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3 3333 08088 9963 

I Lorn* 50fi6 

Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 







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OF 1 


Copyright, 1922, by 

All rights reserved, including that of translation 
into foreign languages 

First Printing, 
Second Printing, 
Third Printing, 
Fourth Printing, 
Fifth Printing 
Sixth Printing, 
Seventh Printing, 
Eighth Printing 
Ninth Printing 
Tenth Printing 
Eleventh Printing 

August 18, 1922 
November 10, 1922 
February 28, 1923 
June 20, 1923 
August 16, 1923 
November 30, 1923 
April 18, 1925 
March 19, 1926 
July 30. 1927 
April 11- 
June 19, 
September 12. 

Twelfth Printing 

Thirteenth Printing, August 10, 

Fourteenth Printing, September 1, 







Printed in the United States of America 


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IV BOB 99 








viii Contents 


















V LAND! 233 







V WAR! 275 






Contents ix 











The Popsipetel Picture-History of King Jong Thinka- 

lot (in colors) Frontispiece 


"I would sit on the river-wall with my feet dangling 

over the water" 5 

"And in her right foot she carried a lighted candle!" . 22 

" 'Being a good noticer is terribly important' . . 53 

A traveler arrives 77 

"On the bed sat the Hermit" 101 

"Sat scowling do\vn upon the amazed and gaping jury" 115 

" 'What else can I think?' " 133 

'Boy, where's the skipper?' 147 

"In these lower levels we came upon the shadowy shapes 

of dead ships" (in colors) 162 

"The Doctor started chatting in Spanish to the bed- 
maker" . 175 

"Did acrobatics on the beast's horns" 189 

"'He talks English!'" 201 

"I was alone in the ocean!" 226 

"It was a great moment" 257 

The Terrible Three 270. 

"Working away with their noses against the end of the 

island" .... 293 


'The Whispering Rocks" 295 

''Had to chase his butterflies with a crown upon his 

head" 317 

'Tiptoe incognito,' whispered Bumpo" .... 353 




ALL that I have written so far about 
Doctor Dolittle I heard long after it 
happened from those who had known 
him indeed a great deal of it took 
place before I was born. But I now come to set 
down that part of the great man's life which I 
myself saw and took part in. 

Many years ago the Doctor gave me permission 
to do this. But we were both of us so busy then 
voyaging around the world, having adventures and 
filling note-books full of natural history that I 
never seemed to get time to sit down and write of 
our doings. 

Now of course, when I am quite an old man, 
my memory isn't so good any more. But whenever 
I am in doubt and have to hesitate and think, I 
always ask Polynesia, the parrot. 

That wonderful bird (she is now nearly two 
hundred and fifty years old) sits on the top of my 
desk, usually humming sailor songs to herself, while 
I write this book. And, as every one who ever met 

her knows, Polynesia's memory is the most marvel- 


2 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

ous memory in the world. If there is any happen- 
ing I am not quite sure of, she is always able to put 
me right, to tell me exactly how it took place, who 
was there and everything about it. In fact some- 
times I almost think I ought to say that this book 
was written by Polynesia instead of me. 

Very well then, I will begin. And first of all 
I must tell you something about myself and how 
I came to meet the Doctor. 



MY name was Tommy Stubbins, son of 
Jacob Stubbins, the cobbler of Puddle- 
by-on-the-Marsh; and I was nine and 
a half years old. At that time Pud- 
dleby was only quite a small town. A river ran 
through the middle of it; and over this river there 
was a very old stone bridge, called Kingsbridge, 
which led you from the market-place on one side to 
the churchyard on the other. 

Sailing-ships came up this river from the sea 
and anchored near the bridge. I used to go down 
and watch the sailors unloading the ships upon the 
river-wall. The sailors sang strange songs as they 
pulled upon the ropes; and I learned these songs by 
heart. And I would sit on the river-wall with my 
feet dangling over the water and sing with the men, 
pretending to myself that I too was a sailor. 

For I longed always to sail away with those brave 
ships when they turned their backs on Puddleby 
Church and went creeping down the river again, 
across the wide lonely marshes to the sea. I 
longed to go with them out into the world to seek 


4 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

my fortune in foreign lands Africa, India, China 
and Peru ! When they got round the bend in the 
river and the water was hidden from view, you could 
still see their huge brown sails towering over the 
roofs of the town, moving onward slowly like 
some gentle giants that walked among the houses 
without noise. What strange things would they 
have seen, I wondered, when next they came back to 
anchor at Kingsbridge ! And, dreaming of the 
lands I had never seen, Td sit on there, watching 
till they were out of sight. 

Three great friends I had in Puddleby in those 
days. One was Joe, the mussel-man, who lived in 
a tiny hut by the edge of the water under the bridge. 
This old man was simply marvelous at making 
things. I never saw a man so clever with his hands. 
He used to mend my toy ships for me which I 
sailed upon the river; he built windmills out of 
packing-cases and barrel-staves; and he could make 
the most wonderful kites from old umbrellas. 

Joe would sometimes take me in his mussel-boat, 
and when the tide was running out we would paddle 
down the river as far as the edge of the sea to get 
mussels and lobsters to sell. And out there on the 
cold lonely marshes we would see wild geese flying, 
and curlews and redshanks and many other kinds of 
seabirds that live among the samfire and the long 
grass of the great salt fen. And as we crept up the 
river in the evening, when the tide had turned, we 

"I would sit on the river-wall with my feet dangling 

over the water" 

6 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

would see the lights on Kingsbridge twinkle in the 
dusk, reminding us of tea-time and warm fires. 

Another friend I had was Matthew Mugg, the 
cat's-meat-man. He was a funny old person with 
a bad squint. He looked rather awful but he was 
really quite nice to talk to. He knew everybody in 
Puddleby; and he knew all the dogs and all the cats. 
In those times being a cat's-meat-man was a regular 
business. And you could see one nearly any day 
going through the streets with a wooden tray full 
of pieces of meat stuck on skewers crying, "Meat! 
M-E-A-T!" People paid him to give this meat to 
their cats and dogs instead of feeding them on dog- 
biscuits or the scraps from the table. 

I enjoyed going round with old Matthew and see- 
ing the cats and dogs come running to the garden- 
gates whenever they heard his call. Sometimes 
he let me give the meat to the animals myself; and I 
thought this was great fun. He knew a lot about 
dogs and he would tell me the names of the different 
kinds as we went through the town. He had sev- 
eral dogs of his own; one, a whippet, was a very fast 
runner, and Matthew used to win prizes with her at 
the Saturday coursing races; another, a terrier, was 
a fine ratter. The cat's-meat-man used to make a 
business of rat-catching for the millers and farmers 
as well as his other trade of selling cat's-meat. 

My third great friend was Luke the Hermit. 
But of him I will tell you more later on. 

The Cobbler's Son 

I did not go to school; because my father was not 
rich enough to send me. But I was extremely fond 
of animals. So I used to spend my time collecting 
birds' eggs and butterflies, fishing in the river, ram- 
bling through the countryside after blackberries and 
mushrooms and helping the mussel-man mend his 

Yes, it was a very pleasant life I lived in those 
days long ago though of course I did not think 
so then. I was nine and a half years old; and, like 
all boys, I wanted to grow up not knowing how 
well off I was with no cares and nothing to worry 
me. Always I longed for the time when I should be 
allowed to leave my father's house, to take passage 
in one of those brave ships, to sail down the river 
through the misty marshes to the sea out into 
the world to seek my fortune. 



ONE early morning in the Springtime, 
when I was wandering among the hills 
at the back of the town, I happened to 
come upon a hawk with a squirrel in its 
claws. It was standing on a rock and the squirrel 
was fighting very hard for its life. The hawk was 
so frightened when I came upon it suddenly like this, 
that it dropped the poor creature and flew away. I 
picked the squirrel up and found that two of its legs 
were badly hurt. So I carried it in my arms back to 
the town. 

When I came to the bridge I went into the mussel- 
man's hut and asked him if he could do anything for 
it. Joe put on his spectacles and examined it care- 
fully. Then he shook his head. 

'Yon crittur's got a broken leg," he said 
"and another badly cut an' all. I can mend you 
your boats, Tom, but I haven't the tools nor the 
learning to make a broken squirrel seaworthy. This 
is a job for a surgeon and for a right smart one 
an' all. There be only one man I know who could 

save yon crittur's life. And that's John Dolittle." 


I Hear of the Great Naturalist 9 

"Who is John Dolittle?" I asked. "Is he a 

"No," said the mussel-man. "He's no vet. 
Doctor Dolittle is a nacheralist." 

"What's a nacheralist?" 

"A nacheralist," said Joe, putting away his 
glasses and starting to fill his pipe, "is a man 
who knows all about animals and butterflies and 
plants and rocks an' all. John Dolittle is a very 
great nacheralist. I'm surprised you never heard 
of him and you daft over animals. He knows 
a whole lot about shellfish that I know from my 
own knowledge. He's a quiet man and don't talk 
much; but there's folks who do say he's the greatest 
nacheralist in the world." 

'Where does he live?" I asked. 

"Over on the Oxenthorpe Road, t'other side the 
town. Don't know just which house it is, but 'most 
anyone 'cross there could tell you, I reckon. Go 
and see him. He's a great man." 

So I thanked the mussel-man, took up my squirrel 
again and started off towards the Oxenthorpe Road. 

The first thing I heard as I came into the market- 
place was some one calling "Meat! M-E-A-T!' 

"There's Matthew Mugg," I said to myself. 
"He'll know where this Doctor lives. Matthew 
knows everyone." 

So I hurried across the market-place and caught 
him up. 

io The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

"Matthew," I said, "do you know Doctor Do- 

"Do I know John Dolittle!" said he. "Well, I 
should think I do ! I know him as well as I know 
my own wife better, I sometimes think. He's a 
great man a very great man." 

"Can you show me where he lives?" I asked. "I 
want to take this squirrel to him. It has a broken 

"Certainly," said the cat's-meat-man. "I'll be 
going right by his house directly. Come along and 
I'll show you." 

So off we went together. 

"Oh, I've known John Dolittle for years and 
years," said Matthew as we made our way out of the 
market-place. "But I'm pretty sure he ain't home 
just now. He's away on a voyage. But he's liable 
to be back any day. I'll show you his house and 
then you'll know where to find him." 

All the way down the Oxenthorpe Road Matthew 
hardly stopped talking about his great friend, Doc- 
tor John Dolittle "M. D." He talked so much 
that he forgot all about calling out "Meat!" until 
we both suddenly noticed that we had a whole pro- 
cession of dogs following us patiently. 

'Where did the Doctor go to on this voyage?" 
I asked as Matthew handed round the meat to them. 

"I couldn't tell you," he answered. "Nobody 
never knows where he goes, nor when he's going, 

/ Hear of the Great Naturalist 1 1 

nor when he's coming back. He lives all alone ex- 
cept for his pets. He's made some great voyages 
and some wonderful discoveries. Last time he 
came back he told me he'd found a tribe of Red In- 
dians in the Pacific Ocean lived on two islands, 
they did. The husbands lived on one island and the 
wives lived on the other. Sensible people, some of 
them savages. They only met once a year, when 
the husbands came over to visit the wives for a great 
feast Christmas-time, most likely. Yes, he's a 
wonderful man is the Doctor. And as for animals, 
well, there ain't no one knows as much about 'em as 
what he does." 

"How did he get to know so much about ani- 
mals?" I asked. 

The cat's-meat-man stopped and leant down to 
whisper in my ear. 

"He talks their language " he said in a hoarse, 
mysterious voice. 

'The animals' language?" I cried. 

"Why certainly, 1 ' said Matthew. "All animals 
have some kind of a language. Some sorts talk 
more than others; some only speak in sign-language, 
like deaf-and-dumb. But the Doctor, he under- 
stands them all birds as well as animals. We 
keep it a secret though, him and me, because folks 
only laugh at you when you speak of it. Why, he 
can even write animal-language. He reads aloud 
to his pets. He's wrote history-books in monkey- 

12 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

talk, poetry in canary language and comic songs for 
magpies to sing. It's a fact. He's now busy 
learning the language of the shellfish. But he says 
it's hard work and he has caught some terrible 
colds, holding his head under water so much. He's 
a great man." 

u He certainly must be," I said. "I do wish he 
were home so I could meet him." 

''Well, there's his house, look," said the cat's- 
meat-man "that little one at the bend in the road 
there the one high up like it was sitting on the 
wall above the street." 

We were now come beyond the edge of the town. 
And the house that Matthew pointed out was quite 
a small one standing by itself. There seemed to be 
a big garden around it; and this garden was much 
higher than the road, so you had to go up a flight of 
steps in the wall before you reached the front gate 
at the top. I could see that there were many fine 
fruit trees in the garden, for their branches hung 
down over the wall in places. But the wall was so 
high I could not see anything else. 

When we reached the house Matthew went up 
the steps to the front gate and I followed him. I 
thought he was going to go into the garden; but the 
gate was locked. A dog came running down from 
the house; and he took several pieces of meat which 
the cat's-meat-man pushed through the bars of the 
gate, and some paper bags full of corn and bran. 

I Hear of the Great Naturalist 13 

I noticed that this dog did not stop to eat the meat, 
as any ordinary dog would have done, but he took 
all the things back to the house and disappeared. 
He had a curious wide collar round his neck which 
looked as though it were made of brass or some- 
thing. Then we came away. 

"The Doctor isn't back yet," said Matthew, "or 
the gate wouldn't be locked." 

"What were all those things in paper-bags you 
gave the dog?" I asked. 

"Oh, those were provisions," said Matthew 
"things for the animals to eat. The Doctor's house 
is simply full of pets. I give the things to the dog, 
while the Doctor's away, and the dog gives them to 
the other animals." 

"And what was that curious collar he was wearing 
round his neck?" 

"That's a solid gold dog-collar," said Matthew. 
"It was given to him when he was with the Doctor 
on one of his voyages long ago. He saved a man's 

"How long has the Doctor had him?" I asked. 

"Oh, a long time. Jip's getting pretty old now. 
That's why the Doctor doesn't take him on his voy- 
ages any more. He leaves him behind to take care 
of the house. Every Monday and Thursday I 
bring the food to the gate here and give it him 
through the bars. He never lets any one come in- 
side the garden while the Doctor's away not even 

14 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

me, though he knows me well. But you'll always 
be able to tell if the Doctor's back or not because 
if he is, the gate will surely be open." 

So I went off home to my father's house and put 
my squirrel to bed in an old wooden box full of 
straw. And there I nursed him myself and took 
care of him as best I could till the time should come 
\vhen the Doctor w r ould return. And every day I 
went to the little house with the big garden on the 
edge of the town and tried the gate to see if it were 
locked. Sometimes the dog, Jip, would come down 
to the gate to meet me. But though he always 
wagged his tail and seemed glad to see me, he never 
let me come inside the garden. 


ONE Monday afternoon towards the end 
of April my father asked me to take 
some shoes which he had mended to a 
house on the other side of the town. 
They were for a Colonel Bellowes who was very 

I found the house and rang the bell at the front 
door. The Colonel opened it, stuck out a very red 
face and said, "Go round to the tradesmen's en- 
trance go to the back door." Then he slammed 
the door shut. 

I felt inclined to throw the shoes into the middle 
of his flower-bed. But I thought my father might 
be angry, so I didn't. I went round to the back 
door, and there the Colonel's wife met me and took 
the shoes from me. She looked a timid little 
woman and had her hands all over flour as though 
she were making bread. She seemed to be terribly 
afraid of her husband whom I could still hear 
stumping round the house somewhere, grunting 
indignantly because I had come tc the front door. 
Then she asked me in a whisper if I w r ould have a 


16 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

bun and a glass of milk. And I said, "Yes, please." 

After I had eaten the bun and milk, I thanked 
the Colonel's wife and came away. Then I 
thought that before I went home I would go and 
see if the Doctor had come back yet. I had been 
to his house once already that morning. But I 
thought I'd just like to go and take another look. 
My squirrel wasn't getting any better and I was 
beginning to be worried about him. 

So I turned into the Oxenthorpe Road and 
started off towards the Doctor's house. On the 
way I noticed that the sky was clouding over and 
that it looked as though it might rain. 

I reached the gate and found it still locked. I 
felt very discouraged. I had been coming here 
every day for a week now. The dog, Jip, came 
to the gate and wagged his tail as usual, and then 
sat down and watched me closely to see that I 
didn't get in. 

I began to fear that my squirrel would die before 
the Doctor came back. I turned away sadly, went 
down the steps on to the road and turned towards 
home again. 

I wondere'd if it were supper-time yet. Of 
course I had no watch of my own, but I noticed a 
gentleman coming towards me down the road; and 
when he got nearer I saw it was the Colonel out for 
a walk. He was all wrapped up in smart overcoats 
and mufflers and bright-colored gloves. It was 

The Doctor's Home 17 

not a very cold day but he had so many clothes on 
he looked like a pillow inside a roll of blankets. 
I asked him if he would please tell me the time. 

He stopped, grunted and glared down at me 
his red face growing redder still; and when he spoke 
it sounded like the cork coming out of a gingerbeer- 

"Do you imagine for one moment," he splut- 
tered, "that I am going to get myself all unbuttoned 
just to tell a little boy like you the time!'' And he 
went stumping down the street, grunting harder 
than ever. 

I stood still a moment looking after him and 
wondering how old I would have to be, to have him 
go to the trouble of getting his watch out. And 
then, all of a sudden, the rain came down in 

I have never seen it rain so hard. It got dark, 
almost like night. The wind began to blow; the 
thunder rolled; the lightning flashed, and in a 
moment the gutters of the road were flowing like 
a river. There was no place handy to take shelter, 
so I put my head down against the driving wind and 
started to run towards home. 

I hadn't gone very far when my head bumped 
into something soft and I sat down suddenly on 
the pavement. I looked up to see whom I had run 
into. And there in front of me, sitting on the wet 
pavement like myself, was a little round man with a 

1 8 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

very kind face. He wore a shabby high hat and 
in his hand he had a small black bag. 

'I'm very sorry," I said. "I had my head down 
and I didn't see you coming." 

To my great surprise, instead of getting angry at 
being knocked down, the little man began to laugh. 
'You know this reminds me," he said, "of a time 
once when I was in India. I ran full tilt into a 
woman in a thunderstorm. But she was carry- 
ing a pitcher of molasses on her head and I had trea- 
cle in my hair for weeks afterwards the flies 
followed me everywhere. I didn't hurt you, 
did I?" 

"No," I said. "I'm all right." 

"It was just as much my fault as it was yours, you 
know," said the little man. "I had my head down 
too but look here, we mustn't sit talking like this. 
You must be soaked. I know I am. How far have 
you got to go?" 

"My home is on the other side of the town," I 
said, as we picked ourselves up. 

"My Goodness, but that was a wet pavement!" 
said he. "And I declare it's coming down worse 
than ever. Come along to my house and get dried. 
A storm like this can't last." 

He took hold of my hand and we started running 
back down the road together. As we ran I began 
to wonder who this funny little man could be, and 
where he lived. I was a perfect stranger to him, 

The Doctor's Home 19 

and yet he was taking me to his own home to get 
dried. Such a change, after the old red-faced Col- 
onel who had refused even to tell me the time ! 
Presently we stopped. 

"Here we are," he said. 

I looked up to see where we were and found my- 
self back at the foot of the steps leading to the little 
house with the big garden! My new friend was 
already running up the steps and opening the gate 
with some keys he took from his pocket. 

"Surely," I thought, "this cannot be the great 
Doctor Dolittle himself!" 

I suppose after hearing so much about him I had 
expected some one very tall and strong and marvel- 
ous. It was hard to believe that this funny little 
man with the kind smiling face could be really he. 
Yet here he was, sure enough, running up the steps 
and opening the very gate which I had been watch- 
ing for so many days ! 

The dog, Jip, came rushing out and started jump- 
ing up on him and barking with happiness. The 
rain was splashing down heavier than ever. 

"Are you Doctor Dolittle?" I shouted as we sped 
up the short garden-path to the house. 

"Yes, I'm Doctor Dolittle," said he, opening the 
front door with the same bunch of keys. "Get in! 
Don't bother about wiping your feet. Never mind 
the mud. Take it in with you. Get in out of the 

2O The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

I popped in, he and Jip following. Then he 
slammed the door to behind us. 

The storm had made it dark enough outside; but 
inside the house, with the door closed, it was as 
black as night. Then began the most extraordinary 
noise that I have ever heard. It sounded like all 
sorts and kinds of animals and birds calling and 
squeaking and screeching at the same time. I could 
hear things trundling down the stairs and hurrying 
along passages. Somewhere in the dark a duck was 
quacking, a cock was crowing, a dove was cooing, 
an owl was hooting, a lamb was bleating and Jip 
was barking. I felt birds' wings fluttering and 
fanning near my face. Things kept bumping into 
my legs and nearly upsetting me. The whole front 
hall seemed to be filling up with animals. The 
noise, together with the roaring of the rain, was 
tremendous; and I was beginning to grow a little 
bit scared when I felt the Doctor take hold of my 
arm and shout into my ear. 

"Don't he alarmed. Don't be frightened. 
These are just some of my pets. I've been away 
three months and they are glad to see me home 
again. Stand still where you are till I strike a 
light. My Gracious, what a storm! Just listen 
to that thunder!" 

So there I stood in the pitch-black dark, while all 
kinds of animals which I couldn't see chattered and 
jostled around me. It was a curious and a funny 

The Doctor's Home 21 

feeling. I had often wondered, when I had looked 
in from the front gate, what Doctor Dolittle would 
be like and what the funny little house would have 
inside it. But I never imagined it would be any- 
thing like this. Yet somehow after I had felt tht 
Doctor's hand upon my arm I was not frightened, 
only confused. It all seemed like some queer 
dream; and I was beginning to wonder if I was 
really awake, when I heard the Doctor speaking 

"My blessed matches are all wet. They won't 
strike. Have you got any?" 

"No, I'm afraid I haven't," I called back. 

"Never mind," said he. "Perhaps Dab-Dab can 
raise us a light somewhere." 

Then the Doctor made some funny clicking 
noises with his tongue and I heard some one trundle 
up the stairs again and start moving about in the 
rooms above. 

Then we waited quite a while without anything 

"Will the light be long in coming?" I asked. 
"Some animal is sitting on my foot and my toes are 
going to sleep." 

"No, only a minute," said the Doctor. "She'll 
be back in a minute." 

And just then I saw the first glimmerings of a 
light around the landing above. At once all the 
animals kept quiet. 


"And in her right foot she carried a lighted candle!' 

The Doctor's Home 23 

"I thought you lived alone," I said to the Doctor. 

"So I do," said he. "It is Dab-Dab who is 
bringing the light." 

I looked up the stairs trying to make out who was 
coming. I could not see around the landing but I 
heard the most curious footstep on the upper flight. 
It sounded like some one hopping down from one 
step to the other, as though he were using only one 

As the light came lower, it grew brighter and 
began to throw strange jumping shadows on the 

"Ah at last!" said the Doctor. "Good old 

And then I thought I really must be dreaming. 
For there, craning her neck round the bend of the 
landing, hopping down the stairs on one leg, came a 
spotless white duck. And in her right foot she 
carried a lighted candle ! 



