress were still ahead of him. He often thought of the hamster and wondered a little sad, if he would see again the small, sweet tormentors again.
Finnegan McDudle had at the time all other concerns, of which, however, he did not know existed. The visit to his brother-in inverse Anda was not entirely successful, that is, at first he was welcomed and invited to dinner. Even a few nice bottles of wine were already on the table, as, well, as his wife called and loudly complained that her miserable husband had disappeared for days. Unfortunately, it rang in the middle of her tale of woe to her front door, so that she forgot to ask if the brother knew anything about the whereabouts of her husband. Nevertheless, the evening for Finnegan was gone and instead of food, wine and hospitality he spent a restless night in the drafty, cold shelter of a bus stop. As the sun rose, he was tired of the road to Strontian, until he was picked up by a van. Happy and satisfied he was now asleep in the passenger seat and did not notice that the driver of the van was a postman, whose next goal was a customer named McKill in the small town Polloch.
After one last time turned towards Kings House Hotel and thus by Lisa McGyer, Frido McClown drew the carriage on the main road. Miraculously, the A82 this morning was only little traffic, but soon they would anyway reach the area of the Trossachs and thus be back in contemplative solitude.
"What would you going to do without me, McClown," crowed the Lord in the mind of the butler into it. "Today we reach Stirling, tomorrow we're through Edinburgh by, and then we have already reached the ferry. A no-brainer for a scout who knows the way as his pocket! Look, there on the left is the hole Ba and behind it is Rannoch Moor! If we reach Bridge of Orchy, we will go on the West Highland way. "
"Did you say something from your pocket, sir?" cackled the butler. "May I remind you when we last time ..."
"Bells and whistles, McClown, pigs and farmers have just always grunting something! We will be in no time at Crianlarich and take a bite to us. I know the owner of a very good locality there in person. We will be welcome and are given preferential treatment. the restaurant's name was ... Rod, or something like that "
"Sir, with all due respect: the last time you said that we were welcome, they shot at us!"
"A mistake, McClown, also it was not so bad, right?"
"No, Sir, A sharp shot at the right time creates peace and comfort."
They reached Bridge of Orchy and switched on the old military road called West Highland Way. The horses had now again pleasant, soft ground under the hooves and thanked it by brisk trotting.
"Did you hear that, people? Take a bite in a good restaurant to us?" called Goldi delighted.
"About time," Dodo agreed. "Everything that is not feeding break is, namely stress."
"You should be ashamed of yourselves, only to think about eating. It if we ever get back home is much more important!"
"Well, that's great again," growled Goldi, "First you learn to walk, then talk, then sit down and then you may just shut up and say nothing."
"But, but, my dear Flecki" now sounded the mayor, "as I have said always stressed, we are well on the way and everything will be fine, the sun shines ..."
"Ha!" interrupted Flecki, "A politician like you think I basically only the account number!"
At this moment they drove over an uneven way, the hamster tumbled mess, and the discussion was temporarily ended. When they had aufgerappelt again and looked around, they realized that they were surrounded by high mountains. It was a fantastic sight and just at the moment when they drove over an ancient stone bridge came the raspy voice of the Lord McShredder: "It is not far to Crianlarich, McClown, I would appreciate, if you drive a little slower would. you do not want but that I fall out of the carriage? "
Nothing would have been the butler rather, it actually was now in the distance a building to see. Carefully Frido reined the horses, and slowly they approached a left pretty looking house with the inscription "The Rotten Inn".
"Ha," sounded the old lord, "Although I did not know the exact name, but it must be. Take the horse firmly, and let us dine, McClown!"
"Disintegrate a name for a good restaurant is? As already looks from the outside, so ..." "Sir, with all due respect, but you will find that" rotten pub
"A little long in the tooth, McClown, but the quality remains! Externals do not count! Take our luggage and let us dine!"
Frido had a bad feeling when he took luggage and hamsters and heavily loaded his master followed. The old wooden door of the pub tucked, and so it takes a while to McShredder could finally open with a targeted kick. It smelled a little musty and stale beer. Cold smoke hung in the air of the dark room she entered now. Four old tables with the corresponding old chairs spread out in front of a desk on which sat a bored man who was reading a newspaper. Transparent McShredder be dropped on a chair, folded his arms across his chest and shouted, "Hey, Upper" The man lowered briefly the newspaper, looked at the old Lord and said, "Hello There, Guest!" Then he took up the study of the newspaper again.
While the butler could not resist a grin, the hamsters were placed on their haunches and watched the situation with great interest. It smelled of trouble, or even a brawl, as Goldi exulted.
"Waiter, do you know who I am?" McShredder crowed and looked threatening in the direction of the innkeeper.
"No idea, but I can try it out for you even once," came the prompt reply.
With a set of the old lord had jumped up and stood directly in front of the still read newspaper man.
"I am Lord of McShredder Killichonan, conqueror of the Loch Ness monster and successor of Lord of Lourne of Dunollie Castle!"
"Well, it's occurred to you again. My dear name is McDaugh from communities of stewards, the owner of the 'Rotten Inn', and without which there is nothing to eat or drink there!"
"From the clan of the stewards? These were all highwaymen! I could buy her store, farmer, and put on the air!"
"Oh, yes, this dump?" McDaugh laughed, "Do not be ridiculous!"
During this quarrel was still going on for a while, Frido McClown sat bored at the table and looked at the hamster, who were talking excitedly.
"It is a shame how the behave, yes," cried Flecki, "where's the tolerance?"
"I am for tolerance, and if that does not fit, the hau 'I on the mouth," Goldi bawled. "The only think its fun, and we wait for the food!"
"Patience, dear friends," the mayor tried to appease, "it is certainly all right. We should try to, uh, to find a solution thing, how can we engage a mediator, so to speak ... I, uh, am open, I for my suggestions. "
"I knew a solution," said Dodo reported, "but unfortunately it does not match the problem."
The interesting discussion of the hamster was interrupted by a loud bang. The old lord had thrown the menu on the table and sat down again beside his butler.
"The menu, McClown, I have taken them off the counter this farmers. Find something
Nice, but do not be so greedy, yes? "
"Sir, we do not prefer to change the restaurant, I mean, who knows what the put in front of us now?" asked Frido with anxious expression.
"Nonsense, McClown, that was a normal conversation between different clans. Finally, they have until recently invaded our car and robbed us!"
"Actually," replied the Lord and looked thoughtfully at the ceiling, "it was for the last time in the year 1643."
"Well, sir," the butler said with a grin, "I think I'll fish"
The Lord flipped for a while in the menu, then he cried: "McDaugh, why is this dish because robbers spit?"
"Just wait until you see the bill for McShredder!" came the reply from the bar.
The Lord did not reply, but turned the page in the tattered menu until he found something.
"Schnitzel, McDaugh, since you probably can not go wrong. For my butler fish and hot water for both of us."
"And, sir, if I may, a little bread and cheese for our hamster!" called McClown.
The restaurant owner nodded and disappeared through a door in the back of the house. It was actually not long before he returned with a large tray and put 2 glasses of water before his two guests. McClown and McShredder looked greedily on the tablet, and what they saw looked so delicious from: sandwiches, garnished with lettuce, grapes and whipped cream. A few cookies rounded out this delicious picture.
"Not bad, not bad, looks good," grunted the Lord and wanted to grab the delicious cuts.
"It's for the hamster," cried the host, pulled off the tray and went to the box with the hamsters, which stood on a chair on the other side of the table. Carefully he put a bun after another in the box. Satisfied, he looked at how the Hungry Hamster hermachten immediately about this delicious meal. One of the little creatures was even jumping into the whipped cream, and you could clearly observe that one of the other animals very excited about this gluttony. The host took the empty tray and went to the kitchen.
Many hours and tantrums McShredder later he came back and brought the ordered food. Without another word, he sat down behind his desk and reading newspaper. Surprised looked both hungry customers on their plates. The butler had recovered as the first version, and cried: "What's that?"
The host looked behind his newspaper, crying: "Carp, something else does not exist!"
"The carp looks but not good," stammered the Butler.
The host looked back briefly from his newspaper and shouted back: "No wonder - is indeed dead!"
Lord McShredder now poked listlessly at his food around and shouted, "A disgusting muck Since we could just as easily eat at home."
The butler did not answer, but struggled with his pretty tough carp.
"The schnitzel tastes like an old house slippers, one has rubbed with onions!" now grumbled the old Lord and looked down with evil eyes to McDaugh, the short put now the newspaper aside and said, "! Gosh What you have not eaten anything"
"McClown!" crowed the Lord took the shreds and threw it against the wall. "Enough is enough!"
The butler was now on the floor and fought with the tough carp, which had fallen off the plate.
"McClown, stop to play with the fish! A
Butler-class crawls around on the floor not! "
The host, meanwhile, had approached with the bill in hand and asked with a smile: "You are already finished eating and want to pay"
"I'm still hungry," growled Frido McClown, "I need something to eat, what can you recommend?"
"Well, a few pieces of old cake I would have, and what I can recommend you the restaurant is two kilometers west of here, the" Rod and Reel Inn ".
Only a few minutes later and sat Lord Butler their journey south through the territory of the Trossachs continued.
"Rod, or something like that, we will dine there and are given preferential treatment, known and respected me there ..."
"McClown, to listen, herumzumeckern! It will surely times may confuse a name, right?"
The butler did not answer, but looked focused on the way. They were now surrounded by wild beauty, the first National Park in Scotland. Beautiful river valleys alternated with steep mountain slopes. They were in a vast forest, murmuring brooks accompanied them. Now and then they passed a thundering waterfall. In the afternoon came on some fog and bathed the landscape in an eerie atmosphere. Just as did the mood of Lord McShredder and Frido McClown was, which gradually dawned that they had strayed a little bit from the intended route. It had grown dark. This was first in line because the forest was more dense and the path before them was like a green tunnel, so overgrown it was. In the second place, it was because the sun slowly approached the horizon and that was a definite breakdown.
"Sir, if there is still a long way to Stirling?" asked the butler and the bitchy tone in his voice was not lost on even the Lord.
"You are McClown never satisfied. Enjoy
the travel and spare me their wise comments. "
"Enjoy, sir?" Frido turned stunned to McShredder. "Did you say enjoy? I always thought you would enjoy only money."
"Money and wealth are not everything in life, McClown. A man like me can be, for example, with 10 million as happy as 8 million, or better said, with 9 1/2 million."
"Sir, maybe I should even take the opportunity to increase my meager salary ..."
A discussion followed, which led to nothing. Just like the way the way that seemed to have no end. The Lord tapped impatiently with his fingers on the wooden bench of the carriage around while Frido McClown let the horse trot slower, because darkness was now more and more about the forest. Law appeared between the trees dimly a large lake on, but thicket and darkness made him immediately disappear somewhere.
