Preface

 

 

This book was written for Flecki and Goldi Without them there would be no hamsters and no Hamsterton.

My special thanks go to Mamsi, who for many evenings listened to the stories and mastered her sleepiness.

Proofreading and checking on the historical background are most difficult. I like to thank a Celtic witch for her cooperation. Without her the last chapter would not exist.

 

 

Chapter 1

Homesick

Siesta time on some far off hacienda somewhere in Spain. The Spanish sun burnt down relentlessly on men and beast. The air war leaden. High up some birds were circling in the sky, now and then the stuttering motor of a tractor could be heard. Quite an idyllic picture but suddenly the peace was broken by a loud voice. It was a voice like a grater on rough metal.

"McClown, you good-for-nothing, where are you now?"

The only answer came from the stuttering tractor.

"MCCLOWN!" the old lord roared, his voice toppling over.

The far away motor died down. Some minutes later a small spot appeared at the horizon which - surrounded by a cloud of dust - approached with racing speed.

"Need you be that slow, McClown?" Lord McShredder croaked and looked at his butler reproachfully.




"Well, Sir, I, er"

The butler got a fit of coughing and held to the fence. After his race in the heat of noon he sweated and gasped for breath.

"You are by no means fit, McClown", milord said. "You should see yourself in a mirror! When we left Scotland you have been slim. And now? Fat and lazy, that's what you are, McClown!"
"Sir", the outraged butler replied, "when we left Scotland I had not eaten for three weeks."
"He?" McShredded shouted angrily. "You had beaten the wee freaks?"

McClown's face reddened.

"Sir", he roared, "after I kidnapped the hamsters from Hamsterton I had been half starved and close to being a skeleton."
"Half starved?" McShredder crowed. "There we are. You think about nothing but your dinner. My ailments are nothing to you, you ungrateful dog!"

Frido McClown had to stand a lot from His Lordship, but he was a butler through and through and the requirements of his master was all that mattered to him. His master was ailing? McClown looked at the old lord and asked in a shocked tone: "O my God, Sir, are you ill?"
"On the board is juice still? McClown, you are talking rubbish. The darned sun does you no good. Look at yourself, you've got a head like a tomato and are sweating all over."
"But Sir, I've been ploughing all the day!"
"You've been crowing hooray?!" milord asked, flabbergasted. "Man, you are beside yourself. Sunstroke or something."

Butler Frido McClown rolled his eyes and groaned. In Spain the deafness of His Lordship had grown worse. His rheumatism, however, had vanished which had been the reason for their leaving Scotland. The other reason had been that the old castle had become quite uninhabitable after a gas explosion.

McClown thought of his little friends, the hamsters. He sighed again and remembered all the adventures he had had with the rodents. He wondered if the charming little animals remembered him. Did they think of the landing at Strathy Point or the night in Smoo Cave? Once more McClown sighed and did not notice that the old lord watched him.

"My dear McClown", the well-known voice brought him back to reality, "I know what's ailing you. You are homesick!"

The butler did not know what to say and could only stammer something.

"And I'll tell you something, McClown", Lord McShredder said and wrenched himself from his new wheelchair.



"I'm homesick, too."

Lord and butler stood side by side and looked to the horizon. The butler thought of the hamsters, while milord sat down into his wheelchair again. By the way, he did not really need the wheelchair but he thought it more comfortable to be carted around with it. Around, that meant three times a day to the dining room and as many times to the loo. Leisurely McShredder lit his pipe, blew the smoke into the heat of the day and said:

"You know, my dear McClown, I've got my fill. Sun, sun, and sun again. I don't want it any longer. I want rain. I want days and days of rain, I want my wheelchair to be washed down from Craig Farr or any other mountain. Mountains! Where are the bens and glens, the creeks and lochs? Have we got anything of that kind here? No, nothing but sun and boredom."

McClown nodded. He rather liked the idea of His Lordship being washed down from some mountain. The only thing which bothered him was that he, Frido McClown, would have to push milord in his wheelchair uphill first. But then, yes, he would be happy to have the old crock washed down.

"Yes, Sir, that is an excellent idea!" he said.
"Isn't it? Well, McClown, see that you pack our things, organize a ship, prepare some sandwiches, and sell this house. We will leave in an hour!"
Shaking his head, Frido McClown set to work.