They had already walked for several hours on their eastbound road when they reached the village of Dalelia. Beside a few small houses the village had nothing to offer, so they walked on disappointedly. The sun stood towards noon and they all longed for a rest when suddenly the path ended.
Lord and butler helplessly stood at the banks of a lake und looked into the water. “This will be Loch Shiel, Sir.”
“McClown, you have been too long in the sun! I don’t see any locked wheel. See that you get us a boat.”
The butler only shrugged. Close by was a small landing stage. He stepped onto it cautiously and looked over the water. In the distance of a few hundred metres he could see the other bank. It looks quite within our grasp, he thought and looked for something they might use for crossing the water. There was nowhere any wood and McClown had to walk far to find two thin trees. Two hours later he was back and exhausted.
“Fine, McClown, now we’ve got the oars. So only a boat with a cabin are missing.”
“Well, Sir”, the butler bashfully replied, “that is all we will get. We could fasten the trees to the wheelchair as floaters. You and the hamsters jump in and I’ll push you.”
“Perfect, McClown”, milord exclaimed. “If I ever can lay my hand on some money, you’ll get the wages for the last ten years! Go on, what are you waiting for?”
It did not take long to fasten the tree trunks to the wheelchair and the curious vessel was ready. Their journey could start. The hamsters were sitting on their suitcase, prying, for they wanted to enjoy a journey with a catamaran on deck, of course. Flecki had ransacked the suitcases and found socks. She had cut off the tips and distributed them so that each hamster had a modish sun hat. Lord McShredder sat on his suitcases more or less comfortably and watched the opposite bank while his butler pushed the vessel into the cold water.
“Go on, McClown, you lucky sod”, His Lordship crowed. “If I were a little younger, I’d also like to take a swim.”
The answer to this was nothing but a growl for the lucky sod had some difficulties to keep his head over water while he was pushing the vehicle. Against expectations they reached the shore without problems - apart from the fact that McClown had to swallow a lot of water.
“I don’t know why you are complaining, McClown. This is clear, healthy water!” The butler did not answer but began to unfasten the two tree trunks from the wheels. The hamsters looked about them curiously and immediately noticed that it was very green. Certainly they would find something to eat here. In the meantime McShredder had walked ahead and was standing in front of several peculiar stones. They had the form of crosses. In the distance a small house with a small tower could be seen.
“Seems to be a chapel, Sir”, the butler remarked.
“Seems to be, McClown.”
“Perhaps this is a cemetery”, McClown added.
“Eh? A lemon tree? Balderdash. It’s a cemetery. Look at all the stone crosses.”
Silently they approached the chapel. They paused in front of a wooden sign with a faded inscription. The butler stepped to the sign and read aloud:
“Chapel of Eilean Fhianain. The oldest chapel with the oldest cemetery of Great Britain. Here Calum Cille was. Still today many people make a pilgrimage to his grave.”
“McClown, do you know what Eilean means?”
“Certainly, Sir, it’s the word for island.” “Well, McClown, and what catches your eye if you look about you?”
“Sir, I can see the old chapel, many rocks, old crosses and water all around us.”
“Yes, Sir, water. Er… wa… wa… Why water? Sir, we are on an island!“
“Very smart, McClown, and that’s the meaning of the word eilean.”
Helplessly, the butler sat down on a rock and buried his head in his hands. They had landed on an island! His next thoughts wandered to the hamsters and he walked over to the wheelchair. When he reached it he saw his little friends lying cosily at the stony bank in the sun. Far off the two trees were drifting in the water. McClown yelled furiously and stamped with his feet. How were they to leave the island? The hamsters were quite startled when he ranted and raged along the waterline and threw stones at the drifting timber. Finally he calmed down, collected all hamsters and put them back into the suitcase. Then he pushed the wheelchair over the uneven ground to the chapel where His Lordship was sitting on a bench and smoking his pipe.
“I’ll tell you something, my dear McClown. Here, close to the history of St. Calum Cille we will take a rest. The chapel roof will protect us from wind and possibly rain.”
“Sir, who or what is St. Calum Cille?”
“McClown, you don’t know Calum Cille?!”
Lord McShredder sucked at his pipe and pensively looked at a stone cross.
“Calum Cille was also called St. Columba or kind Calum Cille. He is the most famous Celtic saint. As an Irish missionary he reached the heathen Scotland via the Ardnamurchan peninsula. To this day, my dear McClown, he is worshipped in the Highlands. The Thursday of the second week in June is named after him and all Thursdays - traditionally known as Calum Cille’s day - are looked upon as lucky days. Look about you, McClown. An ancient Celtic bronze bell is hanging there. Do you see the gravestones over there? The big Celtic cross might have seen the saint.”
