In the meantime McClown did not know whether to be happy or not. He had always wanted to travel to Iceland, but as Lord McShredder never permitted him to stay away for more than three days he never had had a longer holiday. With horror he thought of the endless discussions with the hard-hearing lord.
“Sir, I need a vacation”, he often had said.
“I read in the canalization? How dare you say so?!”
“Sir, I said VACATION !”
“Why do you shout so, McClown, and why vacation? Don’t you like it here? Many people would be grateful to live a castle.”
“Certainly, Sir, but I would like to see another place now and then.”
“You want to go out to space with cow and hen? What fustian are you talking, McClown!”
“ANOTHER PLACE, SIR!”
“You know you should not shout at me, my dear McClown. In my time there were no such newfangled things like vacation. But if you by all means want to go to another place, I have an idea. Pack your things and go!”
The butler’s heart bounced in joy and McShredder continued: “You will move from your room in the east wing of the castle to the room in the north wing. You will have a completely different view from there, McClown, and I’ll give you a day off for moving. What do you say?”
“I am most happy, Sir!” McClown shouted and had to control himself not to strangle His Lordship.
“You see, McClown, the McShredder Clan has always been generous. Of course you will catch up that day.”
“Your kindness goes to the utmost, Sir”, the butler mumbled.
“Your mind flows to the atmosphere? For pure joy, I guess, McClown – ha ha. Back to work now, but get me some tobacco first.”
After such mindless discussions with His Lordship McClown usually went to the kitchen and smashed some dishes to calm down a little.
By now McClown had mounted a small mound and sat down on a tree trunk at the roadside. It did him good to rest a little because the box with the sleeping hamsters had grown heavier and heavier. He wrapped himself in the plaid which the captain had given him as a farewell present and closed his eyes. It did not take long until he slept soundly. But all the adventures of the past days had left their traces and McClown had uneasy dreams. He dreamt that he was back in Scotland chasing monsters. In this dream he was the commander of an army and his soldiers all wore whiskers and furs. They were just chasing the most bloodthirsty monster the world ever had seen: the McShredder-Clan-Monster.
Commander McClown and his true followers had come over the sea in their heavy-armed ships to finish off this monster. Just when he and his army faced the McShredder-Clan-Monster and he wanted to draw his sword, it happened: In his sleep he had moved violently and the tree trunk beneath him started to move as well. McClown and the hamsters tumbled down the mound. The poor butler rolled first, then the trunk and finally the hamsters. As bad luck would have it they had fallen out of the box and by no means knew what was happening. McClown was firmly convinced to be fighting dragons when he saw something dark and big coming towards him.
Another monster, he thought and crashed against a tree. When he wanted to get up, the tree trunk had reached him and hit his neck. Butler and trunk were lying on the ground and the hamsters were stopped by the trunk. The small animals sniffed and when they discovered nothing interesting, they crawled to the butler to nestle to him as he still was wrapped in the plaid.
The sun was just setting when McClown woke up with a tremendous headache and looked about him.
“We lost the battle against the monster”, he said, “but we have not lost the war.”
He rose, took the box and looked up to the mound.
“You just wait, you damned McShredder-Clan-Monster! My army will hunt you down. We will free the world of monsters like you!”
After yelling this he felt better. The hamsters, awakened by the noise, saw that it was dark and looked for forage.
“O my true army”, McClown cried, “are you ready for new battles?”
The hamsters looked bewildered, some of them scratched their heads. They discussed the matter and decided that it would be better to follow this man. He had fed them up to now after all and seemed to be their friend. So they followed him up the mound and inland.
The road was difficult but some hours later they reached a plateau. ‘Langjökull’ was written on a sign. Now and then big rocks were to be seen. Billions of stars shone in the sky above them and McClown could not get his fill of this view. While he watched the starry sky, the hamsters by and by became cross. They were hungry and wanted to have a party. Angrily they started to squeak, some of them even plucked at the butler’s trouser cuffs.
“You raise against your leader?” McClown angrily asked. “What is the matter with you, my faithfuls?”
The hamsters squeaked even louder and their little paws pointed to their bellies.
“Ah, my army is hungry and thirsty! So let’s stop for a bite and relax.”
McClown looked about him: In the distance he could make out a farm building.
“Forward, o you brave!” he shouted and marched on. When getting closer he saw to his joy that there was light in the farm windows. A short time later he knocked at the door. A little girl opened and told him that her parents were on a party in the neighbourhood and she was not allowed to let anybody in.
