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Chapter 3


In the meantime McClown faced several problems. First he still did not know whereto the fishing cutter was heading, second he had nothing to eat. Furthermore he was troubled about the hamsters for by now they were quite dear to him. In the evening he told them Scottish fairy tales and every time this caused the hamsters to have a party. So McClown had another problem: He hardly found any sleep. On the one hand the noise of the feasting hamsters kept him awake, on the other hand he always had to think of their beady eyes which looked at him hungrily. He had to do something, and so the desperate butler decided to surrender. Certainly the times were gone when a blind passenger was thrown over board. In the worst case they would hand him over to the police in the next harbour.

McClown threw a glance at the sleeping hamsters and scrambled out of the life boat. Cold wind met his face and he had the feeling that his ears were freezing off. Cautiously he looked around. It was rather a small ship and nobody of the crew was in sight. An old net was lying on deck and McClown got the impression that it had not been used for a long time. He knew nothing about seafaring, but something told him that this was no normal ship. After stumbling over an old fender, he opened the door to a cabin. He expected to be seized and questioned by a dozen sailors, but nothing happened.

Get yer right in an’ shut yer the door tight!”

McClown got a fright but did as he was told and walked in. In an old armchair an old man with a white beard was sitting, his feet at the wheel and a pipe in his mouth.

Me asked m’sel’ when yer shew up, pal”, the captain continued. “Din’ yer freeze yer ass orff?”

Well, Sir”, McClown answered stiffly, “it is a little nippy indeed.”

Little nippy!” The captain laughed heartily and turned round. “Me lad, me take ter yer!”

Thank you, Sir. If I may ask a favour of you: Do you have some nourishment for my hamsters and me?”

“’amsters? D’yer bring me rats aboard?!”

No, Sir, hamsters are no rats, they are peaceful little animals, Sir.”

The captain sucked at his pipe, took a coffee pot, and filled a cup standing on a big compass.

Get yer a tambler o' the caboose”, the captain said. “Me rumbled fer long that ye’re in the tub. ‘ad yer not shewn, me’d got yer. Peer o’ the scuttle, storm’s abrewing ter blast yer o’er board ’elter skelter.”

That’s very kind of you, Sir.”

“‘Sair’ me not, say Cap’n.”

Very well, Sir Captain”, McClown replied. “If I may put another question, Sir Captain…”

“’nither ‘Sair Cap’n’ and yer’ll be back ter the tub.”

As you like, S… Captain”, McClown said, embarrassed. “Begging pardon, S… Captain”, he added, “but where, please, is this ‘caboose’ you mentioned and what, please, is a ‘tambler’?”

The captain laughed aloud and said: “Jus’ new in the world, are yer? Landlubber! Caboose is a kitchen and tambler is a mug, see?”

Very considerate, S… Captain, I found the mug. May I fill it with coffee now?”

Say, pal, d’ye think ye’re ter pish in? For sure yer’ll ‘ave coffee!”

Many thanks, Captain, I really appreciate your kindness.”

The captain turned to McClown the butler, sucked at his pipe again and said in a low voice: “Stop yer all that cootchie-cooing, pal. Ain’t used ter it aboard. Nuts enough ter ‘ave ye and yer zoo as stowaways on such a ran-down cutter. Yer tell me where ye’re from and wot yer do when ye’re not skipperin’ the sea wi’ yer fur-mice.”

So the two men sat together in the cabin, and McClown told the captain everything he could remember. He told about Scotland, about his master and all the things which had happened to him. However, how he came to carry about a box with hamsters he could not really recollect.

Well”, the captain said, relighting his pipe which had gone out in the meantime, “ye’re right in the sod, pal. Me’s faring ter Reykjavik, up ’n Iceland ter ‘ave some ‘oliday. But get yer fur-mice in ‘elter-skelter, gale’s comin’ on.”

McClown ran to the door and was almost blown over board, such a strong wind had come up in the meantime. He hurried to the lifeboat, took away the tarp and gripped the box with the hamsters. Quickly he walked back to the cabin, but again he did not see the fender which of course was still lying on deck. The butler stumbled and the box with the poor hamsters whirled high up into the air. Lying on deck, McClown watched in desperation how the storm took the box and carried it towards the sea.

