Kings House Hotel Part I
For about half an hour they did not say anything. They just felt awkward because they had panicked over a small bat. Now they walked on along the foot of a mountain which rose high above them. To their left was the road, another high mountain facing it. Some time the path bent left and they left the road behind them.
“Sir, perhaps we should have stopped a car”, the butler said.
“A police car for instance, McClown?”
“Of course not, Sir, I only thought…”
“Wrong, McClown, you do not think. You only think of your next dinner and nothing else. You are thinking from one full plate to the next.”
The butler’s fingers tightened around the suitcase handle. While he wondered if the suitcase would go bust if he threw it at His Lordship’s head, McShredder continued:
“You see, McClown, I am foresighted and thinking strategically. My noble birth helps me because a simple farmer never would be able to think this way.”
The butler looked up and down the wayside. Perhaps he could find a stone or, better still, a cudgel.
“Anyhow, McClown, thanks to my foresight we will spend the night in soft beds after a right royal meal.”
The butler let fall the big stone he just had picked up.
“Surprised, McClown? I didn’t expect otherwise. It will take us about a mile to King’s House, a hotel, were even kings stayed overnight. I’m remembering King James VI or Bonnie Prince Charly, McClown. You certainly know them, don’t you?”
“Not personally, Sir.”
“Now don’t be silly, McClown! Ah, you see, over there is the hotel.”
A long white building with black roof came into sight. Eagerly they turned into a sidetrack, crossed a small bridge and could see the big wooden sign of the hotel.
“Sir, may I ask you to mind your money?” Frido McClown jeered. “It would be a pity if it were lost again.”
Milord did not answer this cheek of his butler but entered the lobby. Nobody was there. When they looked at the large clock over the counter they saw that it was past midnight.
“Hullo! Porter!” Lord McShredder croaked.
Some rumbling and clattering in the distance, then a door opened at the foot of a broad staircase which obviously led to the guest rooms. A young woman entered and approached the newcomers, looking at them nonplussed.
“Good evening, gentlemen”, she welcomed them and smoothed her apron. “My name is Liza McGyer, what can I do for you?”
“A double bedroom, my good woman”, milord replied.
“Pleasure, Sir”, Liza McGyer said and picked up the ball pen she had dropped. “Will you please give me your name, Sir?” she added and held her head which she bumped when stooping.
“Sir Lord McShredder of Killichonan, Duke of Spain and conqueror…”
“Excuse me, Sir, shredding what?” the young woman asked, smiling bashfully.
“Of Killichonan”, His Lordship calmly replied. “Duke of Spain and conqueror of the Loch…”
“Sorry, Sir”, Liza McGyer interrupted him again and stooped because the ball pen had fallen from her hand. She started writing again and smiled at him once more bashfully. “Spain, and then?”
“Conqueror of the Loch Ness Monster.”
“O my God!” the young woman exclaimed, made a step back and knocked over a flower vase. “The monster? And you survived it, Mr. Shredder?”
“McShredder, young lady, McShredder of Killichonan. This - er - gentleman is my butler, Frido McClown.”
She gave the butler her most beautiful smile and looked at him for a long time.
“Frido”, she said and did not avert her eyes from his face. “That is a charming name. My name is Liza and I’m the daughter of the hotel-keeper.”
“It’s a beautiful hotel”, the butler stammered and shyly returned her look.
“Thank you, Mr. Frido”, Liza McGyer whispered and took up the guestbook she accidentally had knocked off. “And you also will have a very beautiful view. That is, in the day, at the moments it’s quite dark.”
“Ehem!” His Lordship cleared his throat impatiently. “We would like to eat something after you’ve shown us the rooms, my good woman.”
“Certainly, Mr. Shredder, please follow me.”
She came around the counter and stumbled over the suitcase with the hamsters which the butler had placed there. McClown was at her side immediately and helped her up.
“Thank you, Sir Frido”, she smiled and smoothed her tousled hair. “How clumsy I am!”
“No, no, Miss Liza, it was my fault. I put the suitcase there.”
In the meantime Lord McShredder was waiting at the stairs and impatiently tapped the polished floor with his foot. It took a while until the two others noticed him at all and finally walked up the stairs. At the last step Liza McGyre stumbled and the butler helped her up. Then they walked down a dimly lit passage to the left. The young woman rattled at the door and turned to McClown with a smile.
“I’m sorry, I forgot the key. Please wait a moment, Sir Frido.”
She hurried back to the staircase, still looking at the butler and smiling. There was a crash and McClown made a face because the young women had banged against a post at the stairs. However, a few minutes later she came limping back with the key and when it had fallen out of her hand twice, she finally succeeded in locking up the room so that lord and butler were able to enter.