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2.12.11

Leaving the train







Rory looks chilly and pale, I ask him if anything is wrong. After clearing the crust of ice that has formed in his beard and sealed his mouth shut, Rory shouts that he is freezing, terrified and wants to get off the train. Fatty says that Rory probably just needs something to eat and, he points out, in the train, there is a warm and comfortable dining car where we can sit back and enjoy a good meal. I remind Rory that we had to leap on to the train because it didn't stop; it won't stop until it reaches its destination, we don't want it to stop because we are hinkishly behind schedule and, as Juan has proved time and again, jumping off a speeding train into wild terrain is inevitably disastrous. Juan offers Rory a hip-flask of Vintage Duff's Defiance Founder's Reserve, which has marvellously warming, heartening, qualities. I tell Rory that he should just relax, enjoy the fresh mountain air, and take in the wonderful view. Rory shouts that we are on a warm, comfortable train, but it is only warm and comfortable inside the train, and, he points out, unnecessarily, we are not inside the train, we are on top of the train, so, he yells, as he is hanging on for his life, he can't relax or enjoy the view.

Seeing a small airfield, Juan and Fatty hastily gather our provisions, I kick Rory off the train, to give us a soft landing, then, shouting “Geronimo”, we all leap after him. Rory tumbles along the ground like a broken doll but, fortunately, before he can tumble over a cliff, George, Juan, and I break his forward momentum, and, judging by the snapping, crunching sounds, several other things, by landing on him. Albert misses Rory but, as he hits the ground, he curls up into a ball and rolls off into the distance at high speed, eventually disappearing into a canyon. Fatty bounces along comfortably until he comes to rest, wobbling backwards and forwards, rubbing his stomach and saying that he needs some refreshment. Rory makes groaning noises and coughs up blood. Albert says that we should take him to a hospital. Juan says that making groaning noises and coughing up blood is perfectly normal after a flask of Duff's Defiance, it proves it's a fine malt.

We find Albert in a gorge, looking, with some alarm, at four cowboys. I tell Albert that there is nothing to worry about, cowboys do have an evil reputation, but this is a myth, invented in order to make the boring, safe, and easy job of herding cows sound challenging, tough and dangerous. The truth is, I tell Albert, is that, the word 'coward' comes from 'cow herd' and, true to the name, cowboys are, in fact, extremely timorous and gentle and they always run away at the slightest sign of danger. George tells Albert to ignore this advice because it's wrong. I tell George that the cowboys in this area are particularly peaceful, harmless, God-fearing, religious people, in fact, I point out, they are so religious, even their horses can walk on water. I think this is funny, but the cowboys take offence and we spend the morning having a shoot-out

Rory receives a couple of gunshot wounds and Albert falls into the river, but, apart from that, we have a lot of fun and nobody comes to any serious harm, except for three of the cowboys. Feeling somewhat guilty, I open my coffre-fort, take out a fistful of diamonds, which I keep for such occasions, and give them to the surviving cowboy. I tell him that I know this won't in any way make up for the loss of this three friends, but, although he must be saddened by the unfortunate demise of his colleagues, he takes the diamonds instantly and gallops away, whooping and shouting with happiness. This makes me feel a lot better.

Juan quickly lights a small fire, and thrusts his dirk into the flames. Albert dries himself out in front of the fire and Fatty suggests that, before we move on, we have a horse steak, but, I tell him, we don't have time for a meal, the fire is for Rory. Albert says that Rory doesn't need a fire, he needs a doctor. I remind Albert that Juan is a doctor, and I am a skilled medical assistant,which, when the blade of the dirk is glowing, I demonstrate by knocking Rory unconscious with a bottle of Glenmorangie. Juan gouges the bullets out of Rory's gut and cauterises the wounds with the red-hot blade and, throwing Rory on to a horse, we head for the airfield, fortify ourselves with Vintage Glen Garioch, Miltonduff, and Lochnagar Private Reserve, offer toast after toast to the valiant cow herders, borrow a couple of aeroplanes, then, yelling with excitement and singing 'Up amang yon Cliffy Rocks' and 'Farewell to the Land', at the top of our voices, we head up and over the Rockies, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary