'Just drop us off down there,' she said, pointing to a nearby seaside port. 'I can see three ships just sailing in and I am sure we can catch a ride back to Titbury von Streudelheim in one of them.'
'Are you sure?' said Santa, although his face betrayed his relief, because by now he was becoming well and truly hacked off with the swans.
'Of course,' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'I can't thank you enough for everything you've done already.'
And so Santa bade farewell to the intrepid explorers at the quayside, and they stood and waved him off into the sky.
'And now,' said Mrs Pumphrey, 'let's see if one of these three ships is heading anywhere near Titbury von Streudelheim.'
As it happened, one of them was. It had a consignment of Christmas goods to drop off (a bit like a container ship from China, only with a considerably smaller load made of less plastic and more knitting) and the captain, one Lord Yorick Über Leonard Entwhistle Nelson, was more than happy to take on board a few extra passengers.
'Are you any relation to Lord Horatio Nelson?' said Tango Pete, as they climbed aboard the good ship Lollipop.
'Alas, no,' said Lord Yorick. 'I never knew him. Our shared name is pure coincidence. I am the first sailor in my family. I have four brothers and not one of them has followed me into the navy.'
'What do they do?' asked Mrs Pumphrey.
'Well,' said Lord Yorick, 'one, Lord Alan, is in computers. Then there's Lord Winston - he's a doctor. Lord Byron is a writer and Lord Richard, well he has a finger in every pie - aviation, music, pharmaceutical products...'
'And you're all Lords?' said Mrs Pumphrey.
'Indeed,' said Lord Yorick. 'Our mother is very proud.'
'You must have very busy lives,' said Tango Pete.
'We do, we do,' said Lord Yorick. 'But we always make sure we get together at this time of year. It's important to spend time with family at Christmas, don't you think?'
Mrs Pumphrey nodded. Standing on the deck of the ship, her journey almost at an end, she was thinking now just how much she had missed Mrs Miggins and the other hens. Yes, it was definitely time to go home.
'And when we get together,' said Lord Yorick. 'we like to indulge in our favourite hobby. Something we started doing as boys and have done ever since.'
'And what is that?' said Tango Pete, thinking it was probably something very manly, like playing rugby, whitewater rafting, or extreme ironing.
'Morris Dancing,' said Lord Yorick. 'We put on our tight white trousers and our frilly white shirts, cover ourselves in ribbons and jingle our bells. It's very exciting, clashing our sticks and walloping each other with a pig's bladder.'
'I can imagine,' said Tango Pete, who, of course, was not averse to a spot of frill and ribbon and jingle himself.
'We call ourselves 'The Leaping Lords,' said Lord Yorick. 'We are quite well known on the variety circuit. And each year, in an act of selfless philanthropy, we visit a local establishment and perform our act free of charge. Sometimes it's an old peoples' home, sometimes it's a hospital. And this year,' said Lord Yorick, pulling a piece of paper from his pocket, 'it is a little town in the middle of Titbury von Streudelheim called...Titbury!'
'But that is our home town!' said Mrs Pumphrey.
'Really?' said Lord Yorick. 'What a coincidence! Of course, our visit will be a flying one, because we haven't got anywhere to stay over. It was a mistake leaving the hotel booking to Byron - always got his head in the clouds, that one. Totally disorganised...didn't occur to him that lots of people would be heading into town at this time of year, visiting relatives and the like...'
'You can stay with us!' said Mrs Pumphrey. 'At Much Malarkey Manor! Mrs Miggins won't mind. We've got plenty of room.'
Well, of course Mrs Pumphrey did not know about the arrival at the Manor of Colin Bird, Turtle Dave, Holly and Ivy, the Pipers and the Twelve Turkish Drummers. She had no idea the place was almost packed to the rafters and that Mrs Miggins was already tearing out her feathers because she couldn't find a set of matching cutlery anywhere in any of the Manor's sideboards.
But the decision was made. Once they had docked at Titbury town port, the Leaping Lords would meet up to perform in Titbury town square, and the intrepid explorers would go on ahead to Much Malarkey Manor to prepare a jolly Christmassy welcome for their unexpected guests.
'I can't wait until tomorrow,' said Mrs Pumphrey, squeezing Tango Pete's wing. 'Miggins is going to be so pleased to see us!'