Awed, the butler looked at the ancient relicts. Then his glance fell on His Lordship again whose pipe had fallen to the ground. He had fallen asleep in the warmth of the sun. McClown looked at his little hamster-friends but they also were sleeping and snoring. So he decided to take a nap, too, and had fallen soundly asleep after a few moments.
The sun was already setting when Frido McClown was awakened by loud noises. Frightened, he jumped up and saw a man approaching them. Now he could see what made the loud noises. In his left hand the man held a long stick by which he supported himself. Beside the stick his scrubby appearance was noteworthy. The butler threw a quick glance to the hamsters. He was relieved to see their curious noses peeping out of the suitcase. By now the man had come closer and seen the butler. His hand went up and he adjusted his dark, dirty hat. If only His Lordship would wake up, the butler thought, for he felt this to be a bit fishy. A peculiar, ragged man on a lonely graveyard on a lonely island! For sure he was the ghost of one of those buried here! The butler noticed that he was not able to retreat further because a big stone cross was right behind him. Well, at least I can’t fall over in shock, he thought.
“I’ve seen no boat, how did you get here? Or did the ghosts take you over?”
The man had a voice which was quite pleasant for a ghost.
“W-we came by wheelchair”, the butler replied truthfully.
“Finnegan McDudle”, the man said and held out his hand. “I’m the keeper of the graveyard. You know, I often come over to take a look. And today - well, my wife - you know, my friend, her chatty neighbour dropped in again. Well, so I thought, Finnegan, I thought, just go and take a look at the graveyard. And what’s your name, my friend?”
“F-Frido McClown and that is Lord McShredder who…”
“Fine, my dear Frido”, McDudle continued. “Well, you know how it is when they dames are sitting over a cup o’ tea. They’re slagging off everyone, and you know who in particular? Me, of course! Well, so I thought, Finnegan, I thought, see that you’re off. So I told them I had work to do. Say, what was your name?”
“Frido, right. How could I forget that? Well, so I took the boat and set off. Of course I did not go to Polloch. Finnegan McDudle isn’t daft, you know. No, I came here! To fox them! Had I gone to Polloch, the dames would have noticed it! My, they would have something to gossip then! Well, my dear… Say, what was your name?”
“Frido McClown”, the butler replied, a little irritated.
“Well, my dear Frido, there’s a snug little pub in Polloch and I wanted, well, you know, spent a few golden hours. That’s better than to listen to all that hue and cry and gossip at home. Why, you need to be clever, and so I made a little detour to this island and then, my dear… Er, what was your name?”
“Still McClown”, the butler groaned. “Well then, my dear McClown, I’ll row over to Polloch. Quite a way but I’ll have tailwind, you know. But one thing you don’t know. The return will be even faster as there is no wind at all during the night. Only the current! I’ll be home in no time. Well, and in Polloch I’ll broach a cask. Eat me! Do you know what my wife always says, me dear - er, what was your name?”
“Finnegan McDudle”, the butler replied unperturbed.
“Right, my dear Finnegan, she always says, Finnegan, she says, one day you’ll have drowned your brain in whisky. She has no idea! A little whisky does me no harm. But when I’m back home all the gossips are gone and I have my peace. But I’ve talked enough. Now do tell me who you are and what’s the name of that friend of yours over there.”
Frido McClown gave an audible groan. His glance fell on the suitcase with the hamsters who curiously looked out and seemed to feel very amused. Then he walked over to His Lordship, patted his shoulder and shouted:
“Sir, we have a visitor!” The so addressed lord slowly opened his eyes, stretched and gave the newcomer a bewildered glance.
“McClown, what about a nice cup of tea for me and our guest?”
“Sir, we have no tea.”
“No tea, what a pity”, His Lordship sighed and walked up to McDudle.
“My name is Lord McShredder of Killichonan, conqueror of the Loch Ness monster and Duke of Spain. With whom do I have to honour?”
“Dudle, Sir, Finnegan McDudle.”
“How do you dare to call me a noodle?” milord crowed.
“But that is his name, Sir”, the butler tried to explain.
“His name is Noodle, McClown? Very curious.”
“Not Noodle, Sir, but McDudle.”
Slowly His Lordship understood and turned to the graveyard keeper.
“Are you able to bring us away from this island, Mr. Dudle?”
McDudle grinned. “No problem, Sir, I’m going to Polloch. High time for me to take a little something, if you know what I mean.”
“The man is right, McClown. We will accompany him and also take a little something.”
