It seems my suspicions of Beaver were not unfounded, after all.
On the last leg of our journey, at the edge of the desert plains of Goldfish Lodge, a sandstorm had whipped up around us. We wrapped ourselves from head to toe in robes as protection against the dust whipping around us.
Suddenly, out of the swirling sands, Beaver and his gang appeared - armed to the teeth with clubs and duck bombs.
"Stand and deliver! you old tyrant" cried Beaver "We got wind of the silver coins gushing over the desert and knew that you would be bringing your ill gotten gains back to Homeward. You are surrounded and at our mercy - hand over the loot!"
"Rich, rich, the silver is ours" shrieked Hitmouse.
Jellytussle was wobbling happily like a jelly on a plate, and Hootman was wavering to and fro, whistling with ghostly joy.
"He-haw, he-haw!" brayed the Wooden-Legged Donkey. His triumph was hideous to hear.
The situation looked dire - but then we heard the thundering of hooves on sand. Over the dunes there appeared a magnificent sight. Claudius's brother Cornelius, with over fifty of his friends.
"Oh, great Sultan," declared Claudius "it being my duty to see you safely home, I took the precaution of asking my brother to shadow our caravan - knowing that carrying such great wealth might lay us open to attack by brigands."
"Splendid, Claudius!" I replied, "That's scotched Beaver's hopes of easy prey!".
Hateman's yell of rage was fearful to hear.
Nevertheless, the fight, I could see, was going to be hard. Hateman's face turned ashen as I pulled aside my robes to reveal my giant club. With a tremendous trumpeting of rage I plunged into the battle.
"So, you thought I was unarmed you villain!" I cried as I came face to face with the miserable wretch. This was the decisive moment, for we were the leaders, and one of us would have to triumph over the over to finish the fight.
"I'll settle for a truce!" yelled Beaver "Come on, you big bully!"
I was in no mood for a truce, but I was not going to be accused of ignoring the rules of engagement and refusing the offer to lay down arms.
"Ceasefire!" I cried and at that moment Beaver whipped a large stone out of his sack suit and flung it at me.
It hit me on the forehead and was stunned, for a moment, and staggered.
"Ha,ha!" yelled Beaver "That's done for you!"
Although nearly blinded by the blow, I rushed forward. Beaver was doubled up with laughter, over what he believed had been a disabling blow, so I caught him off guard. I kicked him right up into the desert sky.
Leaderless, the rest of his cronies soon evaporated into the sands.
That evening, we were back in the library at home. We managed to pick up the express train at Lonely Tower - enabling us to finish the rest of the journey in two hours rather than the two days that the recommended route in the A.B.C.Complete Guide to Homeward would have taken us.
"The Sultan fought as bravely as a lion," said Claudius, as we reminisced about our adventures over a late night libation of cocoa.
"We quaff the golden cup of joy and hear the nightingale tell forth the news that the Sultan is safe home again!" added Cornelius.
Everybody clapped and cheered, feeling this speech summed up, very gracefully, what we were all feeling.
I hated to bring down the joyous mood but felt I had to add "We will have to be on our guard, however, for I fear that Beaver will seek retribution for this ignominious defeat!"