WHEN at last I could look around me 
I found that the hall was indeed 
simply full of animals. It seemed to 
me that almost every kind of creature 
from the countryside must be there : a pigeon, a 
white rat, an owl, a badger, a jackdaw there was 
even a small pig, just in from the rainy garden, care- 
fully wiping his feet on the mat while the light from 
the candle glistened on his wet pink back. 

The Doctor took the candlestick from the duck 
and turned to me. 

"Look here," he said: "you must get those 
wet clothes off by the way, what is your name?" 
"Tommy Stubbins," I said. 

"Oh, are you the son of Jacob Stubbins, the shoe- 

"Yes," I said. 

"Excellent bootmaker, your father," said the 
Doctor. "You see these?" and he held up his right 
foot to show me the enormous boots he was wear- 
ing. 'Your father made me those boots four years 
ago, and I've been wearing them ever since per- 
fectly wonderful boots Well now, look here, 


The Wiff-Waff 25 

Stubbins. You've got to change those wet things 
and quick. Wait a moment till I get some more 
candles lit, and then we'll go upstairs and find some 
dry clothes. You'll have to wear an old suit of 
mine till we can get yours dry again by the 

So presently when more candles had been lighted 
round different parts of the house, we went upstairs; 
and when we had come into a bedroom the Doctor 
opened a big wardrobe and took out two suits of 
old clothes. These we put on. Then we carried 
our wet ones down to the kitchen and started a fire 
in the big chimney. The coat of the Doctor's 
which I was wearing was so large for me that I 
kept treading on my own coat-tails while I was help- 
ing to fetch the wood up from the cellar. But very 
soon we had a huge big fire blazing up the chimney 
and we hung our wet clothes around on chairs. 

"Now let's cook some supper," said the Doctor. 
"You'll stay and have supper with me, Stubbins, 
of course?" 

Already I was beginning to be very fond of this 
funny little man who called me "Stubbins," instead 
of "Tommy" or "little lad" (I did so hate to be 
called "little lad"!) This man seemed to begin 
right away treating me as though I were a grown-up 
friend of his. And when he asked me to stop and 
have supper with him I felt terribly proud and 
happy. But I suddenly remembered that I had 

26 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

not told my mother that I would be out late. So 
very sadly I answered, 

'Thank you very much. I would like to stay, 
but I am afraid that my mother will begin to worry 
and wonder where I am if I don't get back." 

"Oh, but my dear Stubbins," said the Doctor, 
throwing another log of wood on the fire, "your 
clothes aren't dry yet. You'll have to wait for 
them, won't you? By the time they are ready to 
put on we will have supper cooked and eaten 
Did you see where I put my bag?" 

"I think it is still in the hall," I said. "I'll go 
and see." 

I found the bag near the front door. It was 
made of black leather and looked very, very old. 
One of its latches was broken and it was tied up 
round the middle with a piece of string. 

"Thank you," said the Doctor when I brought it 
to him. 

"Was that bag all the luggage you had for your 
voyage?" I asked. 

"Yes," said the Doctor, as he undid the piece 
of string. "I don't believe in a lot of baggage. 
It's such a nuisance. Life's too short to fuss with 
it. And it isn't really necessary, you know Where 
did I put those sausages?" 

The Doctor was feeling about inside the bag. 
First he brought out a loaf of new bread. Next 
came a glass jar with a curious metal top to it. He 

The W iff -Waff 27 

held this up to the light very carefully before he 
set it down upon the table; and I could see that 
there was some strange little water-creature swim- 
ming about inside. At last the Doctor brought out 
a pound of sausages. 

'Now," he said, "all we want is a frying-pan." 

We went into the scullery and there we found 
some pots and pans hanging against the wall. The 
Doctor took down the frying-pan. It was quite 
rusty on the inside. 

"Dear me, just look at that!" said he. "That's 
the worst of being away so long. The animals are 
very good and keep the house wonderfully clean 
as far as they can. Dab-Dab is a perfect marvel 
as a housekeeper. But some things of course they 
can't manage. Never mind, we'll soon clean it up. 
You'll find some silver-sand down there, under the 
sink, Stubbins. Just hand it up to me, will you?" 

In a few moments we had the pan all shiny 
and bright and the sausages were put over the 
kitchen-fire and a beautiful frying smell went all 
through the house. 

While the Doctor was busy at the cooking I went 
and took another look at the funny little creature 
swimming about in the glass jar. 

"What is this animal?" I asked. 

"Oh that," said the Doctor, turning round 
"that's a Wiff-Waff. Its full name is hippocampus 
pippitopitus. But the natives just call it a Wiff- 

28 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

Waff on account of the way it waves its tail, swim- 
ming, I imagine. That's what I went on this last 
voyage for, to get that. You see I'm very busy just 
now trying to learn the language of the shellfish. 
They have languages, of that I feel sure. I can talk 
a little shark language and porpoise dialect myself. 
But what I particularly want to learn now is shell- 

"Why?" I asked. 

'Well, you see, some of the shellfish are the 
oldest kind of animals in the world that we know of. 
We find their shells in the rocks turned to stone 
thousands of years old. So I feel quite sure that 
if I could only get to talk their language, I should be 
able to learn a whole lot about what the world was 
like ages and ages and ages ago. You see?" 

"But couldn't some of the other animals tell you 
as well?" 

"I don't think so," said the Doctor, prodding the 
sausages with a fork. "To be sure, the monkeys I 
knew in Africa some time ago were very helpful in 
telling me about bygone days; but they only went 
back a thousand years or so. No, I am certain that 
the oldest history in the world is to be had from the 
shellfish and from them only. You see most of 
the other animals that were alive in those very an- 
cient times have now become extinct." 

"Have you learned any shellfish language yet?" 
I asked. 

The W iff -Waff 29 

"No. I've only just begun. I wanted this par- 
ticular kind of a pipe-fish because he is half a shell- 
fish and half an ordinary fish. I went all the way 
to the Eastern Mediterranean after him. But I'm 
very much afraid he isn't going to be a great deal of 
help to me. To tell you the truth, I'm rather dis- 
appointed in his appearance. He doesn't look very 
intelligent, does he?" 

"No, he doesn't," I agreed. 

u Ah," said the Doctor. "The sausages are done 
to a turn. Come along hold your plate near and 
let me give you some." 

Then we sat down at the kitchen-table and started 
a hearty meal. 

It was a wonderful kitchen, that. I had many 
meals there afterwards and I found it a better place 
to eat in than the grandest dining-room in the world. 
It was so cozy and home-like and warm. It was so 
handy for the food too. You took it right off the 
fire, hot, and put it on the table and ate it. And 
you could watch your toast toasting at the fender 
and see it didn't burn while you drank your soup. 
And if you had forgotten to put the salt on the table, 
you didn't have to get up and go into another room 
to fetch it; you just reached round and took the big 
wooden box off the dresser behind you. Then the 
fireplace the biggest fireplace you ever saw was 
like a room in itself. You could get right inside it 
even when the logs were burning and sit on the wide 

30 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

seats either side and roast chestnuts after the meal 
was over or listen to the kettle singing, or tell 
stories, or look at picture-books by the light of the 
fire. It was a marvelous kitchen. It was like the 
Doctor, comfortable, sensible, friendly and solid. 

While we were gobbling away, the door suddenly 
opened and in marched the duck, Dab-Dab, and the 
dog, Jip, dragging sheets and pillow-cases behind 
them over the clean tiled floor. The Doctor, seeing 
how surprised I was, explained: 

"They're just going to air the bedding for me in 
front of the fire. Dab-Dab is a perfect treasure of 
a housekeeper; she never forgets anything. I had 
a sister once who used to keep house for me (poor, 
dear Sarah! I wonder how she's getting on I 
haven't seen her in many years). But she wasn't 
nearly as good as Dab-Dab. Have another sau- 

The Doctor turned and said a few words to the 
dog and duck in some strange talk and signs. They 
seemed to understand him perfectly. 

"Can you talk in squirrel language?" I asked. 

"Oh yes. That's quite an easy language," said 
the Doctor. "You could learn that yourself with- 
out a great deal of trouble. But why do you ask?" 

"Because I have a sick squirrel at home," I said. 
"I took it away from a hawk. But two of its legs 
are badly hurt and I wanted very much to have you 
see it, if you would. Shall I bring it to-morrow?" 

The W iff -Waff 31 

"Well, if its leg is badly broken I think I had 
better see it to-night. It may be too late to do 
much; but I'll come home with you and take a look 

at it.' 

So presently we felt the clothes by the fire and 
mine were found to be quite dry. I took them up- 
stairs to the bedroom and changed, and when I 
came down the Doctor was all ready waiting for me 
with his little black bag full of medicines and band- 

"Come along," he said. "The rain has stopped 


Outside it had grown bright again and the evening 
sky was all red with the setting sun; and thrushes 
were singing in the garden as we opened the gate to 
down on to the road. 



I THINK your house is the most interesting 
house I was ever in," I said as we set oft 
in the direction of the town. "May I come 
and see you again to-morrow?" 

"Certainly," said the Doctor. "Come any day 
you like. To-morrow I'll show you the garden and 
my private zoo." 

"Oh, have you a zoo?" I asked. 

"Yes," said he. 'The larger animals are too big 
for the house, so I keep them in a zoo in the garden. 
It is not a very big collection but it is interesting in 
its way." 

"It must be splendid," I said, "to be able to talk 
all the languages of the different animals. Do you 
think I could ever learn to do it?" 

"Oh surely," said the Doctor "with practise. 
You have to be very patient, you know. You really 
ought to have Polynesia to start you. It was she 
who gave me my first lessons." 

"Who is Polynesia?" I asked. 

"Polynesia was a West African parrot I had. 
She isn't with me any more now," said the Doctor 



Polynesia 33 

"Why is she dead?" 

"Oh no," said the Doctor. "She is still living, 
I hope. But when we reached Africa she seemed 
so glad to get back to her own country. She wept 
for joy. And when the time came for me to come 
back here I had not the heart to take her away 
from that sunny land although, it is true, she did 
offer to come. I left her in Africa Ah well ! I 
have missed her terribly. She wept again when we 
left. But I think I did the right thing. She was 
one of the best friends I ever had. It was she who 
first gave me the idea of learning the animal lan- 
guages and becoming an animal doctor. I often 
wonder if she remained happy in Africa, and 
whether I shall ever see her funny, old, solemn face 
again Good old Polynesia ! A most extraor- 
dinary bird Well, well!" 

Just at that moment we heard the noise of some 
one running behind us; and turning round we saw 
Jip the dog rushing down the road after us, as fast 
as his legs could bring him. He seemed very ex- 
cited about something, and as soon as he came up to 
us, he started barking and whining to the Doctor in 
a peculiar way. Then the Doctor too seemed to 
get all worked up and began talking and making 
queer signs to the dog. At length he turned to me, 
his face shining with happiness. 

"Polynesia has come back!" he cried. "Imagine 
it. Jip says she has just arrived at the house. 

34 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

My! And it's five years since I saw her Excuse 

me a minute." 

He turned as if to go back home. But the par- 
rot, Polynesia, was already flying towards us. The 
Doctor clapped his hands like a child getting a new 
toy; while the swarm of sparrows in the roadway 
fluttered, gossiping, up on to the fences, highly 
scandalized to see a gray and scarlet parrot skim- 
ming down an English lane. 

On she came, straight on to the Doctor's 
shoulder, where she immediately began talking a 
steady stream in a language I could not understand. 
She seemed to have a terrible lot to say. And 
very soon the Doctor had forgotten all about me 
and my squirrel and Jip and everything else; till al 
length the bird clearly asked him something about 

"Oh excuse me, Stubbins!" said the Doctor. "I 
was so interested listening to my old friend here. 
We must get on and see this squirrel of yours 
Polynesia, this is Thomas Stubbins." 

The parrot, on the Doctor's shoulder, nodded 
gravely towards me and then, to my great surprise, 
said quite plainly in English, 

"How do you do? I remember the night you 
were born. It was a terribly cold winter. You 
were a very ugly baby." 

"Stubbins is anxious to learn animal language," 
said the Doctor. "I was just telling him about you 

Polynesia 35 

and the lessons you gave me when Jip ran up and 
told us you had arrived." 

"Well," said the parrot, turning to me, "I may 
have started the Doctor learning but I never could 
have done even that, if he hadn't first taught me to 
understand what / was saying when I spoke Eng- 
lish. You see, many parrots can talk like a person, 
but very few of them understand what they are 
saying. They just say it because well, because 
they fancy it is smart or, because they know they 
will get crackers given them." 

By this time we had turned and were going to- 
wards my home with Jip running in front and Poly- 
nesia still perched on the Doctor's shoulder. The 
bird chattered incessantly, mostly about Africa; but 
now she spoke in English, out of politeness to me. 

"How is Prince Bumpo getting on?" asked the 

"Oh, I'm glad you asked me," said Polynesia. 
"I almost forgot to tell you. What do you think? 
Bumpo is in England!' 

"In England! You don't say!" cried the Doc- 
tor. "What on earth is he doing here?" 

"His father, the king, sent him here to a place 
called er Bullford, I think it was to study 

"Bullford! Bullford!" muttered the Doctor. 
"I never heard of the place Oh, you mean Ox- 

36 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

that's the place Oxford," said Polynesia 
U I knew it had cattle in it somewhere. Oxford 
that's the place he's gone to." 

"Well, well," murmured the Doctor. "Fancy 
Bumpo studying at Oxford Well, well!" 

'There were great doings in Jolliginki when he 
left. He was scared to death to come. He was 
the first man from that country to go abroad. He 
thought he was going to be eaten by white canni- 
bals or something. You know what those niggers 
are that ignorant! Well! But his father made 
him come. He said that all the black kings were 
sending their sons to Oxford now. It was the 
fashion, and he would have to go. Bumpo wanted 
to bring his six wives with him. But the king 
wouldn't let him do that either. Poor Bumpo 
went off in tears and everybody in the palace was 
crying too. You never heard such a hullabaloo." 

"Do you know if he ever went back in search of 
The Sleeping Beauty?" asked the Doctor. 

"Oh yes," said Polynesia "the day after you 
left. And a good thing for him he did: the king 
got to know about his helping you to escape,- and 
he was dreadfully wild about it." 

"And The Sleeping Beauty? did he ever find 

"Well, he brought back something which he said 
was The Sleeping Beauty. Myself, I think it was 
an albino niggeress. She had red hair and the 

Polynesia 37 

biggest feet you ever saw. But Bumpo was no end 
pleased with her and finally married her amid great 
rejoicings. The feastings lasted seven days. She 
became his chief wife and is now known out there 
as the Crown-Princess Eumpah you accent the 
last syllable." 

"And tell me, did he remain white?" 

"Only for about three months," said the parrot. 
"After that his face slowly returned to its natural 
color. It was just as well. He was so conspicuous 
in his bathing-suit the way he was, with his face 
white and the rest of him black." 

"And how is Chee-Chee getting on? Chee- 
Chee," added the Doctor in explanation to me, "was 
a pet monkey I had years ago. I left him too in 
Africa when I came away." 

"Well," said Polynesia frowning, "Chee-Chee 
is not entirely happy. I saw a good deal of him the 
last few years. He got dreadfully homesick for 
you and the house and the garden. It's funny, but 
I was just the same way myself. You remember 
how crazy I was to get back to the dear old land t 
And Africa is a wonderful country I don't care 
what anybody says. Well, I thought I was going 
to have a perfectly grand time. But somehow 
I don't know after a few weeks it seemed to get 
tiresome. I just couldn't seem to settle down. 
Well, to make a long story short, one night I made 
up my mind that Td come back here and find you. 

38 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

So I hunted up old Chee-Chee and told him about 
it. He said he didn't blame me a bit felt exactly 
the same way himself. Africa was so deadly quiet 
after the life we had led with you. He missed the 
stories you used to tell us out of your animal books 
and the chats we used to have sitting round the 
kitchen-fire on winter nights. The animals 
out there were very nice to us and all that. But 
somehow the dear kind creatures seemed a bit 
stupid. Chee-Chee said he had noticed it too. 
But I suppose it wasn't they who had changed; it 
was we who were different. When I left, poor 
old Chee-Chee broke down and cried. He said he 
felt as though his only friend were leaving him 
though, as you know, he has simply millions of rel- 
atives there. He said it didn't seem fair that I 
should have wings to fly over here any time I liked, 
and him with no way to follow me. But mark my 
words, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he found a 
way to come some day. He's a smart lad, is 

At this point we arrived at my home. My 
father's shop was closed and the shutters were up; 
but my mother was standing at the door looking 
down the street. 

"Good evening, Mrs. Stubbins," said the Doctor. 
"It is my fault your son is so late. I made him 
stay to supper while his clothes were drying. He 
was soaked to the skin; and so was I. We ran into 

Polynesia 39 

one another in the storm and I insisted on his com- 
ing into my house for shelter." 

U I was beginning to get worried about him," 
said my mother. ''I am thankful to you, Sir, for 
looking after him so well and bringing him home." 

"Don't mention it don't mention it," said 
the Doctor. 'We have had a very interesting 

"Who might it be that I have the honor of 
addressing?" asked my mother staring at the gray 
parrot perched on the Doctor's shoulder. 

"Oh, I'm John Dolittle. I dare say your hus- 
band will remember me. He made me some very 
excellent boots about four years ago. They 
really are splendid," added the Doctor, gazing 
down at his feet with great satisfaction. 

'The Doctor has come to cure my squirrel, 
Mother," said I. "He knows all abou f animals.' 1 

"Oh, no," said the Doctor, "not all, Stubbins, 
not all about them by any means." 

"It is very kind of you to come so far to look 
after his pet," said my mother. 'Tom is always 
bringing home strange creatures from the woods 
and the fields." 

"Is he?" said the Doctor. "Perhaps he will 
grow up to be a naturalist some day. Who 

'Won't you come in?" asked my mother. 'The 
place is a little untidy because I haven't finished 

40 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

the spring cleaning yet. But there's a nice fire 
burning in the parlor." 

"Thank you!" said the Doctor. "What a 
charming home you have!" 

And after wiping his enormous boots very, very 
carefully on the mat, the great man passed into 
the house. 



INSIDE we found my father busy practising 
on the flute beside the fire. This he always 
did, every evening, after his work was over. 
The Doctor immediately began talking to 
him about flutes and piccolos and bassoons; and 
presently my father said, 

"Perhaps you perform upon the flute yourself, 
Sir. Won't you play us a tune?" 

'Well," said the Doctor, "it is a long time since 
I touched the instrument. But I would like to try. 
May I?" 

Then the Doctor took the flute from my father 
and played and played and played. It was wonder- 
ful. My mother and father sat as still as statues, 
staring up at the ceiling as though they were in 
church; and even I, who didn't bother much about 
music except on the mouth-organ even I felt all 
sad and cold and creepy and wished I had been a 
better boy. 

"Oh I think that was just beautiful!" sighed my 
mother when at length the Doctor stopped. 

'You are a great musician, Sir," said my father, 


42 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

"a very great musician. Won't you please play 
Us something else?" 

"Why certainly," said the Doctor "Oh, but 
look here, I've forgotten all about the squirrel." 

"I'll show him to you," I said. "He is upstairs 
in my room." 

So I led the Doctor to my bedroom at the top of 
the house and showed him the squirrel in the pack- 
ing-case filled with straw. 

The animal, who had always seemed very much 
afraid of me though I had tried hard to make him 
feel at home, sat up at once when the Doctor came 
into the room and started to chatter. The Doctor 
chattered back in the same way and the squirrel 
when he was lifted up to have his leg examined, 
appeared to be rather pleased than frightened. 

I held a candle while the Doctor tied the leg up 
in what he called "splints," which he made out of 
match-sticks with his pen-knife. 

"I think you will find that his leg will get better 
now in a very short time," said the Doctor closing 
up his bag. "Don't let him run about for at least 
two weeks yei, but keep him in the open air and 
cover him up with dry leaves if the nights get cool. 
He tells me he is rather lonely here, all by himself, 
and is wondering how his wife and children are 
getting on. I have assured him you are a man to 
be trusted; and I will send a squirrel who lives in 
my garden to find out how his family are and to 

The Wounded Squirrel 43 

bring him news of them. He must be kept cheer- 
ful at all costs. Squirrels are naturally a very 
cheerful, active race. It is very hard for them to 
lie still doing nothing. But you needn't worry 
about him. He will be all right." 

Then we went back again to the parlor and my 
mother and father kept him playing the flute till 
after ten o'clock. 

Although my parents both liked the Doctor 
tremendously from the first moment that they saw 
him, and were very proud to have him come and 
play to us (for we were really terribly poor) they 
did not realize then what a truly great man he was 
one day to become. Of course now, when almost 
everybody in the whole world has heard about 
Doctor Dolittle and his books, if you were to go 
to that little house in Puddleby where my father 
had his cobbler's shop you would see, set in the wall 
over the old-fashioned door, a stone with writing 
on it which says: "JOHN DOLITTLE, THE FAMOUS 

IN THE YEAR 1839." 

I often look back upon that night long, long 
ago. And if I close my eyes and think hard I can 
see that parlor just as it was then: a funny little 
man in coat-tails, with a round kind face, playing 
away on the flute in front of the fire; my mother on 
one side of him and my father on the other, holding 
their breath and listening with their eyes shut; 

44 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

myself, with Jip, squatting on the carpet at his 
feet, staring into the coals; and Polynesia perched 
on. the mantlepiece beside his shabby high hat, 
gravely swinging her head from side to side in time 
to the music. I see it all, just as though it were 
before me now. 

And then I remember how, after we had seen the 
Doctor out at the front door, we all came back 
into the parlor and talked about him till it was still 
later; and even after I did go to bed (I had never 
stayed up so late in my life before) I dreamed 
about him and a band of strange clever animals that 
played flutes and fiddles and drums the whole night 



THE next morning, although I had gone 
to bed so late the night before, I was 
up frightfully early. The first spar- 
rows were just beginning to chirp sleep- 
ily on the slates outside my attic window when I 
jumped out of bed and scrambled into my clothes. 

I could hardly wait to get back to the little 
house with the big garden to see the Doctor and 
his private zoo. For the first time in my life I 
forgot all about breakfast; and creeping down the 
stairs on tip-toe, so as not to wake my mother and 
father, I opened the front door and popped out 
into the empty, silent street. 

When I got to the Doctor's gate I suddenly 
thought that perhaps it was too early to call on 
any one: and I began to wonder if the Doctor 
would be up yet. I looked into the garden. No 
one seemed to be about. So I opened the gate 
quietly and went inside. 

As I turned to the left to go down a path be- 
tween some hedges, I heard a voice quite close to 
me say, 

"Good morning. How early you are! r 


46 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

I turned around, and there, sitting on the top 
of a privet hedge, was the gray parrot, Polynesia. 

<r Good morning," I said. "I suppose I am rather 
earlv. Is the Doctor still in bed?" 


"Oh no," said Polynesia. "He has been up an 
hour and a half. You'll find him in the house 
somewhere. The front door is open. Just push 
it and go in. He is sure to be in the kitchen cook- 
ing breakfast or working in his study. Walk right 
in. I am waiting to see the sun rise. But upon my 
word I believe it's forgotten to rise. It is an awful 
climate, this. Now if we were in Africa the world 
would be blazing with sunlight at this hour of the 
morning. Just see that mist rolling over those 
cabbages. It is enough to give you rheumatism to 
look at it. Beastly climate Beastly! Really I 
don't know why anything but frogs ever stay in 
England Well, don't let me keep you. Run 
along and see the Doctor." 