“Sir, I don’t want any whisky…”
“Whisky? McClown, what’s the matter with you? Follow the example of this polite and intelligent man! And now stow our luggage in the boat!”
Half an hour later they all were sitting in Finnegan McDudle’s boat and left the island behind them.
As announced by Finnegan McDudle the boat was driven quickly by the wind.
“Over there to the left is the island of Camas Drollaman”, McDudle shouted and stopped rowing for a moment. “Now the wind will send us directly to Ceanna Garbh. Only two miles to walk from there to Polloch.”
“My good man”, His Lordship said, “are you telling me that we have to walk?”
“Would be better, Sir, er, what was your name?”
“Lord McShredder of Killichonan, conqueror of the Loch Ness Monster and Duke of Spain, my good man.”
“Well, Mr. Lord, my wife always says, well, Finnegan, she says, Finnegan, you’ve got to get some exercise. She’s fat like an old quail herself, if you know what I mean.”
He winked and grinned while Lord McShredder goggled at him.
“Er… so you get some extra ice - that’s most interesting”, he cautiously said. “But what has a rat with a cold tail to do with it?”
“Well, I do not really know, Mr. … er, what was your name?”
“Lord McShredder of Killichonan, conqueror of the Loch Ness Monster and Duke of Spain, my good man.”
“Well, Mr. Ness, so we have to walk. I won’t get the boat over the sandbanks. Well, my wife, who talks a lot, you know, always says, Finnegan, she says, we have to get more exercise. Well, and therefore I’m always on the move. Always to Polloch and back.”
His Lordship did not understand and shook his head.
“You dragged a toad over a clamp crank while your wife walks a lot? My good man, what are you talking about?”
“Er - no idea, how should I know, Mr. … what did you say was your name?”
“Lord McShredder of Killichonan, Mister.”
“Right”, Finnegan McDudle nodded. “But I think you said so already. Well, in Polloch I’ll broach a cask and you will be my guests, if you know what I mean, Mr. Killichonan.”
“Lord McShredder, Mister!” His Lordship roared furiously.
“O no, Sir, you’re mixing something up there. My name is Finnegan McDudle. I know that for certain because I have a very good memory for names. You know, Finnegan, my wife always says…”
There was a loud crash when suddenly the boat ran onto ground. McClown, who had been at the stern, fell onto the wheelchair. The wheelchair fell onto His Lordship and His Lordship fell onto McDudle. It took them some time to understand that they had arrived.
“Ceanna Gharb is this headland named. My wife always says…”
“Shut up, McDudle!” McShredder roared.
When Finnegan McDudle had dragged the boat ashore, the butler looked after the hamsters. Luckily they were well. Only one of them looked a little green around the nose and obviously had been seasick. However, the others curiously watched McClown getting the wheelchair ashore, then they all set off for Polloch. Silently they walked along a broad footpath until they approached a sign post.
“Here we are”, the graveyard keeper said. “Over there. By the by, way down there you’ll come to the old strontium mines. Did you know that? Strontium, er, Finnegan, my wife always says…”
“Shut up, McDudle!” both milord and his butler shouted.
A few steps to go and they were in the town centre.
“This is Polloch?” His Lordship asked in a baffled voice. “Two houses and a barn? Where are we to get something to eat here, McDudle?”
“O well”, Finnegan McDudle sniggered, “my pal McMoonshine has brewed up something, if you know what I mean, Mr. Shed.”
“McShredder”, milord corrected him. “Well, there is nothing to say against home made lunch, is there, McClown?”
He looked at his butler. “Sir”, the butler cautiously said, “if I understand this correctly, the McMoonshine pal will offer us no lunch.”
“Won’t he?” McShredded retorted. “But he invited us to lunch, didn’t you, McDudle?”
“Lunch, Mr. Shed? No, I said I’ll broach a cask, you know. However, my wife always says…”
“McClown, we’ll take our leave!”
Infuriated, milord turned and hastily walked into the opposite direction.
“Interesting, Sir, isn’t it?” the butler said when they passed the beautiful Loch Doilet.
“The name of the graveyard keeper’s pal, McMoonshine. You know, Sir, in former times the people who bootlegged were named “Moonshine-men.”
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..
After rather a cold night lord and butler woke up feeling completely knocked out. Not only the rustling of their mattresses had disturbed them during the night but also the many tiny insects had irritated them a lot.
"Sir, another night in the wood and I'll quit."
"What sort of rubbish is that, McClown? Your brother is knight Hood and quite fit? - Nonsense! Better prepare tea for us. That will put some life into us."
"Sir, we still do not have any tea, if I…"
"Look about you, McClown, it's blooming and growing all around us! Do you see the blackberry bush over there? Take some of the leaves, make a fire and boil water! Why does nothing function here without me?"
