“Did you hear and see this, Sir?” the butler asked and his eyes followed the shrieking McPomm.
“Certainly, McClown, I am not deaf and blind.” Lord McShredder sat straight on the tree trunk and watched how the fleeing man vanished somewhere in the far distance. “Whatever happened, he runs northwards. That is good for it is not our direction.”
“Sir, the hamsters are gone!” Frido McClown pointed at the empty suitcase and looked at His Lordship, terrified.
They both looked big-eyed at the hut which Fraser McPomm had left. It looked like a Swiss cheese emitting smoke through its holes.
“Well, McClown”, milord said and pointed at the hut, “I guess your little friends are behind this. Collect our things and follow me. We will check that.”
Hastily the butler picked up their few belongings. McShredder had already reached the door and peeped in. His glance fell on the empty, rumpled bed. Smoking cups and glasses were on the floor, walls and roof looked like sieved by missiles. He looked at the open wardrobe. A hamster was hanging at the handle and shyly looked at milord. Glancing at the table, McShredder lifted his eyebrows and could not really believe what he saw.
“Sir”, said his butler who showed up now, “I think we are just witnesses to the end of a hamster-party.”
“Very nice, McClown, but why are they wearing socks over their furs?”
“That - er - certainly goes with the party. Some hamstian tradition.”
“Hamstian tradition, McClown? And the bullet holes?”
“Well, Sir, there certainly is some explanation.”
“And why is a hamster hanging at the wardrobe door?”
“I’m sure it’s a hamster-game, Sir!”
“And why, McClown, does that hamster over there drag along a cartridge?”
“He’s just toying around with it, Sir.”
“Toying, McClown? Did he also toy around with McPomm?” His Lordship looked at the hamster thoughtfully and added with a broad grin: “Then I congratulate him. Brave little fellow!”
The butler sighed, relieved. It would have been terrible if milord had been furious and left the hamsters back because of this little incident.
So Frido McClown hurried to put the suitcase onto the table and collected the hamsters. By now the sun was up and the little nocturnal animals did not mind being collected. Some sleep would be all right.
“McClown, see that you find some food in this ramshackle hut”, milord croaked and walked out.
However, he returned when the butler was stowing away sandwiches, and put some coins onto the table.
“I won’t take anything free from that rascal McPomm!” he grumped and ran out again.
Grinning, the butler followed him over the bumpy, muddy path. Like miles earlier they again and again had to cross creeks. That was not easy because sometimes nothing but a slippery plank served as a bridge.
“How long will there be only such planks over creeks?” the butler lamented who more than once had difficulties to hold the suitcase with the hamsters.
“Not for long, McClown.”
“I like to hear that, Sir. The path then will be more comfortable?”
“No, McClown, then there will be no path at all.”
“But, Sir, that will not be better.”
“I did not say so, McClown. You only asked how long there will be planks over creeks.” Milord paused for a moment, stared ahead and added: “Soon we’ll have to wade through the creeks or jump.”
The butler did not answer. He no longer minded that they were walking muddy, slippery paths and that his clothing was dirty all over. His thoughts were far off at King’s House Hotel and he thought of Liza McGyre. Grinning, he imagined what would have happened had she come along with them. How often would they have to drag her out of some river or mud puddle? Suddenly the drift of his thoughts was roughly interrupted by a shot.
“Sir, is that McPomm?” he exclaimed, alarmed.
“Did I already advise you to think before you blab, McClown?” His Lordship retorted angrily.
“Why that, Sir? What if he walked back to his hut and fetched his rifle?”
“Then, McClown, he would fire all over the place somewhere behind us. These shots are coming from the direction we are taking, from the moor.”
“But what might that mean, Sir?” Milord looked at his butler as if he had said something very, very silly.
“McClown, did you ever hear anything about hunting parties?”
“S-sir, you don’t mean these mean people who shoot animals? Defenceless animals?”
“Well, McClown, usually rabbits, pheasants and suchlike do not carry weapons.”
Again they heard shooting in the distance. Now they had to walk very cautiously in the moor if they did not want to be hit by a stray bullet.