'Thank you," I said. "I'll go and look for 

When I opened the front door I could smell 
bacon frying, so I made my way to the kitchen. 
There I discovered a large kettle boiling away over 
the fire and some bacon and eggs in a dish upon 
the hearth. It seemed to me that the bacon was 
getting all dried up with the heat. So I pulled the 
dish a little further away from the fire and went 
on through the house looking for the Doctor. 

Shellfish Talk 47 

I found him at last in the Study. I did not 
know then that it was called the Study. It was 
certainly a very interesting room, with telescopes 
and microscopes and all sorts of other strange 
things which I did not understand about but 
wished I did. Hanging on the walls were pic- 
tures of animals and fishes and strange plants and 
collections of birds' eggs and sea-shells in glass 

The Doctor was standing at the main table in 
his dressing-gown. At first I thought he was wash- 
ing his face. He had a square glass box before him 
full of water. He was holding one ear under the 
water while he covered the other with his left hand. 
As I came in he stood up. 

"Good morning, Stubbins," said he. "Going to 
be a nice day, don't you think? I've just been 
listening to the Wiff-Waff. But he is very disap- 
pointing very." 

"Why?" I said. "Didn't you find that he has 
any language at all?" 

"Oh yes," said the Doctor, "he has a language. 
But it is such a poor language only a few words, 
like 'yes' and 'no' 'hot' and 'cold.' That's all 
he can say. It's very disappointing. You see he 
really belongs to two different families of fishes. 
I thought he was going to be tremendously helpful 
Well, well!" 

"I suppose," said I, "that means he hasn't very 

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

much sense if his language is only two or three 

'Yes, I suppose it does. Possibly it is the kind 
of life he leads. You see, they are very rare now, 
these Wiff-Waffs very rare and very solitary. 
They swim around in the deepest parts of the ocean 
entirely by themselves always alone. So I pre- 
sume they really don't need to talk much." 

"Perhaps some kind of a bigger shellfish would 
talk more," I said. "After all, he is very small, 
isn't he?" 

"Yes," said the Doctor, "that's true. Oh I 
have no doubt that there are shellfish who are good 
talkers not the least doubt. But the big shell- 
fish the biggest of them, are so hard to catch. 
They are only -to be found in the deep parts of the 
sea; and as they don't swim very much, but just 
crawl along the floor of the ocean most of the 
time, they are very seldom taken in nets. I 
do wish I could find some way of going 
down to the bottom of the sea. I could 
learn a lot if I could only do that. But we are 
forgetting all about breakfast Have you had 
breakfast yet, Stubbins?" 

I told the Doctor that I had forgotten all about 
it and he at once led the way into the kitchen. 

'Yes," he said, as he poured the hot water from 
the kettle into the tea-pot, "if a man could only 
manage to get right down to the bottom of the 

Shellfish Talk 49 

sea, and live there a while, he would discover some 
wonderful things things that people have never 
dreamed of." 

"But men do go down, don't they?" I asked 
"divers and people like that? 1 " 

"Oh yes, to be sure," said the Doctor. "Divers 
go down. I've been down myself in a diving-suit, 
for that matter. But my! they only go where 
the sea is shallow. Divers can't go down where it 
is really deep. What I would like to do is to go 
down to the great depths where it is miles deep 
Well, well, I dare say I shall manage it some day. 
Let me give you another cup of tea." 



JUST at that moment Polynesia came into the 
room and said something to the Doctor in 
bird language. Of course I did not under- 
stand what it was. But the Doctor at once 
put down his knife and fork and left the room. 

"You know it is an awful shame," said the parrot 
as soon as the Doctor had closed the door. 
"Directly he comes back home, all the animals over 
the whole countryside get to hear of it and every 
sick cat and mangy rabbit for miles around comes 
to see him and ask his advice. Now there's a big 
fat hare outside at the back door with a squawking 
baby. Can she see the Doctor, please ! Thinks 
it's going to have convulsions. Stupid little thing's 
been eating Deadly Nightshade again, I suppose, 
The animals are so inconsiderate at times espe- 
cially the mothers. They come round and call the 
Doctor away from his meals and wake him out of 
his bed at all hours of the night. I don't know 
how he stands it really I don't. Why, the poor 
man never gets any peace at all ! I've told him 
time and again to have special hours for the animals 
to come. But he is so frightfully kind and con- 


Are You a Good Notlcer? 51 

siderate. He never refuses to see them if there is 
anything really wrong with them. He says the 
urgent cases must be seen at once." 

"Why don't some of the animals go and see the 
other doctors?" I asked. 

u Oh Good Gracious !" exclaimed the parrot, tos- 
sing her head scornfully. 'Why, there aren't any 
other animal-doctors not real doctors. Oh of 
course there are those vet persons, to be sure. But, 
bless you, they're no good. You see, they can't 
understand the animals' language; so how can you 
expect them to be any use? Imagine yourself, 
or your father, going to see a doctor who could not 
understand a word you say nor even tell you in 
your own language what you must do to get well ! 
Poof! those vets! They're that stupid, you've no 
idea ! Put the Doctor's bacon down by the 
fire, will you? to keep hot till he comes back." 

"Do you think I would ever be able to learn 
the language of the animals?" I asked, laying the 
plate upon the hearth. 

"Well, it all depends," said Polynesia. "Are 
you clever at lessons?' 1 

"I don't know," I answered, feeling rather 
ashamed. "You see, Tve never been to school. 
My father is too poor to send me." 

"Well/ 7 said the parrot, "I don't suppose you 
have really missed much to judge from what / 
have seen of school-boys. But listen: are you a 

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

good noticer? Do you notice things well? I 
mean, for instance, supposing you saw two cock- 
starlings on an apple-tree, and you only took one 
good look at them would you be able to tell one 
from the other if you saw them again the next 

"I don't know," I said. "I've never tried." 

"Well that," said Polynesia, brushing some 
crumbs off the corner of the table with her left 
foot "that is what you call powers of obser- 
vation noticing the small things about birds and 
animals: the way they walk and move their heads 
and flip their wings; the way they sniff the air and 
twitch their whiskers and wiggle their tails. You 
have to notice all those little things if you want to 
learn animal language. For you see, lots of the 
animals hardly talk at all with their tongues; they 
use their breath or their tails or their feet instead. 
That is because many of them, in the olden days 
when lions and tigers were more plentiful, were 
afraid to make a noise for fear the savage creatures 
heard them. Birds, of course, didn't care; for they 
always had wings to fly away with. But that is the 
first thing to remember: being a good noticer is 
terribly important in learning animal language." 

"It sounds pretty hard," I said. 

"You'll have to be very patient," said Polynesia. 
"It takes a long time to say even a few words 
properly. But if you come here often I'll give you 

'Being a good noticer is terribly important' 

54 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

a few lessons myself. And once you get started 
you'll be surprised how fast you get on. It would 
indeed be a good thing if you could learn. Because 
then you could do some of the work for the Doctor 
I mean the easier work, like bandaging and giving 
pills. Yes, yes, that's a good idea of mine. 
'Twould be a great thing if the poor man could get 
some help and some rest.. It is a scandal the way 
he works. I see no reason why you shouldn't be 
able to help him a great deal That is, if you 
are really interested in animals." 

u Oh, I'd love that!" I cried. "Do you think the 
Doctor would let me?" 

"Certainly," said Polynesia "as soon as you 
have learned something about doctoring. I'll 
speak of it to him myself Sh ! I hear him 
coming. Quick bring his bacon back on to the 



HEN breakfast was over the Doctor 
took me out to show me the garden. 
Well, if the house had been interest- 
ing, the garden was a hundred times 
more so. Of all the gardens I have ever seen that 
was the most delightful, the most fascinating. 
At first you did not realize how big it was. You 
never seemed to come to the end of it. When at 
last you were quite sure that you had seen it all, you 
would peer over a hedge, or turn a corner, or look 
up some steps, and there was a whole new part you 
never expected to find. 

It had everything everything a garden can 
have, or ever has had. There were wide, wide 
lawns with carved stone seats, green with moss. 
Over the lawns hung weeping-willows, and their 
feathery bough-tips brushed the velvet grass when 
they swung with the wind. The old flagged paths 
had high, clipped, yew hedges either side of them, 
so that they looked like the narrow streets of some 
old town; and through the hedges, doorways had 
been made; and over the doorways were shapes like 


56 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

vases and peacocks and half-moons all trimmed out 
of the living trees. There was a lovely marble fish- 
pond with golden carp and blue water-lilies in it and 
big green frogs. A high brick wall alongside the 
kitchen garden was all covered with pink and yellow 
peaches ripening in the sun. There was a wonder- 
ful great oak, hollow in the trunk, big enough for 
four men to hide inside. Many summer-houses 
there were, too some of wood and some of stone; 
and one of them was full of books to read. In a 
corner, among some rocks and ferns, was an out- 
door fire-place, where the Doctor used to fry liver 
and bacon when he had a notion to take his meals 
in the open air. There was a couch as well on 
which he used to sleep, it seems, on warm summer 
nights when the nightingales were singing at their 
best; it had wheels on it so it could be moved about 
under any tree they sang in. But the thing that 
fascinated me most of all was a tiny little tree- 
house, high up in the top branches of a great elm, 
with a long rope ladder leading to it. The Doctor 
told me he used it for looking at the moon and the 
stars through a telescope. 

It was the kind of a garden where you could 
wander and explore for days and days always 
coming upon something new, always glad to find the 
old spots over again. That first time that I saw 
the Doctor's garden I was so charmed by it that I 
felt I would like to live in it always and always 

The Garden of Dreams 

and never go outside of it again. For it had every- 
thing within its walls to give happiness, to make 
living pleasant to keep the heart at peace. It was 
the Garden of Dreams. 

One peculiar thing I noticed immediately I came 
into it; and that was what a lot of birds there were 
about. Every tree seemed to have two or three 
nests in it. And heaps of other wild creatures 
appeared to be making themselves at home there, 
too. Stoats and tortoises and dormice seemed to 
be quite common, and not in the least shy. Toads 
of different colors and sizes hopped about the lawn 
as though it belonged to them. Green lizards 
(which were very rare in Puddleby) sat up on 
the stones in the sunlight and blinked at us. Even 
snakes were to be seen. 

"You need not be afraid of them," said the Doc- 
tor, noticing that I started somewhat when a large 
black snake wiggled across the path right in front 
of us. "These fellows are not poisonous. They 
do a great deal of good in keeping down many kinds 
of garden-pests. I play the flute to them some- 
times in the evening. They love it. Stand right 
up on their tails and carry on no end. Funny thing, 
their taste for music." 

"Why do all these animals come and live here?' 1 
I asked. "I never saw a garden with so many 
creatures in it." 

"Well, I suppose it's because they get the kind 

58 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

of food they like; and nobody worries or disturbs 
them. And then, of course, they know me. And 
if they or their children get sick I presume they find 
it handy to be living in a doctor's garden Look! 
You see that sparrow on the sundial, swearing at 
the blackbird down below? Well, he has been 
coming here every summer for years. He comes 
from London. The country sparrows round about 
here are always laughing at him. They say he 
chirps with such a Cockney accent. He is a most 
amusing bird very brave but very cheeky. He 
loves nothing better than an argument, but he al- 
ways ends it by getting rude. He is a real city 
bird. In London he lives around St. Paul's Cathe- 
dral. 'Cheapside,' we call him." 

"Are all these birds from the country round 
here?" I asked. 

"Most of them," said the Doctor. "But a few 
rare ones visit me every year who ordinarily never 
come near England at all. For instance, that hand- 
some little fellow hovering over the snapdragon 
there, he's a Ruby-throated Humming-bird. Comes 
from America. Strictly speaking, he has no busi- 
ness in this climate at all. It is too cool. I make 
him sleep in the kitchen at night. Then every Au- 
gust, about the last week of the month, I have a 
Purple Bird-of-Paradise come all the way from 
Brazil to see me. She is a very great swell. 

The Garden of Dreams 59 

Hasn't arrived yet of course. And there are a 
few others, foreign birds from the tropics mostly, 
who drop in on me in the course of the summer 
months. But come, I must show you the zoo." 



I DID not think there could be anything left 
in that garden which we had not seen. But 
the Doctor took me by the arm and started 
off down a little narrow path and after many 
windings and twistings and turnings we found our- 
selves before a small door in a high stone wall. 
The Doctor pushed it open. 

Inside was still another garden. I had expected 
to find cages with animals inside them. But there 
were none to be seen. Instead there were little 
stone houses here and there all over the garden; 
and each house had a window and a door. As we 
walked in, many of these doors opened and animals 
came running out to us evidently expecting food. 

"Haven't the doors any locks on them?" I asked 
the Doctor. 

"Oh yes," he said, "every door has a lock. But 
in my zoo the doors open from the inside, not from 
the out. The locks are only there so the animals 
can go and shut themselves in any time they want 
to get away from the annoyance of other animals 

or from people who might come here. Every 


The Private Zoo 61 

animal in this zoo stays here because he likes it, 
not because he is made to." 

'They all look very happy and clean," I said. 
'Would you mind telling me the names of some of 

''Certainly. Well now: that funny-looking thing 
with plates on his back, nosing under the brick over 
there, is a South American armadillo. The little 
chap talking to him is a Canadian woodchuck. 
They both live in those holes you see at the foot 
of the wall. The two little beasts doing antics in 
the pond are a pair of Russian minks and that 
reminds me: I must go and get them some her- 
rings from the town before noon it is early-closing 
to-day. That animal just stepping out of his house 
is an antelope, one of the smaller South African 
kinds. Now let us move to the other side of those 
bushes there and I will show you some more." 

"Are those deer over there?" I asked. 

"Deer!" said the Doctor. "Where do you 

"Over there," I said, pointing "nibbling the 
grass border of the bed. There are two of them." 

"Oh, that," said the Doctor with a smile. "That 
isn't two animals: that's one animal with two heads 
the only two-headed animal in the world. It's 
called the 'pushmi-pullyu.' I brought him from 
Africa. He's very tame acts as a kind of night- 
watchman for my zoo. He only sleeps with one 

62 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

head at a time, you see very handy the other 
head stays awake all night." 

"Have you any lions or tigers?" I asked as we 
moved on. 

"No," said the Doctor. "It wouldn't be possible 
to keep them here and I wouldn't keep them 
even if I could. If I had my way, Stubbins, there 
wouldn't be a single lion or tiger in captivity any- 
where in the world. They never take to it. 
They're never happy. They never settle down. 
They are always thinking of the big countries they 
have left behind. You can see it in their eyes, 
dreaming dreaming always of the great open 
spaces where they were born; dreaming of the deep, 
dark jungles where their mothers first taught them 
how to scent and track the deer. And what are 
they given in exchange for all this?" asked the 
Doctor, stopping in his walk and growing all red 
and angry "What are they given in exchange 
for the glory of an African sunrise, for the twilight 
breeze whispering through the palms, for the green 
shade of the matted, tangled vines, for the cool, 
big-starred nights of the desert, for the patter of 
the waterfall after a hard day's hunt? What, I 
ask you, are they given in exchange for these? 
Why, a bare cage with iron bars; an ugly piece of 
dead meat thrust in to them once a day; and a 
crowd of fools to come and stare at them with 
open mouths! No, Stubbins. Lions and tigers, 

The Private Zoo 63 

the Big Hunters, should never, never be seen in 


The Doctor seemed to have grown terribly 
serious almost sad. But suddenly his manner 
changed again and he took me by the arm with his 
same old cheerful smile. 

"But we haven't seen the butterfly-houses yet 
nor the aquariums. Come along. I am very 
proud of my butterfly-houses." 

Off we went again and came presently into a 
hedged enclosure. Here I saw several big huts 
made of fine wire netting, like cages. Inside the 
netting all sorts of beautiful flowers were growing 
in the sun, with butterflies skimming over them. 
The Doctor pointed to the end of one of the huts 
where little boxes with holes in them stood in a 



Those are the hatching-boxes," said he. 
"There I put the different kinds of caterpillars. 
And as soon as they turn into butterflies and moths 
they come out into these flower-gardens to feed." 

"Do butterflies have a language?" I asked. 

"Oh I fancy they have," said the Doctor "and 
the beetles too. But so far I haven't succeeded 
in learning much about insect languages. I have 
been too busy lately trying to master the shellfish- 
talk. I mean to take it up though." 

At that moment Polynesia joined us and said, 
"Doctor, there are two guinea-pigs at the back 

64 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

door. They say they have run away from the 
boy who kept them because they didn't get the right 
stuff to eat. They want to know if you will take 
them in." 

"All right," said the Doctor. "Show them the 
way to the zoo. Give them the house on the left, 
near the gate the one the black fox had. Tell 
them what the rules are and give them a square 
meal Now, Stubbins, we will go on to the aqua- 
riums. And first of all I must show you my big, 
glass, sea-water tank where I keep the shellfish." 



WELL, there were not many days after 
that, you may be sure, when I did not 
come to see my new friend. Indeed 
I was at his house practically all day 
and every day. So that one evening my mother 
asked me jokingly why I did not take my bed over 
there and live at the Doctor's house altogether. 

After a while I think I got to be quite useful to 
the Doctor, feeding his pets for him; helping to 
make new houses and fences for the zoo; assisting 
with the sick animals that came; doing all manner 
of odd jobs about the place. So that although I 
enjoyed it all very much (it was indeed like living 
in a new world) I really think the Doctor would 
have missed me if I had not come so often. 

And all this time Polynesia came with me 
wherever I went, teaching me bird language and 
showing me how to understand the talking signs 
of the animals. At first I thought I would never 
be able to learn at all it seemed so difficult. But 
the old parrot was wonderfully patient with me 
though I could see that occasionally she had hard 

work to keep her temper. 


66 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

Soon I began to pick up the strange chatter of 
the birds and to understand the funny talking antics 
of the dogs. I used to practise listening to the 
mice behind the wainscot after I went to bed, and 
watching the cats on the roofs and pigeons in the 
market-square of Puddleby. 

And the days passed very quickly as they always 
do when life is pleasant; and the days turned into 
weeks, and weeks into months; and soon the roses 
in the Doctor's garden were losing their petals and 
yellow leaves lay upon the wide green lawn. For 
the summer was nearly gone. 

One day Polynesia and I were talking in the 
library. This was a fine long room with a grand 
mantlepiece and the walls were covered from the 
ceiling to the floor with shelves full of books: 
books of stories, books on gardening, books about 
medicine, books of travel; these I loved and espe- 
cially the Doctor's great atlas with all its maps of 
the different countries of the world. 

This afternoon Polynesia was showing me the 
books about animals which John Dolittle had writ- 
ten himself. 

"My!" I said, "what a lot of books the Doctor 
has all the way around the room! Goodness! 
I wish I could read! It must be tremendously 
interesting. Can you read, Polynesia?" 

"Only a little," said she. "Be careful how you 
turn those pages don't tear them. No, I really 

My Schoolmaster, Polynesia 67 

don't get time enough for reading much. That 
letter there is a k and this is a ." 

'What does this word under the picture mean?" 
I asked. 

"Let me see," she said, and started spelling it out. 
"B-A-B-O-O-N that's Monkey. Reading isn't nearly 
as hard as it looks, once you know the letters." 

"Polynesia," I said, "I want to ask you some- 
thing very important." 

'What is it, my boy?" said she, smoothing 
down the feathers of her right wing. Polynesia 
often spoke to me in a very patronizing way. But 
I did not mind it from her. After all, she was 
nearly two hundred years old; and I was only 

"Listen," I said, "my mother doesn't think it 
is right that I come here for so many meals. And 
I was going to ask you: supposing I did a whole 
lot more work for the Doctor why couldn't 1 
come and live here altogether? You see, instead 
of being paid like a regular gardener or workman, 
I would get my bed and meals in exchange for the 
work I did. What do you think?" 

"You mean you want to be a proper assistant to 
the Doctor, is that it?" 

"Yes. I suppose that's what you call it," 1 
answered. "You know you said yourself that you 
thought I could be very useful to him." 

"Well" she thought a moment "I really 

68 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

don't see why not. But is this what you want to 
be when you grow up, a naturalist?" 

'Yes," I said, "I have made up my mind. I 
would sooner be a naturalist than anything else in 
the world." 

"Humph! Let's go and speak to the Doctor 
about it," said Polynesia. "He's in the next room 
in the study. Open the door very gently he 
may be working and not want to be disturbed." 

I opened the door quietly and peeped in. The 
first thing I saw was an enormous black retriever 
dog sitting in the middle of the hearth-rug with his 
ears cocked up, listening to the Doctor who was 
reading aloud to him from a letter. 

"What is the Doctor doing?" I asked Polynesia 
in a whisper. 

"Oh, the dog has had a letter from his mistress 
and he has brought it to the Doctor to read for him. 
That's all. He belongs to a funny little girl called 
Minnie Dooley, who lives on the other side of the 
town. She has pigtails down her back. She and 
her brother have gone away to the seaside for the 
Summer; and the old retriever is heart-broken 
while the children are gone. So they write letters 
to him in English of course. And as the old dog 
doesn't understand them, he brings them here, and 
the Doctor turns them into dog language for him. 
I think Minnie must have written that she is coming 

My Schoolmaster, Polynesia 69 

back to judge from the dog's excitement. Just 
look at him carrying on!" 

Indeed the retriever seemed to be suddenly over- 
come with joy. As the Doctor finished the letter 
the old dog started barking at the top of his voice, 
wagging his tail wildly and jumping about the 
study. He took the letter in his mouth and ran 
out of the room snorting hard and mumbling to 

"He's going down to meet the coach," whispered 
Polynesia. "That dog's devotion to those children 
is more than I can understand. You should see 
Minnie! She's the most conceited little minx that 
ever walked. She squints too." 



RESENTLY the Doctor looked up and 
saw us at the door. 

"Oh come in, Stubbins," said he, "did 
you wish to speak to me? Come in and 
take a chair." 

''Doctor," I said, 'I want to be a naturalist 
like you when I grow up." 

"Oh you do, do you?' 1 murmured the Doctor. 
"Humph! Well! Dear me! You don't say! 
Well, well ! Have you er have you spoken 
to your mother and father about it?" 

"No, not yet," I said. "I want you to sneak to 
them for me. You would do it better. I Avant to 
be your helper your assistant, if you'll have me. 
Last night my mother was saying that she didn't 
consider it right for me to ccme here so often for 
meals. And I've been thinking about it a good 
deal since. Couldn't we make some arrangement 
couldn't I work for my meals and sleep here?" 

"But my dear Stubbins," said the Doctor, laugh- 
ing, "you are quite welcome to come here for 
three meals a day all the year round. I'm only 

too glad to have you. Besides, you do do a lot of 


My Great Idea 71 

work, as it is. I've often felt that I ought to pay 
you for what you do But what arrangement was 
it that you thought of?" 

"Well, I thought," said I, "that perhaps you 
would come and see my mother and father and 
tell them that if they let me live here with you and 
work hard, that you will teach me to read and 
write. You see my mother is awfully anxious to 
have me learn reading and writing. And besides, 
I couldn't be a proper naturalist without, could I?" 

