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Chapter 5

At Sea I

The ship left the harbour. The captain patted McClown’s shoulder and told him to take the suitcases to the stern so that they could dry. The butler left the cabin and dragged one suitcase after the other to the rear of the ship.

“McClown, are you ready at last? Can’t you speed up? Do push me to the front, I can’t see anything here!”

Milord could indeed not see much. In his haste McClown had pushed the wheelchair to the cabin wall so that milord only could see this wall.

“A chill breeze, Sir, isn’t it?” the butler said when he took His Lordship to the bow. Then he secured the wheelchair so that it could not roll off. Both looked out to the sea thoughtfully.
“A filled freeze!” McShredder repeated. “That’s no bad idea.”
“Sir, what I said…” The butler got no further. The strong wind blew into his face so that he thought he was going to suffocate. McClown coughed and coughed and hardly could breath. Gasping, he fell down to the planks and fought for air.
“Don’t stammer, McClown! Where is the filled freeze?”

“Bre… Breeze…", was all McClown could say.

Now they had left the Bay of Biskaya and the sea became rough. The wind was so strong that they hardly could stand upright. The ship struggled through high waves and just when McClown was getting up again a breaker splashed over the rail and knocked him over again. The poor butler desperately held to a fender, slipped off and crashed against the mast. He bravely fought against wind and waves, trying to reach the bow. But a coil was in his path and McClown tumbled to the planks again, right beside milord’s wheelchair.

“Stop these silly games, McClown. A butler of your kind should not scramble about on the floor. If you have nothing else to do, you may…”

The old lord got no further. Enraged, the butler kicked the wheelchair and hit the safety lever. Lord McShredder screamed and darted along the deck to the cabin door. There was a loud crash and over the howling of the storm McClown heard the captain’s voice:
“Well, 'ighness, got a cold bottom?”

During this afternoon, lord and butler were not on speaking terms. The captain did not mind this for now he could concentrate on steering the ship through the rough sea. He lit his pipe and looked out to the sea. By the way, His Lordship had lost his pipe. When staying on deck he caught a cold and when he sneezed the pipe darted right through the cabin. As he did not wish to talk to his butler, he could not order him to pick the pipe up.

“D'ye know that the Bay o’ Biscaya is 5,000 metres deep in some places?” the captain tried to cheer up his passengers.
McClown shook his head and milord croaked: “Indeed? We should send McClown down to measure that. And when will we arrive?”
“Well”, the captain grumbled, “depends ‘ow we get ‘round the Scillys.”

“What newfangled nonsense is that?” McShredder shouted.

The captain sucked at his pipe, took it out of his mouth and explained.

“Scilly Islands south-west o’ Britain. Well, tha’s about 140 little islands and riffs. Only the five biggest are in’abited. ‘t’s ‘bout 45 km south o’ Land’s End. The meaning o’ Scilly is ‘sunny', so sunny islands, see. ‘cause o’ the gulf stream there’s lots o’ sun, quite tropical. Yer’ll even find palm trees there. Yer may munch coconuts if yer like ter, see.”
“And will that be dangerous?” McClown asked with big eyes.
“Munching coconuts?” the captain laughed. “Nay, but the Scillys always ‘ave been difficult waters. Many a ship sank there in spite o’ all light’ouses. In 1907 the Thomas W. Lawson, one o’ t’ world biggest schooners sank there. Only two sailors survived.”
“O my God!” McClown jumped up in panic and stepped up to the captain when suddenly something cracked loudly under his feet. His Lordship’s pipe!

Slowly the looks of lord and butler crossed, then the infuriated lord shouted:

“I will not stay in the same cabin with this rough cub of butler. Captain, this man goes over board instantly or I’ll leave this cabin!”
“Well, ‘ighness”, the captain grinned, “wishing yer a pleasant night on deck.”

A short while later the captain and McClown were comfortably sitting in the wheel house over tea and coffee. The butler explained that milord wasn’t really a bad chap, just quite deaf and stubborn. The sea had calmed down in the meantime but the captain still watched his instruments for now they were close to the Scilly Islands.

“Good luck ‘t’s not blowing, me lad. If that keeps stable, we’ll be right slipping past the islands.”

McClown nodded and watched the captain holding the wheel. Now and then he corrected the course and the ship then bent to port or starboard. At every course correction something rumbled on deck.

“Say, our Frido”, the captain said and took the pipe out of his mouth, “’ave yer moored yer lord on deck?”

McClown sprinted out.

“Sir”, the captain heard him shout, “may I help you?”
“Get off, McClown, I can well handle this.”

When Lord McShredder had said so, his wheelchair raced from port to starboard as the captain just had altered the course a little. With an anxious face the butler watched the proceedings of His Lordship who just crashed against the ship’s side and screamed. “Sir, I really would like to help you. Perhaps…”
“Back off, McClown, I’m no child and… Aaaaah!”

Again the ship swerved, again milord raced against the opposite ship’s side. McClown shook his head and went back to the captain.

“Right pig’eaded, yer boss, ain’t ‘e?” the captain asked and McClown nodded.
Suddenly the butler’s face brightened and he grinned at the captain.
“Captain, may I take the wheel?”