In his cups, his accent slipped and became more Scottish than American. But until he found something to drive Duggan out of Lochdubh or some proof so that he could arrest him for vandalism, all he could think to do was to try to defuse what he was rapidly beginning to see as an explosive situation.

“It would maybe be the best thing to take Randy Duggan’s audience away from him,” said Hamish.

“Drink somewhere else?” Archie looked at the policeman in surprise. “There isnae anywhere else to drink.”

“There’s that bar at the Tommel Castle Hotel,” said Hamish. “That’s open to non-residents.”

“That’s posh,” said Archie. “Come on, Hamish. Ye cannae see a bunch o’ fisherman and forestry workers up there. The colonel would be spittin’ blood.”

“Think about it,” said Hamish. “It would only be for a wee bit.”

“I’m game,” said Geordie eagerly.

Hamish pushed his cap back on his fiery hair. “It’s a quiet season. The colonel should be right glad o’ the trade.”


Priscilla Halburton-Smythe, the cool and stately blonde, daughter of Colonel Halburton-Smythe, had recently returned from London and was once more running the gift shop. She had at one time been briefly and unofficially engaged to Hamish Macbeth, and since the end of their romance had kept out of his way. She therefore found it irritating when her father summoned her and suggested she call on Hamish to ask for help.

“More vandalism?” asked Priscilla. “You can deal with that yourself, Daddy.”

“I have tried to deal with this, but Macbeth won’t listen to me. Have you been in the hotel bar in the evenings?”

“No, what’s going on?”

“The place is full every night with all the low life from Lochdubh.”

“Lochdubh doesn’t have any low life.”

“Don’t be deliberately obtuse. I’m talking about the men off the fishing boats and the forestry people.”

“What’s up with them? You’re a snob.”

“I’m a more practical businessman than I was when I started this venture,” said the colonel wearily. When he had run into debt, Hamish had suggested that he turn his family home into a hotel. The colonel had done this and the venture was successful, although he never gave Hamish any credit for having had the good idea in the first place. “I’m not a snob,” said the colonel, “but most of our guests are, and that you must admit. They come here to fish and shoot and play lords of the manor. They get dressed up to the nines in the evening. They go into the bar for a drink before dinner. The last thing they want is a lot of the local peasantry blocking off the heat from the fire. They even come in wearing wet clothes and steam in front of it like dogs. Have a word with Hamish Macbeth. He’ll think of something.” Priscilla decided to have a look at what the bar was like that evening before consulting Hamish. Most of the guests were English and not only did not smoke but, because they were middle-aged, had given up smoking at one time and had all the virulence of the reformed smoker. They were clustered at the bar, pointedly coughing and choking and waving their hands while the locals, grouped in front of the log fire, rolled cigarettes and lit them up, filling the air with pungent smoke. Priscilla realized her father was right. It was no use offending paying guests. They had a business to run.

On her way down to Lochdubh, she felt a little apprehensive at seeing Hamish again. They had been very close. It had been Hamish who had ended their relationship, becoming tired of Priscilla’s ambitions to move him up to the CID in Strathbane and make him successful. Also she had never seemed to have any time for love-making. Why this was the case, Hamish had never been able to find out, and as for Priscilla, her mind clamped down tight shut on the subject. She parked at the side of the police station and went round to the kitchen door. Hamish answered it and stood looking at her in surprise and then said, “Come in, Priscilla. I heard you were back from London.”

Priscilla followed him into the narrow kitchen. Despite the warmth of the evening, Hamish had the wood- burning stove lit, a horrible old thing which Priscilla had once unsuccessfully tried to replace with a new electric cooker. There was an old-fashioned oil-lamp in the middle of the table. “What’s that for?” asked Priscilla. “Has the electricity been cutoff?”

“I like oil-lamps,” said Hamish. “It saves on electricity and it gives a bonny light. Coffee? Or do you want a drink? I’ve got some whisky.”

“I don’t want anything.” Priscilla sat down at the kitchen table and shrugged off her tweed jacket. Raindrops glistened in her fair hair. She looked as smooth, contained and elegant as ever. “What I do want,” said Priscilla, “is a bit of help, or rather, my father needs help.”

“Must be bad for the auld scunner to send you.”

“He’s got a point, for once. The locals have given up the Lochdubh bar and are frequenting the hotel bar, smoking like chimneys, chattering away and hogging the fire. The guests are getting restless. We offer them elegant country house accommodation.”

“You’d think they would enjoy a bit of local colour.”

“Hamish, the fumes from their nasty cigarettes are so strong that they can hardly see anything, let alone local colour. What’s the reason for it?”

“Have you been hearing about the Macho Man?”

“I’ve heard some great ape is enthralling the village with his adventures.”

“His name is Randy Duggan. He says he is American but becomes Scottish when he’s drunk. He holds forth in the Lochdubh bar and the locals are beginning to find out that although he buys them a lot of drinks, they can’t really get a chance to say much themselves. I merely suggested that if they moved up to the hotel bar for a wee bit, he might move on. That sort of person needs an audience.”

“Oh, Hamish, I might have guessed you were behind it. So why didn’t this Randy just follow them to the hotel?”

“You’ve been away. Your father wouldnae let him stay at the hotel. So he took one of the holiday cottages up the back. Then there came these acts of vandalism. You heard of those?”

“Yes, and you suspect him?”

“Aye, but I havenae the proof.”

“So the problem remains. How do we get the locals out of the hotel?”

“I’ll think o’ something.”


The next day, Hamish made his way to the Lochdubh bar. It was empty of customers, not even Randy was there. The barman, a newcomer from Inverness, Pete Queen, was moodily polishing glasses.

“Quiet the day,” said Hamish.

“It’ll be even mair quiet if the boss closes this place doon. Whit did I do wrong? The drinks here are cheaper than up at the castle.”

“Maybe they wanted a wee change,” said Hamish soothingly. “It’ll be easy enough to get them back.”


“It’s a good bit out o’ the village, the hotel is, and they have to take their cars. I’ll start checking them for drunk driving. Then if you were to have a happy hour, just for the one week, drinks at half price, they’d soon come back.”

Pete’s narrow face brightened. “I’ll try anything; It’s very good of you, Hamish. Have one on the house.”

“Too early for me,” said Hamish. “Don’t worry. Have you seen Duggan?”

“The big man? He was in here last night saying as how he was getting bored and he was thinking of moving on.”

“Let’s hope he does.” Hamish sauntered out.


Hamish was no longer a favourite with the locals in the next two days. They found they were being breathalysed in the hotel car-park, their car keys taken away from them, and so they had to walk home and then were faced with the same long walk the next day to collect their cars. And outside the Locbdubh bar was a new sign advertising the happy hour. And so they were lured back.

But so was Randy Duggan, the Macho Man.

It was unfortunate for Geordie Mackenzie that while they had all been at the hotel, he had found new friends

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