"Oh, I don't know so much about that," said 
the Doctor. "It is nice, I admit, to be able to 
read and write. But naturalists are not all alike, 
you know. For example : this young fellow Charles 
Darwin that people are talking about so much now 
he's a Cambridge graduate reads and writes 
very well. And then Cuvier he used to be a 
tutor. But listen, the greatest naturalist of them 
all doesn't even know how to write his own name 
nor to read the A B C. n 

"Who is he?" I asked. 

"He is a mysterious person," said the Doctor 
"a very mysterious person. His name is Long Ar- 
row, the son of Golden Arrow. He is a Red 

"Have you ever seen him?' I asked. 

"No," said the Doctor, "I've never seen him. 
No white man has ever met him. I fancy Mr. 
Darwin doesn't even know that he exists. He lives 

72 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

almost entirely with the animals and with the dif- 
ferent tribes of Indians usually somewhere among 
the mountains of Peru. Never stays long in one 
place. Goes from tribe to tribe, like a sort of 
Indian tramp." 

u How do you know so much about him?" I 
asked "if you've never even seen him?" 

"The Purple Bird-of-Paradise," said the Doctor 
"she told me all about him. She says he is a 
perfectly marvelous naturalist. I got her to take 
a message to him for me last time she was here. 
I am expecting her back any day now. I can hardly 
wait to see what answer she has brought from him. 
It is already almost the last week of August. I 
do hope nothing has happened to her on the way." 

"But why do the animals and birds come to 
you when they are sick?" I said "Why don't 
they go to him, if he is so very wonderful?" 

"It seems that my methods are more up to 
date," said the Doctor. "But from what the Pur- 
ple Bird-of-Paradise tells me, Long Arrow's 
knowledge of natural history must be positively 
tremendous. His specialty is botany plants and 
all that sort of thing. But he knows a lot about 
birds and animals too. He's very good on bees 
and beetles But now tell me, Stubbins, are you 
quite sure that you really want to be a naturalist?" 

"Yes," said I, "my mind is made up." 

"Well you know, it isn't a very good profession 

My Great Idea 73 

for making money. Not at all, it isn't. Most of 
the good naturalists don't make any money what- 
ever. All they do is spend money, buying butterfly- 
nets and cases for birds' eggs and things. It is only 
now, after I have been a naturalist for many years, 
that I am beginning to make a little money from 
the books I write." 

"I don't care about money," I said. U I want 
to be a naturalist. Won't you please come and 
have dinner with my mother and father next Thurs- 
day I told them I was going to ask you and then 
you can talk to them about it. You see, there's an- 
other thing: if I'm living with you, and sort of be- 
long to your house and business, I shall be able 
to come with you next time you go on a voyage." 

"Oh, I see," said he, smiling. "So you want to 
come on a voyage with me, do you? Ah hah!" 

"I want to go on all your voyages with you. It 
would be much easier for you if you had some- 
one to carry the butterfly-nets and note-books. 
Wouldn't it now?" 

For a long time the Doctor sat thinking, drum- 
ming on the desk with his fingers, while I waited, 
terribly impatiently, to see what he was going to 

At last he shrugged his shoulders and stood up. 

"Well, Stubbins," said he, 'Til come and talk it 
over with you and your parents next Thursday. 
And well, we'll see. We'll see. Give your 

74 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 


mother and father my compliments and thank them 
for their invitation, will you?" 

Then I tore home like the wind to tell my mother 
that the Doctor had promised to come. 



THE next day I was sitting on the wall of 
the Doctor's garden after tea, talking 
to Dab-Dab. I had now learned so 
much from Polynesia that I could talk 
to most birds and some animals without a great 
deal of difficulty. I found Dab-Dab a very nice, 
old, motherly bird though not nearly so clever 
and interesting as Polynesia. She had been house- 
keeper for the Doctor many years now. 

Well, as I was saying, the old duck and I were 
sitting on the flat top of the garden-wall that even- 
ing, looking down into the Oxenthorpe Road be- 
low. We were watching some sheep being driven 
to market in Puddleby; and Dab-Dab had just been 
telling me about the Doctor's adventures in Africa. 
For she had gone on a voyage with him to that 
country long ago. 

Suddenly I heard a curious distant noise down 
the road, towards the town. It sounded like a lot 
of people cheering. I stood up on the wall to see 
if I could make out what was coming. Presently 
there appeared round a bend a great crowd of 


j6 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

school-children following a very ragged, curious- 
looking woman. 

'What in the world can it be?" cried Dab-Dab. 

The children were all laughing and shouting. 
And certainly the woman they were following was 
most extraordinary. She had very long arms and 
the most stooping shoulders I have ever seen. She 
wore a straw hat on the side of her head with 
poppies on it; and her skirt was so long for her it 
dragged on the ground like a ball-gown's train. I 
could not see anything of her face because of the 
wide hat pulled over her eyes. But as she got 
nearer to us and the laughing of the children grew 
louder, I noticed that her hands were very dark 
in color, and hairy, like a witch's. 

Then all of a sudden Dab-Dab at my side star- 
tled me by crying out in a loud voice, 

"Why, it's Chee-Chee! Chee-Chee come back at 
last! How dare those children tease him! I'll 
give the little imps something to laugh at!" 

And she flew right off the wall down into the road 
and made straight for the children, squawking away 
in a most terrifying fashion and pecking at their 
feet and legs. The children made off down the 
street back to the town as hard as they could run. 

The strange -looking figure in the straw hat stood 
gazing after them a moment and then came wearily 
up to the gate. It didn't bother to undo the latch 
but just climbed right over the gate as though it 

A traveler arrives 

78 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

were something in the way. And then I noticed 
that it took hold of the bars with its feet, so that 
it really had four hands to climb with. But it was 
only when I at last got a glimpse of the face under 
the hat that I could be really sure it was a monkey. 

Chee-Chee for it was he frowned at me sus- 
piciously from the top of the gate, as though he 
thought I was going to laugh at him like the other 
boys and girls. Then he dropped into the garden 
on the inside and immediately started taking off 
his clothes. He tore the straw hat in two and 
threw it down into the road. Then he took off his 
bodice and skirt, jumped on them savagely and 
began kicking them round the front garden. 

Presently I heard a screech from the house, and 
out flew Polynesia, followed by the Doctor and Jip. 

"Chee-Chee! Chee-Chee!" shouted the parrot. 
'You've come at last! I always told the Doctor 
you'd find a way. How ever did you do it?" 

They all gathered round him shaking him by his 
four hands, laughing and asking him a million 
questions at once. Then they all started back for 
the house. 

'Run up to my bedroom, Stubbins," said the 
Doctor, turning to me. 'You'll find a bag of pea- 
nuts in the small left-hand drawer of the bureau. 
I have always kept them there in case he might 
come back unexpectedly some day. And wait a 
minute see if Dab-Dab has any bananas in the pan- 

A Traveler Arrives 79 

try. Chee-Chee hasn't had a banana, he tells me, 
in two months." 

When I came down again to the kitchen I found 
everybody listening attentively to the monkey who 
was telling the story of his journey from Africa. 



IT seems that after Polynesia had left, Chee- 
Chee had grown more homesick than 
ever for the Doctor and the little 
house in Puddleby. At last he had 
made up his mind that by hook or crook he would 
follow her. And one day, going down to the sea- 
shore, he saw a lot of people, black and white, 
getting on to a ship that was coming to England. 
He tried to get on too. But they turned him back 
and drove him away. And presently he noticed a 
whole big family of funny people passing on to the 
ship. And one of the children in this family re- 
minded Chee-Chee of a cousin of his with whom he 
had once been in love. So he said to himself, 
'That girl looks just as much like a monkey as I 
look like a girl. If I could only get some clothes 
to wear I might easily slip on to the ship amongst 
these families, and people would take me for a 
girl. Good idea!' 1 

So he went off to a town that was quite close, 
and hopping in through an open window he found a 

skirt and bodice lying on a chair. They belonged 


Chee-Chee's Voyage 81 

to a fashionable black lady who was taking a bath. 
Chee-Chee put them on. Next he went back to the 
seashore, mingled with the crowd there and at last 
sneaked safely on to the big ship. Then he thought 
he had better hide, for fear people might look at 
him too closely. And he stayed hidden all the time 
the ship was sailing to England only coming out 
at night, when everybody was asleep, to find food. 

When he reached England and tried to get off the 
ship, the sailors saw at last that he was only a mon- 
key dressed up in girl's clothes; and they wanted 
to keep him for a pet. But he managed to give 
them the slip; and once he was on shore, he dived 
into the crowd and got away. But he was still a 
long distance from Puddleby and had to come right 
across the whole breadth of England. 

He had a terrible time of it. Whenever he 
passed through a town all the children ran after 
him in a crowd, laughing; and often silly people 
caught hold of him and tried to stop him, so that 
he had to run up lamp-posts and climb to chimney- 
pots to escape from them. At night he used to 
sleep in ditches or barns of anywhere he could hide; 
and he lived on the berries he picked from the 
hedges and the cob-nuts that grew in the copses. 
At length, after many adventures and narrow 
squeaks, he saw the tower of Puddleby Church and 
he knew that at last he was near his old home. 

When Chee-Chee had finished his story he ate 

82 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

six bananas without stopping and drank a whole 
bowlful of milk. 

"My!" he said, "why wasn't I born with 
wings, like Polynesia, so I could fly here? You've 
no idea how I grew to hate that hat and skirt. 
I've never been so uncomfortable in my life. All 
the way from Bristol here, if the wretched hat 
wasn't falling off my head or catching in the trees, 
those beastly skirts were tripping me up and getting 
wound round everything. What on earth do 
women wear those things for? Goodness, I was 
glad to see old Puddleby this morning when I 
climbed over the hill by Bellaby's farm!" 

"Your bed on top of the plate-rack in the scullery 
is all ready for you," said the Doctor. 'We never 
had it disturbed in case you might come back." 

"Yes," said Dab-Dab, "and you can have the old 
smoking-jacket of the Doctor's which you used to 
use as a blanket, in case it is cold in the night." 

"Thanks," said Chee-Chee. "It's good to be 
back in the old house again. Everything's just the 
same as when I left except the clean roller-towel 
on the back of the door there that's new 
Well, I think I'll go to bed now. I need sleep." 

Then we all went out of the kitchen into the 
scullery and watched Chee-Chee climb the plate- 
rack like a sailor going up a mast. On the top, he 
curled himself up, pulled the old smoking-jacket 

Ghee-Ghee's Voyage 83 

over him, and in a minute he was snoring peacefully. 

"Good old Chee-Chee!" whispered the Doctor. 
"I'm glad he's back." 

"Yes good old Chee-Chee!" echoed Dab-Dab 
and Polynesia. 

Then we all tip-toed out of the scullery and 
closed the door very gently behind us. 



WHEN Thursday evening came there 
was great excitement at our house, 
My mother had asked me what were 
the Doctor's favorite dishes, and 1 
had told her: spare ribs, sliced beet-root, fried 
bread, shrimps and treacle-tart. To-night she had 
them all on the table waiting for him; and she was 
now fussing round the house to see if everything 
was tidy and in readiness for his coming. 

At last we heard a knock upon the door, and of 
course it was I who got there first to let him in. 

The Doctor had brought his own flute with him 
this time. And after supper was over (which he 
enjoyed very much) the table was cleared away 
and the washing-up left in the kitchen-sink till the 
next day. Then the Doctor and my father started 
playing duets. 

They got so interested in this that I began to be 
afraid that they would never come to talking over 
my business. But at last the Doctor said, 

"Your son tells me that he is anxious to become 
a naturalist." 

And then began a long talk which lasted far into 


I Become a Doctor's Assistant 85 

the night. At first both my mother and father 
were rather against the idea as they had been 
from the beginning. They said it was only a boy- 
ish whim, and that I would get tired of it very 
soon. But after the matter had been talked over 
from every side, the Doctor turned to my father 
and said, 

"Well now, supposing, Mr. Stubbins, that your 
son came to me for two years that is, until he is 
twelve years old. During those two years he will 
have time to see if he is going to grow tired of it 
or not. Also during that time, I will promise to 
teach him reading and writing and perhaps a little 
arithmetic as well. What do you say to that?" 

"I don't know," said my father, shaking his head. 

'You are very kind and it is a handsome offer you 

make, Doctor. But I feel that Tommy ought to 

be learning some trade by which he can earn his 

living later on." 

Then my mother spoke up. Although she was 
nearly in tears at the prospect of my leaving her 
house while I was still so young, she pointed out 
to my father that this was a grand chance for me 
to get learning. 

"Now Jacob," she said, "you know that many 
lads in the town have been to the Grammar School 
till they were fourteen or fifteen years old. 
Tommy can easily spare these two years for his 
education; and if he learns no more than to read 

86 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

and write, the time will not be lost. Though 
goodness knows," she added, getting out her hand- 
kerchief to cry, "the house will seem terribly empty 
when he's gone." 

"I will take care that he comes to see you, Mrs. 
Stubbins," said the Doctor "every day, if you like. 
After all, he will not be very far away." 

Well, at length my father gave in; and it was 
agreed that I was to live with the Doctor and work 
for him for two years in exchange for learning to 
read and write and for my board and lodging. 

"Of course," added the Doctor, "while I have 
money I will keep Tommy in clothes as well. But 
money is a very irregular thing with me; sometimes 
I have some, and then sometimes I haven't." 

"You are very good, Doctor," said my mother, 
drying her tears. "It seems to me that Tommy is 
a very fortunate boy." 

And then, thoughtless, selfish little imp that I 
was, I leaned over and whispered in the Doctor's 

"Please don't forget to say something about the 

"Oh, by the way," said John Dolittle, "of course 
occasionally my work requires me to travel. You 
will have no objection, I take it, to your son's com- 
ing with me?" 

My poor mother looked up sharply, more un- 
happy and anxious than ever at this new turn; 

I Become a Doctor's Assistant 87 

while I stood behind the Doctor's chair, my heart 
thumping with excitement, waiting for my father's 



No," he said slowly after a while. "If we 
agree to the other arrangement I don't see that 
we've the right to make any objection to that." 

Well, there surely was never a happier boy in 
the world than I was at that moment. My head 
was in the clouds. I trod on air. I could scarcely 
keep from dancing round the parlor. At last the 
dream of my life was to come true! At last 1 
was to be given a chance to seek my fortune, to 
have adventures ! For I knew perfectly well that 
it was now almost time for the Doctor to start upon 
another voyage. Polynesia had told me that he 
hardly ever stayed at home for more than six 
months at a stretch. Therefore he would be 
surely going again within a fortnight. And I I, 
Tommy Stubbins, would go with him! Just to 
think of it! to cross the Sea, to walk on foreign 
shores, to roam the World! 

o O o 



FROM that time on of course my position 
in the town was very different. I was 
no longer a poor cobbler's son. I carried 
my nose in the air as I went down the 
High Street with Jip in his gold collar at my side; 
and snobbish little boys who had despised me before 
because I was not rich enough to go to school now 
pointed me out to their friends and whispered, 
'You see him? He's a doctor's assistant and 
only ten years old!" 

But their eyes would have opened still wider with 
wonder if they had but known that I and the dog 
that was with me could talk to one another. 

Two days after the Doctor had been to our 
house to dinner he told me very sadly that he was 
afraid that he would have to give up trying to learn 
the language of the shellfish at all events for the 

'Tm very discouraged, Stubbins, very. I've 
tried the mussels and the clams, the oysters and the 
whelks, cockles and scallops; seven different kinds 

The Crew of "The Curlew" 

of crabs and all the lobster family. I think I'll 
leave it for the present and go at it again later on." 

"What will you turn to now?" I asked. 

"Well, I rather thought of going on a voyage, 
Stubbins. It's quite a time now since I've been 
away. And there is a great deal of work waiting 
for me abroad." 

"When shall we start?" I asked. 

"Well, first I shall have to wait till the Purple 
Bird-of-Paradise gets here. I must see if she has 
any message for me from Long Arrow. She's 
late. She should have been here ten days ago. I 
hope to goodness she's all right." 

"Well, hadn't we better be seeing about getting 
a boat?" I said. "She is sure to be here in a day 
or so; and there will be lots of things to do to get 
ready in the mean time, won't there?' 1 

"Yes, indeed," said the Doctor. "Suppose we 
go down and see your friend Joe, the mussel-man. 
He will know about boats." 

"I'd like to come too," said Jip. 

"All right, come along," said the Doctor, and 
off we went. 

Joe said yes, he had a boat one he had just 
bought but it needed three people to sail her. 
We told him we would like to see it anyway. 

So the mussel-man took us off a little way down 
the river and showed us the neatest, prettiest, little 
vessel that ever was built. She was called The 

90 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

Curlew. Joe said he would sell her to us cheap. 
But the trouble was that the boat needed three 
people, while we were only two. 

"Of course I shall be taking Chee-Chee," said 
the Doctor. "But although he is very quick and 
clever, he is not as strong as a man. We really 
ought to have another person to sail a boat as big 
as that." 

"I know of a good sailor, Doctor," said Joe u a 
first-class seaman who would be glad of the job." 

"No, thank you, Joe," said Doctor Dolittle. "I 
don't want any seamen. I couldn't afford to hire 
them. And then they hamper me so, seamen do, 
when I'm at sea. They're always wanting to do 
things the proper way; and I like to do them my 
way Now let me see : who could we take with us?" 

"There's Matthew Mugg, the cat's-meat-man," 
I said. 

"No, he wouldn't do. Matthew's a very nice 
fellow, but he talks too much mostly about his 
rheumatism. You have to be frightfully partic- 
ular whom you take with you on long voyages." 

"How about Luke the Hermit?" I asked. 

"That's a good idea splendid if he'll come. 
Let's go and ask him right away." 



THE Hermit was an old friend of ours, as 
I have already told you. He was a very 
peculiar person. Far out on the marshes 
he lived in a little bit of a shack all 
alone except for his brindle bulldog. No one 
knew where he came from not even his name. 
Just "Luke the Hermit" folks called him. He 
never came into the town; never seemed to want 
to see or talk to people. His dog, Bob, drove 
them away if they came near his hut. When you 
asked anyone in Puddleby who he was or why he 
lived out in that lonely place by himself, the only 
answer you got was, "Oh, Luke the Hermit? 
Well, there's some mystery about him. Nobody 
knows what it is. But there's a mystery. Don't 
go near him. He'll set the dog on you." 

Nevertheless there were two people who often 
went out to that little shack on the fens : the Doctor 
and myself. And Bob, the bulldog, never barked 
when he heard us coming. For we liked Luke; 
and Luke liked us. 

This afternoon, crossing the marshes we faced 
a cold wind blowing from the East. As we 


92 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

approached the hut Jip put up his ears and said, 

"That's funny!" 

"What's funny?" asked the Doctor. 
'That Bob hasn't come out to meet us. He 
should have heard us long ago or smelt us. 
What's that queer noise?" 

"Sounds to me like a gate creaking," said the 
Doctor. "Maybe it's Luke's door, only we can't 
see the door from here; it's on the far side of the 

"I hope Bob isn't sick," said Jip; and he let 
out a bark to see if that would call him. But the 
only answer he got was the wailing of the wind 
across the wide, salt fen. 

We hurried forward, all three of us thinking 

When we reached the front of the shack we 
found the door open, swinging and creaking dis- 
mally in the wind. We looked inside. There 
was no one there. 

"Isn't Luke at home then?" said I. "Perhaps 
he's out for a walk." 

"He is always at home," said the Doctor frown- 
ing in a peculiar sort of way. "And even if he 
were out for a, walk he wouldn't leave his door 
banging in the wind behind him. There is some- 
thing queer about this What are you doing in 
there, Jip?" 

Luke the Hermit 93 

"Nothing much nothing worth speaking of," 
said Jip examining the floor of the hut extremely 

"Come here, Jip," said the Doctor in a stern 
voice. 'You are hiding something from me. You 
see signs and you know something or you guess 
it. What has happened? Tell me. Where is the 

"I don't know," said Jip looking very guilty and 
uncomfortable. "I don't know where he is." 

"Well, you know something. I can tell it from 
the look in your eye. What is it?" 

But Jip didn't answer. 

For ten minutes the Doctor kept questioning 
him. But not a word would the dog say. 

"Well," said the Doctor at last, "it is no use 
our standing around here in the cold. The Her- 
mit's gone. That's all. We might as well go home 
to luncheon." 

As we buttoned up our coats and started back 
across the marsh, Jip ran ahead pretending he was 
looking for water-rats. 

"He knows something all right," whispered the 
Doctor. "And I think he knows what has happened 
too. It's funny, his not wanting to tell me. He 
has never done that before not in eleven vears. 


He has always told me everything Strange very 


94 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

"Do you mean you think he knows all about the 
Hermit, the big mystery about him which folks 
hint at and all that?" 

"I shouldn't wonder if he did," the Doctor an- 
swered slowly. "I noticed something in his ex- 
pression the moment we found that door open and 
the hut empty. And the way he sniffed the floor 
too it told him something, that floor did. He 
saw signs we couldn't see I wonder why he won't 
tell me. I'll try him again. Here, Jip ! Jip ! 
Where is the dog? I thought he went on in front." 

"So did I," I said. "He was there a moment 
ago. I saw him as large as life. Jip Jip Jip 


But he was gone. We called and called. We 
even walked back to the hut. But Jip had disap- 

"Oh well," I said, "most likely he has just run 
home ahead of us. He often does that, you know. 
We'll find him there when we get back to the house." 

But the Doctor just closed his coat-collar tighter 
against the wind and strode on muttering, "Odd 
very odd!" 



WHEN we reached the house the first 
question the Doctor asked of Dab- 
Dab in the hall was, 
"Is Jip home yet?" 

"No," said Dab-Dab, "I haven't seen him." 
"Let me know the moment he comes in, will you, 
please?" said the Doctor, hanging up his hat. 

"Certainly I will," said Dab-Dab. "Don't be 
long over washing your hands; the lunch is on the 

Just as we were sitting down to luncheon in the 
kitchen we heard a great racket at the front door. 
I ran and opened it. In bounded Jip. 

"Doctor!" he cried, "come into the library quick. 
I've got something to tell you No, Dab-Dab, the 
luncheon must wait. Please hurry, Doctor. 
There's not a moment to be lost. Don't let any of 
the animals come just you and Tommy." 

"Now," he said, when we were inside the library 
and the door was closed, "turn the key in the 
lock and make sure there's no one listening under 
the windows." 


96 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

"It's all right," said the Doctor. "Nobody can 
hear you here. Now what is it?" 

'Well, Doctor," said Jip (he was badly out of 
breath from running) , "I know all about the Her- 
mit I have known for years. But I couldn't tell 

"Why?" asked the Doctor. 

"Because I'd promised not to tell any one. It 
was Bob, his dog, that told me. And I swore to 
him that I would keep the secret." 

'Well, and are you going to tell me now?" 

'Yes," said Jip, "we've got to save him. I 
followed Bob's scent just now when I left you out 
there on the marshes. And I found him. And I 
said to him, 'Is it all right,' I said, 'for me to tell 
the Doctor now? Maybe he can do something.' 
And Bob says to me, 'Yes,' says he, 'it's all right 
because ' 

"Oh, for Heaven's sake, go on, go on!" cried the 
Doctor. 'Tell us what the mystery is not what 
you said to Bob and what Bob said to you. What 
has happened? Where is the Hermit?" 