"Sir, the animals need a break."
"Then it will be too dark to continue on," said the Lord in a low voice. "Make a camp, McClown, we will spend the night in the open air, as in the good old days!"
"Sir, if I may be borne in mind, we have no blankets and no food. When we walked to and protect the animals ...."
"They are effeminate, McClown! A little pioneer spirit you would do well. We have the coach, and we have a tarp, all we need. The food there is free in nature, you just have times open my eyes."
The butler sighed and added to his fate. Pioneering spirit! Schlichter avarice was it that the Lord not to a cozy accommodation - which would cost something, of course - more wanted. As in the good, miserly time, thought Frido, rose from the driver's seat and took care of once the horses that were nothing of the situation, of course. He began to groom the horses as Vim van der Slampe had told him, and the animals it could be like like. When he started the arms to hurt, he went to the hamsters. To his relief, the small animal still asleep, but before he could sit down with the Lord on the platform of the coach, this was on the stand by the roadside bushes. "Blackberries, my dear McClown, healthy and nutritious Catch ever to be . I will gather the eyes continue to stay for something to eat. "
It was a cold, little varied dinner. Except blackberries Frido McClown had to muster anything else. Most ate greedily of the old lord, while Fridos appetite was limited. Part of the berries put the butler for the hamsters aside, and he was already sure that the hamster would not be excited about blackberries as food. But it was now time not to change, and so he began to prepare for the night for himself and Lord McShredder. The Lord had made themselves comfortable on the wooden floor of the platform and covered with a part of the tarp. The butler took the rest of the tarp covered also, and closed his eyes. The next moment, however, he was startled: the hamster! He stood up and looked at the box in which the hamsters still peacefully asleep in front of him, but he knew that would not last. The edges of the box seemed to be high enough so that an escape of animals was excluded. Even if they somehow manage Frido wondered, would they can not climb over the side boards of the coach car. His gaze fell on the snoring Lord and in the next moment on the sky. The clouds moved over quickly and gave for a short time again a clear view of the stars. The wind had increased, no doubt. Frido McClown thought that he had seen or heard in the last kilometers no sheep, and that the midges had already stabbed him twice in the early morning. He lifted his head and sucked the air a deep forest: Yes, the smell of vegetation around it was pretty intense. These were all marking for an upcoming storm. For a potentially violent storm.
"Sir, we should set up the tarp and seek protection with the coach in the bushes, I think it's a storm on!"
The Lord grunted briefly, yawned and opened his
Eyes a crack. "Nonsense. McClown, my rheumatism had already told about it. Let me sleep now!"
"Sir, I ..."
"Quiet, McClown! I want to sleep!"
The Butler shrugged again and looked at the box with the hamsters. They had to be covered up, that much was clear. He took down from the rack a green towel and laid it carefully on the hamster dwelling. Then he lay down to sleep, while the high clouds always continued to rise above them, and the wind became more violent. There seemed to be an unpleasant night.
“Hey, chaps, look at this. They’re both dossing and nobody minds us! Is that to be our food? Come on, say something!” Flecki angrily shouted and nudged Goldi who was slowly stretching and replied with a yawn:
“I wished I were a carpet so I could keep lying down.” He turned towards the blackberries, blinked several times and shouted: “That is to be our food? Shall we be trained to be bunnies?”
“Blackberries”, Dasy explained, sniffing at them, “said to be very healthy.”
“Chief engineer once fell into a blackberry bush when repairing a roof. After that he looked right groggy and then he…”
“Thanks, Tuffy, but I don’t think anyone wants to hear that”, chief Botchy hissed and nudged Tuffy so that she almost tumbled over.
“Erm, under given circus… er, stances, er, as matters are I think we should call a meeting to clarify things, er, matters.”
After the hamsters had shouted about for a few minutes and discussed without plan, the agenda was fixed. Contrary to hamster tradition the usually final items, i.e. general state of food and a probable nightly party, became item 1 and 2 on the agenda. Just when Trample and Hamstilidamst were about to declare their aversion against blackberries, it started to rain as Frido McClown had feared all the time. On request of Tealeafy the item ‘It’s raining, what now?’ was added to the agenda. With an additional request Sasy succeeded to get this item from topic 3 to topic 1 by immediate voting because of actual need. The moment Trample began to lament the disadvantages of his by now rather wet fur, a strong wind came up. Taty brought in the request for the additional item ‘It’s getting cold, how will we get clothes?’ and found general agreement.
When the hamster community did not succeed to agree on the new order of items, the mayor finally had the idea to combine the items ‘It’s raining, what now?’ and ‘It’s getting cold, how will we get clothes?’ After vivid discussions and some useless proposals a fresh problem came up: The rain stopped. Dodo proposed to cancel the item ‘It’s raining, what now?’ but chief engineer Botchy reminded him that combined topics could not be cancelled. The mayor however informed on the possibility of modifying instead of cancelling and after a short discussion a vote followed. The majority agreed with a modification of the first topic. When all items were agreed upon the rain started again.
“Er, and what are we to do now?” Dodo wanted to know.
They felt quite helpless as nobody had the courage to propose another change of the agenda. So the hamsters were sitting in the box which once had held fancy cakes and were glad to have a shelter under the towel at least. Lord and butler did not at all feel disturbed by the rain because the tarpaulin sheltered them from wind and rain. Both men were continuously snoring while the hamsters helplessly watched their box being soaked by the rain.
“How about producing a few smart capes from the cloth?” Flecki cried and pointed at the towel. “Green’s in at the moment and the cloth feels nice.”
“That’s it!” Sasy shouted. “By that we get the item ‘It’s getting cold, how will we get clothes?’ clear!”
“The item, erm, my dear co-hamsters, has just been changed and so we have to vote anew…”
Like so often before, the mayor’s words were drowned in excited shouting. He quickly realized that warmth was more important than voting for the hamsters and so he passed on to the remaining two topics while Flecki and some others started to make many small capes of the green towel. They soon agreed on topics 2 and 3 and topic 3 was dependent on topic 2, i.e. the general food condition. As the capes were already distributed, they decided to look for food immediately as there was no assistance to be expected from the butler and his boss.
As by now the cardboard box was quite soaked, they could make a hole into it easily. However, as McClown had expected, the sidewalls of the carriage presented an insurmountable obstacle which was surmounted by the clever little animals in no time. The lord had bedded his head right to one of the sidewalls and it was no problem to scramble over his head and out. The hamsters jumped down from the carriage and sat in the deep grass with wet paws.
“Er, and what…”
“We do the obvious”, Goldi interrupted Dodo, “we are the Hamstian scouts!”
“And how do we scout?”
“Well, Dodo, take a look how we look. So what are we?”
“That’s a camo suit, Dodo. We’re cool and strong scouts. Nobody will be able to stop us and we now go and get some food.”
“An umbrella would be better in this crappy weather”, Tuffy nagged.
They set out on muddy paths into the dark forest. The distance to the carriage increased and soon it was out of sight. By now the rain had stopped but still there was no food to be found when suddenly some light was shining through the trees. Hope came up within the small group and they hurried on over the rough ground. Flecki was the first to reach a small mound from where she could better overlook the situation.
“A house!” she cheerfully cried. “A real elegant big house!”
“A flat roof building”, chief Botchy expertly stated.
“Just so”, Tuffy agreed. “That’s something I learned at vocational school. A flat roof house has a flat roof!”
“You go to vocational school? That’s news to me!”
“I did, Sasy, I’ve been there twice. But then chief engineer Botchy said, you only learn by practice and personally instructed me further.”
“And now you learn such things with the chief?”
“Well”, Tuffy simpered, “that’s where we learn the details. Lately we had a lesson in head-shaking.”
“Head-shaking?” Sasy was bewildered.
“Yes, head-shaking in presence of a customer if there’s any repair. Chief Botchy always says we are to try to impose something new on a customer…”
“Eh, Goldi”, Flecki whispered, “isn’t that strange? Why did the chief take Tuffy down from vocational school?”
“Don’t you see?” Goldi grumped. “She would have noticed what kind of botch our Botchy makes.”
Now the hamsters turned their attention to the brightly lit house in front of which strange things happened. There were several hard-tops in the drive, people stood around and seemed to wait for something. Cautiously, the little animals crept closer and tried to listen. Then something happened, the front door opened. Lights flashed, voices grew louder when somebody was walking towards the cars and the waiting people. A few words were exchanged and disappointed shouts became audible. A short time later the waiting crowd broke up and mounted the cars. Motors were started and one car after the other left. All was quiet except some peculiar howling which seemed to come from the house.
“What’s on there?” the mayor asked.
“I think I know what’s on”, Flecki cried who out of nothing appeared at the mayor’s side. “I got a little closer and could understand something. There are musicians in the house rehearsing for their tour. One of them just sent away all the folk who wanted to take an interview. Gosh, but he looked daft!”
“Are they the Beatles?”
“You really have no clue, Dodo. The Beatles haven’t been working for ages. No, these have got another name, something like a Japanese hotel. Certainly it’s some band or other unable to cope with real music.”
“These bands mostly have a life time like yoghurt”, Tealeafy agreed.
“Shall we talk about bad music or about good food?” Goldi shouted and without waiting for an answer ran towards the house.
“And now, what shall we do now? Why, we’re sitting around here and…”
“Shut up, Dodo, I’ve got to think!” chief Botchy snarled. For half an hour they had been sitting in front of the building and still had no idea how to get in.
“Ey, people, we might climb up the gutter pipe!”
„Then we’re sitting on the roof, Goldi. How do we go on?” Trample retorted.
“Well, we slide back through the gutter pipe and think of something else. We always do, don’t we?”
Nobody answered. Everybody stared at the front door, thought hard and waited for a miracle. And it happened: The front door was opened, a fat man with a cigar in his mouth stepped out, turned round and shouted: “You’ll stay here until you can do ten songs without fault, got that?” Some reply from within but the hamsters did not listen and saw that they came indoors through the open front door. They just had made it when the door was closed with a noise. They were inside the house!
“Once more we demonstrated, my dear hamster friends, that courage and determination are virtues of our race and that we…”
“All right, all right, Mayor”, Flecki interrupted him. “First of all we should hide or soon we are no longer any race at all.”
Some howling, clinking, and clanking made the animals start. Panicked, they ran into the next room and hid in a corner.
“That’s horrible!” Tealeafy wailed. “What’s happening there?”
“They call it rehearsing”, Taty explained. “Learning new songs.”
“Why can’t they sound like Hamsterjello[ xxxxx]?” Flecki cried.
“Once chief engineer Botchy by mistake shoved the tool box into the disk saw, that sounded the same”, Tuffy reported. “And then he was so cross that he kicked over the disk saw and half the house…”
The hamsters got in a nastier and nastier mood. As nocturnal animals they had, after all, extremely nice ears and hardly could bear what was going on in this house. Goldi had at least found a bag of chips but after trying once none of them wanted to eat this. Hamsters don’t like vinegar and these chips definitely tasted like vinegar.
