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Chapter 27

The Inn

On their southern road along the A82 they had just passed a narrow river when the butler paused and panted:

"I wonder whether the police are following us, Sir. What I mean, if the hotel manager notices that we are gone, he certainly will call in the police."
"Typical for you, McClown, you just don't think!"
"The police will of course look for us towards Killichonan, McClown. So what? We are heading towards Glasgow, aren't we? Moreover, McClown, I do not think that this hotel manager will report a lord to the police."

The butler was satisfied. If the police were to take hold of them, that would have meant the end of the hamsters. One mile later they reached the little town of Onich. The town would not have differed from others if there had not been something which made them freeze. At the end of the town there was an inn where obviously it was also possible to stay overnight - or so a sign said. Some letters in the sign had faded in the course of the years, but it was not the sign which struck lord and butler dumb. Beside the sign post a big car was standing - the bin lorry!

With a coarse cry the butler ran to the bin lorry and tried to open the back hatch.

"Locked, Sir", he disappointedly moaned. "We've got to find the binmen. They certainly will be in the inn."
"Just a minute, McClown", His Lordship said. "Don’t be too hasty. Why should anybody lock the hatch of a bin lorry? There's a snag to it. We have to proceed cautiously."

They cautiously approached the inn. It was a flat building and the walls were cracked here and there. The windows had not been washed for a long time, the curtains were yellowish. A few old, half torn notes were hanging at the door - a long time ago they certainly had been of some meaning. Slowly the butler pushed down the handle and opened the heavy front door. Lord McShredder followed him. They entered a dark room with several round tables. At one of the tables the binmen were sitting, talking loudly. Nobody was behind the counter and no further guests were in his unpleasant room. Knives and forks were laid out for the two men, so the landlord might be in the kitchen preparing a meal for them. Just when lord and butler were sitting down at one of the tables they had to listen what the two men were talking about. The first words shocked them.

"Ye know, I got really pissed, I tell ye. A pretty kick I gave it so it slapped at the post full power. Down it came, I tell ye. Then I kicked it again and that was that."

He slammed his big fist onto the table and shouted: "I'm pissed, if I'm played off, I tell ye. Somebody fooling me and I forget mesel'!"

"So ye do", his pal agreed.
"Ye should hae heard that slam when it smashed the post! I thought it'd burst like a ripe melon, I tell ye."

Lord and butler looked at each other with white faces.

"Out, McClown", McShredder panted and ran out.

The butler glanced at the two men one more time and saw that one of them looked at him. The one with the big fist.

"Hey, you!" he shouted through the room. "Shall I tell ye, too…"

But the butler had rushed after Lord McShredder and did not hear the end of the sentence. The binman with the big first turned to his pal and said: "Pity, I'd loved to tell him how last weekend I made the winning goal, I tell ye."

While in the inn the chat about soccer went on, in front of the inn two men were looking absolutely horrified.

"They are brutes, Sir! If we ask them whether we may search their lorry, they'll kill us!"
"You are right, McClown, those two are brutal chaps. I'm afraid we have to give up the suitcases."

"No, Sir, no. Do think about the poor little innocent hamsters. Are they to die in the flames?"
"McClown, you do not think clearly. Think about, perhaps they hamsters have already suffocated."

The butler looked at the bin lorry and saw that the window on the driver's side was open. He cautiously approached the door although the inn was on the other side of the lorry now and there was no danger to be seen by the two binmen. McClown mounted onto the running-board and looked in, then he rejoiced: the key was in the ignition lock!

"Sir, do come quickly!" he called Lord McShredder in a low voice and milord curiously came closer. The butler showed him what he had found and whispered that milord should get into the lorry.

"McClown, I won't go without my wheelchair! The perfect butler does not leave his master's belongings behind. So think of something or we won't go."

The butler thought feverishly. There was not enough room in the driver's cab and the back hatch was still locked. McClown did no make much ado but pushed the wheelchair to the back of the lorry, lifted it and hitched it to the handle of the hatch.

"This should do. Please get in, Sir."
Lord McShredder did so, but hesitatingly, for he did not think this procedure correct. Hijacking a bin lorry was not worthy a lord. But neither it would be worthy to be arrested for evading the payment of a bill. This vehicle gave him the chance to leave the area before the police could find him. It would certainly take the two binmen a while to discover that their lorry was gone. Perhaps they would only notice it the other day in case they stayed here overnight.

"Drive on, McClown!"

Cautiously the butler set back the heavy lorry into the street, then he followed the sign towards Glencoe.