Back in the Castle
His Lordship was the first one to get out of the bus and slowly approached what once had been his castle. There were no walls any longer and a big heap of debris indicated the place of the entrance hall. The only upright things were the two door posts, the door hanging in the loose hinges. McShredder paused in front of the door relicts.
“McClown, you lazy chap, come and open the door for your master!”
The butler only goggled at milord while George laughed and waved to them.
“You’ll get along. Tell me if you need me!”
He drove back to the road and the butler cautiously opened the door. He hardly had pulled at it a little when it crashed down and overturned the door posts.
“Thank you, McClown”, milord said after the dust had settled. “Go and find my armchair and then I would be grateful if you would tidy up a little.”
With a loud sigh Frido McClown set down the hamster-trunk between some bricks and opened the lid. Then he went searching for the armchair while His Lordship filled his pipe.
“Hey, guys, we’re back in the castle”, chief engineer Botchy exclaimed and scrambled out of the suitcase. “That’s the pits”, Flecki groaned. “We’ve really come far.”
“Anyhow, we’ve been at the beach”, Tuffy said. “That was quite nice.”
By now the mayor had climbed a heap of debris and thought it time to cheer up the hamsters with a little speech.
“Dear friends”, he began, “it was a long way, and I am proud to say that…”
Nobody ever learned what he was proud on because the debris heap collapsed.
“I’m sorry, little hamster”, they heard the voice of Frido McClown, “but I’m looking for milord’s armchair. What need you scramble about in all this debris?”
He set the scolding mayor down between the other hamsters and continued his search. Suddenly it crashed and where the butler had been standing was nothing but a cloud of dust.
“McClown, did you find my armchair?”
No answer. Slowly the dust settled but the butler still was gone. The hamsters curiously craned their necks when McShredder cautiously approached the place where Frido McClown just had been standing. He was looking at a large hole in the floor.
“McClown, stop this hide and seek. Back to your work! I can’t do everything myself.”
Still no answer and now he desperately turned to the hamsters. Goldi was right in front of him and McShredder pointed at him.
“How about doing some work for your food? I have been feeding you all the time, after all!”
"Dos, ssik ym ruf !1 was the prompt answer.
“Eh? Toss something rough? What do you mean?” Lord McShredder looked about him, quite at a loss. Then his face lit up. “Ah, no bad idea, little rodent.”
He took up a brick and tossed it into the hole. A loud outcry confirmed he had hit a target.
“McClown, will you now stop fooling around and busy yourself with tidying up, please.”
“Sir”, the muffled voice of the butler could be heard, “I’ve touched down on old dishes.”
“Old dishes, McClown? How am I to take that? Did you hide dirty dishes in the cellar?”
“But, Sir, we never had a cellar.”
“You are quite right, McClown, so where the hell have you landed and how the devil am I to get you out of there?”
Chief Botchy, Flecki, and Goldi in the meantime had scrambled down the hole to check the matter because they very well knew that with the butler they would get food. So they were most disappointed when all around they found nothing by useless scrap. Dirty over and over, they reappeared out of the darkness and with a hoarse cry Lord McShredder darted at Flecki. As Flecki was quick, His Lordship only landed in the debris and excitedly shouted:
“What did you find, little rodent? Come to Uncle Lord, show him!”
But Flecki saw that she was off and hid behind some bricks.
“What’s all that fuss about?” Tuffy inquired after she found the panting Flecki.
“That’s my brooch, I found it! I always wanted to have jewellery like this. Just look!”
With big, shining eyes Tuffy looked at the brooch. It was ornamented artfully and though it was dirty, nothing could take off its golden shine. Without doubt it was very valuable and the old lord had seen that at a glance. He in the meantime had found the long curtain of the former living room and thrown down one end of it into the hole where his butler was sitting. The other end he fastened at the frame of the former kitchen door. Huffing and puffing, he dragged at the curtain while his butler was clinging to the other end.
“McClown”, His Lordship groaned, while he dragged up the butler inch by inch, “have you taken along something of the - er - dishes?”
“N-no, Sir, I haven’t”, was the short reply.
Milord nodded slowly. Then he let the curtain go and the butler fell back with a shriek. A loud clatter indicated his arrival at the ground.
“Sorry, McClown, the curtain - er - slipped out of my hands. But if you are down there anyhow, pocket some of the - er - dishes and bring them up.”
“I will, Sir, but please get me out of here!”
“Without fail, McClown”, McShredder purred and again dragged up the curtain.
This time it did not take long until the panting butler was out of the hole and in front of his master.
“Sir, what sort of cellar is that?” the butler asked when he could breathe again.
“Your pockets, McClown, empty your pockets!” His Lordship shrieked in excitement.
Frido McClown put his hands into his trouser pockets and got out something glittering. He put down everything on the dusty floor and sat down beside it, mouth open. The old lord’s eyes seemed to bulge out of their sockets. Nobody said a word, only after a few minutes McShredder gasped: “McClown, how much of this is in the cellar?”
“Lots and lots, Sir. Several bathtubs, I guess.”