“Disgusting!” Flecki nagged. “And you even can’t stuff the things into your ears. This noise is terrible. Mayor, now do something.”
“Erm, yes, I, well, my dear hamsters, we should see to get hold of some food and be off again.”
“Okay”, said Goldi. “How about breaking the fridge? Won’t you try to repair it, chief?”
“Repair? But it ain’t damaged.”
“Oh, it is, Botchy, just take a look. The upper hinge is not quite straight.”
The chief engineer bent his head to take a closer look. He knocked at the left wall of the fridge, then at the right side and finally said: “Well, I can’t do much without tools…”
“You can”, Goldi interrupted him. “Here’s a cutlery case with knives and all.”
The chief without a word disappeared in the drawer, a lot of clinking could be heard and he reappeared. In one paw he held a knife, in the other a tin opener.
“Hinges”, he explained while tampering with the upper hinge by means of tin opener, “are solid and last long but they need regular adjusting. Most people do not know that and think such a hinge lasts for ever. With good care and regular adjustment it does indeed. I’ll show you how that works: knock and pull cautiously!”
As for the moment the music in the house had stopped, the low crack of the hinge was audible. The chief came down from the fridge and tampered with the lower hinge.
“Of course it’s very important to adjust both hinges at the same time”, he continued, “so that the symmetry of the unit is obtained. Only a greenhorn would do half the job.”
Goldi and Flecki grinned and agreed by urgently nodding and chief botchy casually put aside knife and tin opener. “Ready!” he shouted as the music had started again in the next room. “This now is for eternity!” To prove his words he kicked the fridge with a paw, jumped down to the floor and took a look at his work. Then he took a step back and another one and a lot more because suddenly the fridge door fell towards him. Shrieking, all hamsters ran to all sides when the heavy fridge door banged onto the floor.
“Mu-mu-must be defect parts of the 45-series, they are no good”, the chief stammered while Flecki and Goldi grinned broadly and nodded full of understanding.
“Okay, people”, Goldi yelled, “get ready for dinner!”
A few minutes later the hamsters were lying in a corner of the kitchen, filled and flabby. Life might have been great had there not been that infernal noise from the next room. By the minute the animals got more nervous and excited. Dodo just wanted to hide in the dustbin, when suddenly the music stopped.
“And I won’t stand that again”, Tealeafy wailed.
“We’ve got to do something, but what!” Dodo lamented.
“Well, we won’t get out here”, Botchy pondered, “we can’t open the door, it’s too heavy. Windows are too high up, we can’t manage them.”
Now the hamsters gave a start and panicked. Steps came closer! Someone approached the kitchen! Quickly the animals hid behind the kitchen door and waited. There was a horrified cry, probably because of the defect refrigerator. More steps, then four young men stood around the fallen fridge door, puzzled. The hamsters had taken their chance and vanished into the next room. A little bewildered, they faced some electric guitars, a drum set and several amplifiers.
“What about repairing their instruments a little?” Goldi asked, grinning at the chief engineer.
“I won’t touch anything today”, Botchy grumped.
“Boss, Boss”, Tuffy cried and snapped her paws, “at the vocational school we once learned something about electrical circuits!”
“Now did you really?” Sasy delightedly cried. “You can do things like that?”
“Well, I did not really catch it”, Tuffy admitted, “but…”
“What I always said”, the chief engineer crowed. “You don’t really learn that at school. Life’s going on here. Come on, Tuffy, show us a shunt circuit!”
Embarrassed, Tuffy stepped forward and began to tear at several cables. She pulled out one at one spot and connected it at another while in the kitchen loud hammering could be heard. Obviously someone tried to repair the fridge door.
“Boss, the white socket there in the wall, is that output or input?”
Chief Botchy got up and ran to the white socket. Expertly he knocked against it, cleared his throat and called: “Must be input and it is the emitter for the amplifier input. Probably the single components come together here.”
Tuffy nodded and continued her work while the other hamsters watched in a bored fashion. Suddenly work and boredom ended because the voices from the kitchen became louder. This only could mean that somebody was coming.
“Hurry up!” Botchy cried. “Into the small room over there!”
No sooner said than done and the hamsters looked around in the room. No bad choice because this obviously was a kind of storage room which beside tins and vinegar chips also held vegetables and large amounts of biscuits. However, before a ‘munch-as-munch-can-party’ started they had to check what was happening in the music room. With 11 votes pro and one against, Trample was sent as scout. A few minutes later he came back, panting: “They almost got at me!”
“Well?” Dasy asked. “Will they continue to be noisy?”
“I don’t think so, they take a break. Scribbling notes and eating nasty vinegar chips and drinking brown sauce out of bottles.”
“Well, well”, the mayor roared, “my dear hamster friends, it’s party time, like they use to say here. Before we start, I once more want to express my thanks to Trample who by majority vote agreed to check on matters every five minutes!”
So after a long time the hamsters got the chance to have a party with lots of food. Everybody was happy, except poor Trample who all the time had to run between party room and music room and was not really cheered. Checking every five minutes meant no break at all because he needed four minutes for the way. After several hours however he came in panting, stopped in the middle of the party and fought for breath. He was completely knocked out, his breath went like a whistle until finally Goldi impatiently asked: “You going to whistle a tune for us – or what?”
“They be…”, he panted, “they be…”
“They pee?” Dodo asked disgustedly.
“No, no”, Dodo croaked, “they begin again…”
“Well, that was that about party”, Hamstilidamst grumped but Flecki was not that convinced.
“Maybe now it really starts. Who knows what our chief has taught our Tuffy.”
The hamsters crept to the door of the storage room and listened. First they heard nothing but some murmur, but then came the clear words “One-two-three”. While Tuffy again thought of everything she knew about shunt circuits and chief Botchy wondered where he had seen such a white socket before, inferno broke out. There were several loud explosions, lightning raced through the house, lights went out and something went up in the air, shrieking. Some alarm system started to howl and the whole house seemed to sway while a sprinkler system at the ceiling sent water down.
“All people on board!” Flecki screamed and scrambled into a big box with vegetables. The rest of the party followed quickly and with big, frightened eyes they watched what was happening. The air was filled with smoke, the floor flooded by water so that the vegetable box drifted from the storage into the next room. There was fire in several spots but the water from the ceiling did its very best. Faster and faster the vegetable box with the hamsters drifted and reached the music room where all the disaster had started. It looked terrible in here, especially the musicians and their instruments looked the worse for wear.
“Ey, people”, Goldi shouted, “did they have a barbecue in here? The lads look like charcoal!”
“Is it called brand new album because of that?” Dodo wondered. “I mean because they all…”
Shocked, the hamsters looked at each other. There were sirens outside, certainly the fire brigade was advancing! Short time later there were loud bangs at the front door towards which the hamsters just were drifting. Wood splintered, an axe showed. Loud shouts – then the front door was gone. Now people in uniforms and helmets entered the house. Some of them immediately ran to the musicians who were lying on the floor, wailing and looked rather a mess. The others went to search the rooms.
Unnoticed by everyone, the hamsters in their vegetable box drifted through the doorway. On the front lawn they stranded, scrambled out of the box and ran. In panic they fled as fast as their little paws carried them until they stood panting and exhausted in front of the carriage. Over spokes and wheels and the old lord’s head they climbed back and, all knocked out, settled in the soaked cardboard box.
“And another thing, people”, chief Botchy exhaustedly panted. “Nothing happened and we never left this spot. Got that?”
They all nodded silently. In they sky they could see the first light of dawn. It did not take long until even the last living being in the carriage was asleep.
On board again
“McClown, did you already thing about my breakfast?”
The butler startled up from his sleep and look around. He rubbed his eye and slowly it dawned to him where he was.
“Well, Sir, I thought about a nice little forest salad which is very tasty and cheap…”
“Get the carriage ready and leave such remarks to me!” the lord hissed and huffily turned away.
Soon they were ready to set out and Frido McClown glanced at the hamsters.
“Look, Sir, how peacefully they are sleeping. It certainly was a wet night tonight for them, good little animals!”
“McClown, if I don’t get my breakfast very soon, I will become an animal myself. So get started!”
So they got started and also the horses seemed to be glad to be moving again after the wet night. They had not gone far when to their right a splendid house came in sight. It had, however, lost a lot of its splendour because it looked like something terrible had happened there. The fact that a fire engine was standing there, supported the impression that something was going on here.
“McClown, go and take a look and ask what had happened!” Lord McShredder ordered.
A few minutes later the butler came back and reported: “The fireman says that tonight a band has rehearsed here for their next concert. Obviously they were careless and torched the house. Now they look rather the worse to wear. The fireman says that the frontman told him they never again want to sing in this country. The frontman also is said to have said that in future they only want to represent Finland at the Grand Prix.”
Towards noon the little group had left the Trossachs area and reached their original destination at Dunferline near Firth of Forth. The night in the forest had left its mark on all of them but luckily Lord McShredder found a cheap overnight stay. So the fourth day of their journey was more or less without problems. Only in Edinburgh there were a few unpleasant moments when they got right into rush hour. The nagging lord was almost dragged down from the carriage by furious motorists.
At the end of the day they reached Burnmouth and the lord decided to spend one last night on Scottish ground. Frido McClown had agreed to this plan delightedly but was beside himself when he discovered that the lord meant this literally. So the money for the last overnight stay was saved and they spent the night at the Hilton Beach bay only a few kilometres off the English border.
As once more it started to rain heavily, the group spent a very unpleasant night under the tarpaulin, much to the annoyance of the hamsters. Within the hamster group first voices came up proposing to go back to the sunny north of Scotland as the weather was much better there. Thanks to the personal efforts of the mayor, who again and again stressed the necessity of the ‘Funfair-Project’, the situation could be defused.
Next day they set out for the last 122 km to Newcastle. The weather showed its kinder sides and in bright sunshine they passed Holy Islands or Lindisfarne and the butler put the question which he since long wanted to put: “Sir, what are we to do with horses and carriage? We hardly can take them aboard the ferry.”
The lord thought for a long while. He, too, had busied his mind with this question. He had abandoned his original plan to sell horses and carriage as they belonged to MacToffee after all. It also was not worthy a lord to park the horses somewhere and send a postcard to their owner that he should come and fetch them. McShredder sighed and replied: “There’s still a certain George on our account, isn’t there? He shall take care of the matter. McClown, look for a phone box in the next town, I will ring him up.”
Close to Alnwick they found the required phone box and looked for George’s number in the phone diary. It was not easy to find the correct number and the lord grew impatient while trying one number after the other.
“McClown, why is a line never busy if you dial the wrong number?”
