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Chapter 29


While Lord McShredder put on his shoes again, his butler had taken the keys and ran to the hatch of the bin lorry. He was so excited that he had to make several trials with the keys. He emitted a coarse cry of joy when one of the keys fitted into the lock without problems. Heart pounding, he turned the handle and pulled the hatch upwards. Lots of rubbish fell out and when the hatch was open, he kept his breath and looked in. As not otherwise to be expected it was full of rubbish.
Nervously his eyes wandered to and fro, then came a breath of relief when he saw his little hamster-friends. They blinked into the light and looked rather the worse for wear, their furs being dirty and clotty. He also saw the suitcases which had sprung open during the drive. Their contents had well mingled with the rubbish. First of all the butler took the hamster-trunk and examined it. It seemed to be intact so that he took a handkerchief and cleaned the trunk as well as possible. Then he put it down, fished one hamster after the other out of the rubbish and put them into their domicile.

All the time he did not notice Lord McShredder who stood close to him and craned his neck as if looking for something in the rubbish. He only noticed him when His Lordship held to the hatch lid with a curse because he almost fell into the dirt.

“Sir, are you all right?”
“Certainly, McClown, certainly. Everything all right.”

The butler turned back to the hamsters and tried to clean their furs. He was just trying to extract an old chewing gum from the fur of a hamster when a damaged box fell out of the lorry. He turned and saw milord rummaging the rubbish.

“Sir, may I be of assistance?”
“No, no, McClown, I’m - er - just looking about.”

The butler shook his head and turned back to the struggling hamster to free him from the sticky mess. Satisfied, he put the suitcase aside. Then he heard creeping steps. He looked about him in wonder. Where was milord? McClown got up and to the right side of the bin lorry. There he saw McShredder kneeling at one of the other suitcases. Slowly the butler tiptoed closer and looked over milord’s shoulder. There was the wallet which His Lordship had claimed to be lost at the hotel!

“Sir, you’re a damned shark!” McClown roared and wanted to get at the old man.

Unfortunately the open suitcase was in his way and the butler fell headlong at His Lordship’s feet. Infuriated, he bit McShredder’s foot and milord started to howl.
All this noise had made the hamsters curious. They came closer and whooped the butler as usual.
Wailing, milord hopped around on one leg and tried to escape, but Frido McClown was quicker. He jumped after His Lordship, gripped his foot and bit him a second time. Whimpering, the old rascal broke down, while the hamsters merrily asked for more show of this kind.

“McClown”, McShredder lamented, “it is not as you believe it to be!”
“Sir, what do you think I’m believing? That we had to starve and suffer because you were too close-fisted to buy us a meal? That we had to labour at the hotel so you could save your money? That the police are following us because you only think of your money? If it wasn’t for you, the poor, innocent hamsters had been almost given to the flames!”

The butler sidled around His Lordship like a tiger around his prey, prepared to attack any moment.

“McClown, I saved the money for an emergency case - for all of us!”
“Funeral service for the hamsters perhaps, Sir, cremation as it is, Sir?”
“Dear McClown, I promise that we’ll always stay at hotels from now on. Or Bed & Breakfast, which might be cheaper”, he quickly added.
“Very well, Sir”, McClown snarled, “and what about the lorry? Those two guys will kill us if not the police gets us.”

Milord shrugged.

“I’ll tell you what do, Sir. I don’t like to be at the mercy of those brutal guys. Put enough money under the seat, that will calm them down - and ring up the inn.”

“Er, McClown, they will know my voice and kill all of us!”
“Your voice, Sir? They never heard it! By chance I’ve been in Kinlochleven before and know that there is a phone box at the entrance of the town. I’ll park the lorry there and we pick out the number of the inn at Onich. We’ll tell them something about an emergency. The money under the seat will sooth those two brutes.”
“Very well, McClown, but what if the police are already waiting for us?”
“There is no police station at Kinlochleven, Sir. It’s a quiet little town at the end of Loch Leven and is therefore called ‘Loch Leven’s Head’. By the way, did you know that the opening scene of the film ‘Rob Roy’ had been taken here? And that Kind Edward VII spent a night there at the Marmore Lodge?”

Lord McShredder shook his head. He looked rather downcast but his butler did not mind that. They walked back to the bin lorry, His Lordship limping in a most snivelling style, and looked for their luggage. Everything except the hamsters’ suitcase was so dirty that they could no longer make any use of it. When they had finished their rummaging, they drove to the town entrance of Kinlochleven, found the aforementioned phone box and parked the lorry there. They were lucky to find the phone number of the Onich-inn quickly and McShredder rang up to tell the landlord an outrageous story. The butler had some difficulty not to burst out laughing when His Lordship talked about the bin lorry being hijacked by the secret service in the interest of national safety. This was, he said, a top secret matter which he could and must not discuss over the phone. Furthermore he told the most bewildered landlord that he was to inform the two drivers accordingly and also inform them where they would get their vehicle back against some compensation.
McClown was quite certain that the binmen no longer were a danger and so they set off again.