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Chapter 13

The Kitchen is Closed

Our friends proceeded on their eastern road. The sun was up by now, even the butler was whistling a merry tune. They were on a narrow road, bordered to their left and right by a low wall.

“You know, McClown, it’s a pity that we did not see Mingary Castle. An impressing building. Ah, you see the big red rock there? That’s Cladh Chiarain, St. Chiarain lies buried here.”
“O Sir, did this happen lately? There was nothing in the newspapers.”
“Well, McClown, it happened in the year 549. Perhaps you should educate yourself a little in Glenmore, there’s a museum for natural history. By the way, we will be there in a few minutes.”

They took a short rest at the monument. The butler crumbled a dry toast and gave it to the hamsters. Except for a little brawl the animals shared the crumbs peacefully and drew back into the suitcase for their beauty sleep. His Lordship had by now scrutinized his surroundings and decided to take the road to the left as this was to be the shortest way to town. Some hours later they were in the middle of a forest.

“Sir, may it be that we are inland again?”

His Lordship did not answer but looked at some mushrooms. The lane they had followed had become narrower within the last minutes and ended now. Cautiously McClown pushed the wheelchair over swampy ground. To the right and left there were some small lakes. With difficulty they crossed a tiny river and soon left the forest behind them.

“Charming forest, Sir, a few minutes feel like several hours in there.”

His Lordship still did not answer but looked straight ahead. They passed a most beautiful landscape but both did not really feel any delight in it. Ahead of them lay a pathless, rocky area. At least the wheelchair did not stick in the mud so that they proceeded a little faster. At some time they had a view on the sea from a mound. Hours later some houses came into sight.

“Sir, a place-name sign - something with a G…”
“Glenmore, my dear McClown, Glenmore. As I said, it cannot be far. Do trust an old scout!”

A few minutes later they were standing in front of the sign.
“That’s Gortenfern, Sir Scout. Perhaps we should buy a map?”
“Don’t talk rubbish, McClown. We should look for some accommodation.”

His Lordship was right because the sun was now setting. With tired steps they approached an inn. The butler took the trunk with the hamsters, opened the door and gave Lord McShredder the advantage. The inn was empty and they sat down at the next table.

“Welcome at McPhee’s, gentlemen”, came a deep voice. An old man came shuffling in. His long beard gave him quite a wild look and his eyes flashed at them with curiosity. He took a chair and pushed it to the table. He sat down with ceremony and said: “Welcome to Gortenfern, this meaning as much as much as ‘field of ears’.”

“We would like to have some dinner”, the butler said.
“Certainly”, Mr. McPhee replied. “I’m sure you’re coming from Kilmory, don’t you? Kilmory means kirk of Saint Mary’s, by the way. Interesting, isn’t it?”
“No, Sir”, McClown retorted, “we’re coming from Killichonan and are starving.”
“But that’s most interesting!” McPhee replied and excitedly scratched his head. “It sounds almost like Kilchoan, don’t you think so? By the way, Kilchoan means something like kirk of St. Congan.”
“Sir, since our landing in Sanna Bay we have hardly eaten anything and really would like to…”
“Sanna Bay?” McPhee interrupted him. “Sanna means sandy, did you know that? Here in Gortenfern we have even the singing sand. That’s interesting, isn’t it?”
“Certainly, Sir, but first of all we would like to eat something and…”
“Have you already been to Ockle or Swordle?”
“No, Sir, we would like to get something to eat!”

The butler had spoken up now. In the background the hamsters were squeaking hungrily. Even His Lordship fidgeted in his chair.
“Well, Ockle means ‘high’ and Swordle means ‘field of grass’…”
“Dinner, dinner! We want something to eat!” McClown bawled at the landlord.
“Just a minute, Sir”, this worthy replied. “Do you know the meaning of Acharacle? Actually it is Ath Tharachail and means…”

Mr. McPhee got no further for Frido McClown swooped down on him. Together with the chair they rumbled backward. The butler held to the landlord’s beard and roared at him that they wanted to have their dinner.

“Dinner”, McPhee groaned and tried to get free. “There is not dinner today. The kitchen is closed on Wednesdays.”

Butler and lord looked at each other. The hamsters who a moment ago had whooped McClown cheeringly, fell silent. The landlord’s words were hanging in the room like lead. Silence in the small inn. A fly was buzzing in lonely circles. Very slowly Frido McClown stood up. His temples puckered and his stomach rumbled. He looked at the counter. Some glasses were neatly arranged there. In front of the counter stood some bar stools in line. Behind the counter was a cabinet full of bottles. Beside this he saw a door with the label “Kitchen”. The letters danced in front of his eyes and he had the feeling that the letter ‘K’ grinned at him jeeringly. With a yell the butler raced to the counter, took the next stool and blew upon the label.

“I will wipe the smirk off our face”, he shouted and continued to thrash the label. The door showed first cracks when the stool broke. Furiously, McClown fetched the next stool. He was already on his way to door when his glance fell on the glasses.

“I’ll show you what it means to smirk at Frido McClown”, he panted and with one well aimed move swept down all the glasses from the counter. Then he fell on the door again.
“How long is your butler employed?” Mr. McPhee asked His Lordship.
“Annoyed? No, I’m not annoyed”, McShredder answered. “McClown behaves a little boorish now and then but in general he is a nice chap.”

By now the nice chap had made chop-wood of the kitchen door and stood in the door frame, panting. With a flickering look in his eyes he whispered: “Sir, the kitchen is open…”