Finally however they succeeded and now George sat at far away Loch Rannoch and wondered very much how he was to get to Newcastle by car and then come back by horses and carriage. He decided to ponder on during his drive. More than 500 km were ahead of him and he hoped to be in Newcastle in six hours.
Early afternoon McShredder, McClown, and the hamsters had reached Newcastle. Here, too, there were several embarrassing events when the butler steered the carriage through the traffic. Most of the motorists’ hooting certainly was meant as a joke but when the lord stood up in the carriage, waved his arms and threatened to throw everybody into his dungeon, there were incidents.
Soon the police had to take steps and stop the furious mob from thrashing Lord McShredder. The butler soothed the approaching police forces and explained to them that the poor lord only shortly had lost his castle by a gas explosion and was not yet in his right mind. Now they received a police escort up to the Royal Quays. The matter culminated however in a heavy fine for McShredder when he declared the chief of the police force to be an English lackey. But finally the butler took horses and carriage to a lonely spot near Hayhole Road and the lord went to purchase the tickets for the ferry to Amsterdam.
“Oh, I think I wouldn’t want to live in such a big town”, Tuffy cried, terrified, “all this noise…”
“Well, I thought it swell how they wanted to go for that old lord”, Goldi grinned. “Pity that the cops horned in.”
“It would interest me much more what’s going to happen with us. The butler’s finished combing the horses. We certainly have to change quarters again.”
Flecki was to be right because now McClown’s glance fell on the hamsters who for the last two days had been living in an uncomfortable bucket which the butler had bought on their way. He had stuffed the bucket with grass and shreds but it was highly improbable that anybody would let him enter the ship with a bucket full of hamsters. Regretfully Frido shrugged when he put his own and the lord’s things in one suitcase and the hamsters in the now empty other one. One last time he turned to look at the horses. They relaxed from the last days’ stress and grazed peacefully. Now he took up the suitcases and walked to the ferry terminal where already from a distance he could see Lord McShredder sitting beside a loo-house, smoking a pipe. The lord could be made out from a distance well enough as he had a white bandage around his head and one arm in a sling.
“Glad you found a new pipe, Sir”, the butler said and put down the suitcases with a moan.
“Isn’t it?” McShredder crowed. “And whenever this McDudle crosses my path again, he will have to pay for it! It’s unbelievable what a simple pipe costs here. And I don’t want to talk about the price for a ferry ticket. Well, we have to pay only half the price and will stay in the luxury cabin of the ‘Duke of Scandinavia’.”
Frido did not believe his ears. “Luxury cabin? What I mean, Sir, why luxury cabin, why half the price and why is your head bandaged?”
“Now, now, McClown”, the lord retorted and cheerfully sucked at his pipe, “a boor like you does not know his way in the world. That’s why you are only a butler. Of course I’ve seen the luggage beside the ticket counter so that it did not hurt very much when I very openly fell headlong over them. Should have seen the pale face of the terminal manager when he learned that a member of quality had been badly injured because of his carelessness. When I was lying on the ground, screaming in pain and threatening him with the yellow press, he was all knocked out, McClown. Here, do take the tickets. Until we are in the cabin, I’m badly injured.”
While on the multi-track access to the ship the first vehicles slowly set moving, lord and butler walked through the terminal building directly to the ferry. Frido McClown had several embarrassing minutes when the lord, lamenting and wailing, was escorted to his cabin by members of the crew. However, the matter had advantages as nobody got the idea to take a look at their luggage. There was only a quick control of the tickets, then they had reached their luxury cabin and made themselves comfortable.
The lord took off his head bandage and the arm-sling and flung them into the next corner. There was a knock at the door. With a jump the lord was up, fetched back bandage and sling, made a sign to his butler to fasten both again and with a dying voice croaked “Just a moment!” towards the door. When everything was fixed, the lord sank down on a sofa and whispered: “Come in!”
The ship’s steward entered and asked: “Do you desire anything, gentlemen?”
“O yes”, McShredder crowed, “bring me a substantial broth and a steak. A sick man like me who had been injured by the carelessness of your company, needs to be supported well. And, slave, don’t forget the tea!”
“As you wish, Sir”, the steward grimly said and turned to the butler.
“I – er – should like to have a fruit basket and the same as Lord McShredder!”
The steward nodded and left.
This time the lord left all the bandages in place. In the meantime came the usual loudspeaker announcements, welcoming the guests and wishing them a nice journey. Then the ship started to move. There was another knock at the door and Frido shouted: “Come in!”
The steward entered the cabin, pulling a serving trolley behind him. With apt movements he first served the lord and then the butler. The fruit basket he put down on a small table beside the TV. He invited them to enjoy their meal and hurried out of the cabin.
“Tell me, McClown”, McShredder asked, chewing and his mouth full, “what do all those vegetables mean?”
“Well, Sir, the vegetables are fruit and meant for the hamsters.”
The next moment he let fall knife and fork and ran to the suitcases. The hamsters – he had completely forgotten that the poor animals for the last two hours had been locked in the dark suitcase! Quickly he opened the relevant suitcase and 12 reproachful pairs of eyes looked at him.
“Sir, where am I to put the suitcase with the hamsters?”
“Ah, there they are, McClown. I already wondered where you left your rodents. Take them into the shower where they cannot make trouble.”
Frido nodded and took the suitcase to the toilet cabin. There he pulled open the cream-coloured shower curtain and put in the hamsters into the basin. After he also placed the fruit basket into the shower, he felt much better and sat down to his meal again. Through the big port hole he watched how outside the buildings seemed to glide along while the ship moved down the Tyne. After they passed between North Shields and South Shields, the endless North Sea opened to them.
“Ring for the lazy waiter, McClown, to bring the dessert!” the lord interrupted Frido’s thoughts. The butler did as ordered and half an hour later he and McShredder were lying on the sofa, filled and sleepy. Assisted by the movement of the ship, both men soon were asleep. Even the rattling of the open toilet door did not disturb them.
“How silly!” Flecki nagged. “I never wanted to go by ship again. I’m sure to be sick in a minute.”
“Where’s the problem?” Goldi grinned. “Loo’s over there, just take care not to fall in.”
“Your are so mean, you know!” Flecki hissed. “By the way I don’t want to spend the whole journey in this unpleasant spot. What if some fool comes and turns up the shower? I want to go shopping! Who joins me?”
They of course all wanted to join in and when they cautiously had sneaked past the snoring lord and his butler, they found themselves in front of the closed cabin door.
“Well, people”, chief Botchy said, “that was that as I see it. I have no tool kit upon me and without…”
“We don’t need any”, Goldi cried. “We only have to pull down the handle.”
Cheerful hamster-shouts filled the room but one hour later the spirits were low again. All attempts to reach the handle had failed. Helpless and leaning at the impassable door, they looked at this side of the room. Dodo’s idea to break the window was generally rejected as the risks could not be calculated.
“The curtains…”, Flecki said, staring at the yellow curtains left and right of the port hole.
“That’s it!” cried Goldi. “We’ll climb them and go through the ceiling!”
“… don’t suit the wall colour at all, I was going say”, Flecki finished her sentence. “Say, Botchy, what do you think? Will we make it through the ceiling?”
Expertly the chief engineer looked at the ceiling, knocked at the floor and the wall. Then he posted himself in the middle of the room and bent his head. Making a step back, he stumbled over Tuffy standing right behind him. “Well, I would say that looks like gypsum flags, we should be able to push them up.”
After he said so one hamster after the other marched passed the sleeping men, hopped onto the sofa and from there climbed up the curtain. Dodo who was climbing first, pressed his body against one of the gypsum flags. It really could be pushed up a little and in a trice the animals found themselves in a duct above the cabin. There were many cables and pipes. They walked for a long time until suddenly their delicate noses noted something and Goldi put the thoughts of everyone in words: “Food! Somewhere around here is food!”
“We’ll be above that restaurant. Remember the tasty soft ice?” Tealeafy cried.
“And the fries!” Hamstilidamst smacked.
“One moment, people”, chief Botchy shouted, “this time we should maintain a low profile and take no risk.”
“Yes, erm, dear hamsters, risklessness should be our purpose. The, er, stupid events on our journey here should not be repeated.”
They all agreed noddingly to the mayor’s words. After having pushed up another ceiling flag cautiously, the hamsters via a long curtain climbed into the dining room. Under a big buffet table they assembled and the chief continued:
“Very good, that was perfect. Now we will act strategically and use our brain. First we take the soft ice machine. Tuffy and I will start and unobtrusively get some whipped cream.”
He made a sign to Tuffy and both hurried to the cream machine which was only a few paces away. There Botchy took a close look at the big cartridge beneath the unit, knocked here, pressed there and pointed to a hose: “This one has to be taken off and connected to the left cartridge. I will remove the other hose and make a knot into it. Then the left cartridge has to be switched off and we can draw off some soft ice here. Come on, Tuffy, go fetch a wrench, I’ll prepare everything here in the meantime.”
Tuffy did as ordered and just could escape several old ladies who in single file and with greedy eyes approached the soft ice machine.
“I’ve got the wrench, Boss, and out there…”
“Not now, Tuffy, I’ve got to concentrate!”
“Shut up, Tuffy, the darned hose is stuck. I hope nobody is coming to get ice now…”
“Boss, Boss, someone is coming!”
“Who’s someone, which someone? Off, Tuffy!” the chief screeched and saw that he hurried to the buffet table. Together with Tuffy he stood in front of the other hamsters, panting.
“Well? Where’s the soft ice?” Dodo disappointedly asked.
“In a moment”, the chief engineer whispered and was right. An explosion which brought down the buffet table, shook the whole restaurant. People shouted, screamed, panicked and a flush of soft ice ran over the floor.
“Low profile and riskless”, Goldi bawled and clapped his paws.
“Strategically and using the brain”, Flecki cackled.
“Be off!” the chief yelled. “We have to look for another spot! Quick! To the salad buffet!”
Not as easily done as said. All over the place screaming humans slithered on the slippery ground, unsteady on their legs. First loudspeaker announcements appealed to keep quiet. The route to the salad buffet was barred and so the hamsters took to their short heels and hid in a small recess to their left.
“Quick!” Sasy shouted. “There is an open flap!” A moment later the hamsters were sitting in a dark, narrow space and looked about them anxiously.
“Now we’re in a switchbox, really great!” Flecki scolded but Goldi had an idea:
“Hey, people, if we switch off power, it gets dark and we can be off unseen!”
“Yes, let us be off, all this is much too noisy for me”, Dodo wailed.
Indeed there were new loudspeaker announcements and they could hear that a friendly female voice mentioned ‘carelessness in using a unit’ so that the chief had a tantrum.
