Chapter 2

The Old Castle I


While Lord McShredder and his butler were suffering under the hot sun of Spain it was raining in Scotland. The majestic mountains were hidden in fog, men and beasts made themelves comfortable indoors. Only sheep and Highland Cattle were out on the rich green pastures and endured the rain composedly. Everything seemed to be silent and peaceful. Almost everything for in the proximity of Killichonan hell had broken loose. This was in the castle of Lord McShredder or, to be exact, what was left of it. As matter of fact it was not really a castle but a former church which McGregor had made over to milord when he had driven the Loch Ness Monster through the Caledonian Canal into the Atlantic Ocean. But what was happening in the ruin? Why was a rocket flying straight into the air, turned at the highest point and crashed back into the ruin exactly where it had been started? Why were there cries of pain and panic? Who was silly enough to shoot himself with a rocket? No man would do that, not to talk of animals. Stop! One sort of animal would really be able to do something like that: hamsters. But why hamsters?
To explain that we have to go back a little.



When Elfrieda1 and her friends had found the kidnapped hamsters in the castle everything seemed to be all right. The hamsters had been taken back to Hamsterton, milord and his butler went to Spain and everybody was well content. But in Hamsterton it was noticed after a while that some of them had not made the way back. To put it exactly: They had been forgotten. Well, this loss was not immediately noticed because the rodents had breeded during their unintentional trip to Scotland so that they rather numbered more than less. But a few things were decidedly noticed - you could say something was missing which nobody really had reason to miss.
The hamsters for a long time turned it over in their heads what they really did not miss but they came to no result. They founded planning groups and committees who were to handle the problem but the outcome always was the same: nothing.

When the year came to its end and Christmas was approaching, they suddenly noticed that nobody held boring speeches. Then the hamsters understood that their mayor had been forgotten in Scotland. When Christmas passed unusually peaceful and no catastrophes occurred it was obvious that Goldi, Flecki, chief engineer Botchy, repair hamster Tuffy and some others also were missing.
Now there was a lot of lamenting in Hamsterton. The hamsters immediately came together and discussed what to do. After one week they came to a decision:

 




1. We have no idea what to do

2. We have to go on

3. We will wait

4. Come what might

5. Not this way

6. We will have 3 weeks of mourning


Die Items 1., 3., and 6. were immediately decided unanimously and many hamsters started preparation to go on a holiday. Items 2., 4., and 5. were debated for quite some time and finally also accepted with a thin majority.

In the old ruin which rotted away beside a beautiful lake there was much excitement at the same time. Flecki's angry voice rang out: "I told you it makes no sense to fire a signal in the rain, you blockhead. You could have set the whole castle on fire!"



"Me, too, I did several times inform on this not unimportant fact while Goldi should have been aware of the consequences of his acts which by no means…"

The mayor's voice died down when he saw the angry looks of Flecki, Goldi, Botchy, Tuffy, and the others. It dawned to him that his speeches were less and less welcome by now and he stood in danger to be drowned in the next loch. He decided to hold no more long speeches. But what else should a mayor do? He was only able to hold speeches and leave the work to the other hamsters. He sat down on a stone near the fire place and pondered. Come on, Harry-George, he said to himself, you've got lots of talents, so make use of them and bring us all home. Then you can hold a speech and tell the whole story. Yes, that was it - the longest speech of his life! So the mayor dreamed about wonderful speeches, Goldi about rockets and munchies, Blotchy about repairing the castle. Flecki dreamt about kicking Goldi's bum.



For many days these hamsters had been busy cleaning up the castle and thinking of a way to get back to Hamsterton. In the cellar Goldi found a few aged Sylvester rockets and now nobody was safe any longer. He told everybody that shooting off signal rockets was the only possibility to get help from Hamsterton.

"But Hamsterton is too far away", Flecki and Dodo tried to explain.
"Our friends can't see your rockets there."

But Goldi did not listen to reason, that is, he did not want to listen. His main occupation was to fumble at the rocket drives and frighten the other hamsters. If it only banged and he had fun! Of course everybody was really pissed off by now and Flecki decided to make an end to all the banging. Infuriated, she took a pot of tea, went to Goldi's rocket collection and poured the tea over it.

"Oops, Goldi, silly me. I'm awfully sorry!"

With big eyes Goldi looked at his soaked rockets and tears came to his eyes. At this moment the mayor came along and saw the sad Goldi. Finally he could be of assistance and so he said:
"No problem, this will be dried quickly."

He took the whole bunch of wet rockets and carried it to the kitchen. When he came back into the great hall a few minutes later all the hamsters who had assembled here looked at him agog. The mayor enjoyed this moment of being the centre of attention. He cleared his throat and beamed around. Then be started to talk:
"Well, well, quick decisions ask for quick action, don't they, my dear friends? When I saw the wet bunch and when I saw the unlucky Goldi I immediately knew: Something has to be done. Immediately and with my well-known decisiveness I did the right thing. Yes, I did the right thing and helped this friend of ours. I realized that only by a quick decision this unlucky creature and his wet bunch…"

 



"Yes, yes, that's okay", Flecki interrupted him. "And where are the rockets now?"
"Ro-ro-rockets?!" the mayor groaned.
"Yes, the ro-ro-rockets. Where are they now?" the chorus of hamsters shouted.
"I-i-in the ba-ba-ba… ." Words failed the mayor.
"Bathing tub?" Flecki hopefully asked.
"N-n-no, in the ba-ba-bake, in the ba-ba-bake…", the mayor stammered.
"Baker Street?" Tuffy asked with some bewilderment.
"Oven", the sweating mayor groaned, "baking oven."

Deathly silence in the old castle. They could hear their own breathing. A smell of singed paper emerged from the kitchen. With big eyes and trembling whiskers the hamsters were standing in the great hall and did not move. Then a cry of "Cinap, pleh!" and the hamsters did what they could do best: running in circles and squeaking. After a few minutes of running and yelling still nothing had happened. No bang, no explosion. They wondered. Finally Dodo lamented loudly:
"Why doesn't anybody do anything? Someone has to switch off the oven!"

Now they all looked at the mayor. The mayor looked back anxiously. He quite realized that all the world now expected him to do something. Leadership and decision were now expected from him - and he by far would have preferred to flee, shrieking. With rather a silly grin he moved towards the kitchen.

"Ha ha, the baking oven! Well, I simply will switch if off!"

He just had reached the oven when the explosion came.


1 (Book III, Hamster in Danger)

2 (Hamstish: Panic! Help!)