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Chapter 19


Their situation was all but happy. A few minutes ago they had been very glad to reach Kinlochan. However, when arriving there they discovered to their disappointment that there was as much as in the village of Polloch: nothing. No pub, no shop to buy supplies, nothing at all. At least they now possessed a few potatoes which the butler had got from a farmer.

"Sir, we should have asked whether we might sleep in the barn!"
"McClown, you don't think that a lord will sleep in a barn with the pigs, do you? No, we will spend the night under the starry sky."

The butler said nothing but silently agreed with His Lordship. He remembered his adventures with the hamsters when they had first landed in Bettyhill and afterwards in a pigsty. No, never again he wanted to sleep in a barn and followed Lord McShredder over a path along a narrow river. When the river bent rightwards, milord paused.

"We'll stay here, McClown. As an old scout I know that such a river is exactly the thing. It gives off the heat which it accumulated during the day. So after I have now taken care of everything you might make yourself useful, McClown. Build up a campfire and prepare the potatoes. I cannot do everything myself!"

Grumbling, McClown set to work while milord sat down and lit his pipe. Beside him in one of the trunks the hamsters were impatiently waiting for their dinner.

"I hope he gets this meal ready", Goldi growled. "The room service leaves something to ask for."
"And now that old crank starts to puff again", Flecki lamented. "I just began to feel better after the silly boat ride."

Dodo and Taty scrambled out of the suitcase, climbed down the wheelchair and looked about them. Nothing interesting except grass, trees and rocks was to be seen. A bramble-bush invited them to have a little snack but a short test showed that the fruits were extremely sour. They at least could nick a potato and scrambled back into the trunk with their prize. Raw potatoes, however, were not overmuch to their liking and so the hamsters sat at the open lid, looked out hungrily and waited for better times.

"If only we were at school", Taty wailed. "There would be something to eat!"
"I even would join the lessons of that daft Mrs. Fabsney",2 Flecki added and explained: "She always has this silly smile on her face and puts such stupid questions."

"But the idea with the glue had been first rate, hadn't it?" Goldi butt in.
"That was quite mean of you", Tuffy said. "However, thanks to you we did not have to write a test. It was really funny when she sat down on the desk and you had smeared it with glue before."
"Ha ha", Flecki now cackled, "when she wanted to get up, she stopped grinning at last. Then she panicked and shouted for the headmaster after she checked it that she was hanging at the desk and couldn't get off."

The hamsters all sniggered delightedly and Flecki continued: "And then she wanted to go to the headmaster and dragged the desk behind her. She got stuck in the door and shrieked like a silly gerbil."
"And then, ha ha", Goldi almost toppled over of laughter, "then the headmaster came and wanted to free her. Pity he also stuck to the glue and couldn't get off."
"But the limit was", Taty laughed, "that we all went home because we thought we now had the day off. Well, at least we informed HAMFI (Hamstertown Fire-Department)."
"You better hadn't", chief Botchy said. "These fools drowned half the school and tore down a load-bearing wall. My repair team and I needed a whole week to repair the damages."

In the meantime His Lordship watched how his butler tried to prepare a meal over the campfire.

"McClown, why don't we have a tent?"
"Well, Sir, the reason might be that none strayed to us up to now", the butler angrily replied and blew his hand which he just now had burnt at a hot stone. The potatoes were between the stones, which he had placed into the fire, for about an hour now.

"Sir, I think the potatoes are done and we could begin…"

Frido McClown stopped and turned around in surprise. Before he had said "to eat" the hamsters came running with light speed and now looked at him with big eyes. Also milord put down his pipe and sat himself closer to the fire. McClown took a clean stick and got one hot potato after the other out of the fire. Then he peeled them with his pocket knife. Some of them he took to the river and cooled them in the water so that the starved hamsters need not wait too long for their meal.

"McClown, I never ate more tasty potatoes in my life!" McShredder had speared a potato with the nosepiece of his pipe and enjoyed his meal.
"By the way, you now should begin to prepare a sleeping place for us."
"Er, Sir, how am I to do that without beds and mattresses?"

"Easy, McClown. Like an old scout. You look for a fitting spot. No tree roots should show and the ground must be dry. Then you clean the ground from stones and pick leaves and twigs. That will be the bolster. The more you pick the softer and cosier you'll sleep, McClown. Now do start, I will mind the campfire in the meantime."

Grumbling, the butler set out, while milord warmed himself at the fire and looked into the flames. The hamsters had eaten their fill, very much so, and some even had difficulties to scramble into the suitcase. Soon the butler had prepared two beds. Lord and butler lay down to sleep and each of them took a towel for cover. Then everything was quiet, except the loud snoring of Lord McShredder..

2 (Teacher at Hamstertown)