“Carelessness? Carelessness? I’ll give you carelessness, you’ve no idea! The afflux was fastened all wrong and the valve corroded! I’ll show you what carelessness in using a unit means!” He climbed up a cable and jumped onto the fuse box. I’ll switch off your juice, I’ll blow up your silly loudspeakers, I’ll knock you all down!” Then he bit up the seals one after the other and one after the other pressed down the fuse switches. “I tell you, you’ll learn to know me”, he yelled, accompanied by Goldi’s cheering while the mayor covered his eyes with his paws, terrified. “Come on, Tuffy, hand me that screwdriver lying there!”
A little uncertain, Tuffy handed the screwdriver to the raging chief engineer. “Look at, Tuffy, so that you learn something! What happens if we connect two main circuits? Ha, that’s something you don’t learn at school!”
The next moment there was a bang and a splutter and sparks. The chief came flying and with a shriek landed in a corner.
“Boss, you okay?” Tuffy was beside the chief whose fur smelt a bit burnt.
“Er, yes, thanks. I’m fine. I think, I – haha – was a little out of control and overreacted.”
“No more than usual”, Flecki purred while the chief engineer rose.
“Well, I no longer want to go shopping”, Dasy hissed and the mayor nodded in agreement.
“No, no, my dear hamsters, we should continue the sightseeing tour of the ship another time. We should not wham – er – overdo the matter and better be off before we are discovered.”
“Just so”, Dodo agreed. “We’re always getting the blame!”
As on the whole ship the lights were off, the hamsters had no problem to get back to their starting point without being noticed. They scrambled up the curtain beside the damaged soft ice machine and returned to where they had come.
This was the moment Lord McShredder and his butler Frido McClown were awakened by a loud knock at their cabin door.
The 'Duke of Scandinavia's' Last Journey
After the steward had entered and explained the situation, Lord McShredder nodded impatiently and replied: "You are telling me, slave, that there are no more warm meals, no warm water, no television. I am to travel in this luxury cabin with emergency light? I want my money back!"
"Certainly, Sir, you will get half of what you paid!" the uniformed man replied and with bright red head left the cabin.
"Heard it, Sir?" Frido McClown cackled. "So you'll only get half of the half you finagled!"
The lord faked not to have heard the cheeky remark of his butler. He took his pipe, looked at it and remembered that smoking was not permitted in the cabin. Then he brightened and pointed at the toilet. "Clear that of the hamsters, I'll make myself comfortable in the shower."
"But, Sir, you heard that there's no warm water."
"Heard it, McClown. Do you think I want to take a shower? I never do. Clear the shower of those animals and put in a chair. I want to smoke!"
The butler was baffled for a moment, then shrugged and took one of the chairs and walked over to the toilet cabin. He knew it was to no avail to tell the lord that he as well might smoke his pipe on deck. It was dark in the toilet and when the butler pulled away the shower curtain, his eyes had to become used to the darkness. Then he thought that he was struck by lightning!
"The ha… ha… the ha…"
"Stop giggling, McClown, and see that you get ready!"
"The hamsters, Sir, the hamsters are gone!" With a very queasy feeling, the butler searched the toilet cabin, lifted the loo lid and continued his search in the main cabin while the lord made himself comfortable in the shower with his pipe. After a few minutes Frido gave up because there really were not many ways for the hamsters to hide in here. Where in the world were those clever little rodents? "Sir, I'm afraid I've got to go and look for the hamsters!"
Instead of an answer he heard only a grunt from the shower. The butler took one of the chip cards which opened the cabin door and set out. After passing a long, narrow passage, he reached the main stairs. Followed a long and unsuccessful search and by now he could hear his stomach rumbling. As they had learned from the steward that the 'Seven Seas Restaurant' was closed due to urgent repair works, he set out for the 'Blue Riband' two decks below. To his surprise the restaurant was well frequented in spite of the blackout. Chandles stood on the tables, desserts, vegetable plates, sandwiches and many other things were served. After the butler had helped himself several times and more or less unobstrusively had looked into corners and under tables, he heard his name being called. Surprised, he looked round and the next moment recognized the truck driver sitting at one of the tables in a relaxed way, enjoying some cake.
"Frido, what are you doing here? I thought you'd long be on the continent!"
The butler joined Vim van der Slampe and told him the whole story. Indeed he and the lord had lost a whole day in the Trossachs and so reached the ferry only today.
When the truck driver had told about his relaxing travel through the Highlands, the two men fell silent and watched a family at the next table. It was the family of the red Opel Astra. The two children were busy throwing saltsticks and mixed pickles at each other. The father desperately tried to look as if he did not belong while the mother courageously stepped in to stop that nonsense.
"Of course I'd love to take you along to the spot where the hamsters probably entered my truck, Frido, but if we don't find them…"
"What a pity that the loudspeakers don't work", the butler groaned. "We might get them that way."
Two decks above the two men at this very moment a hamster-conference took place.
"Dear hamster friends", the mayor desperately cried, "we should refrain from taking whatever steps to endear, er, endanger the funfair-project. As I, er…"
"… in general and in detail always used to say…"
"Umph, yes, er, thanks, Goldi", the mayor breathed, "that's exactly what I wanted to if you understand me."
"Nope", Flecki replied, "I refuse to understand why we are making a cruise and not once take a look at the Duty Free. I want to go shopping, I need new clothing and want something delicious. Look at, Mayor, one ridiculous spinach leaf I could take away from the buffet. Spinach, yuck, who eats that!"
"Spinach always tastes best if just before eating is replaced by a big cake", Goldi shouted while the mayor desperately tried to speak up again.
"Dammit, I'm right brassed off now!" chief Botchy yelled. "We can feed on fruit for one day, can't we? And I don't need new clothes every day!"
"What a pity. You no longer would look like a tattered fat common hamster then!"
"Who said that?" Botchy bawled. "Who was that?"
Everybody grinned, nobody replied.
"Erm, as in a fashion a further discussion seems to be unnecessary, I purpose, er, propose to go back and to take local counsel…"
Before the mayor had finished, the hamsters set moving but after a few steps Goldi paused and cried: "Guys, look through this gap and down, that's madness! Come on, Dodo, lift this ceiling flag!"
Dodo did as asked for and Goldi scrambled through the opening into the room below. There was a drinks machine and a few minutes later twelve hamsters were sitting in front of if, marvelling.
"What is this?" Taty and Tealeafy chorused.
"I think it's called automat. It's giving food", Tuffy explained.
Chief Botchy approached the big machine, bent his head and studied it. Then he several times knocked at the metal casing, took a step back and said:
“This is line 47 unit, a so called half mechanical drinks dispenser. Up there is a slit. A piece of metal is put in there which needs to have a defined size and weight. The piece of metal lands on a scale which checks the piece of metal. If it corresponds to certain given parameters, a level is unlocked to push the selected drink into a correspondingly designed opening.”
Nobody really listened because they all were busy looking at the machine from all sides. By now Goldi had climbed up to the output case and beckoned Trample to follow him.
“Ey, Trample, we’ve not yet finished your super-hamster test.” With big eyes Trample looked at Goldi and listened to what he said. “Look here: There is a black door and behind it it’s completely dark. Show that you are not afraid of black darkness and kick it.”
The little hamster nodded excitedly and took as much of a run-up as was possible in the narrow space. With a loud yell he started running, paused for an instant, kicked against the flap full power and waited expectantly. As is the way of flaps it swang in, came back with high speed and hit Trample. Screaming loudly, the poor hamster was hurtled through the room and banged against the opposite wall.
“I just love to hear the cry of the flying moss-beaver”, Goldi cried and clapped his paws cheerfully. For a moment Trample was lying dizzily, then he got up and expectantly looked at Goldi who thoughtfully looked at the flap and mumbled: “Swinging flap – I thought so.”
“Hey, Goldi, what about my test now, was it okay?”
“Nope, Trample, you’ve got to work at it, that landing was not very convincing.”
“Goldi, you’re just impossible and mean, that’s what you are!”
“Are there any drinks now?” Dodo interrupted the raging Flecki. “What I mean, if that’s a drinks machine, we now only need this piece of metal, don’t we?”
“And power”, Botchy added. “We haven’t got any.”
“Can’t you do anything there, chief?”
“Without tools, my dear Dodo, I can’t. I don’t see any way to…”
For some seconds the chief engineer stood like frozen but then he yelled: “Who said that? Not in my back-yard, I’m not scared, I’ll show you once and for all! Out of my way!” He climbed up to the output and glared at the marvelling hamsters. “He’s yellow, is he? I’ll show you how an experts works without tools!”
“Will we get something to drink now? Does it start now – or what?”
“No idea if there’ll be anything to drink, Dodo, but start it does”, Goldi grinned and listened to the noises from inside the machine. It sounded like dishes being crashed, topped by swearing and bawling. Fascinated, the hamsters looked at the machine, waiting for disaster, while the mayor waddled up and down at the output and desperately cried:
“Dear Mayor, listen to reason and remember our project!” He had, however, not much chance against the chorusing hamsters with their cries of ‘Won eh strats!’
An hour later these cries had died down but from the machine still peculiar noises were audible which permitted the conclusion that metal was worked on. Suddenly a yell in the machine, some rumbling, and the chief’s head appeared on the output.
“Take cover!” he shouted and like Trample before he sailed through the room and crashed into the wall. This time there were several crashes, however, as the chief engineer was followed by tins of soda pop and Coke. “Run for your life!” the chief yelled and zigzagged, a little dizzy still, to the exit. With loud cries of ‘Pleh!’ and ‘Cinap!’ the rest followed. In the passage Botchy paused, panting.
“Anything to drink now, chief?”
“Shut up, Dodo. That was a tight thing. If only one tin had exploded, there would have been a chain reaction and everything would have gone off here. We’ve been lucky as it looks.”
They all gave a sigh of relief when from the small room they heard a loud ‘plop’. In spite of his very red head, the chief suddenly paled.
“Run! Run for you life, hamsters!” he yelled and ran as fast as possible on his short paws along the passage.
“We, er, should try to climb to the, er, ceiling. Dear hamsters, if we are caught, we’ll get the blame.”
“Don’t you say so, Mayor”, Flecki jeered, “why should anybody do that?”
“Gaming machines!” Goldi suddenly cheered and turned into another room. The hamsters paused and Flecki cried: “Toidi! What will you do with them without power?”
With big, sad eyes Goldi stood in front of the gaudy gaming machines and glared at them disappointedly.
“If we climb onto that big case we might reach the ceiling”, Tuffy cried and got an angry look from Goldi.
“That’s a Podracer and not case!”
In no time the hamsters had climbed the machine and while Dodo busied himself pushing up a flag in the ceiling, Flecki dragged along the disappointedly sobbing Goldi who did not want to leave the gaming machines. A few minutes later they were in safety and many minutes later they had reached their starting point above the cabin of the lord and his butler. Much to their surprise nobody was in the room. A cushion was lying on the carpet and the hamsters decided to make themselves comfortable there and take a rest.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are glad to inform you that the short-timed power-losses…”
“All right!” shouted Vim van der Slampe when they heard the announcement. “Everything seems to function again.