"He's in Puddleby Jail," said Jip. "He's in 

"In prison!" 


"What for? What's he done?" 

Jip went over to the door and smelt at the bot- 
tom of it to see if any one were listening outside. 

Jip and the Secret 97 

Then he came back to the Doctor on tiptoe and 

"He killed a man!" 

"Lord preserve us!" cried the Doctor, sitting 
down heavily in a chair and mopping his forehead 
with a handkerchief. "When did he do it?" 

"Fifteen years ago in a Mexican gold-mine. 
That's why he has been a hermit ever since. He 
shaved off his beard and kept away from people 
out there on the marshes so he wouldn't be recog- 
nized. But last week, it seems these new-fangled 
policemen came to Town; and they heard there was 
a strange man who kept to himself all alone in a 
shack on the fen. And they got suspicious. For 
a long time people had been hunting all over the 
world for the man that did that killing in the Mexi- 
can gold-mine fifteen years ago. So these police- 
men went out to the shack, and they recognized 
Luke by a mole on his arm. And they took him to 

"Well, well!" murmured the Doctor. "Who 
would have thought it? Luke, the philosopher! 
Killed a man! I can hardly believe it." 

"It's true enough unfortunately," said Jip. 
"Luke did it. But it wasn't his fault. Bob says 
so. And he was there and saw it all. He was 
scarcely more than a puppy at the time. Bob says 
Luke couldn't help it. He had to do it." 

"Where is Bob now?" asked the Doctor. 

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

"Down at the prison. I wanted him to come 
with me here to see you; but he won't leave the 
prison while Luke is there. He just sits outside 
the door of the prison-cell and won't move. He 
doesn't even eat the food they give him. Won't 
you please come down there, Doctor, and see if 
there is anything you can do? The trial is to be 
this afternoon at two o'clock. What time is it 

"It's ten minutes past one." 

"Bob says he thinks they are going to kill Luke 
for a punishment if they can prove that he did it or 
certainly keep him in prison for the rest of his life. 
Won't you please come? Perhaps if you spoke 
to the judge and told him what a good man Luke 
really is they'd let him off." 

"Of course I'll come," said the Doctor getting 
up and moving to go. "But I'm very much afraid 
that I shan't be of any real help." He turned at 
the door and hesitated thoughtfully. 

"And yet I wonder " 

Then he opened the door and passed out with 
Jip and me close at his heels. 



DAB-DAB was terribly upset when she 
found we were going away again with- 
out luncheon; and she made us take 
some cold pork-pies in our pockets to 
eat on the way. 

When we got to Puddleby Court-house (it was 
next door to the prison), we found a great crowd 
gathered around the building. 

This was the week of the Assizes a business 
which happened every three months, when many 
pick-pockets and other bad characters were tried 
by a very grand judge who came all the way from 
London. And anybody in Puddleby who had noth- 
ing special to do used to come to the Court-house 
to hear the trials. 

But to-day it was different. The crowd was not 
made up of just a few idle people. It was enor- 
mous. The news had run through the countryside 
that Luke the Hermit was to be tried for killing a 
man and that the great mystery which had hung 
over him so long was to be cleared up at last. The 
butcher and the baker had closed their shops and 
taken a holiday. All the farmers from round- 

"DffOfcfcO 99 

TOO The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

about, and all the townsfolk, were there with their 
Sunday clothes on, trying to get seats in the Court- 
house or gossipping outside in low whispers. The 
High Street was so crowded you could hardly move 
along it. I had never seen the quiet old town in 
such a state of excitement before. For Puddleby 
had not had such an Assizes since 1799, when 
Ferdinand Phipps, the Rector's oldest son, had 
robbed the bank. 

If I hadn't had the Doctor with me I am sure I 
would never have been able to make my way through 
the mob packed around the Court-house door. But 
I just followed behind him, hanging on to his coat- 
tails; and at last we got safely into the jail. 

"I want to see Luke," said the Doctor to a very 
grand person in a blue coat with brass buttons 
standing at the door. 

"Ask at the Superintendent's office," said the 
man. "Third door on the left down the corridor." 

"Who is that person you spoke to, Doctor?" 
I asked as we went along the passage. 

"He is a policeman." 

"And what are policemen?" 

"Policemen? They are to keep people in order. 
They've just been invented by Sir Robert Peel. 
That's why they are also called 'peelers' some- 
times. It is a wonderful age we live in. They're 
always thinking of something new This will be 
the Superintendent's office, I suppose." 

V > V \ * - i. t " 

V' y &?*'' T^" V^Y 


>? T' V A ^ , ''Xf-x V^-'y -' 

-\.n 4 I'^T.'- :,.' '._A -' . .\ 

./; s ^^Vv^fi^-At^^ 






v* V*M\ \ /V ; '~~^ :l ^r i \r ' / '": -"^ 

SW'/war-.x- /*,>, 




"On the bed sat the Hermit' 

IO2 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

From there another policeman was sent with us 
to show us the way. 

Outside the door of Luke's cell we found Bob, 
the bulldog, who wagged his tail sadly when he 
saw us. The man who was guiding us took a large 
bunch of keys from his pocket and opened the door. 

I had never been inside a real prison-cell before; 
and I felt quite a thrill when the policeman went 
out and locked the door after him, leaving us shut 
in the dimly-lighted, little, stone room. Before he 
went, he said that as soon as we had done talking 
with our friend we should knock upon the door and 
he would come and let us out. 

At first I could hardly see anything, it was so dim 
inside. But after a little I made out a low bed 
against the wall, under a small barred window. On 
the bed, staring down at the floor between his feet, 
sat the Hermit, his head resting in his hands. 

"Well, Luke," said the Doctor in a kindly voice, 
"they don't give you much light in here, do they?" 

Very slowly the Hermit looked up from the 

"Hulloa, John Dolittle. What brings you here?" 

"I've come to see you. I would have been here 
sooner, only I didn't hear about all this till a few 
minutes ago. I went to your hut to ask you if you 
would join me on a voyage; and when I found 
it empty I had no idea where you could be. I 
am dreadfully sorry to hear about your bad luck. 

Bob 103 

I've come to see if there is anything I can do." 

Luke shook his head. 

"No, I don't imagine there is anything can be 
done. They've caught me at last. That's the 
end of it, I suppose." 

He got up stiffly and started walking up and 
down the little room. 

"In a way I'm glad it's over," said he. "I never 
got any peace, always thinking they were after me 
afraid to speak to anyone. They were bound 
to get me in the end Yes, I'm glad it's over." 

Then the Doctor talked to Luke for more than 
half an hour, trying to cheer him up; while I sat 
around wondering what I ought to say and wishing 
I could do something. 

At last the Doctor said he wanted to see Bob; and 
we knocked upon the door and were let out by the 

"Bob," said the Doctor to the big bulldog in the 
passage, "come out with me into the porch. I 
want to ask you something." 

"How is he, Doctor?" asked Bob as we walked 
down the corridor into the Court-house porch. 

"Oh, Luke's all right. Very miserable of course, 
but he's all right. Now tell me, Bob: you saw this 
business happen, didn't you? You were there when 
the man was killed, eh?" 

"I was, Doctor," said Bob, "and I tell you " 

"All right," the Doctor interrupted, "that's 
all I want to know for the present. There isn't 

IO4 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

time to tell me more now. The trial is just going 
to begin. There are the judge and the lawyers 
coming up the steps. Now listen, Bob: I want 
you to stay with me when I go into the court-room. 
-And whatever I tell you to do, do it. Do you 
understand? Don't make any scenes. Don't bite 
anybody, no matter what they may say about Luke. 
Just behave perfectly quietly and answer any 
question I may ask you truthfully. Do you 

'Very well. But do you think you will be able to 
get him off, Doctor?" asked Bob. "He's a good 
man, Doctor. He really is. There never was a 

'We'll see, we'll see, Bob. It's a new thing I'm 
going to try. I'm not sure the judge will allow it. 
But well, we'll see. It's time to go into the 
court-room now. Don't forget what I told you. 
Remember: for Heaven's sake don't start biting 
any one or you'll get us all put out and spoil every- 



INSIDE the court-room everything was very 
solemn and wonderful. It was a high, big 
room. Raised above the floor, against the 
wall was the Judge's desk; and here the judge 
was already sitting an old, handsome man in a 
marvelous big wig of gray hair and a gown of black. 
Below him was another wide, long desk at which 
lawyers in white wigs sat. The whole thing re- 
minded me of a mixture between a church and a 

'Those twelve men at the side," whispered the 
Doctor "those in pews like a choir, they are what 
is called the jury. It is they who decide whether 
Luke is guilty whether he did it or not." 

"And look!" I said, "there's Luke himself 
in a sort of pulpit-thing with policemen each side 
of him. And there's another pulpit, the same kind, 
the other side of the room, see only that one's 

"That one is called the witness-box," said the 
Doctor. "Now I'm going down to speak to one 
of those men in white wigs; and I want you to wait 

here and keep these two seats for us. Bob will 


106 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

stay with you. Keep an eye on him better hold 
on to his collar. I shan't be more than a minute 

or so.' 

With that the Doctor disappeared into the crowd 
which filled the main part of the room. 

Then I saw the judge take up a funny little 
wooden hammer and knock on his desk with it. 
This, it seemed, was to make people keep quiet, 
for immediately every one stopped buzzing and 
talking and began to listen very respectfully. Then 
another man in a black gown stood up and began 
reading from a paper in his hand. 

He mumbled away exactly as though he were 
saying his prayers and didn't want any one to under- 
stand what language they were in. But I managed 
to catch a few words: 

"Biz biz biz biz biz otherwise known as 
Luke the Hermit, of biz biz biz. biz for 
killing his partner with biz biz biz otherwise 
known as Bluebeard Bill on the night of the biz 
biz >biz in the biz biz* biz of Mexico. 
Therefore Her Majesty's biz biz biz " 

At this moment I felt some one take hold of my 
arm from the back, and turning round I found the 
Doctor had returned with one of the men in white 

"Stubbins, this is Mr. Percy Jenkyns," said the 
Doctor. "He is Luke's lawyer. It is his business 
to get Luke off if he can." 

Mendoza 107 

Mr. Jenkyns seemed to be an extremely young 
man with a round smooth face like a boy. He 
shook hands with me and then immediately turned 
and went on talking with the Doctor. 

"Oh, I think it is a perfectly precious idea," he 
was saying. "Of course the dog must be admitted 
as a witness; he was the only one who saw the 
thing take place. I'm awfully glad you came. I 
wouldn't have missed this for anything. My hat! 
Won't it make the old court sit up? They're 
always frightfully dull, these Assizes. But this 
will stir things. A bulldog witness for the defense ! 
I do hope there are plenty of reporters present 
Yes, there's one making a sketch of the prisoner. 
I shall become known after this And won't Conkey 
be pleased? My hat!" 

He put his hand over his- mouth to smother a 
laugh- and his eyes fairly sparkled with mischief. 

"Who is Conkey?" I asked the Doctor. 

"Sh! He is speaking of the judge up there, the 
Honorable Eustace Beauchamp Conckley." 

"Now," said Mr. Jenkyns, bringing out a note- 
book, "tell me a little more about yourself, Doctor. 
You took your degree as Doctor of Medicine at 
Durham, I think you said. And the name of your 
last book was?" 

I could not hear any more for they talked in 
whispers; and I fell to looking round the court 

io8 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

Of course I could not understand everything that 
was going on, though it was all very interesting. 
People kept getting up in the place the Doctor 
called the witness-box, and the lawyers at the long 
table asked them questions about "the night of the 
29th." Then the people would get down again 
and somebody else would get up and be questioned. 

One of the lawyers (who, the Doctor told me 
afterwards, was called the Prosecutor) seemed to 
be doing his best to get the Hermit into trouble by 
asking questions which made it look as though he 
had always been a very bad man. He was a nasty 
lawyer, this Prosecutor, with a long nose. 

Most of the time I could hardly keep my eyes off 
poor Luke, who sat there between his two policemen, 
staring at the floor as though he weren't interested. 
The only time I saw him take any notice at all was 
when a small dark man with wicked, little, watery 
eyes got up into the witness-box. I heard Bob 
snarl under my chair as this person came into the 
court-room and Luke's eyes just blazed with anger 
and contempt. 

This man said his name was Mendoza and that 
he was the one who had guided the Mexican police 
to the mine after Bluebeard Bill had been killed. 
And at every word he said I could hear Bob down 
below me muttering between his teeth, 

"It's a lie! It's a lie! I'll chew his face. It's 
a lie!" 

Mendoza 109 

And both the Doctor and I had hard work keeping 
the dog under the seat. 

Then I noticed that our Mr. Jenkyns had disap- 
peared from the Doctor's side. But presently I 
saw him stand up at the long table to speak to the 

'Your Honor," said he, "I wish to introduce a 
new witness for the defense, Doctor John Dolittle, 
the naturalist. Will you please step into the wit- 
ness-stand, Doctor?" 

There was a buzz of excitement as the Doctor 
made his way across the crowded room; and I 
noticed the nasty lawyer with the long nose lean 
down and whisper something to a friend, smiling in 
an ugly way which made me want to pinch him. 

Then Mr. Jenkyns asked the Doctor a whole lot 
of questions about himself and made him answer 
in a loud voice so the whole court could hear. He 
finished up by saying, 

u And you are prepared to swear, Doctor Dolittle, 
that you understand the language of dogs and can 
make them understand you. Is that so?" 

"Yes," said the Doctor, "that is so." 

"And what, might I ask," put in the judge in a 
very quiet, dignified voice, "has all this to do with 
the killing of er er Bluebeard Bill?" 

"This, Your Honor," said Mr. Jenkyns, talking 
in a very grand manner as though he were on a 
stage in a theatre: "there is in this court-room at 

no The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

the present moment a bulldog, who was the only 
living thing that saw the man killed. With the 
Court's permission I propose to put that dog in the 
witness-stand and have him questioned before you 
by the eminent scientist, Doctor John Dolittle." 



AT first there was a dead silence in the 
Court. Then everybody began whisper- 
ing or giggling at the same time, till the 
whole room sounded like a great hive 
of bees. Many people seemed to be shocked; most 
of them were amused; and a few were angry. 

Presently up sprang the nasty lawyer with the 
long nose. 

"I protest, Your Honor," he cried, waving his 
arms wildly to the judge. "I object. The dignity 
of this court is in peril. I protest." 

''I am the one to take care of the dignity of this 
court," said the judge. 

Then Mr. Jenkyns got up again. (If it hadn't 
been such a serious matter, it was almost like a 
Punch-and-Judy show: somebody was always pop- 
ping down and somebody else popping up). 

"If there is any doubt on the score of our being 
able to do as we say, Your Honor will have no 
objection, I trust, to the Doctor's giving the Court 
a demonstration of his powers of showing that he 
actually can understand the speech of animals?" 

I thought I saw a twinkle of amusement come into 


112 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

the old judge's eyes as he sat considering a moment 
before he answered. 

"No," he said at last, "I don't think so." Then 
he turned to the Doctor. 

"Are you quite sure you can do this?" he asked. 

"Quite, Your Honor," said the Doctor "quite 

"Very well then," said the judge. "If you can 
satisfy us that you really are able to understand 
canine testimony, the dog shall be admitted as a 
witness. I do not see, in that case, how I could 
object to his being heard. But I warn you that if 
you are trying to make a laughing-stock of this 
Court it will go hard with you." 

"I protest, I protest!" yelled the long-nosed 
Prosecutor. 'This is a scandal, an outrage to the 

"Sit down!" said the judge in a very stern voice. 

"What animal does Your Honor wish me to 
talk with?" asked the Doctor. 

"I would like you to talk to my own dog," said 
the judge. "He is outside in the cloak-room. I 
will have him brought in; and then we shall see what 
you can do." 

Then someone went out and fetched the judge's 
dog, a lovely great Russian wolf-hound with slender 
legs and a shaggy coat. He was a proud and beau- 
tiful creature. 

"Now, Doctor," said the judge, "did you ever 

The Judge' 's Dog 113 

see this dog before? Remember you are in the 
witness-stand and under oath." 

''No, Your Honor, I never saw him before." 

'Very well then, will you please ask him to tell 
you what I had for supper last night? He was 
with me and watched me while I ate." 

Then the Doctor and the dog started talking to 
one another in signs and sounds; and they kept at 
it for quite a long time. And the Doctor began to 
giggle and get so interested that he seemed to for- 
get all about the Court and the judge and every- 
thing else. 

'What a time he takes!' 1 I heard a fat woman 
in front of me whispering. "He's only pretending. 
Of course he can't do it! Who ever heard of talk- 
ing to a dog? He must think we're children." 

"Haven't you finished yet?" the judge asked the 
Doctor. "It shouldn't take that long just to ask 
what I had for supper." 

"Oh no, Your Honor," said the Doctor. "The 
dog told me that long ago. But then he went on to 
tell me what you did after supper." 

"Never mind that," said the judge. Tell me 
what answer he gave you to my question." 

"He says you had a mutton-chop, two baked pota- 
toes, a pickled walnut and a glass of ale." 

The Honorable Eustace Beauchamp Conckley 
went white to the lips. 

H4 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

"Sounds like witchcraft," he muttered. 'I 
never dreamed " 

"And after your supper," the Doctor went on, 
"he says you went to see a prize-fight and then sat 
up playing cards for money till twelve o'clock and 
came home singing, 'We wont get ' 

"That will do," the judge interrupted, 'I am 
satisfied you can do as you say. The prisoner's 
dog shall be admitted as a witness." 

"I protest, I object!" screamed the Prosecutor. 
"Your Honor, this is " 

"Sit down!" roared the judge. "I say the dog 
shall be heard. That ends the matter. Put the 
witness in the stand." 

And then for the first time in the solemn history 
of England a dog was put in the witness-stand of 
Her Majesty's Court of Assizes. And it was I, 
Tommy Stubbins (when the Doctor made a sign to 
me across the room) who proudly led Bob up the 
aisle, through the astonished crowd, past the frown- 
ing, spluttering, long-nosed Prosecutor, and made 
him comfortable on a high chair in the witness-box; 
from where the old bulldog sat scowling down over 
the rail upon the amazed and gaping jury. 

1 j^AW 

'Sat scowling down upon the amazed and gaping jury" 



THE trial went swiftly forward after that. 
Mr. Jenkyns told the Doctor to ask Bob 
what he saw on the "night of the 29th;" 
and when Bob had told all he knew and 
the Doctor had turned it into English for the judge 
and the jury, this was what he had to say: 

"On the night of the 29th of November, 1824, I 
was with my master, Luke Fitzjohn (otherwise 
known as Luke the Hermit) and his two partners, 
Manuel Mendoza and William Boggs (otherwise 
known as Bluebeard Bill) on their gold-mine in 
Mexico. For a long time these three men had 
been hunting for gold; and they had dug a deep 
hole in the ground. On the morning of the 29th 
gold was discovered, lots of it, at the bottom of 
this hole. And all three, my master and his two 
partners, were very happy about it because now they 
would be rich. But Manuel Mendoza asked Blue- 
beard Bill to go for a walk with him. These two 
men I had always suspected of being bad. So 
when I noticed that they left my master behind, 
I followed them secretly to see what they were 

up to. And in a deep cave in the mountains I heard 


The End of the Mystery 

them arrange together to kill Luke the Hermit so 
that they should get all the gold and he have none.' 1 

At this point the judge asked, "Where is the wit- 
ness Mendoza? Constable, see that he does not 
leave the court." 

But the wicked little man with the watery eyes 
had already sneaked out when no one was looking 
and he was never seen in Puddleby again. 

"Then," Bob's statement went on, U I went to 
my master and tried very hard to make him under- 
stand that his partners were dangerous men. But 
it was no use. He did not understand dog lan- 
guage. So I did the next best thing: I never let 
him out of my sight but stayed with him every 
moment of the day and night. 

"Now the hole that they had made was so deep 
that to get down and up it you had to go in a big 
bucket tied on the end of a rope; and the three men 
used to haul one another up and let one another down 
the mine in this way. That was how the gold was 
brought up too in the bucket. Well, about seven 
o'clock in the evening my master was standing at the 
top of the mine, hauling up Bluebeard Bill who was 
in the bucket. Just as he had got Bill halfway up 
I saw Mendoza come out of the hut where we all 
lived. Mendoza thought that Bill was away buy- 
ing groceries. But he wasn't: he was in the bucket, 
And when Mendoza saw Luke hauling and straining 
on the rope he thought he was pulling up a bucket- 

n8 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

ful of gold. So he drew a pistol from his pocket 
and came sneaking up behind Luke to shoot him. 

"I barked and barked to warn my master of the 
danger he was in; but he was so busy hauling up 
Bill (who was a heavy fat man) that he took no 
notice of me. I saw that if I didn't do something 
quick he would surely be shot. So I did a thing I've 
never done before: suddenly and savagely I bit my 
master in the leg from behind. Luke was so hurt 
and startled that he did just what I wanted him 
to do : he let go the rope with both hands at once 
and turned round. And then, Crash! down went 
Bill in his bucket to the bottom of the mine and he 
was killed. 

'While my master was busy scolding me Men- 
doza put his pistol in his pocket, came up with a 
smile on his face and looked down the mine. 

" 'Why, Good Gracious' !" said he to Luke, 
'You've killed Bluebeard Bill. I must go and tell 
the police' hoping, you see, to get the whole mine 
to himself when Luke should be put in prison. 
Then he jumped on his horse and galloped away." 

"And soon my master grew afraid; for he saw 
that if Mendoza only told enough lies to the police, 
it would look as though he had killed Bill on pur< 
pose. So while Mendoza was gone he and I stole 
away together secretly and came to England. 
Here he shaved off his beard and became a hermit. 

The End of the Mystery 119 

And ever since, for fifteen years, we've remained 
in hiding. This is all I have to say. And I swear 
it is the truth, every word." 

When the Doctor finished reading Bob's long 
speech the excitement among the twelve men of the 
jury was positively terrific. One, a very old man 
with white hair, began to weep in a loud voice at 
the thought of poor Luke hiding on the fen for 
fifteen years for something he couldn't help. And 
all the others set to whispering and nodding their 
heads to one another. 

In the middle of all this up got that horrible 
Prosecutor again, waving his arms more wildly than 



Your Honor," he cried, "I must object to this 
evidence as biased. Of course the dog would not 
tell the truth against his own master. I object. 
I protest." 

"Very well," said the judge, "you are at liberty 
to cross-examine. It is your duty as Prosecutor 
to prove his evidence untrue. There is the dog: 
question him, if you do not believe what he says." 

I thought the long-nosed lawyer would have a 
fit. He looked first at the dog, then at the Doctor, 
then at the judge, then back at the dog scowling 
from the witness-box. He opened his mouth to 
say something; but no words came. He waved his 
arms some more. His face got redder and redder. 
At last, clutching his forehead, he sank weakly into 

I2O The Voyages 'of Doctor Dollttle 

his seat and had to be helped out of the court-room 
by two friends. As he was half carried through 
the door he was still feebly murmuring, "I protest 
I object I protest!" 



EXT the judge made a very long speech 
to the jury; and when it was over all the 
twelve jurymen got up and went out 
into the next room. And at that point 
the Doctor came back, leading Bob, to the seat be- 
side me. 

