Lord and butler sat down at one of the five tables in the tearoom. They chose the table near the counter, close to the window. In the back of the room, beside the door, a man was sitting. He had his head on his arms and seemed to be sleeping. Nothing unusual because trains were rare here and to wait for a train might take long. So Lord McShredder and Frido McClown did not mind the man but hungrily looked at the display in the counter. There were bakeries of different colours and tastes. They decided on shortbread.
“One tea, 3 shortbreads and one coffee”, milord croaked.
“Immediately, Sir. Oh, Lord McShredder, you’re home again”, the young man behind the counter exclaimed in a pleased voice when he recognized His Lordship.
“Obviously, my boy. Any news?”
“O yes, Sir, lots”, the young man beamed. “Last summer we hardly had any rain, a new public toilet has been built, and a new road sign was erected.”
“Fine, fine, the town thrives and prospers”, milord crowed and took the teabag out of the cup which had been served in the meantime.
The butler had placed the suitcase with the hamsters on his lap and opened the lid. Curious pink noses showed up and sniffed excitedly. The smell of the shortbread had made the animals wake up. McClown crumbled one of the cookies and gave it to the hamsters. Loud rumbling and squeaking was audible and nobody needed to understand Hamstish to realize what was going on. All the upset did not take long as they finished the shortbread quickly. When they saw that there was no more food, the little animals went back to sleep and the lid was closed again.
Milord slurped his tea, the butler drank his coffee and both looked out of the window. A good distance behind the rails they could see the forest they had passed short time ago. Far off and dimly lay the mountains and far, far behind them was the peninsula of Ardnamurchan where everything had begun. They had travelled far and much had happened. Now, close to their goal, they knew that it had been worth everything. No Spanish sunshine could replace home to them.
“McClown, time to take the last miles under our feet”, milord announced.
“Very well, Sir. Will you permit me a question?”
“Don’t you miss your wheelchair, Sir?”
“O yes, I do”, milord croaked and gave a moan. “But a tough lord does not lament!”
“What do I hear?” suddenly a voice from the back part of the tearoom sounded. “The Lord of Killichonan walks on his own two feet? All Celtic saints, I’ve longed to see this day!”
Surprised, the two of them turned round. The man, who had been sleeping at the table, got now up and came closer. He was short, thickish, very bald and limped.
“George, the bus driver”, Frido McClown delightedly exclaimed.
He knew the old mail bus driver well. More then once when milord had run out of tobacco or the household out of supplies, George had given the butler a lift to the next town when he had seen him walking along the road. George had never accepted money and the butler always had been glad for the lift.
“Frido, where have you been these days?”
“Why, George, that is a long story. Let me tell it some other time. Now we only want to get home.”
“Home!” George nodded. “I would not like to shock you, but your home is nothing but a ruin by now.”
Lord and butler paled. They knew that the old castle had not been in a good condition when they left for Spain - but a ruin? With difficulty they regained their composure and McShredder croaked: “Well, then we’ll rebuild the ruin, won’t we, McClown?”
He turned to the bus driver: “When is your bus scheduled?”
“I don’t work any longer, Milord, have retired since long and enjoy my leisure time. However, I feel a little bored and so now and then I still make the tour between Kinloch Rannoch and the station. You are my passengers today, of course.”
“Free ride, of course, George”, McShredder crowed.
George laughed. “Free ride, Milord.”
When the young man at the counter also did not want any money for tea, coffee, and shortbread, McShredder and his butler delightedly left the tearoom together with George.
“That’s coming home, McClown, isn’t it?”
“It is, Sir, but do we have a roof over our heads?”
The old mail bus set moving and George sped up. To their left they saw the ruins of Doire na h-innes, then they passed the big hydropower station of Gaur, and the hearts of the two homecomers throbbed happily. When Loch Rannoch came into view they both got up and looked out of the window excitedly. In the middle of the loch they could see Eilean nam Faoileag, the gull island. The last mile seemed to take ages but finally they had made it. George turned to the left and they had reached the castle.
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