McClown nodded, emptied his glass of mineral water and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Vim, I think I’ll take a look at the old crack. We’ll meet tomorrow morning and join you.”
Now the truck driver nodded and laughed: “I guess I’ll survive a tour with the hamsters and the lord…”
A new loudspeaker announcement silenced him: “An explosion above the engine room caused minor damages so that we will arrive with a delay of several hours. Please keep calm…”
McClown jumped up. “Vim, I’ve got to search on before they blow up the whole ship! I’ll inform the lord and then I go searching for the hamsters, even if it takes all the night.”
After running down the passages and bumping into several panicked passengers, he reached the cabin. Panting, he entered and closed the door behind him. Where was the lord? He wrenched open the toilet door and gave a sigh of relief. The lord was sitting on his chair under the shower and had fallen asleep.
“Sir, is everything all right?”
“McClown! Delighted that you show up at last. What an impudence to leave an injured man alone that long!” the lord cried and pointed at his head bandage and the arm sling.
Grumping, the butler helped him out of the shower. A moment later the men were sitting on the sofa and Frido reported what he had learned on his way. Both were very relieved that also Vim van der Slampe was on board and in all they had no longer to worry about the further journey if the hamsters had not been missing. Before continuing his search for the hamsters, Frido McClown fetched something to eat from the restaurant for the lord. As was proper for a good butler he cleared up the room a little and almost got a stroke. There they were! Under a cushion on the floor they had hidden! Overjoyed the butler went to his knees and took the hamsters into his arms one by one.
“You poor, poor little pets! Uncle Frido had so worried about you! All the bad things which happened on the ship!”
The hamsters nodded in agreement.
“And all the time you have been peacefully sleeping here!”
Again the hamsters nodded in agreement.
“I really have to apologize. How about something delicious from the restaurant?”
Again the hamsters nodded and McClown set out for the umpteenth time to the ‘Blue Riband’ two decks below. Normally it would have been closed at this time of the day but as the ‘Seven Seas Restaurant’ was still closed down, this restaurant was kept open until midnight. Beside salads, sandwiches and biscuits the butler bought unsalted peanuts, a delicacy for hamsters.
Running back to the cabin, he noticed the power fluctuations by the changing brightness of the passage lights. He wondered whether such a big ship would sink quickly, but abandoned the idea immediately. Nothing would happen here because if he had been close to sinking with a ship it had been on his way to Reykjavik [ xxx]. He carefully opened the cabin door and did not believe his eyes: The lord was sitting with the hamsters on the floor and really petted one of them. Frido McClown quickly cleared his throat and the lord as quickly got up and sat down on the sofa again.
“My pipe, McClown, had fallen down and as you were not here…”
“I see, Sir, would you like a few peanuts?”
Bedtime, and the butler just for safety took the hamsters to the toilet cabin. They had enough food now and could make a party to their liking. There would be no nightly promenades, however, but the butler could not know that the hamsters had no mind for that. While during the night the bridge crew was working hard to keep the damaged ship on course, Lord McShredder and Frido McClown spent a cosy night in their luxury cabin.
Next morning there were no disturbing loudspeaker announcements which asked everybody to hasten – the ship had a long way still to Amsterdam. Only in the late afternoon came the information that the passengers were to go down to the car deck to their vehicles. While lord and butler with their luggage set out for the restaurant to meet the truck driver, there was another announcement. After the captain in person apologized for the inconveniences, he informed that the ‘Duke of Scandinavia’ now went into a wharf and for the time being would not travel between Amsterdam and Newcastle. Finally he wished them all a safe voyage home. Soon after this they reached the Felisson Quay of Amsterdam.
As matter of fact, the ‘Duke of Scandinavia’ no longer makes this tour – and so we know the true reason for it.
Back in Hamsterton
The delay of the ‘Duke of Scandinavia’ was a piece of luck for the group. There was no thorough control but all cars were hectically waved through and could pass the border without further formalities. Vim van der Slampe gave a sigh of relief because even the most stupid customs officer would have noticed that the driver’s cabin was quite crowded with three people. The hamsters were back in the bunk and lovingly eyed their own little van which the truck driver had completely repaired during the last few days.
“Hey, people, I’ll drive us home, okay?” Goldi hopefully cried.
“For my sake”, Flecki grumped. “But if there’s a crash and you make some hit and run, it’ll be the last time.”
“I for instance never made a hit and run”, Tuffy cried in a shocked voice.
“Neither did I”, Trample sighed. “I never hit and ran; quite in the contrary, I had to be carried away.”
“All that is of no matter”, Botchy gnarled. “I’m really worried whether repair team 2 and 3 finished the building works. After all I had not been there to give orders.”
“But Boss”, Tuffy excitedly interrupted, “when last time you were lying down with a fat flu because you nearly drowned in the canalisation, we also had to work on our own. We got ready much faster and in half the time have…”
“Okay, Boss, I’m shutting up!”
“And what if nothing is ready?” Dodo anxiously asked. “That is, dodgem car and suchlike are much too dangerous for me, but some candyfloss would be really nice.”
Nobody answered because they could do nothing but wait and eat biscuits. The mayor was extremely nervous and waddled from one side of the bunk to the other. Shirted by the up and down waddling the hamsters in spite of their pounding hearts were glad to hear the truck driver say after a few hours: “Here we are, gentlemen, this is the lay-by.” He got out and looked about him. McShredder and McClown followed him. “O no!” Vim van der Slampe said in an undertone.
“What’s the matter, Vim?” Frido curiously asked. “Anything wrong?”
“Er, no, nothing, er wrong”, the truck driver whispered, goggling at a big blue truck which was parking only a few metres away and belonged to his unloved pal Ruud Kloetsack. “Fact is that unfortunately I’m well acquainted with the owner of that truck there and…”
“Why, Vim, old slump!” they heard a bawling voice behind them. “What kind of guys did you bring along?”
A big, sturdy man came closer, gave the butler a short glance and a longer one to the old lord. Vim van der Slampe grinned, embarrassed, and did not know what to say.
“Don’t you get enough dosh for your lousy transports or why d’you drag along a nursing home?” was the next bawled question.
“Why doesn’t Vim just smash in the face of this guy and that’s it?” asked Goldi who together with his friends watched the scene from the bunk.
Their eyes followed every movement at the lay-by. For a moment it seemed that Ruud Kloetsack had had his fun and would board his truck again, when suddenly an infuriated, croaking voice called:
“You, young man!”
Ruud Kloetsack turned his big head and broad shoulders into the direction of the shout.
“What’s on, Granpa Scarecrow?” he gnarled and planted himself in front of the old lord in a threatening style.
“I think”, McShredder replied, “we should clarify one or two things. You, slave with that gorilla face, will very quickly apologize. I am Lord McShredder, the Conqueror of the Loch Ness monster, Lord of Killichonan and the descendent of the Lords of Lourne of Dunollie Castle!”
“And the king of Loch Ness”, McClown added with a grin.
Ruud Kloetsack looked unsettled. He lived in a country which had a queen and therefore he always had great respect for the nobility.
“That is, er, I didn’t know and…”
“He didn’t know!” the lord angrily cried. “I could make my servant thrash and slaughter you, you miserable lackey!”
Frido McClown folded his trembling hands and prayed that he did not need to.
“But I told you, I did not know…”
“He did not know”, McShredder aped the sturdy truck driver, “he did not know. He insulted me, does he realize that at least?”
“Who?” Ruud Kloetsack asked, bewildered.
“Well, you of course, you monster of stupidity and ugliness!” the lord screeched. “I should let you rot in my dungeon for ever! McClown, take this monstrosity but leave him alive. I’ll put him to trial first.”
“Sir, I…” McClown began but the very much surprised Ruud Kloetsack took a step back, glanced at the butler and cried: “This weed?”
“Another mistake, monster face! You infuriated my butler and that is bad for you because he caught Sawney Bean with his bare hands!”
“Whom has he caught?” the huge truck driver asked in a bewildered voice.
“You do not know Alexander Sawney Bean? He was a Highland monster, a robber and maneater. A whole army was not able to get at him. So say your last prayer, miserable slave!”
The butler lifted a hand to remind the lord that Sawney Bean and his clan had been living close to Galloway in the southwest of Scotland and that all this had happened in the 15th century and that he, Frido McClown, hadn’t anything to do with this. But Ruud Kloetsack only saw the lifted hand of the assumed monster hunter and fell on his knees: “I apologize, Mijnheer Lord, I apologize. How can I amend all this?”
Lord McShredder stepped close to the kneeling man, turned to his butler and asked: “Is there still any room in our dungeon, McClown?”
Frido McClown seemed to think this over for a while, then he smiled and said: “We might bring forward one or two executions, Sir, so that one or two booths would be vacant.”
“Very good”, the old lord replied, “so we will take him with us right now. What do you say, Mr. van der Slampe?”
Vim van der Slampe all the time had been watching there, baffled and silent. By now he even felt pity for his rude pal and so he said: “Oh, Sir Lord, that man there is not so very bad. Just a bit gruff and blunt. He certainly will not do it again.”
The lord said nothing, took his pipe and lit it. Slowly he went up and down a few paces, sucked at his pipe und blew his smoke. This game went on for about ten minutes while the still kneeling truck driver was in his cold sweat. Finally the old man took the pipe, pointed it at the truck driver and said: “Well then, slave, thank your colleague that he supported your cause! You are pardoned – be off!”
No need to tell Ruud Kloetsack twice. A second ago at the verge of death, he jumped up, ran to Vim van der Slampe and embraced him. “Vim, dear Vim, I will never forget this, will be your friend for ever!” Then he raced to his blue truck without turning once to the lord and his butler, jumped in and one minute later only the distant humming of a motor was audible.
“Well”, said the lord and cheerfully sucked at his pipe, “you’ll have no more trouble with that one, I think. You have been kind enough to take us here. A lord never forgets a good deed.”
Vim van der Slampe looked thunderstruck and did not know what to say. Lousy Kloetsack would leave him alone in future! “Thank you!” he stammered. “Thank you very much. In three days from now I will make a stop here. If I may take you back to Amsterdam then…”
Soon the truck driver was, whistling merrily, on his way west. Now his destination was the Alkmaar cheese market. Frido McClown had rearranged the contents of the suitcases and followed the lord, panting. McShredder on the other hand was very angry to see that the hamsters drove ahead with their van while he, a lord over so many things, had unworthily to follow walking. To make it worse, the sky darkened, rain began to fall and thunder could be heard in the distance.
“Wonderful, McClown, I’m feeling much at home here. Hand me an umbrella from the suitcase.”
“Sir, we do not have an umbrella.”