“You don’t deceive me”, McClown cried. “You are a white fairy turned into a little girl to test our loyalty!”
Before the dumbfounded girl could reply the butler and the hamsters had stormed the kitchen and ransacked the pantry. The little girl followed them, repeating that she was not allowed to let anybody in and that her parents would scold.
“Don’t worry, lovely fairy”, McClown soothed the little girl, “it’s all the fault of the McShredder-Clan-Monster!”
The girl shrugged and shuffled to the living room to watch TV.
It did not take long until the pantry was empty and the bellies of the hungry troop filled. The kitchen looked like a battle field. McClown and his hamster army left the house and walked on northwards.
After a short while they reached a small village with several shops. As all people were already asleep nobody noticed this curious group. They left the village behind them and passed a fish smokehouse. Close to it was the shop of a basket maker.
“Forward, my brave soldiers!” McClown encouraged the hamsters. “We are close to our goal! I can already smell the stinking breath of the monster.”
There was indeed a smell, and the hamsters wrinkled their delicate noses. They would have walked out on him, but they moved on because they thought the kind man was taking them to a party. The stink grew worse. In a distance McClown and his little friends saw smoke coming out of the earth. If McClown’s head had not been between two tree trunks before and he could have thought clearly, he would have known what this was. It was geysers. Geysers develop when hot volcanic rock heats the water. The hot water is transported upwards under high pressure. It was the sulphur vapour which was stinking.
seeing the vapours, shouted: “Forward, my brave soldiers, you can see the hot breath of the monster. Forward, go and get it!”
The hamsters looked at him inquiringly. Was this to be the promised party? They really did not like smoke and bad smells. They hesitated to follow the butler and that was quite a good decision. For when McClown almost had reached the spot, the geyser erupted like geysers now and then do. A hot water column of 15 metres shot up and splashed over McClown. Shrieking, he fled back to the hamsters and cried: “Hurry up, my brave ones, he attacked your leader!”
The hamsters did not understand anything.
“He fled, went underground!” McClown groaned and sat down. Up he was again with a scream for the ground was boiling hot. He ran to the spot were the hamsters were waiting and sat down there. For a long time he thought things over, then his face lit up. He took one of the hamsters – it was Fuzzy – who was sitting directly in front of him.
“The matter is settled, my little friend! We cannot follow him into the hot earth and we have no ship. So we will follow him by air. He certainly looks for an underground way to Scotland. Do you know, my brave little friend, what we are going to do?”
“My hero!” McClown shouted and pressed Fuzzy to his breast.
“Pleh! Pleh!” the terrified hamster yelled.
“That’s it”, McClown cheered. “Flee, that’s what he does. The monster flees us, but we will catch it. Come along, I have a plan.”
After having said so, he got up and walked into the direction they had come from. Bewildered, the hamsters followed him. An hour later they reached the village again. After some search the butler found the shop of the sail maker. He kicked in the door, walked right in and came back with a large canvas and lots of hemp rope.
To the puzzled hamsters he made a sign to follow him and walked back towards the geysers.
At the basket maker he paused, tossed canvas and ropes to the ground and kicked in also this shop door. He came back with a very large basket and ran on to the geysers.
The hamsters with their short legs were quite spent from all the running, but they never had experienced anything that exciting. Bravely they followed until they again reached the hot vapours of the geysers. McClown had to hurry because from the village infuriated voices were to be heard. Quickly he knotted some ropes to the canvas and connected them to the basket. When he was ready, he put the canvas over the hot spring and shouted: “Hurry up, my brave soldiers, we are following the monster!”
The hamsters were very sure that now the party was to start and happily hopped into the big basket. How disappointed were they when they did not find anything to eat in there! Angrily they abused McClown but became quiet as soon as the hot air ballooned the canvas. The canvas grew bigger and bigger. When the basket finally took off, the infuriated villagers had come very close. Excited shouts were to be heard: “Stop, my sails… My basket… Come back, you thief!”
“Daddy, that is the man who stole our stocks”, a little girl blurted out.
The butler bent over the edge of the basket and shouted to the upset people: “Don’t you worry, good folk, this serves a good cause. It is all the fault of the McShredder-Clan-Monster. You hear me? It is all the fault of the McShredder-Clan-Monster.”
Then he lay down beside the hamsters exhaustedly. It did not take long and they all were asleep, while the balloon carried them high through the air.