“The old crook!”
“Which crook, Sir?”
“McGregor of course, McClown. He, a man of the cloth, treasured up all worldly goods for himself and hid them in this cellar.”
“But, Sir, why did he leave all this to you?”
“Not only because I conquered the Loch Ness monster, McClown.” Milord paused and thoughtfully stared into the sky. “His guilty conscience troubled him. He always had preached poverty and was no longer able to live with the heavy burden of wealth and wanted to get rid of it.”
“Sir, will we be in trouble with this heavy burden?”
“Not me, McClown. After all, it’s your job to tidy up here.”
“I claim reinforcements. Lately my back has gone weak and I don’t like cooking very much any longer.”
“Granted, McClown, I never liked your muck overmuch. Whom are you thinking about?”
“Well, Sir, I know a charming young lady who would love to come here.”
“No problem, McClown. However, you should clear up the castle first, otherwise the young lady does not find anything she may shatter!”
For the first time Lord McShredder and his butler Frido McClown laughed jointly. They sat together on the old curtain and laughed for minutes.
During the next hours lord and butler were busy transporting all the valuables out of the cellar. There was no doubt: the days of their poverty had ended. Finally McClown even found the armchair and cleaned it so that His Lordship sat down in it comfortably and took over the further planning.
“Sir, it will take a while until we can live in here. How and where are we to sleep at night?”
Lord McShredder did not answer but stared ahead, lost in thoughts.
“Er - yes, McClown?”
“Where are we to sleep tonight?”
His Lordship leant back in is armchair and folded his hands.
“Do you know what I am thinking, McClown?”
“I often wondered, Sir!”
“Well, McClown, I would like to live at the seaside, close to some beach.”
“Sanna Bay, Sir?”
“You simply do not think strategically, McClown. First: there are no castles. Second: we should not show up there in the near future. No, my good McClown, there is a better possibility.”
“Dunollie Castle, McClown, will be our new home.”
“I never heard about it, Sir.”
“I would have been surprised, McClown! Dunollie Castle has been built in the 12th century, probably by MacDougall. It’s situated on a hill north of Oban and offers a wonderful view to the sea. Take a look at this old map.”
“And what about this, Sir? What will become of this castle?”
“Perhaps a holiday domicile, McClown, or a house for the weekend - some time.”
“And Miss Liza, Sir?”
“She will love to join us, McClown. Lots of shops in Oban. Women do like that.”
Milord was silent as long as he filled his pipe.
“Well, McClown”, he continued, “now you’ll go into the town and look for George. I will sit here to recover from all the stress.”
“George, McClown. We’ll need a driver, after all.”
The butler saw that he was off. Hours later he and the retired mail bus driver came back to the ruin of Killichonan Castle, where milord was still sitting and waiting in his armchair.
In the middle of all the debris Frido McClown made a camp fire and the three men sat together for a long time to discuss the items which had to be managed. Lord and butler decided to move to a close by hunting lodge for the next days. Frido McClown was to relax a little before travelling to King’s House Hotel to fetch Liza McGyre. George was beside himself with joy. Not only was he to be milord’s driver in future and to stay with his friend Frido. No, within the next days George was to undertake quite a journey. His order was to take the hamsters back to Hamsterton.
While the butler took an extensive farewell from each single hamster and promised to pay them a visit soon, George prepared the old mail bus. The rear seats were dismantled and rugs laid out. They even thought of food and toys for the hamsters and when Frido McClown had given his friend George some hints how to handle the hamsters, George set out for Hamsterton.
“If I understand all this fuss correctly, we’re going home now”, Flecki said and eyed the new rugs. “They might have given us some prettier rugs, you know. Look at these ugly colours, they don’t agree with anything!”
“Doesn’t matter”, Goldi grumbled. “If only they give us enough food.”
“I wonder if everything is okay at home. What I mean, nobody’s there to repair any damages…” chief Botchy reminded them.
“That’s it”, Tuffy interrupted him, “if nobody makes wreck repairs, they all must be completely bored.”
“Swell!” Goldi grinned. “That will be taken care of when we’re back.”
The mayor cleared his throat and raised his voice: “Dear hamster-friends! A long way lies behind us and we all know the price we paid for the exertions so that I would like to make it perfectly clear…”
And that was that. George had crossed the River Gary bridge and sharply turned to the left. The mayor was hurled to the rear of the bus and dizzily stayed lying on a spare tyre. The other hamsters helped him up but it took some time until he opened his eyes.
“Gosh, look at that!” Flecki cried and stared at the mayor. “He’s got that silly grin on his face again!"
The last chapter will be thrilling and hilarious again. However, only genuine hamster-friends will learn all about it because first some real teasers have to be answered:
1. What is the real name of “super-hamster”?
2. Whom do McShredder and McClown meet in Portuairk?
3. Where do they have to "dingusdeal"?
4. Which job does Finnegan McDudle have?
5. Whose daughter is Liza McGyer?
In case Goldi did not blow up the mailbox again we will send you the chapter quickly.