“McClown, you really are good for nothing. Why didn’t you bring an umbrella?”
“Well, Sir, up to know you thought this unnecessary knick-knack to be most unnecessary of all knick-knacks so that we never bought one.”
The lord did not answer but followed the hamster-van which was aptly steered over the bumpy forest ground. The rain became heavier and lightning joined the thunder. Now the road became narrower and narrower until it only was a path and finally not even recognizable as a path. However, the small hamster-van undauntedly drove on through the spinney, now and then got stuck in the soaked ground and every time was pushed on by two hamsters – a big one and a smaller one. By now the rain was so heavy that the two men could only follow the van blindly. Some time they passed a rocky wall and McClown remembered darkly that he had been here before. Then they had made it, the small van stopped and the mayor got out.
“Gentlemen, may I so to say welcome you in the name of all hamsters in beautiful Hamsterton and on this occasion point out…”
“What does this fat rodent want, McClown?”
“Well, Sir, he welcomes us to Hamsterton.”
“Fine. Ask him where we can find some dry place to spend the night.”
McClown crouched down to the still talking mayor. When he still did not stop his speech, the butler several times touched the hamster’s head lightly with his finger and passed on the question of the lord.
While the two men took shelter under a tree, the hamsters retreated into a nearby house to hold council. It was house no. 1 of Hamsterton’s main road and its owner, an elegant hamster lady named Mincy of Litter, had just been planning to take a short rest as this weather had a lulling effect on every hamster with some dignity. So at first she was very angry when there was a loud knock at her door, and the next moment she was quite stunned to see the mayor and a large group of hamsters asking for admittance. When she recognized chief Botchy, her face darkened because she remembered well that some time ago this ruthless hamster had destroyed her beautiful brambleberry bushes when he fell down from her roof during repair works. By the by, the roof was still leaking as the bucket in the middle of her big living room showed.
“Dear lady”, the mayor began, “it would be an especial honour and with this I’m speaking for all my fellow travellers, to find shelter with you for a short council and…”
“I also would like to say something, Mr. Mayor”, the elegant hamster lady interrupted him. “My roof is still leaking and if Mr. Botchy does not repair this damage instantly, I will offer shelter to nobody!”
At the same time Lord McShredder under the tree had given up to light his pipe in the pouring rain. He pointed at the small house at the beginning of an equally small street and cried in surprise: “Look at, McClown, the fat, ragged hamster with the singed fur is sitting on the roof hammering. What would that mean?”
“No idea, Sir, it will be some hamster tradition. Perhaps they want to shoo off the rain by this.”
By now the hamsters had made themselves comfortable and were indulged by Miss Mincy with self-made sunflower seed-cake. Soon the wet chief engineer joined them after he had made a makeshift repair at the roof. Now the mayor started to list up the topics of the agenda. Topic 1 of course was the question where to house McShredder and McClown. However, topic 2 was much more important to the mayor, i.e. how was Hamsterton faring at the moment, especially: What had happened to the Funfair-Project? Miss Mincy of Litter could contribute something to topic 2 and after the mayor’s long-winded inquiry on the state of affairs concerning the new pleasure park, she said after thinking a moment:
“Well, as far as I know the noise of the building works has stopped. I am not really interested in such modern times, but Finny, my neighbour, informed me that something quite new has been built on the town hall square.”
The mayor tapped the floor with his left paw, chief Botchy, towel wound around his head, looked at Tuffy unbelievingly. Tuffy shrugged and looked at Trample who just was choking over a cake-crumb and was hit on the back by Dodo so that he fell from the chair.
“Ha!” Flecki cried. “Hamsterton still standing and something new has been built. What does this tell us, Goldi?”
“This tells us that chief Botchy has been on holiday.”
“I ca-can’t see that”, Botchy stammered, “something must have gone wrong.”
“Now, now, my dear chief, in a way before our departure you have left exact instruction, if I use to remember your exact words so to say, which smooth a correct way of working. I am right, am I not, my dear Botchy?”
The chief engineer silently nodded and gnawed at his cake.
“The main thing is that my roof is no longer leaking!” Miss Mincy cried. “You promised to come the next day. That is four months ago!”
The chief engineer silently nodded and gnawed at his cake.
“The boss wanted to come, but then there was the call from the gas works about the leakage and he said that there’s more money in it and so he…”
“Okay, Boss, got the point. I only wanted…”
“Erm, perhaps we should discuss the first topic of our agenda”, the mayor interrupted this embarrassing dialogue. “We need hodgings, er lodgings for the lord and McClown. I’m waiting for proposals, my dear hamster friends!”
“I have a big hodgelodge”, Dodo said.
“Oh, come on, Dodo”, Flecki said, shaking her head, “those two giants never fit in. After the last munching party even you had difficulties to get through the front door.”
“And if I’d sleep in the passage?”
Flecki again shook her head. “I don’t see why they shouldn’t sleep outdoors? We also had to sleep outdoors often enough.”
Followed a lengthy discussion and after half an hour of abuse and brawls there was a vote on the first topic. The result was as follows:
1.Let them doss at the beach (4 votes)
2.We erect a big tent (2 votes)
3.We blast a hotel into a rock (1 vote)
4.Let them sleep at Dodo’s place (1 vote)
“Well, erm, as the matter is solved to everybody’s satisfaction, we now will take care of topic 2…”
“Everybody’s satisfaction, Mayor? Did you already inform the lord?”
“Well, er, dear Flecki, that’s a matter of diplomacy and for the Funfair-Project nothing shall be left undone to do. Well, erm, I will talk to the butler.”
The mayor waddled to the door. To everybody’s relief the pouring rain had stopped and the sun sent warming rays down to Hamsterton. A few minutes later he came back, his head very red.
“He, ahum, agrees.”
“And what did he say in detail?” Dasy and Sasy asked.
They all pricked up their ears while the mayor was standing at the door post, tapping the floor with his paw. Suddenly he yelled: “That old Shredder-sack said that the funny, fat hamster with his tap-paw shall see to get started.”
Grinning, the hamsters boarded their van again after having thanked Miss Mincy for giving them shelter. Goldi stepped on the gas and at the next corner there was a crash. It needed no chief engineer or mechanic to see that the van was useless now.
“But I had the right of the way”, Goldi said and his big eyes looked sadly at the smashed car after everyone had climbed out, groaning.
“So had I”, came a flat voice from the red-yellow car with which they had collided at the crossing.
The chief, having heard so, shook his head, walked over to the vehicle and cried:
“How can both cars have the right of the way?”
“Oh, it’s like this for some days now”, the voice from the red-yellow car wailed, “since the traffic lights have been switched off.”
“Yes, there’s no power.”
“Well, except one exception. By the way, there also is no water, no school, no traffic police, no telly – and nothing to eat because the shops are closed…”
“What’s on here? And what kind of exception is that?” chief Botchy called into the scrap car.
“Exception is the funfair, there’s power enough. Beside of that nobody’s working any longer. All are merry-go-rounding and have taken time off.”
“Ta-taken time o-off – all Hamsterton?” the mayor moaned who now stood beside the damaged car and had paled.
“That’s it. For days nobody in the town has been to work”, came the voice from the wreck.
“We immediately have to check on things, people”, Botchy bawled. “Come on, lets walk.”
The hamsters had only walked a few steps when once more they heard the voice from the red-yellow scrap:
“If you could spare a moment: Will you please help me out here? It’s so very uncomfortable.”
“McClown, in case you have the faintest idea what is happening here, please do inform me instantly, will you?”
“Well, Sir, we’re in Hamsterton, things are a tiny bit different from what we are used to.”
Then they followed the hamsters on their way to the market square of Hamsterton.
“Tell me, Mayor, do you think it a good idea to take those two into the city? We first of all should prepare everything so that there is no panic.”
The mayor paused and thought Flecki’s proposal over. After a while he turned round to the two men and pattered towards McClown.
“Erm, honoured gentlemen, in my office as Hamsterton’s mayor I propose to ask you as it is to seek out our, erm, reception area. The same, er, the beach is not far. For safety reasons, you see…”
“What does that podge want, McClown?”
“Well, Sir, he says we are to make ourselves comfortable at the beach for the time being.”
“Ask about my coin. It did not come here for bathing.”
The butler bent down to the hamster and talked to him. When the mayor in so many words had explained that he in person would take immediate care of the matter and after he had toppled over twice because his paw-tapping made him lose his balance, McClown and McShredder were guided to the beach of Hamsterton.
Angrily the lord sat down in the sand. “We’ll die a miserable death, McClown. A good butler would have remembered to bring some food!”
“Well, Sir, luckily I am”, the butler jeered and opened one of the suitcases. “Sandwiches from the ‘Blue Riband’, Sir, they were free.”
The hamsters by now had proceeded towards the market square. They all were excited, especially chief Botchy could hardly wait to see what had happened during his absence. It was most unusual that nobody was in the streets, all was quite deserted. This however changed soon. When the group approached the market square, they could hear loud noise from the distance – music and screaming it was. With pounding hearts the homecoming hamsters started to run until they had reached the market square. There they stopped short and stared at what was happening in front of their eyes.
Market and town hall square were packed with hamsters. To the left were several small munching stands; the tasty smells from that direction made the mouths of certain hamsters water. From a small stand nearby shooting was to be heard. To its right was a large building with several balconies on which dangerous looking cardboard cats were standing, hissing and moving their paws. A door to one of the balconies opened, a car with screeching hamsters passed one of the cats and disappeared through the next door.
Beside this ghost train was a giant fountain but what excited the marvelling hamsters most were the two gigantic constructions in the centre of the market square. One was a high tower in which several hamsters were fastened to seats and screeching loudly were catapulted upwards. The other one was a roundabout where no less screeching hamsters were rounding about.
“The Moon Rocket and the Turbo Pegtop!” Goldi cheerfully bawled.
“Baked sun flower seed”, Dodo cried.
“A giant fountain!” Sasie shouted joyfully.
“The go-go-ghost train”, the mayor sighed.
“Bits and bobs”, Flecki cheered, “and a park behind them!”
“A shooting gallery”, Trample marvelled.
“Not bad what they put up here, isn’t it, chief?” Tuffy trumpeted and delightedly clapped her paws.
Chief Botchy stood with big eyes, did not say a word and watched how a staggering hamster was carried away from the roundabout.
“That’s Mamsy”, Tuffy explained. “She just loves merry-go-rounds, but does not really stand it.”
This was the moment Hamsterton broke into cheers when the stay at home hamsters discovered the homecoming hamsters.
“Mr. Mayor, Mr. Mayor!”
“Erm, yes, er, Nafty?”
Nafty, a little hamster girl, stood in front of he mayor, completely out of breath. As one of the town hall assistants she had the task to carry out the planning. She had been most successful as could be seen at the first glance.