The butler set to work but had a new problem after a few minutes.
"Sir, here are the leaves and there is the fire. How am I to heat the water, Sir? Ha ha, we don't have any pot, in case Your Essentialship failed to notice."
"Stop that saucy grinning, McClown! An old scout knows the means for everything!"
He fished his tobacco box out of his trouser pocket and emptied it into a handkerchief. Then he handed the box to his butler, saying:
"Here it is, McClown!" After a few minutes and after burning his fingers several times, Frido McClown served the tea. While the hamsters refused to try any of this, lord and butler sipped from the tobacco box something smelling like rubbish and tasting like tea.
"Wonderful, McClown", His Lordship exclaimed. "Now we are refreshed and may set off for Scotstown."
"Scotstown, McClown. Did I never tell you? Well, it is not long ago that I searched for silver and gold. After several failures I came to the river Strontian. There I made a find of some white, silvery metal."
"So I thought at first, McClown. Then it showed that it was strontium, not that valuable, but anyhow. I founded the thriving town of Scotstown. It grew and grew, but after a while I was no longer able to pay the costs for energy. So I sold the town and left it. Scotstown is a big, prospering city with many shops and pubs. They certainly still remember me and will welcome us. So we can save the costs for a hotel."
The butler stowed away everything and had some difficulties to get the hamsters, who wanted their breakfast, into the suitcase. One of the animals even bit his finger, so that he ran after it, swearing.
"McClown, stop fooling around with the hamsters! We must be off!" Lord McShredder did not mind his butler's scolding and slowly walked ahead. After a while Frido McClown followed him with the wheelchair and the hamsters.
"Well, I showed him what's what", Goldi boasted. "Did you hear him wailing?"
"No need to cut up that rough", Taty said. "That was as mean as the time you caused all teachers to stay at home with a nervous breakdown."
"Poooh, that was nothing but a little joke", Goldi tried to defend himself.
"Joke?" Flecki said. "They were in the middle of the conference on the certificates and you threw jumping crackers through the window. They got into such a fuddle that they thought it was Easter and they were to search eggs."
"Well, you got grade C in maths because teacher no longer knew exactly who you are", Goldi told her with an innocent look.
"Hush, shut up, the old geezer's talking about meals!" Dodo shouted and they all stared ahead.
"Exactly, McClown, as I said: a prosperous town. Of course we'll fill our bellies there and have some fun. I'll even give you a day off. What do you say?"
The butler did not look very convinced and goggled at the sign saying 'Scotstown'. It was hanging askew and looked quite rotten. The road was so bumpy that he had to take care that the wheelchair did not topple over. Few trees were around and the choppy wind blew dust into the faces of lord and butler. Here and there decayed houses and destroyed huts were standing at the roadside. Neither man nor beast were to be seen. After walking a few minutes in solitude they came to another sign saying 'You are leaving Scotstown now - Good bye'.
"Prosperous town, Sir? Having fun, filling our bellies, Sir?" the butler croaked, took the wheelchair and thrust it towards His Lordship. McShredder turned and with a shriek ran from his wheelchair. Naturally, the hamsters just loved this mad race and forgot their hunger for a while.
"Lots of shops and pubs, Sir?" the butler roared after His fleeing Lordship. "They will welcome you, you said, Sir?"
"McClown", milord panted while he still was running, "I admit that the structure of the town might have changed slightly. But that is not my fault."
"Ha", the butler panted back, "a day off, Sir? All right. And do you know what I'm going to do with my day off? I'll go hunting - monsters!"
Milord shrieked and doubled his efforts to escape when the wheelchair touched him.
"McClown, do listen to reason", His Lordship exhaustedly croaked when they reached a small town. The inhabitants curiously watched what was going on there. The wild chase passed a camping site and went on to a big white house behind a sharp bend which had written 'Hotel' at the front. The butler had taken the bend slowly so that the vehicle with the hamsters did not topple over and this slight advance His Lordship used to escape into the hotel.
"Do come out, Sir!" the butler bawled, panting and sweating. After a while the entrance door opened and McShredder peeped out.
"McClown", he panted back, "get away from that wheelchair and I'll come out."
The butler left the wheelchair casually and stepped aside but kept his eyes at milord.
"This is still my day off", he threatened.
"Do listen to reason, McClown. It isn't my fault that Scotstown came down within such a short span of time. In 1927 it looked just swell."
"I don't care, Sir. I want to eat and to sleep and the hamsters are hungry, too!" Loud, approving squeaks were to be heard from the suitcase.