"What have the jurymen gone out for?" I asked. 

"They always do that at the end of a trial to 
make up their minds whether the prisoner did it or 

"Couldn't you and Bob go in with them and help 
them make up their minds the right way?" I asked. 

"No, that's not allowed. They have to talk it 
over in secret. Sometimes it takes My Gracious, 
look, they're coming back already! They didn't 
spend long over it." 

Everybody kept quite still while the twelve men 
came tramping back into their places in the pews. 
Then one of them, the leader a little man stood 
up and turned to the judge. Every one was holding 
his breath, especially the Doctor and myself, to see 
what he was going to say. You could have heard 
a pin drop while the whole court-room, the whole 


122 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

of Puddleby in fact, waited with craning necks and 
straining ears to hear the weighty words. 

'Your Honor," said the little man, "the jury 
returns a verdict of Not Guilty" 

'What's that mean?" I asked, turning to the 

But I found Doctor John Dolittle, the famous 
naturalist, standing on top of a chair, dancing about 
on one leg like a schoolboy. 

'It means he's free!" he cried, "Luke is free!" 

'Then he'll be able to come on the voyage with 
us, won't he?" 

But I could not hear his answer; for the whole 
court-room seemed to be jumping up on chairs like 
the Doctor. The crowd had suddenly gone crazy. 
All the people were laughing and calling and waving 
to Luke to show him how glad they were that he 
was free. The noise was deafening. 

Then it stopped. All was quiet again; and the 
people stood up respectfully while the judge left 
the Court. For the trial of Luke the Hermit, that 
famous trial which to this day they are still talking 
of in Puddleby, was over. 

In the hush while the judge w r as leaving, a sud- 
den shriek rang out, and there, in the doorway 
stood a woman, her arms out-stretched to the Her- 

''Luke!'" she cried, "I've found you at last!" 

"It's his wife," the fat woman in front of me 

Three Cheers 123 

whispered. "She ain't seen 'im in fifteen years, 
poor dear! What a lovely re-union. I'm glad I 
came. I wouldn't have missed this for anything!' 1 

As soon as the judge had gone the noise broke 
out again; and now the folks gathered round Luke 
and his w r ife and shook them by the hand and con- 
gratulated them and laughed over them and cried 
over them. 

"Come along, Stubbins," said the Doctor, taking 
me by the arm, "let's get out of this while we 


"But aren't you going to speak to Luke?" I said 
"to ask him if he'll come on the voyage?" 

"It wouldn't be a bit of use," said the Doctor. 
"His wife's come for him. No man stands any 
chance of going on a voyage when his wife hasn't 
seen him in fifteen years. Come along. Let's get 
home to tea. We didn't have any lunch, remem- 
ber. And we've earned something to eat. We'll 
have one of those mixed meals, lunch and tea com- 
bined with watercress and ham. Nice change. 
Come along." 

Just as we were going to step out at a side door 
I heard the crowd shouting, 

"The Doctor! The Doctor! Where's the 
Doctor? The Hermit would have hanged if it 
hndn't been for the Doctor. Speech! Speech! 
The Doctor!" 

And a man came running up to us and said. 

124 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

'The people are calling for you, Sir." 

"I'm very sorry," said the Doctor, "but I'm in 
a hurry." 

'The crowd won't be denied, Sir," said the man. 
'They want you to make a speech in the market- 

"Beg them to excuse me," said the Doctor 
"with my compliments. I have an appointment at 
my house a very important one which I may not 
break. Tell Luke to make a speech. Come along, 
Stubbins, this way." 

"Oh Lord!" he muttered as we got out into the 
open air and found another crowd waiting for him 
at the side door. "Let's go up that alleyway to 
the left. Quick! Run!" 

We took to our heels, darted through a couple 
of side streets and just managed to get away from 
the crowd. 

It was not till we had gained the Oxenthorpe 
Road that we dared to slow down to a walk and 
take our breath. And even when we reached the 
Doctor's gate and turned to look backwards towards 
the town, the faint murmur of many voices still 
reached us on the evening wind. 

'They're still clamoring for you," I said. "Lis- 

The murmur suddenly swelled up into a low 
distant roar; and although it was a mile and half 
away you could distinctly hear the words, 

Three Cheers 125 

"Three cheers for Luke the Hermit: Hooray! 
Three cheers for his dog: Hooray! Three cheers 
for his wife: Hooray! Three cheers for the Doc- 
tor: Hooray! Hooray! HOO-R-A-Y!" 



^LYNESIA was waiting for us in the front 
porch. She looked full of some impor- 
tant news. 

"Doctor," said she, "the Purple Bird- 
of-Paradise has arrived!' 

"At last!" said the Doctor. "I had begun to 
fear some accident had befallen her. And how is 

From the excited way in which the Doctor fum- 
bled his key into the lock I guessed that we were 
not going to get our tea right away, even now. 

"Oh, she seemed all right when she arrived," 
said Polynesia "tired from her long journey of 
course but otherwise all right. But what do you 
think? That mischief-making sparrow, Cheapside, 
insulted her as soon as she came into the garden. 
When I arrived on the scene she was in tears and 
was all for turning round and going straight back 
to Brazil to-night. I had the hardest work per- 
suading her to wait till you came. She's in the 
study. I shut Cheapside in one of your book-cases 
and told him I'd tell you exactly what had happened 

the moment you got home." 


The Purple Bird- of -Paradise 127 

The Doctor frowned, then walked silently and 
quickly to the study. 

Here we found the candles lit; for the daylight 
was nearly gone. Dab-Dab was standing on the 
floor mounting guard over one of the glass-fronted 
book-cases in which Cheapside had been imprisoned. 
The noisy little sparrow was still fluttering angrily 
behind the glass when we came in. 

In the centre of the big table, perched on the 
ink-stand, stood the most beautiful bird I have ever 
seen. She had a deep violet-colored breast, scarlet 
wings and a long, long sweeping tail of gold. She 
was unimaginably beautiful but looked dreadfully 
tired. Already she had her head under her wing; 
and she swayed gently from side to side on top of 
the ink-stand like a bird that has flown long and far. 

u Sh!" said Dab-Dab. "Miranda is asleep. 
I've got this little imp Cheapside in here. Listen, 
Doctor: for Heaven's sake send that sparrow 
away before he does any more mischief. He's 
nothing but a vulgar little nuisance. We've had a 
perfectly awful time trying to get Miranda to stay. 
Shall I serve your tea in here, or will you come into 
the kitchen when you're ready?" 

"We'll come into the kitchen, Dab-Dab," said 
the Doctor. "Let Cheapside out before you go, 

Dab-Dab opened the bookcase-door and Cheap- 
side strutted out trying hard not to look guilty. 

128 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

"Cheapside," said the Doctor sternly, "what did 
you say to Miranda when she arrived?" 

"I didn't say nothing, Doc, straight I didn't. 
That is, nothing much. I was picking up crumbs 
off the gravel path when she comes swanking into 
the garden, turning up her nose in all directions, 
as though she owned the earth just because she's 
got a lot of colored plumage. A London spar- 
row's as good as her any day. I don't hold by 
these gawdy bedizened foreigners nohow. Why 
don't they stay in their own country?" 

"But what did you say to her that got her so 

"All I said was, 'You don't belong in an English 
garden; you ought to be in a milliner's window. 
That's all." 


"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Cheap- 
side. Don't you realize that this bird has come 
thousands of miles to see me only to be insulted 
by your impertinent tongue as soon as she reaches 
my garden? What do you mean by it? If she 
had gone away again before I got back to-night I 
would never have forgiven you Leave the room." 

Sheepishly, but still trying to look as though he 
didn't care, Cheapside hopped out into the passage 
and Dab-Dab closed the door. 

The Doctor went up to the beautiful bird on the 
ink-stand and gently stroked its back. Instantly 
its head popped out from under its wing. 



WELL, Miranda," said the Doctor. "I'm 
terribly sorry this has happened. But 
you mustn't mind Cheapside; he 
doesn't know any better. He's a city 
bird; and all his life he has had to squabble for a 
living. You must make allowances. He doesn't 
know any better." 

Miranda stretched her gorgeous wings wearily. 
Now that I saw her awake and moving I noticed 
what a superior, well-bred manner she had. There 
were tears in her eyes and her beak was trembling. 

U I wouldn't have minded so much," she said in 
a high silvery voice, "if I hadn't been so dreadfully 
worn out That and something else," she added 
beneath her breath. 

"Did you have a hard time getting here?" asked 
the Doctor. 

"The worst passage I ever made," said Miranda. 
"The weather Well there. What's the use ? I'm 
here anyway." 

"Tell me," said the Doctor as though he had 

been impatiently waiting to say something for a 


130 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

long time: "what did Long Arrow say when you 
gave him my message?" 

The Purple Bird-of-Paradise hung her head. 
'That's the worst part of it," she said. "I 
might almost as well have not come at all. I 
wasn't able to deliver your message. I couldn't 
find him. Long Arrow, the son of Golden Arrow, 
has disappeared!" 

"Disappeared!" cried the Doctor. "Why, what's 
become of him?" 

"Nobody knows," Miranda answered. u He 
had often disappeared before, as I have told you 
so that the Indians didn't know where he was. But 
it's a mighty hard thing to hide away from the 
birds. I had always been able to find some owl 
or martin who could tell me where he was if I 
wanted to know. But not this time. That's why 
I'm nearly a fortnight late in coming to you: I 
kept hunting and hunting, asking everywhere. I 
went over the whole length and breadth of South 
America. But there wasn't a living thing could 
tell me where he was." 

There was a sad silence in the room after she 
had finished; the Doctor was frowning in a pecul- 
iar sort of way and Polynesia scratched her 

"Did you ask the black parrots?" asked Poly- 
nesia. "They usually know everything." 

Long Arrow, the Son of Golden Arrow 131 

"Certainly I did," said Miranda. "And I was 
so upset at not being able to find out anything, 
that I forgot all about observing the weather-signs 
before I started my flight here. I didn't even 
bother to break my journey at the Azores, but cut 
right across, making for the Straits of Gibraltar 
as though it were June or July. And of course I 
ran into a perfectly frightful storm in mid-Atlantic. 
I really thought I'd never come through it. Luck- 
ily I found a piece of a wrecked vessel floating in 
the sea after the storm had partly died down; and 
I roosted on it and took some sleep. If I hadn't 
been able to take that rest I wouldn't be here to tell 
the tale." 

"Poor Miranda! What a time you must have 
had!" said the Doctor. "But tell me, were you 
able to find out whereabouts Long Arrow was last 

"Yes. A young albatross told me he had seen 
him on Spidermonkey Island?" 

"Spidermonkey Island? That's somewhere off 
the coast of Brazil, isn't it?" 

"Yes, that's it. Of course I flew there right 
away and asked every bird on the island and it 
is a big island, a hundred miles long. It seems 
that Long Arrow was visiting some peculiar Indians 
that live there; and that when last seen he was 
going up into the mountains looking for rare 

132 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

medicine-plants. I got that from a tame hawk, a 
pet, which the Chief of the Indians keeps for hunt- 
ing partridges with. I nearly got caught and put 
in a cage for my pains too. That's the worst of 
having beautiful feathers: it's as much as your life 
is worth to go near most humans They say, 'oh 
how pretty!' and shoot an arrow or a bullet into 
you. You and Long Arrow were the only two 
men that I would ever trust myself near out of 
all the people in the world." 

"But was he never known to have returned from 
the mountains?" 

"No. That was the last that was seen or heard 
of him. I questioned the sea-birds around the 
shores to find out if he had left the island in a 
canoe. But they could tell me nothing." 

"Do you think that some accident has happened 
to him?" asked the Doctor in a fearful voice. 

"I'm afraid it must have," said Miranda shaking 
her head. 

"Well," said John Dolittle slowly, "if I could 
never meet Long Arrow face to face it would be 
the greatest disappointment in my whole life. Not 
only that, but it would be a great loss to the knowl- 
edge of the human race. For, from what you have 
told me of him, he knew more natural science than 
all the rest of us put together; and if he has gone 
without any one to write it down for him, so the 
world may be the better for it, it would be a terrible 

^ ........ 

**"' " T"*'v. ; _"*/_ 

. w ..*.....vv.^...... .";::;::. 


"'What else can I think?' 

134 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

thing. But you don't really think that he is dead, 
do you?" 

"What else can I think?" asked Miranda, burst- 
ing into tears, "when for six whole months he has 
not been seen by flesh, fish or fowL" 



THIS news about Long Arrow made us 
all very sad. And I could see from the 
silent dreamy way the Doctor took his 
tea that he was dreadfully upset. Every 
once in a while he would stop eating altogether and 
sit staring at the spots on the kitchen table-cloth as 
though his thoughts were far away; till Dab-Dab, 
who was watching to see that he got a good meal, 
would cough or rattle the pots in the sink. 

I did my best to cheer him up by reminding him 
of all he had done for Luke and his wife that after- 
noon. And when that didn't seem to work, I went 
on talking about our preparations for the voyage. 
"But you see, Stubbins," said he as we rose from 
the table and Dab-Dab and Chee-Chee began to 
clear away, "I don't know where to go now. I 
feel sort of lost since Miranda brought me this 
news. On this voyage I had planned going to see 
Long Arrow. I had been looking forward to it 
for a whole year. I felt he might help me in learn- 
ing the language of the shellfish and perhaps in 
finding some way of getting to the bottom of the 


136 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

sea. But now? He's gone! And all his great 
knowledge has gone with him." 

Then he seemed to fall a-dreaming again. 

"Just to think of it!" he murmured. "Long 
Arrow and I, two students Although I'd never 
met him, I felt as though I knew him quite well. 
For, in his way without any schooling he has, all 
his life, been trying to do the very things which I 
have tried to do in mine And now he's gone ! A 
whole world lay between us And only a bird knew 
us both!" 

We went back into the study, where Jip brought 
the Doctor his slippers and his pipe. And after 
the pipe was lit and the smoke began to fill the 
room the old man seemed to cheer up a little. 

"But you will go on some voyage, Doctor, won't 
you?" I asked "even if you can't go to find Long 

He looked up sharply into my face ; and I suppose 
he saw how anxious I was. Because he suddenly 
smiled his old, boyish smile and said, 

"Yes, Stubbins. Don't worry. We'll go. We 
mustn't stop working and learning, even if poor 
Long Arrow has disappeared But where to go: 
that's the question. Where shall we go?" 

There were so many places that I wanted to go 
that I couldn't make up my mind right away. And 
while I was still thinking, the Doctor sat up in his 
chair and said s 

Blind Travel 137 

"I tell you what we'll do, Stubbins: it's a game I 
used to play when I was young before Sarah came 
to live with me. I used to call it Blind Travel. 
Whenever I wanted to go on a voyage, and I 
couldn't make up my mind where to go, I would 
take the atlas and open it with my eyes shut. Next, 
I'd wave a pencil, still without looking, and stick it 
down on whatever page had fallen open. Then I'd 
open my eyes and look. It's a very exciting game, 
is Blind Travel. Because you have to swear, be- 
fore you begin, that you will go to the place the 
pencil touches, come what way. Shall we play it?'' 

"Oh, let's!" I almost yelled. "How thrilling! 
I hope it's China or Borneo or Bagdad.' 1 

And in a moment I had scrambled up the book- 
case, dragged the big atlas from the top shelf and 
laid it on the table before the Doctor. 

I knew every page in that atlas by heart. How 
many days and nights I had lingered over its old 
faded maps, following the blue rivers from the 
mountains to the sea; wondering what the little 
towns really looked like, and how wide were the 
sprawling lakes! I had had a lot of fun with that 
atlas, traveling, in my mind, all over the world. I 
can see it now: the first page had no map; it just 
told you that it was printed in Edinburgh in 1808, 
and a whole lot more about the book. The next 
page was the Solar System, showing the sun and 
planets, the stars and the moon. The third page 

138 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

was the chart of the North and South Poles. Then 
came the hemispheres, the oceans, the continents 
and the countries. 

As the Doctor began sharpening his pencil a 
thought came to me. 

"What if the pencil falls upon the North Pole," 
I asked, "will we have to go there?" 

"No. The rules of the game say you don't have 
to go any place you've been to before. You are 
allowed another try. I've been to the North Pole," 
he ended quietly, "so we shan't have to go there." 

I could hardly speak with astonishment. 

'You've been to the North pole!'' I managed to 
gasp out at last. "But I thought it was still undis- 
covered. The map shows all the places explorers 
have reached to, trying to get there. Why isn't 
your name down if you discovered it?" 

"I promised to keep it a secret. And you must 
promise me never to tell any one. Yes, I dis- 
covered the North Pole in April, 1809. But 
shortly after I got there the polar bears came to me 
in a body and told me there was a great deal of 
coal there, buried beneath the snow. They knew, 
they said, that human beings would do anything, 
and go anywhere, to get coal. So would I please 
keep it a secret. Because once people began com- 
ing up there to start coal-mines, their beautiful 
white country would be spoiled and there was 
nowhere else in the world cold enough for polar 

Blind Travel 139 

bears to be comfortable. So of course I had to 
promise them I would. Ah, well, it will be dis- 
covered again some day, by somebody else. But 
I want the polar bears to have their play-ground 
to themselves as long as possible. And I daresay 
it will be a good while yet for it certainly is a 
fiendish place to get to Well now, are we ready? 
Good! Take the pencil and stand here close to 
the table. When the book falls open, wave the 
pencil round three times and jab it down. Ready? 
All right. Shut your eyes.' 1 

It was a tense and fearful moment but very 
thrilling. We both had our eyes shut tight. I 
heard the atlas fall open with a bang. I wondered 
what page it was: England or Asia. If it should 
be the map of Asia, so much would depend on where 
that pencil would land. I waved three times in a 
circle. I began to lower my hand. The pencil- 
point touched the page. 

"All right," I called out, "it's done." 



WE both opened our eyes; then bumped 
our heads together with a crack in 
our eagerness to lean over and see 
where we were to go. 

The atlas lay open at a map called, Chart of the 
South Atlantic Ocean. My pencil-point was rest- 
ing right in the center of a tiny island. The name 
of it was printed so small that the Doctor had to 
get out his strong spectacles to read it. I was 
trembling with excitement. 

" Spidermonkey Island" he read out slowly. 
Then he whistled softly beneath his breath. "Of 
all the extraordinary things ! You've hit upon the 
very island where Long Arrow was last seen on 
earth I wonder Well, well ! How very sin- 

"We'll go there, Doctor, won't we?" I asked. 

"Of course we will. The rules of the game say 
we've got to." 

"I'm so glad it wasn't Oxenthorpe or Bristol," I 
said. "It'll be a grand voyage, this. Look at all 

the sea we've got to cross. Will it take us long?" 


Destiny and Destination 141 

"Oh, no," said the Doctor "not very. With a 
good boat and a good wind we should make it 
easily in four weeks. But isn't it extraordinary? 
Of all the places in the world you picked out that 
one with your eyes shut. Spidermonkey Island 
after all! Well, there's one good thing about it: 
I shall be able to get some Jabizri beetles." 

"What are Jabizri beetles?" 

"They are a very rare kind of beetles with pecul- 
iar habits. I want to study them. There are 
only three countries in the world where they are to 
be found. Spidermonkey Island is one of them. 
But even there they are very scarce." 

"What is this little question-mark after the name 
of the island for?" I asked, pointing to the map. 

"That means that the island's position in the 
ocean is not known very exactly that it is some- 
where about there. Ships have probably seen it in 
that neighborhood, that is all, most likely. It is 
quite possible we shall be the first white men to 
land there. But I daresay we shall have some 
difficulty in finding it first." 

How like a dream it all sounded! The two of 
us sitting there at the big study-table; the candles 
lit; the smoke curling towards the dim ceiling from 
the Doctor's pipe the two of us sitting there, talk- 
ing about finding an island in the ocean and being 
the first white men to land upon it! 

"I'll bet it will be a great voyage," I said. "It 

142 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

looks a lovely island on the map. Will there br: 
black men there?' 1 

"No. A peculiar tribe of Red Indians lives on 
it, Miranda tells me." 

At this point the poor Bird-of-Paradise stirred 
and woke up. In our excitement we had forgotten 
to speak low. 

"We are going to Spidermonkey Island, Mi- 
randa," said the Doctor. 'You know where it is, 
do you not?" 

U I know where it was the last time I saw it," 
said the bird. "But whether it will be there still, 
I can't say." 

"What do you mean?" asked the Doctor. "It is 
always in the same place surely?" 

"Not by any means," said Miranda. "Why, 
didn't you know? Spidermonkey Island is a 
floating island. It moves around all over the 
place usually somewhere near southern South 
America. But of course I could surely find it for 
you if you want to go there." 

At this fresh piece of news I could contain my- 
self no longer. I was bursting to tell some one. 
I ran dancing and singing from the room to find 

At the door I tripped over Dab-Dab, who was 
just coming in with her wings full of plates, and fell 
headlong on my nose 

Destiny and Destination 143 

"Has the boy gone crazy?" cried the duck. 
"Where do you think you're going, ninny?' 1 

"To Spidermonkey Island!" I shouted, picking 
myself up and doing cart-wheels down the hall 
"Spidermonkey Island! Hooray! And it's a 
floating island!" 

"You're going to Bedlam, I should say," snorted 
the housekeeper. "Look what you've done to my 
best china ! n 

But I was far too happy to listen to her scolding; 
and I ran on, singing, into the kitchen to find Chee< 

o O o 



THAT same week we began our prepara- 
tions for the voyage. 
Joe, the mussel-man, had the Curlew 
moved down the river and tied it up 
along the river-wall, so it would be more handy for 
loading. And for three whole days we carried 
provisions down to our beautiful new boat and 
stowed them away. 

I was surprised to find how roomy and big she 

was inside. There were three little cabins, a saloon 

(or dining-room) and underneath all this, a big 

place called the hold where the food and extra sails 

and other things were kept. 

I think Joe must have told everybody in the town 
about our coming voyage, because there was always 
a regular crowd watching us when we brought the 
things down to put aboard. And of course sooner 
or later old Matthew Mugg was bound to turn up. 

"My Goodness, Tommy," said he, as he watched 
me carrying on some sacks of flour, "but that's a 


The Third Man 145 

pretty boat! Where might the Doctor be going 
to this voyage?" 

"We're going to Spidermonkey Island," I said 

"And be you the only one the Doctor's taking 

"Well, he has spoken of wanting to take another 
man," I said; "but so far he hasn't made up his 

Matthew grunted; then squinted up at the grace- 
ful masts of the Curlew. 

"You know, Tommy," said he, "if it wasn't for 
my rheumatism I've half a mind to come with the 
Doctor myself. There's something about a boat 
standing ready to sail that always did make me feel 
venturesome and travelish-like. What's that stuff 
in the cans you're taking on?" 

"This is treacle," I said "twenty pounds of trea- 

"My Goodness," he sighed, turning away sadly. 
"That makes me feel more like going with you than 
ever But my rheumatism is that bad I can't 

I didn't hear any more for Matthew had moved 
off, still mumbling, into the crowd that stood about 
the wharf. The clock in Puddleby Church struck 
noon and I turned back, feeling very busy and im- 
portant, to the task of loading. 