No!” he yelled, but he could do nothing. Horrified, he imagined how his poor little friends would be drowned in the ocean. Sobbing, he stayed where he was, on the cold deck, and decided to stay here until the waves took him and also washed him overboard.

Sayin' yer prayers or wot?”

With tears in his eyes McClown looked up. There the captain was standing in front of the cabin door and held the box with the hamsters.

Jus’ thought a landlubber wouldn’ get along wi’ the gale. Well, gogglin’ out o’ the cabin, me sees yer pals whirl about. Jus’ got ‘em.”

Overjoyed, McClown stammered “Thank you, Captain” and then had no end of trouble to shut the cabin door against the strong wind.

Well, our Frido”, the captain grinned and lit his pipe. “The worst’s ter come still. ‘obgoblin will be at us.”

With your permission, Captain, he’ll get a sound thrash.”

Tha’s the way me like yer. Now yer go ter the caboose an' see that yer gang fill their bellies! Elsewise we ‘ave a sound uproar aboard.”

Ay ay, Captain”, McClown said and went to the kitchen. He took salad and bread and put it into the hamster-box. For certain this meant party time for the half starved hamsters and they fell on the forage like mad while outside the storm was howling. The waves grew higher and higher and broke over the ship’s side like into a white wall. The vessel rolled to and fro and within the box it squeaked merrily.

Well, well, yer crew sound fit as a fiddle”, the captain laughed. “Say, our Frido, ‘ae ye e’er been ter Iceland?”

Nay, Captain, I only know that Reykjavik is its capital and that there are pixies and trolls.”

Ay”, the captain laughed. “An’ jus’ imagine, the ‘ottest summer ‘as lousy 8 degrees. Then them there collapse of ‘eat, say. An’ jus’ imagine, them there kids ne’er ‘ave ‘eat vacancy! Yer knows why there’s such a bulk o’ fish?”

McClown thought this over. “Close to Iceland, in the northern Atlantic, the offshots of the warm Golf Stream and the currents of the polar regions meet. The sea is rich with oxygen and plankton. So there is much nourishment for fish, Captain.”

Bit slipshod, but a’ right”, the captain laughed. “But know yer wot none knows? Scotland’s not the ain seamonster-quarter!”

Impossible!” McClown shouted. “Give me proof.”

The captain put aside his pipe and descended a short ladder down to his bunk. After a few minutes he came back with a thick book tucked under his arm. The brown cover was quite worn out and the book looked very old.

See ye, tha’s a guide-book o‘ me great-great-gran’dad.”

The captain opened the book and cautiously turned the leaves. After a while he found the page he was looking for and held it under McClown’s nose. McClown took it and read: “By the way, Iceland also has to offer monsters living in lakes like Nessie. The most famous of these monsters is living in the Lögurinn lake in the eastern part of the country. The saying goes that once upon a time a woman gave a golden trinket to her daughter. The daughter wanted to know from her mother what best use she could make of the gold. The mother advised her to put the gold under a worm. Everybody knows that a lindworm lying on gold grows tremendously and the treasure on which he is lying grown with him. The next day the girl found a snail in the garden and put it onto the gold. In the evening she took the snail and the gold into the house and hid both in a safe place. When after a few days she went to take a look, the snail already had grown so much that the girl got rather frightened. She took the snail and the gold, ran to the river and threw in both. But the snail grew on and on and by and by became the much feared monster in the Lögurinn.”

McClown looked thunderstruck. It just was not possible that there were monsters outside of Scotland. He shook his head and poured himself another cup of coffee.

See ye? Now yer dangle yer ears, our Frido!”

Before Frido could answer, the captain sharply altered the course and shouted: “All people ‘old on, we’re landing!”

Frido McClown looked out of the window and could see a mountainous landscape in the distance. This had to be Iceland! Skilfully the captain steered the ship into the narrow port entrance, and after a while they had made it.

Our Frido, d’ye know ‘ow ter fasten a ‘awser?”

No problem, Captain, will be done in a moment!”

McClown left the cabin and one minute later was back.

What is a ‘awser?”

Tha’s a rope ter moor the cutter, din’ yer know?”

Redheaded, McClown hurried out again and in his cabin the captain distinctly heard the thud of a falling body.

I’ve got to put that fender somewhere else, the captain thought while the ship was moored at the pier. A short time later he and McClown disembarked to the island of Iceland. They bid farewell to each other, McClown took the box with the hamsters and decided to walk inland.