At the Hotel - Part One
"Isn't this wonderful, Sir, staying at a real hotel? A roof over our heads, a soft bed? A warm meal and…" "… and paying for everything", His Lordship added in a downcast voice.
They were standing in the hotel lobby and looked about them. A long red carpet led to a broad staircase. Several pictures of Scottish landscapes and castles were hanging at a panelled wall to their left, a reception counter of polished wood was on the right side. Behind the counter was a uniformed man who at first did not take notice of them. The butler pushed the wheelchair with the suitcases and the hamsters to the left and looked at the pictures interestedly, while the little animals peeped out of their trunk curiously. The porter several times wrinkled his nose as if he noticed some bad smell. McShredder drummed with his fingers on the counter while the porter leafed through a book - obviously the guest book. Finally milord took his pipe and wanted to light it.
"Sir, no smoking in here!"
"Is that so?" McShredder croaked. "And no serving guests either?"
"Sir, have you made a booking?" the porter asked without looking up.
"Booking? My boy, Lord McShredder of Killichonan, conqueror of the Loch Ness monster and Duke of Spain needs no booking! All hotels of the world save their best suites for me!"
In the background the butler got a fit of coughing, while the porter now looked up.
"Begging pardon, Sir, but your appearance…"
"Never judge a man by his appearance, my boy. You hear me? I might easily buy this hotel and throw you out. Do you realize that?"
"Of course, Sir, certainly, Sir", the porter meekly replied. "Do you wish for a family room with bath and shower or a twin bed room?"
"You still do not understand, my boy. I'm Lord McShredder of Killichonan, Loch Ness monster and conqueror of the Duke of Spain. Er, no, the other way round. Do you realize that? We get your very best two single rooms. The bigger one for me, of course! In case this run-down house can boast of something like a kitchen, bring the menus to our rooms. We are not used to cheap meals!"
If His Lordship had turned round just now, he would have seen how his butler almost toppled over with laughter.
"Very good, Sir, Lord McShredder of Killichonan, conqueror of the Loch Ness monster and Duke of Spain, certainly. How am I to address your Serene Highness if this bold question is permitted?"
"I grant you the question and I furthermore grant you to address me Sir Lord of Killichonan."
"Certainly, Sir Lord of Killichonan. May I carry your luggage upstairs?" the porter asked with trembling voice.
He had completely discarded his haughty behaviour. Beads of sweat were visible on his reddened face.
"No. My servant will care for my luggage. It is me you'll carry to my room!"
"Certainly, Sir, at once, Sir Lord of Killichonan", the porter stammered, hurrying around the counter to milord.
One arm he put around McShredder's shoulders, the other behind his knees. When he held him firmly, he panted upstairs with him.
"Did you hear that?" chief engineer Botchy cheered. "We'll stay overnight!"
"Yes, and he said something about a menu", Goldi added.
"If only we need not sleep in the dirt. Now and then I want a clean loo!" Flecki said and held to the edge as now the butler took their suitcase and took it upstairs.
"Did you not learn any manners, my boy?" the hamsters heard a well known voice. "Do you want to let me stand in front of the door, you boor?!"
"But Sir Lord of Killichonan, I had no hand free to open the door. How am I to open the door when I'm carrying you?"
"A porter of class would have done that with his teeth or knee, you wimpy greenhorn!"
"Very well, Sir Lord of Killichonan, I'll do better in future."
Now they were in the room and milord looked about him critically. Slowly he walked over to the window, drew back the white curtain and threw a glance at the broad bed. His glance went on to a mahogany wardrobe and a gilded chandelier the soft light of which flooded the room.
"This is your best room?" His Lordship asked and looked at the porter sharply.
"Yes, Sir Lord of Killichonan. This is our deluxe suite. Is anything wrong with it?"
"Wrong? It is a disaster, you good for nothing. The curtains do not favour the chandelier! The carpet is worn out. Show me the bathroom!"
A few moments later they were in the adjoining bathroom. It was flooded with soft light, a fluffy mat decorated the tiles. The taps of the big tub were gilded.
"Porter", came the croaking voice of McShredder. "Tell me, don't you notice it?"
"Soap! A second bar of soap is missing. Am I to use the same soap for bathing and for washing my hands? Out, you dud!"
The porter saw that he was off. In front of the door he paused the breathed deeply. Then he walked down the passage and knocked at the room of Frido McClown.
"Sir, this is the porter", he said in a low voice. The door opened and the butler beamed at him. "Do you require anything, Sir? Is everything to your satisfaction? How may I address you?"
For a moment McClown looked bewildered, not being used to be addressed 'Sir'.
"Well", he said, "if you would bring me a bowl of unsalted peanuts I would be quite satisfied. Just call me Frido."
The porter nodded, happy to be off.
"In a moment, Sir Frido."