But it wasn't very long before some one else came 

146 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

along and interrupted my work. This was a huge, 
big, burly man with a red beard and tattoo-marks 
all over his arms. He wiped his mouth with the 
back of his hand, spat twice on to the river-wall 
and said, 

"Boy, where's the skipper?" 

'The skipper! Who do you mean?" I asked. 

"The captain Where's the captaih of this 
craft?" he said, pointing to the Curlew. 

"Oh, you mean the Doctor," said I. "Well, he 
isn't here at present." 

At that moment the Doctor arrived with his arms 
full of note-books and butterfly-nets and glass cases 
and other natural history things. The big man 
went up to him, respectfully touching his cap. 

"Good morning, Captain," said he. "I heard 
you was in need of hands for a voyage. My name's 
Ben Butcher, able seaman." 

"I am very glad to know you," said the Doctor. 
"But I'm afraid I shan't be able to take* on any more 

"Why, but Captain," said the able seaman, "you 
surely ain't going to face deep-sea weather with 
nothing more than this bit of a lad to help you 
and with a cutter that big!" 

The Doctor assured him that he was; but the man 
didn't go away. He hung around and argued. 
He told us he had known of many ships being sunk 
through "undermanning." He got out what he 

'Boy, where's the skipper?' 

The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

called his stiffikit a paper which said what a good 
sailor he was and implored us, if we valued our 
lives, to take him. 

But the Doctor was quite firm polite but deter- 
mined and finally the man walked sorrowfully 
away, telling us he never expected to see us alive 

Callers of one sort and another kept us quite 
busy that morning. The Doctor had no sooner 
gone below to stow away his note-books than 
another visitor appeared upon the gang-plank. 
This was a most extraordinary-looking black man. 
The only other negroes I had seen had been in 
circuses, where they wore feathers and bone neck- 
laces and things like that. But this one was 
dressed in a fashionable frock coat with an enor- 
mous bright red cravat. On his head was a straw 
hat with a gay band; and over this he held a large 
green umbrella. He was very smart in every 
respect except his feet. He wore no shoes or socks. 

"Pardon me," said he', bowing elegantly, "but 
is this the ship of the physician Dolittle?" 

'Yes," I said, "did you wish to see him?" 

"I did if it will not be discommodious," he an- 

"Who shall I say it is?" 

"I am Bumpo Kahbooboo, Crown Prince of 

I ran downstairs at once and told the Doctor. 

The Third Man 149 

"How fortunate!" cried John Dolittle. "My 
old friend Bumpo ! Well, well ! He's studying 
at Oxford, you know. How good of him to come 
all this way to call on me!" And he tumbled up 
the ladder to greet his visitor. 

The strange black man seemed to be overcome 
with joy when the Doctor appeared and shook him 
warmly by the hand. 

"News reached me," he said, "that you were 
a-bout to sail upon a voyage. I hastened to see 
you before your departure. I am sublimely ec- 
stasied that I did not miss you." 

'You very nearly did miss us," said the Doctor. 
"As it happened, we were delayed somewhat in get- 
ting the necessary number of men to sail our 
boat. If it hadn't been for that, we would have 
been gone three days ago." 

"How many men does your ship's company yet 
require?" asked Bumpo. 

"Only one," said the Doctor "But it is so hard 
to find the right one." 

"Methinks I detect something of the finger of 
Destination in this," said Bumpo. "How would I 

"Splendidly," said the Doctor. "But what 
about your studies? You can't very well just go 
off and leave your university career to take care 
of itself, you know." 

"I need a holiday," said Bumpo. "Even had I 

150 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

not gone with you, I intended at the end of this 
term to take a three-months' absconsion But be- 
sides, I shall not be neglecting my edification if I 
accompany you. Before I left Jolliginki my 
august father, the King, told me to be sure and 
travel plenty. You are a man of great studiosity. 
To see the world in your company is an opportunity 
not to be sneezed upon. No-, no, indeed." 

"How did you like the life at Oxford?" asked 
the Doctor. 

"Oh, passably, passably," said Bumpo. "I liked 
it all except the algebra and the shoes. The alge- 
bra hurt my head and the shoes hurt my feet. I 
threw the shoes over a wall as soon as I got out of 
the college quadrilateral this morning; and the al- 
gebra I am happily forgetting very fast I liked 
Cicero Yes, I think Cicero's fine so simulta- 
neous. By the way, they tell me his son is rowing 
for our college next year charming fellow." 

The Doctor looked down at the black man's huge 
bare feet thoughtfully a moment. 

'Well," he said slowly, "there is something in 
what you say, Bumpo, about getting education from 
the world as well as from the college. And if you 
are really sure that you want to come, we shall be 
delighted to have you. Because, to tell you the 
truth, I think you are exactly the man we need." 



TWO days after that we had all in readi- 
ness for our departure. 
On this voyage Jip begged so hard to 
be taken that the Doctor finally gave 
in and said he could come. Polynesia and Chee- 
Chee were the only other animals to go with us. 
Dab-Dab was left in charge of the house and the 
animal family we were to leave behind. 

Of course, as is always the way, at the last mo- 
ment we kept remembering things we had forgot- 
ten; and when we finally closed the house up and 
went down the steps to the road, we were all bur- 
dened with armfuls of odd packages. 

Halfway to the river, the Doctor suddenly re- 
membered that he had left the stock-pot boiling on 
the kitchen-fire. However, we saw a blackbird fly- 

ing by who nested in our garden, and the Doctor 
asked her to go back for us and tell Dab-Dab 
about it. 

Down at the river-wall we found a great crowd 
waiting to see us off. 

Standing right near the gang-plank were my 
mother and father. I hoped that they would not 


The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

make a scene, or burst into tears or anything like 
that. But as a matter of fact they behaved quite 
well for parents. My mother said something 
about being sure not to get my feet wet; and my 
father just smiled a crooked sort of smile, patted 
me on the back and wished me luck. Good-byes 
are awfully uncomfortable things and I was glad 
when it was over and we passed on to the ship. 

We were a little surprised not to see Matthew 
Mugg among the crowd. We had felt sure that he 
would be there; and the Doctor had intended to 
give him some extra instructions about the food for 
the animals we had left at the house. 

At last, after much pulling and tugging, we got 
the anchor up and undid a lot of mooring-ropes. 
Then the Curlew began to move gently down the 
river with the out-running tide, while the people on 
the wall cheered and waved their handkerchiefs. 

We bumped into one or two other boats getting 
out into the stream; and at one sharp bend in the 
river we got stuck on a mud bank for a few minutes. 
But though the people on the shore seemed to get 
very excited at these things, the Doctor did not 
appear to be disturbed by them in the least. 

"These little accidents will happen in the most 
carefully regulated voyages," he said as he leaned 
over the side and fished for his boots which had 
got stuck in the mud while we were pushing off. 
"Sailing is much easier when you get out into the 

Good-Eye! 153 

open sea. There aren't so many silly things to 
bump into." 

For me indeed it was a great and wonderful 
feeling, that getting out into the open sea, when at 
length we passed the little lighthouse at the mouth 
of the river and found ourselves free of the land. 
It was all so new and different: just the sky above 
you and sea below. This ship, which was to be our 
house and our street, our home and our garden, for 
so many days to come, seemed so tiny in all this 
wide water so tiny and yet so snug, sufficient, safe. 

I looked around me and took in a deep breath. 
The Doctor was at the wheel steering the boat 
which* was now leaping and plunging gently through 
the waves. (I had expected to feel seasick at first 
but was delighted to find that I didn't.) Bumpo 
had been told off to go downstairs and prepare din- 
ner for us. Chee-Chee was coiling up ropes in 
the stern and laying them in neat piles. My work 
was fastening down the things on the deck so that 
nothing could roll about if the weather should grow 
rough when we got further from the land. Jip 
was up in the peak of the boat with ears cocked 
and nose stuck out like a statue, so still his keen 
old eyes keeping a sharp look-out for floating 
wrecks, sand-bars, and other dangers. Each one 
of us had some special job to do, part of the proper 
running of a ship. Even old Polynesia was taking 
the sea's temperature with the Doctor's bath-ther- 

154 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

mometer tied on the end of a string, to make sure 
there were no icebergs near us. As I listened to 
her swearing softly to herself because she couldn't 
read the pesky figures in the fading light, I realized 
that the voyage had begun in earnest and that very 
soon it would be night my first night at sea! 



JUST before supper-time Bumpo appeared 
from downstairs and went to the Doctor' at 
the wheel. 
"A stowaway in the hold, Sir," said he in 
a very business-like seafaring voice. "I just dis- 
covered him, behind the flour-bags." 

"Dear me!" said the Doctor. "What a nui- 
sance ! Stubbins, go down with Bumpo and bring 
the man up. I can't leave the wheel just now." 

So Bumpo and I went down into the hold; and 
there, behind the flour-bags, plastered in flour from 
head to foot, we found a man. After we had swept 
most of the flour off him with a broom, we discov- 
ered that it was Matthew Mugg. We hauled him 
upstairs sneezing and took him before the Doctor. 
"Why Matthew!" said John Dolittle. "What 
on earth are you doing here?" 

'The temptation was too much for me, Doctor," 
said the cat's-meat-man. "You know I've often 
asked you to take me on voyages with you and you 
never would. Well, this time, knowing that you 
needed an extra man, I thought if 1 stayed hid till 
the ship was well at sea you would find I came in 


156 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

handy like and keep me. But I had to lie so dou- 
bled up, for hours, behind them flour-bags, that my 
rheumatism came on something awful. I just had 
to change my position; and of course just as I 
stretched out my legs along comes this here African 
cook of yours and sees my feef sticking out Don't 
this ship roll something awful ! How long has 
this storm been going on? I reckon this damp sea 
air wouldn't be very good for my rheumatics." 

; 'No, Matthew it really isn't. You ought not to 
have come. You are not in any way suited to this 
kind of a life. I'm sure you wouldn't enjoy a long 
voyage a bit. We'll stop in at Penzance and put 
you ashore. Bumpo, please go downstairs to my 
bunk; and listen: in the pocket of my dressing-gown 
you'll find some maps. Bring me the small one 
with blue pencil-marks at the top. I know Penzance 
is over here on our left somewhere. But I must 
find out what light-houses there are before I change 
the ship's course and sail inshore." 

'Very good, Sir," said Bumpo, turning round 
smartly and making for the stairway. 

'Now Matthew," said the Doctor, "you can 
take the coach from Penzance to Bristol. And 
from there it is not very far to Puddleby, as you 
know. Don't forget to take the usual provisions 
to the house every Thursday, and be particularly 
careful to remember the extra supply of herrings 
for the baby minks." 

Our Troubles Begin 157 

While we were waiting for the maps Chee-Chee 
and I set about lighting the lamps: a green one on 
the right side of the ship, a red one on the left and 
a white one on the mast. 

At last we heard some one trundling on the stairs 
again and the Doctor said, 

"Ah, here's Bumpo with the maps at last!" 

But to our great astonishment it was not Bumpo 
alone that appeared but three people. 

"Good Lord deliver us! Who are these?" cried 
John Dolittle. 

'Two more stowaways, Sir," said Bumpo step- 
ping forward briskly. "I found them in your cabin 
hiding under the bunk. One woman and one man 
Sir. Here are the maps." 

'This is too much," said the Doctor feebly. 
'Who are they? I can't see their faces in this dim 
light. Strike a match, Bumpo." 

You could never guess who it was. It was Luke 
and his wife. Mrs. Luke appeared to be very mis- 
erable and seasick. 

They explained to the Doctor that after they 
had settled down to live together in the little shack 
out on the fens, so many people came to visit them 
(having heard about the great trial) that life be- 
came impossible; and they had decided to escape 
from Puddleby in this manner for they had no 
money to leave any other way and try to find 
some new place to live where they and their story 

158 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

wouldn't be so well known. But as soon as the 
ship had begun to roll Mrs. Luke had got most 
dreadfully unwell. 

Poor Luke apologized many times for being such 
a nuisance and said that the whole thing had been 
his wife's idea. 

The Doctor, after he had sent below for his 
medicine-bag and had given Mrs. Luke some sal 
volatile and smelling-salts, said he thought the best 
thing to do would be for him to lend them some 
money and put them ashore at Penzance with Mat 
thew. He also wrote a letter for Luke to take 
with him to a friend the Doctor had in the town of 
Penzance who, it was hoped, would be able to find 
Luke work to do there. 

As the Doctor opened his purse and took out 
some gold coins I heard Polynesia, who was sitting 
on my shoulder watching the whole affair, mutter 
beneath her breath, 

"There he goes lending his last blessed penny 
three pounds ten all the money we had for the 
whole trip ! Now we haven't the price of a post- 
age-stamp aboard if we should lose an anchor or 
have to buy a pint of tar Well, let's pray we don't 
run out of food Why doesn't he give them the 
ship and walk home?" 

Presently with the help of the map the course of 
the boat was changed and, to Mrs. Luke's great 
relief, we made for Penzance and dry land. 

Our Troubles Begin 159 

I was tremendously interested to see how a ship 
could be steered into a port at night with nothing 
but light-houses and a compass to guide you. It 
seemed to me that the Doctor missed all the rocks 
and sand-bars very cleverly. 

We got into that funny little Cornish harbor 
about eleven o'clock that night. The Doctor took 
his stowaways on shore in our small row-boat which 
we kept on the deck of the Curlew and found them 
rooms at the hotel there. When he got back he 
told us that Mrs. Luke had gone straight to bed 
and was feeling much better. 

It was now after midnight; so we decided to stay 
in the harbor and wait till morning before setting 
out again. 

I was glad to get to bed, although I felt that 
staying up so tremendously late was great fun. As 
I climbed into the bunk over the Doctor's and pulled 
the blankets snugly round me, I found I could look 
out of the port-hole at my elbow, and, without 
raising my head from the pillow, could see the 
lights of Penzance swinging gently up and down 
with the motion of the ship at anchor. It was 
like being rocked to sleep with a little show going 
on to amuse you. I was just deciding that I liked 
the life of the sea very much when I fell fast asleep. 



; HE next morning when we were eating 
a very excellent breakfast of kidneys 
and bacon, prepared by our good cook 
Bumpo, the Doctor said to me, 
"I was just wondering, Stubbins, whether I should 
stop at the Capa Blanca Islands or run right across 
for the coast of Brazil. Miranda said we could 
expect a spell of excellent weather now for four 
and a half weeks at least." 

'Well," I said, spooning out the sugar at the 
bottom of my cocoa-cup, "I should think it would 
be best to make straight across while we are sure 
of good weather. And besides the Purple Bird-of- 
Paradise is going to keep a lookout for us, isn't 
she? She'll be wondering what's happened to us 
if we don't get there in about a month." 

'True, quite true, Stubbins. On the other hand, 
the Capa Blancas make a very convenient stopping 
place on our way across. If we should need sup- 
plies or repairs it would be very handy to put in 

"How long will it take us from here to the Capa 
Blancas?" I asked. 

"About six days," said the Doctor "Well, we 


Our Troubles Continue 161 

can decide later. For the next two days at any 
rate our direction would be the same practically in 
either case. If you have finished breakfast let's 
go and get under way." 

Upstairs I found our vessel surrounded by white 
and gray seagulls who flashed and circled about in 
the sunny morning air, looking for food-scraps 
thrown out by the ships into the harbor. 

By about half past seven we had the anchor up 
and the sails set to a nice steady breeze; and this 
time we got out into the open sea without bumping 
into a single thing. We met the Penzance fishing 
fleet coming in from the night's fishing, and very 
trim and neat they looked, in a line like soldiers^ 
with their red-brown sails all leaning over the same 
way and the white water dancing before their bows. 

For the next three or four days everything went 
smoothly and nothing unusual happened. During 
this time we all got settled down into our regular 
jobs; and in spare moments the Doctor showed 
each of us how to take our turns at the wheel, the 
proper manner of keeping a ship on her right 
course, and what to do if the wind changed sud- 
denly. We divided the twenty-four hours of the 
day into three spells; and we took it in turns to 
sleep our eight hours and be awake sixteen. So 
the ship was well looked after, with two of us al- 
ways on duty. 

Besides that, Polynesia, who was an older sailor 

162 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

than any of us, and really knew a lot about running 
ships, seemed to be always awake except when 
she took her couple of winks in the sun, standing 
on one leg beside the wheel. You may be sure 
that no one ever got a chance to stay abed more 
than his eight hours while Polynesia was around. 
She used to watch the ship's clock; and if you over- 
slept a half-minute, she would come down to the 
cabin and peck you gently on the nose till you got 

I very soon grew to be quite fond of our funny 
black friend Bumpo, with his grand way of speak- 
ing and his enormous feet which some one was al- 
ways stepping on or falling over. Although he 
was much older than I was and had been to college, 
he never tried to lord it over me. He seemed 
to be forever smiling and kept all of us in good 
humor. It wasn't long before I began to see the 
Doctor's good sense in bringing him in spite of 
the fact that he knew nothing whatever about sail- 
ing or travel. 

On the morning of the fifth day out, just as I 
was taking the wheel over from the Doctor, Bumpo 
appeared and said, 

"The salt beef is nearly all gone, Sir." 
' "The salt beef!" cried the Doctor. "Why, we 
brought a hundred and twenty pounds with us. 
We couldn't have eaten that in five days. What 
can have become of it?" 

> . 

In these lower levels we came upon the shadowy shapes of dead 


Page 360 

Our Troubles Continue 163 

U I don't know, Sir, I'm sure. Every time I go 
down to the stores I find another hunk missing. If 
it is rats that are eating it, then they are certainly 
colossal rodents." 

Polynesia who was walking up and down a stay- 
rope taking her morning exercise, put in, 

'We must search the hold. If this is allowed 
to go on we will all be starving before a week is 
out. Come downstairs with me, Tommy, and we 
will look into this matter." 

So we went downstairs into the store-room and 
Polynesia told us to keep quite still and listen. 
This we did. And presently we heard from a dark 
corner of the hold the distinct sound of someone 

"Ah, I thought so," said Polynesia. "It's a man 
and a big one. Climb in there, both of you, and 
haul him out. It sounds as though he were behind 
that barrel Gosh! We seem to have brought 
half of Puddleby with us. Anyone would think 
we were a penny ferry-boat. Such cheek! Haul 
him out." 

So Bumpo and I lit a lantern and climbed over 
the stores. And there, behind the barrel, sure 
enough, we found an enormous bearded man fast 
asleep with a well-fed look on his face. We woke 
him up. 

"Washamarrer?" he said sleepily. 

It was Ben Butcher, the able seaman. 


164 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

Polynesia spluttered like an angry fire-cracker. 

'This is the last straw," said she. "The one 
man in the world we least wanted. Shiver my 
timbers, what cheek!" 

Would it not be, advisable," suggested Bumpo, 
while the varlet is still sleepy, to strike him on 
the head with some heavy object and push him 
through a port-hole into the sea?" 

"No. We'd get into trouble," said Polynesia. 
"We're not in Jolliginki now, you know worse 
luck! Besides, there never was a port-hole big 
enough to push that man through. Bring him up- 
stairs to the Doctor." 

So we led the man to the wheel where he respect- 
fully touched his cap to the Doctor. 

"Another stowaway, Sir," said Bumpo smartly. 

I thought the poor Doctor would have a fit. 

"Good morning, Captain," said the man. ''Ben 
Butcher, able seaman, at your service. I Rnew 
you'd need me, so I took the liberty of stowing 
away much against my conscience. But I just 
couldn't bear to see you poor landsmen set out on 
this voyage without a single real seaman to help 
you. You'd never have got home alive if I hadn't 
come Why look at your mainsail, Sir all loose 
at the throat. First gust of wind come along, and 
away goes your canvas overboard Well, it's all 
right now I'm here. We'll soon get things in 

Our Troubles Continue 165 

"No, it isn't all right," said the Doctor, "it's 
all wrong. And I'm not at all glad to see you. I 
told you in Puddleby I didn't want you. You had 
no right to come." 

"But Captain," said the able seaman, "you can't 
sail this ship without me. You don't understand 
navigation. Why, look at the compass now: you've 
let her swing a point and a half off her course. It's 
madness for you to try to do this trip alone if 
you'll pardon my saying so, Sir. Why why, 
you'll lose the ship !" 

"Look here," said the Doctor, a sudden stern 
look coming into his eyes, ''losing a ship is noth- 
ing to me. I've lost ships before and it doesn't 
bother me in the least. When I set out to go to a 
place, I get there. Do you understand? I may 
know nothing whatever about sailing and naviga- 
tiovi, but I get there just the same. Now you may 
be the best seaman in the world, but on this ship 
you're just a plain ordinary nuisance very plain 
and very ordinary. And I am now going to call 
at the nearest port and put you ashore." 

"Yes, and think yourself lucky," Polynesia put 
in, "that you are not locked up for stowing away 
and eating all our salt beef." 

"I don't know what the mischief we're going to 
do now," I heard her whisper to Bumpo. 'We've 
no money to buy any more; and that salt beef was 
the most important part of the stores." 

1 66 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

"Would it not be good political economy," 
Bumpo whispered back, "if we salted the able sea- 
man and ate him instead? I should judge that he 
would weigh more than a hundred and twenty 

"How often must I tell you that we are not in 
Jolliginki," snapped Polynesia. "Those things are 
not done on white men's ships Still," she mur- 
mured after a moment's thought, "it's an awfully 
bright idea. I don't suppose anybody saw him 
come on to the ship Oh, but Heavens ! we haven't 
got enough salt. Besides, he'd be sure to taste of 



THEN the Doctor told me to take the 
wheel while he made a little calculation 
with his map and worked out what new 
course we should take. 

"I shall have to run for the Capa Blancas after 
all," he told me when the seaman's back was turned. 
"Dreadful nuisance! But I'd sooner swim back to 
Puddleby than have to listen to that fellow's talk 
all the way to Brazil." 

Indeed he was a terrible person, this Ben Butcher. 
You'd think that any one after being told he wasn't 
wanted would have had the decency to keep quiet. 
But not Ben Butcher. He kept going round the 
deck pointing out all the things we had wrong. Ac- 
cording to him there wasn't a thing right on the 
whole ship. The anchor was hitched up wrong; 
the hatches weren't fastened down properly; the 
sails were put on back to front; all our knots 
were the wrong kind of knots. 

At last the Doctor told him to stop talking and 
go downstairs. He refused said he wasn't going 


168 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

to be sunk by landlubbers while he was still able to 
stay on deck. 

This made us feel a little uneasy. He was such 
an enormous man there was no knowing what he 
might do if he got really obstreperous. 

Bumpo and I were talking about this downstairs 
in the dining-saloon when Polynesia, Jip and Chee- 
Chee came and joined us. And, as usual, Polynesia 
had a plan. 

"Listen," she said, "I am certain this Ben Butcher 
is a smuggler and a bad man. I am a very good 
judge of seamen, remember, and I don't like the 
cut of this man's jib. I " 

"Do you really think," I interrupted, "that it is 
safe for the Doctor to cross the Atlantic without 
any regular seamen on his ship?" 

