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Chapter 34

Black Corries Lodge

By now the hotel lay behind them and they proceeded in northern direction.

For both of them it had been hard to leave King’s House Hotel. For His Lordship because under the sharp eyes of McClown he had to part with his money when paying the bill - for the butler because he did not get the clumsy daughter of the hotelier out of his mind.

“Sir, we are walking the direction we came”, the butler said.
“Correct, McClown, I see that you are noticing things. You also notice this narrow path ahead of us? It’s the way to Black Corries Lodge and we will take it.”
“B-but Sir, then we are walking right into the moor!”
“Rannoch Moor, McClown, so what?”
“It’s dangerous, Sir, there are stories that it’s haunted by the ghost of Sir Malcolm. After he lost a battle he walked into the moor and never came back!”
“Probably drowned, McClown.”
“B-but Sir, when you walk the moor at night you c-can see the lights of the dead.”
“Fen fires, McClown, absolutely harmless. What troubles me, is old McPomm.”
“McPomm, Sir?”
“McPomm, McClown, the mad Fraser McPomm. Nobody can live at peace with him.”
“So you know him, Sir.”
“For ages. A bad guy through and through. At school he never allowed me to crib.”

The butler did not answer, only grinned. Silently they walked on while the ground under their feet became muddier. The narrow river they had been following during the last hours bent to the left. They crossed the river, which now was only a trickle, over a tiny, half decayed footbridge. McClown grasped the suitcase with the hamsters firmly and was glad to make the crossing safely. Milord was already waiting for him. The muddy path became even narrower, a small hut was ahead of them. The silence was disquieting. Only their squelching shoes in the grass were audible. Suddenly a deafening bang disturbed the silence. Quick as lightning the butler was lying on the ground, while His Lordship stood unperturbed.

“Get up, McClown, and don’t make a fool of yourself”, McShredder hissed.

Trembling, Frido McClown rose, his eyes on a man approaching from the hut. He looked quite squalid in his tatty overcoat. His long, unkempt hair was halfway controlled by an old floppy hat and his long, tousled beard held the remains of his last lunch. The man aimed at them with a rifle.

“Freeze!” he ordered with a firm voice. “What do you want?”
“Passage”, milord calmly replied.

The man came closer and first took a look at the butler who was all over covered with mud. Then his glance fell on His Lordship and his eyes widened.

“McShredder, you rascal, another step and you’re a dead man. Piss off or I’ll make you!”

He turned and walked back to the hut.

“W-we should return, Sir, the path through the moor is much too dangerous.”
“Nonsense, McClown, we just have to think how we can pass McPomm. The best thing would be to wait until darkness and then sneak past his hut. Unfortunately the Scottish way-leave is valid here and nobody can force him and let anybody cross his ground.”

The butler sighed disappointedly and walked a few steps back where a huge tree trunk was lying. He sat down on it and opened the suitcase with the hamsters. He could hear the scratching of his little friends who were quite fed up with being locked in. Frido McClown opened the lid a bit and immediately many little pink noses showed and scented the air. What was he to do? He could not permit his little friends to roam around in the moor, not with that trigger-happy moron close by. While he still pondered, the hamsters relieved him of the decision. One after the other they climbed out, down his trouser legs into the high grass. McClown shrugged and put the suitcase into the grass.

“If you feel cold or wet, my little ones, you can go back into the suitcase. But don’t say I didn’t warn you! The moor is dangerous. So take care because that bad man in the hut over there has got a rifle. Keep close and don’t run off and remember…”
“Whom are you talking to, McClown?” Lord McShredder asked and came closer curiously.
“Er - to the hamsters. They need some fresh air. Please mind your steps, Sir.”
“We’ll try to get some sleep, McClown. By the way, you should have a wash. A good butler does not look like a pig.”
“Yes, Sir, I will”, Frido McClown grumped and cleaned his face with his handkerchief as well as possible. Then he lay down on the tree trunk - like milord - and closed his eyes.