“Mr. Mayor, you have to hold the opening speech at once. Unfortunately it went around too early that the completion of the pleasure park…”
“Fungus, er, funfair, my child, it’s named funfair!”
“… that the funfair is already opened. Delegations from Hamstercity, Hamsterhoosen and so an are already on their way and…”
“Ah, erm, somebody must go to fetch the old crack, er, the lord, so that the McShredder-monster is present!”
“Where are they now?”
“Er, umph, Hamstilidamst and Trample, run and fetch them!”
While the two hamsters set out to get Lord McShredder, chief Botchy stopped standing there like being nailed down and pointed at the giant fountain nearby which spouted water high into the air.
“What is that?”
“We followed the construction plan, boss”, Topple cried and straightened the pen behind his right ear. “Look at, we worked exactly to the specifications.”
Botchy took the roll of paper which Topple handed to him, glanced at it and went red as a beet.
“You halfwitted dickies, you held the plan upside down, that was to be a water tap!”
“Anyway, the munchburgers are yummy!” Goldi cried, chewing, and showed them to the chief engineer. “Look, I won the first prize at shooting – a Dodoburger.”
“Yep, Dodoburger, right juicy and lardy. By the by, chief, second and third prize are almost as big.”
Botchy goggled at Goldi.
“Second prize”, Goldi explained, “is the Mayorburger, third the Botchyburger, just swell, I tell you.”
“Goldi and Flecki, so you are back!”
“Daby!” Flecki cried in surprise. “What are you doing here?”
“Well now, I’m not to talk about it but as you are here… Your mayor invited us.”
“He did already?”
“Balthasar declared this as strictly confident matter of the boss after your mayor told that you were on your way in an urgent mission. Moreover your mayor said that you were going to catch a monster with a special high-speed vehicle he attended to. He was sure to close the matter within short time. So two days later we came here by Hamster Airlines.”
“I see”, Flecki jeered. “Urgent mission, special high-speed vehicle, catching monsters in no time. That mayor has such a hollow head… But, Daby, talking about hollow heads, where is your boss now? Or is that a secret?”
Now Daby grinned. “Not at all, daft and embarrassing rather. After that guy unneverd me with his special wishes during the last days I gave him a job at the town hall.”
“At the town hall?” Goldi and Flecki cried, baffled.
“Well now, I placed a desk and a chair into the elevator and told him that this was his new office. He was delighted. Now he’s going up and down all day long. Every time the doors open and someone enters, he asks: ‘Did you make a date with my assistant?’”
The three hamsters giggled and now the mayor came along.
“Er, Miss what’syour-Daby, nice to meet you! Please do fetch my brother, the president. The screech, erm, the speech will begin in a few minutes.”
“Pleasure”, Daby shouted because the noise of the cars from the Hamstian neighbour counties had risen considerably during the last minutes. “I guess he’ll be stuck between the 10th and 11th floor. He usually works there at this time of the day.”
“Fine, er, Dingus-Dodo”, the excited mayor cried, “just run to the town hall to fetch down my brother Balthasar!”
“I will, Mr. Mayor”, Dodo replied and set out for the town hall.
“Erm, Miss Nafty, are there any news or polls? What I mean is because I was away for such a long time, if you know what I mean”, the mayor asked, getting more and more nervous.
Nafty got out her notepad and leaved it through. “No, nothing special, except a poll of the traffic ministry. They tried to find out if the Hamsterton citizens are open-minded to tourists.”
“Well”, Nafty replied, “the result of the poll on ’Do you think we Hamsterton hamsters are open-minded and friendly?’ was 71 percent ‘Yes’ and 29 percent ‘Shut up!’”
“Erm, yes, very nice, thanks”, the mayor absentmindedly grunted and turned to Dodo who came back, looking sad.
“Well, is my brother ready, Dodo?”
“O well, not really, that is, he has to convul… convalesce a bit.”
“Convalesce? How’s that?”
“Yes, Mr. Mayor, it was quite a noise when the elevator came down but HAMFI think he will be sent home from the hospital in a few days because…”
The mayor shook his head, turned away and buried his face in his paws.
“He really fetched down the elevator!” Flecki marvelled.
“Swell!” Goldi bawled. “Dodo makes no half jobs.”
“Well, well, an elevator per day makes the doctor stay”, Daby added with a broad grin.
“There’s an old Hamstian proverb”, Flecki laughed. “No matter if anything goes wrong as long as you can find somebody else to blame.”
“But I didn’t intend that”, Dodo wailed.
Encouragingly, Daby patted his fur. “Just don’t worry, Dodo. Nobody else has been injured.”
“Perhaps”, Nafty excitedly said, “it would not be bad to let our visitors take a look at our manifold medical facilities.”
“But what will you do without that Balthasar?” Dodo asked, still looking sad. “That is, if no one is there to manage all those secret departments?”
Daby grinned and said: “If you think that a department head heads a department, you also think that a butterfly is flying butter.”
By now the delegations of the surrounding counties and their escorts had arrived. From all sides impatient shouts of “Nigeb, nigeb!” sounded as the market square was packed with hamsters. The mayor had climbed onto a big platform and, together with chief engineer Botchy, Dasy, Taty, Tealeafy, Goldi, Sasy, Flecki, and Dodo, received the thundering applause of the audience. The platform was beautifully decorated, baskets with fresh fruit and bowls with sunflower seed stood everywhere.
“Dear citizens of Hamsterton”, the mayor began, cleared his throat and wanted to continue when Tuffy touched his shoulder. “Not now, Tuffy!” the mayor angrily hissed.
“What is it, Tuffy?”
“Mr. Mayor, you are talking to a melon. The microphone is the black thing over there.”
“Erm, yes, er, thanks”, the mayor mumbled and with an embarrassed smile moved to the left. “Erm, my dear Hamsterton city-dingus…”
“Now he rabbits on a cucumber”, Flecki groaned while under the laughter of the onlookers Tuffy informed him of his new mistake.
Red as a beetroot and completely upset the mayor faced the screaming audience and with a yell jumped aside when over them suddenly the sky darkened. The screaming stopped when at the same moment Hamstilidamst and Trample climbed onto the platform. Two humans were standing close to the funfair: Lord McShredder and McClown his butler.
“Are we there at last, McClown?” a croaking voice said which made all the hamsters tremble.
“Well, Sir, I think so. Over there seems to be the ghost train. So if you would stoop a little…”
“A lord never stoops, McClown, don’t forget that. Think of something else!”
“Well, Sir”, grinned McClown, “then it would make sense if you just lie down behind the ghost train and now and then shout ‘Boo!’”
“A lord never shouts ‘Boo!’, McClown!”
“What a pity, Sir, so you won’t be lucky with that rare Shu-coin, I guess!”
“Where did you say the ghost train is, McClown?”
While very miffed the lord lay down behind the ghost train, Nafty quickwittedly had taken the microphone and cried: “Dear friends and guests, here it is: the McShredder-monster!” She wanted to pass the microphone to the mayor but he had fallen into the grapes, held to a banana and informed it of many interesting things. “Please come here, Mr. Mayor”, Nafty hissed while Dodo helped him up.
The mayor still seemed to be very confused and made no move towards Nafty and the microphone.
“Quick, Dodo”, Nafty shouted, “push the mayor over to me!”
A moment later there was a crash and Nafty plus mayor tumbled over the rail of the platform down into the cheering crowd. The Hamstian security team needed some time to get the mayor back onto the platform. But finally they succeeded and all 12 hamsters who had made the adventurous journey to Scotland were assembled in front to the applauding crowd. For the moment they all were very proud and enjoyed the cheerings. That is, except the mayor who only goggled at the microphone in his hand. Chief Botchy walked over to him and whispered:
“Now do say something, the crowd is waiting!”
At first the mayor did not react but then he grinned at the crowd in a muddled way, sniffed at the microphone, licked it happily and shouted: “We take the car…!”
“O my God!” Flecki groaned. “How cringe-making!”
“That man’s a genius!” Goldi bawled. “That’s what I call a knack for subtle speeches!”
“We’ve got to think about something”, chief Botchy stammered.
“O yes, and what?” Sasy, Dasy, Taty, and Tealeafy chorused.
“Take the car, what else, chief! Come on, Dodo, shove them into the turbo pegtop!” Goldi cried delightedly and Dodo shoved the protesting chief engineer plus the confused mayor in one of the turbo pegtop-cars.
One of the repair team assistants latched the car with a safety clevis. Then he made a sign and the car set moving. The crowd on the market square freaked out, cheering and bawling, when mayor and chief rotated faster and faster and higher and higher.
“Did you see my microphone somewhere, dear chief?” the mayor asked with a mad look in his eyes. “Perhaps I should say something soothing, somehow everything seems to be a chaos. Look how they all race about!”
The chief only goggled at him. “What alarms me much more is the fact that these fools have taken 32 series screws for the safety clevis. Every dimwit knows that they are worth nothing.” He fumbled at the srew. “Look how easily I can loosen it!”
The mayor gave the matter only a glimpse, glared at the racing surroundings and with a happy face sighed: “O chief, you are much too anxious. I have full confidence in my hamsters even if just now they are spinning a little.”
“Confidence? In these duds? Ha, look here, Mayor, one turn to the left and the latch is open!”
What followed has to this day not been sorted out by the Hamstian investigation department. Chief engineer and mayor left the turbo pegtop under the frenetic applause and cheers of the audience and in a few hundred metres distances landed in the village pond which luckily was close to the Hamstian Hospital. After this the festival was interrupted for ten minutes and then continued for the next weeks.
The same evening Lord McShredder received the valuable Japanese Shu-coin from Flecki and with Frido McClown returned to the roadhouse. It took some time until Vim van der Slampe arrived there with his truck as they had arranged before and took both to Amsterdam. There lord and butler boarded the next ferry to Newcastle and the lord succeeded in starting arguments with the whole ship’s crew and made the passage unforgettable for them. From Newcastle they found means to reach Edinburgh and paid a visit to the Bank of Scotland. The lord put his valuable coin into a safe and at the same time took out a considerable amount of money to buy a new castle.
By the way, George really managed to take back the horses to their owner but it took him five full days. He hardly was back home again when Lord McShredder rang him up and ordered him to King’s House Hotel where he was to stay with McClown until they had found a suitable castle. Liza McGyer of course was deligthed – apart from the fact that also the lord was staying there now.
Vim van der Slampe had after all found a true friend in Ruud Kloetsack and was happy to be able to live in peace. And Finnegan McDudle? Well, his wife took him back but only after he had sworn to stop boozing. He now is working as guide for adventure tours.
The hamsters were celebrating the greatest party which Hamsterton ever had seen. They had good reason. Again they had shown the world that nothing and nobody is able to stop a hamster and that hamster-intelligence cannot be beaten.
EDNE - ENDE!