You see it had upset me quite a good deal to find 
that all the things we had been doing were wrong; 
and I was beginning to wonder what might happen 
if we ran into a storm particularly as Miranda 
had only said the weather would be good for a 
certain time; and we seemed to be having so many 
delays. But Polynesia merely tossed her head 

"Oh, bless you, my boy," said she, "you're 
always safe with John Dolittle. Remember that. 
Don't take any notice of that stupid old salt. Of 
course it is perfectly true the Doctor does do every- 
thing wrong. But with him it doesn't matter. 

Polynesia Has a Plan 169 

Mark my words, if you travel with John Dolittle 
you always get there, as you heard him say. I've 
been with him lots of times and I know. Some- 
times the ship is upside down when you get there, 
and sometimes it's right way up. But you get there 
just the same. And then of course there's another 
thing about the Doctor," she added thoughtfully: 
"he always has extraordinary good luck. He may 
have his troubles; but with him things seem to 
have a habit of turning out all right in the 
end. I remember once when we were going 
through the Straits of Magellan the wind was so 
strong " 

"But what are we going to do about Ben 
Butcher?" Jip put in. "You had some plan 
Polynesia, hadn't you?" 

'Yes. What I'm afraid of is that he may hit 
the Doctor on the head when he's not looking and 
make himself captain of the Curlew. Bad sailors 
do that sometimes. Then they run the ship their 
own way and take it where they want. That's 
what you call a mutiny." 

'Yes," said Jip, "and we ought to do something 
pretty quick. We can't reach the Capa Blancas 
before the day after to-morrow at best. I don't 
like to leave the Doctor alone with him for a min- 
ute. He smells like a very bad man to me." 

"Well, I've got it all worked out," said Poly- 
nesia. "Listen: is there a key in that door?" 

170 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

We looked outside the dining-room and found 
that there was. 

"All right," said Polynesia. "Now Bumpo lays 
the table for lunch and we all go and hide. Then 
at twelve o'clock Bumpo rings the dinner-bell down 
here. As soon as Ben hears it he'll come down 
expecting more salt beef. Bumpo must hide be- 
hind the door outside. The moment that Ben is 
seated at the dining-table Bumpo slams the door 
and locks it. Then we've got him. See?" 

"How stratageriious!' 1 Bumpo chuckled. "As 
Cicero said, parrots cum parishioners faclllme con- 
gregation. I'll lay the table at once." 

"Yes and take that Worcestershire sauce off the 
dresser with you when you go out," said Polynesia. 
"Don't leave any loose eatables around. That 
fellow has had enough to last any man for three 
days. Besides, he won't be so inclined to start a 
fight when we put him ashore at the Capa Blancas 
if we thin him down a bit before we let him out." 

So we all' went and hid ourselves in the passage 
where we could watch what happened. And pres- 
ently Bumpo came to the foot of the stairs and rang 
the dinner-bell like mad. Then he hopped behind 
the dining-room door and we all kept still and 

Almost immediately, thump, thump, thump, down 
the stairs tramped Ben Butcher, the able seaman. 
He walked into the dining-saloon, sat himself down 

Polynesia Has a Plan 171 

at the head of the table in the Doctor's place, tucked 
a napkin under his fat chin and heaved a sigh of 

Then, bang! Bumpo slammed the door and 
locked it. 

"That settles him for a while," said Polynesia 
coming out from her hiding-place. "Now let him 
teach navigation to the side-board. Gosh, the 
cheek of the man! I've forgotten more about the 
sea than that lumbering lout will ever know. Let's 
go upstairs and tell the Doctor. Bumpo, you will 
have to serve the meals in the cabin for the next 
couple of days." 

And bursting into a rollicking Norwegian sea- 
song, she climbed up to my shoulder and we went 
on deck. 



WE remained three days in the Capa 
Blanca Islands. 
There were two reasons why we 
stayed there so long when we were 
really in such a hurry to get away. One was the 
shortage in our provisions caused by the able sea- 
man's enormous appetite. When we came to go 
over the stores and make a list, we found that he 
had eaten a whole lot of other things besides the 
beef. And having no money, we were sorely puz- 
zled how to buy more. The Doctor went through 
his trunk to see if there was anything he could sell. 
But the only thing he could find was an old watch 
with the hands broken and the back dented in; and 
we decided this would not bring us in enough money 
to buy much more than a pound of tea. Bumpo 
suggested that he sing comic songs in the streets 
which he had learned in Jolliginki. But the Doctor 
said he did not think that the islanders would care 
for African music. 

The other thing that kept us was the bullfight. 
In these islands, which belonged to Spain, they had 

bullfights every Sunday. It was on a Friday that 


The Bed-Maker of Monteverde 173 

we arrived there; and after we had got rid of the 
able seaman we took a walk through the town. 

It was a very funny little town, quite different 
from any that I had ever seen. The streets were 
all twisty and winding and so narrow that a wagon 
could only just pass along them. The houses over- 
hung at the top and came so close together that 
people in the attics could lean out of the windows 
and shake hands with their neighbors on the 
opposite side of the street. The Doctor told us 
the town was very, very old. It was called Monte- 

As we had no money of course we did not go to a 
hotel or anything like that. But on the second 
evening when we were passing by a bed-maker's 
shop we noticed several beds, which the man had 
made, standing on the pavement outside. The 
Doctor started chatting in Spanish to the bed-maker 
who was sitting at his door whistling to a parrot in 
a cage. The Doctor and the bed-maker got very 
friendly talking about birds and things. And as it 
grew near to supper-time the man asked us to stop 
and sup with him. 

This of course we were very glad to do. And 
after the meal was over (very nice dishes they were, 
mostly cooked in olive-oil I particularly liked 
the fried bananas) we sat outside on the pave- 
ment again and went on talking far into the 

174 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

At last when we got up to go back to our ship, 
this very nice shopkeeper wouldn't hear of our 
going away on any account. He said the streets 
down by the harbor were very badly lighted and 
there was no moon. We would surely get lost. 
He invited us to spend the night with him and go 
back to our ship in the morning. 

Well, we finally agreed; and as our good friend 
had no spare bedrooms, the three of us, the Doctor, 
Bumpo and I, slept on the beds set out for sale on 
the pavement before the shop. The night w r as so 
hot we needed no coverings. It was great fun to 
fall asleep out of doors like this, watching the peo- 
ple walking to and fro and the gay life of the 
streets. It seemed to me that Spanish people 
never went to bed at all. Late as it was, all the 
little restaurants and cafes around us were wide 
open, with customers drinking coffee and chatting 
merrily at the small tables outside. The sound of 
a guitar strumming softly in the distance mingled 
with the clatter of chinaware and the babble of 

Somehow it made me think of my mother and 
father far away in Puddleby, with their regular 
habits, the evening practise on the flute and the rest 
doing the same thing every day. I felt sort of 
sorry for them in a way, because they missed the 
fun of this traveling life, where we were doing 
something new all the time even sleeping uif- 

"The Doctor started chatting in Spanish to the bed-maker" 

176 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

ferently. But I suppose if they had been invited to 
go to bed on a pavement in front of a shop they 
wouldn't have cared for the idea at all. It is funny 
how some people are. 


EXT morning we were awakened by a 
great racket. There was a procession 
coming down the street, a number of 
men in very gay clothes followed by a 
large crowd of admiring ladies and cheering chil- 
dren. I asked the Doctor who they were. 

"They are the bullfighters," he said. "There is 
to be a bullfight to-morrow." 

" What is a bullfight?" I asked. 

To my great surprise the Doctor got red in the 
face with anger. It reminded me of the time when 
he had spoken of the lions and tigers in his private 

"A bullfight is a stupid, cruel, disgusting busi- 
ness," said he. "These Spanish people are most 
lovable and hospitable folk. How they can enjoy 
these wretched bullfights is a thing I could never 

Then the Doctor went on to explain to me how a 
bull was first made very angry by teasing and then 
allowed to run into a circus where men came out 
with red cloaks, waved them at him, and ran away. 
Next the bull was allowed to tire himself out by 


178 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

tossing and killing a lot of poor, old, broken-down 
horses who couldn't defend themselves. Then, 
when the bull was thoroughly out of breath and 
wearied by this, a man came out with a sword and 
killed the bull. 

"Every Sunday," said the Doctor," in almost 
every big town in Spain there are six bulls killed like 
that and as many horses." 

"But aren't the men ever killed by the bull?" 
I asked. 

''Unfortunately very seldom," said he. "A bull 
is not nearly as dangerous as he looks, even when 
he's angry, if you are only quick on your feet and 
don't lose your head. These bullfighters are very 
clever and nimble. And the people, especially 
the Spanish ladies, think no end of them. A 
famous bullfighter (or matador, as they call 
them) is a more important man in Spain than a 
king Here comes another crowd of them round 
the corner, look. See the girls throwing kisses to 
them. Ridiculous business!" 

At that moment our friend the bed-maker came 
out to see the procession go past. And while he 
was wishing us good morning and enquiring how we 
had slept, a friend of his walked up and joined us. 
The bed-maker introduced this friend to us as Don 
Enrique Cardenas. 

Don Enrique when he heard where we 
were from, spoke to us in English. He appeared 

The Doctor's Wager 179 

to be a well-educated, gentlemanly sort of person. 

u And you go to see the bullfight to-morrow, 
yes?" he asked the Doctor pleasantly. 

"Certainly not," said John Dolittle firmly. "I 
don't like bullfights cruel, cowardly shows." 

Don Enrique nearly exploded. I never saw a 
man get so excited. He told the Doctor that he 
didn't know what he was talking about. He said 
bullfighting was a noble sport and that the mata- 
dors were the bravest men in the world. 

"Oh, rubbish!" said the Doctor. "You never 
give the poor bull a chance. It is only when he is 
all tired and dazed that your precious matadors 
dare to try and kill him." 

I thought the Spaniard was going to strike the 
Doctor he got so angry. While he was still splut- 
tering to find words, the bed-maker came between 
them and took the Doctor aside. He explained to 
John Dolittle in a whisper that this Don Enrique 
Cardenas was a very important person; that he it 
was who supplied the bulls a special, strong black 
kind from his own farm for all the bullfights in the 
Capa Blancas. He was a very rich man, the bed- 
maker said, a most important personage. He 
mustn't be allowed to take offense on any account. 

I watched the Doctor's face as the bed-maker 
finished, and I saw a flash of boyish mischief come 
into his eyes as though an idea had struck him. He 
turned to the angry Spaniard. 

180 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

"Don Enrique," he said, "you tell me your 
bullfighters are very brave men and skilful. It 
seems I have offended you by saying that bullfight- 
ing is a poor sport. What is the name of the best 
matador you have for to-morrow's show?" 

"Pepito de Malaga," said Don Enrique, "one of 
the greatest names, one of the bravest men, in all 

"Very well," said the Doctor, "I have a pro- 
posal to make to you. I have never fought a bull 
in my life. Now supposing I were to go into the 
ring to-morrow with Pepito de Malaga and any 
other matadors you choose; and if I can do more 
tricks with a bull than they can, would you promise 
to do something for me?" 

Don Enrique threw back his head and laughed. 

"Man," he said, "you must be mad! You would 
be killed at once. One has to be trained for years 
to become a proper bullfighter." 

"Supposing I were willing to take the risk of 
that You are not afraid, I take it, to accept my 

The Spaniard frowned. 

"Afraid!" he cried, "Sir, if you can beat Pepito 
de, Malaga in the bull-ring I'll promise you anything 
it is possible for me to grant." 

'Very good," said the Doctor, "now I under- 
stand that you are quite a powerful man in these 
islands. If you wished to stop all bullfighting here 

The Doctor's Wager 181 

after to-morrow, you could do it, couldn't you?" 

'Yes," said Don Enrique proudly "I could." 

'Well that is what I ask of you if I win my 
wager," said John Dolittle. "If I can do more 
with angry bulls than can Pepito de Malaga, you 
are to promise me that there shall never be another 
bullfight in the Capa Blancas so long as you are 
alive to stop it. Is it a bargain?" 

The Spaniard held out his hand. 

"It is a bargain," he said "I promise. But I 
must warn you that you are merely throwing your 
life away, for you will certainly be killed. How- 
ever, that is no more than you deserve for saying 
that bullfighting is an unworthy sport. I will meet 
you here to-morrow morning if you should wish to 
arrange any particulars. Good day, Sir." 

As the Spaniard turned and walked into the shop 
with the bed-maker, Polynesia, who had been listen- 
ing as usual, flew up on to my shoulder and whis- 
pered in my ear, 

"I have a plan. Get hold of Bumpo and come 
some place where the Doctor can't hear us. I want 
to talk to you." 

I nudged Bumpo's elbow and we crossed the 
street and pretended to look into a jeweler's win- 
dow; while the Doctor sat down upon his bed to 
lace up his boots, the only part of his clothing he 
had taken off for the night. 

"Listen," said Polynesia, "I've been breaking 

182 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

my head trying to think up some way we can get 
money to buy those stores with; and at last I've got 


'The money?" said Bumpo. 

''No, stupid. The idea to make the money 
with. Listen: the Doctor is simply bound to win 
this game to-morrow, sure as you're alive. Now 
all we have to do is to make a side bet with these 
Spaniards they're great on gambling and the 
trick's done." 

"What's a side bet?" I asked. 

"Oh I know what that is," said Bumpo proudly. 
"We used to have lots of them at Oxford when 
boat-racing was on. I go to Don Enrique and say, 
'I bet you a hundred pounds the Doctor wins/ 
Then if he does win, Don Enrique pays me a hun- 
dred pounds; and if he doesn't, I have to pay Don 

"That's the idea," said Polynesia. "Only don't 
say a hundred pounds : say two-thousand five-hun- 
dred pesetas. Now come and find old Don Ricky- 
ticky and try to look rich." 

So we crossed the street again and slipped into 
the bed-maker's shop while the Doctor was still 
busy with his boots. 

"Don Enrique," said Bumpo, "allow me to in- 
troduce myself. I am the Crown Prince of Jolli- 
ginki. Would you care to have a small bet with 
me on to-morrow's bullfight?" 

The Doctor's Wager 183 

Don Enrique bowed. 

'Why certainly," he said, : 'I shall be delighted. 
But I must warn you that you are bound to lose. 
How much ?" 

"Oh a mere truffle," said Bumpo "just for the 
fun of the thing, you know. What do you say to 
three-thousand pesetas?" 

"I agree," said the Spaniard bowing once more. 
"I will meet you after the bullfight to-morrow." 

"So that's all right," said Polynesia as we came 
out to join the Doctor. 'I feel as though quite a 
load had been taken off my mind." 



THE next day was a great day in Monte- 
verde. All the streets were hung 
with flags; and everywhere gaily dressed 
crowds were to be seen flocking towards 
the bull-ring, as the big circus was called where the 
fights took place. 

The news of the Doctor's challenge had gone 
round the town and, it seemed, had caused much 
amusement to the islanders. The very idea of a 
mere foreigner daring to match himself against the 
great Pepito de Malaga ! Serve him right if he got 
killed ! 

The Doctor had borrowed a bullfighter's suit 
from Don Enrique; and very gay and wonderful 
he looked in it, though Bumpo and I had hard work 
getting the waistcoat to close in front and even then 
the buttons kept bursting off it in all directions. 

When we set out from the harbor to walk to 
the bull-ring, crowds of small boys ran after us 
making fun of the Doctor's fatness, calling out, 
"Juan Hagapoco, el grueso matador !'' which is 
the Spanish for, "John Dolittle, the fat bullfighter." 

As soon as we arrived the Doctor said he would 


The Great Bullfight 185 

like to take a look at the bulls before the fight be- 
gan; and we were at once led to the bull pen where, 
behind a high railing, six enormous black bulls 
were tramping around wildly. 

In a few hurried words and signs the Doctor 
told the bulls what he was going to do and gave 
them careful instructions for their part of the show. 
The poor creatures were tremendously glad when 
they heard that there was a chance of bullfighting 
being stopped; and they promised to do exactly as 
they were told. 

Of course the man who took us in there didn't 
understand what we were doing. He merely 
thought the fat Englishman was crazy when he saw 
the Doctor making signs and talking in ox tongue. 

From there the Doctor went to the matadors' 
dressing-rooms while Bumpo and I with Polynesia 
made our way into the bull-ring and took our seats 
in the great open-air theatre. 

It was a very gay sight. Thousands of ladies 
and gentlemen were there, all dressed in their 
smartest clothes; and everybody seemed very happy 
and cheerful. 

Right at the beginning Don Enrique got up and 
explained to the people that the first item on the 
program was to be a match between the English 
Doctor and Pepito de Malaga. He told them what 
he had promised if the Doctor should win. But 
the people did not seem to think there was much 

1 86 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

chance of that. A roar of laughter went up at the 
very mention of such a thing. 

When Pepito came into the ring everybody 
cheered, the ladies blew kisses and the men clapped 
and waved their hats. 

Presently a large door on the other side of the 
ring was rolled back and in galloped one of the 
bulls; then the door was closed again. At once the 
matador became very much on the alert. He 
waved his red cloak and the bull rushed at him. 
Pepito stepped nimbly aside and the people cheered 

This game was repeated several times. But I 
noticed that whenever Pepito got into a tight place 
and seemed to be in real danger from the bull, an 
assistant of his, who always hung around some- 
where near, drew the bull's attention upon himself 
by waving another red cloak. Then the bull would 
chase the assistant and Pepito was left in safety. 
Most often, as soon as he had drawn the bull off, 
this assistant ran for the high fence and vaulted out 
of the ring to save himself. They evidently had 
it all arranged, these matadors; and it didn't seem 
to me that they were in any very great danger from 
the poor clumsy bull so long as they didn't slip and 

After about ten minutes of this kind of thing 
the small door into the matadors' dressing-room 
opened and the Doctor strolled into the ring. As 

The Great Bullfight 187 

soon as his fat figure, dressed in sky-blue velvet, 
appeared, the crowd rocked in their seats with 

Juan Hagapoco, as they had called him, walked 
out into the centre of the ring and bowed ceremo- 
niously to the ladies in the boxes. Then he bowed 
to the bull. Then he bowed to Pepito. While 
he was bowing to Pepito's assistant the bull started 
to rush at him from behind. 

"Look out! Look out! The bull! You will 
be killed!" yelled the crowd. 

But the Doctor calmly finished his bow. Then 
turning round he folded his arms, fixed the on-rush- 
ing bull with his eye and frowned a terrible frown. 

Presently a curious thing happened: the bull's 
speed got slower and slower. It almost looked as 
though he were afraid of that frown. Soon he 
stopped altogether. The Doctor shook his finger 
at him. He began to tremble. At last, tucking 
his tail between his legs, the bull turned round and 
ran away. 

The crowd gasped. The Doctor ran after him. 
Round and round the ring they went, both of them 
puffing and blowing like grampuses. Excited whis- 
pers began to break out among the people. This 
was something new in bullfighting, to have the 
bull running away from the man, instead of the 
man away from the bull. At last in the tenth 
lap, with a final burst of speed, Juan Hagapoco, 

The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

the English matador, caught the poor bull by 
the tail. 

Then leading the now timid creature into the 
middle of the ring, the Doctor made him do all 
manner of tricks: standing on the hind legs, stand- 
ing on the front legs, dancing, hopping, rolling 
over. He finished up by making the bull kneel 
down; then he got on to his back and did hand- 
springs and other acrobatics on the beast's horns. 

Pepito and his assistant had their noses sadly out 
of joint. The crowd had forgotten them entirely. 
They were standing together by the fence not far 
from where I sat, muttering to one another and 
slowly growing green with jealousy. 

Finally the Doctor turned towards Don Enrique's 
seat and bowing said in a loud voice, "This bull is 
no good any more. He's terrified and out of 
breath. Take him away, please." 

"Does the caballero wish for a fresh bull?" 
asked Don Enrique. 

"No," said the Doctor, "I want five fresh bulls. 
And I would like them all in the ring at 
once, please." 

At this a cry of horror burst from the people. 
They had been used to seeing matadors escaping 
from one bull at a time. But five! That must 
mean certain death. 

Pepito sprang forward and called to Don En- 
rique not to allow it, saying it was against all the 

'Did acrobatics on the beast's horns' 

190 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

rules of bullfighting. ("Ha!" Polynesia chuckled 
into my ear. "It's like the Doctor's navigation: 
he breaks all the rules; but he gets there. If they'll 
only let him, he'll give them the best show for their 
money they ever saw.") A great argument began. 
Half the people seemed to be on Pepito's side and 
half on the Doctor's side. At last the Doctor 
turned to Pepito and made another very grand bow 
which burst the last button off his waistcoat. 

"Well, of course if the caballero is afraid " 
he began with a bland smile. 

"Afraid!" screamed Pepito. "I am afraid of 
nothing on earth. I am the greatest matador in 
Spain. With this right hand I have killed nine 
hundred and fifty-seven bulls." 

"All right then," said the Doctor, "let us see 
if you can kill five more. Let the bulls in!" he 
shouted. "Pepito de Malaga is not afraid." 

A dreadful silence hung over the great theatre 
as the heavy door into the bull pen was rolled back. 
Then with a roar the five big bulls bounded into the 

"Look fierce," I heard the Doctor call to them 
in cattle language. "Don't scatter. Keep close. 
Get ready for a rush. Take Pepito, the one in 
purple, first. But for Heaven's sake don't kill 
him. Just chase him out of the ring Now then, 
all together, go for him!" 

The bulls put down their heads and all in line, 

The Great Bullfight 191 

like a squadron of cavalry, charged across the ring 
straight for poor Pepito. 

For one moment the Spaniard tried his hardest 
to look brave. But the sight of the five pairs of 
horns coming at him at full gallop was too much. 
He turned white to the lips, ran for the fence, 
vaulted it and disappeared. 

"Now the other one," the Doctor hissed. And 
in two seconds the gallant assistant was nowhere to 
be seen. Juan Hagapoco, the fat matador, was 
left alone in the ring with five rampaging bulls. 

The rest of the show was really well worth see- 
ing. First, all five bulls went raging round the 
ring, butting at the fence with their horns, pawing 
up the sand, hunting for something to kill. Then 
each one in turn would pretend to catch sight of the 
Doctor for the first time and giving a bellow of 
rage, would lower his wicked looking horns and 
shoot like an arrow across the ring as though he 
meant to toss him to the sky. 

It was really frightfully exciting. And even I, 
who knew it was all arranged beforehand, held my 
breath in terror for the Doctor's life when I saw 
how near they came to sticking him. But just at 
the last moment, when the horns' points were two 
inches from the sky-blue waistcoat, the Doctor 
would spring nimbly to one side and the great 
brutes would go thundering harmlessly by, missing 
him by no more than a hair. 

192 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

Then all five of them went for him together, com- 
pletely surrounding him, slashing at him with their 
horns and bellowing with fury. How he escaped 
alive I don't know. For several minutes his round 
figure could hardly be seen at all in that scrimmage 
of tossing heads, stamping hoofs and waving tails. 
It was, as Polynesia had prophesied, the greatest 
bullfight ever seen. 

One woman in the crowd got quite hysterical 
and screamed up to Don Enrique, 

"Stop the fight! Stop the fight! He is too 
brave a man to be killed. This is the most wonder- 
ful matador in the world. Let him live ! Stop the 

But presently the Doctor was seen to break loose 
from the mob of animals that surrounded him. 
Then catching each of them by the horns, one after 
another, he would give their heads a sudden twist 
and throw them down flat on the sand. The great 
fellows acted their parts extremely well. I have 
never seen trained animals in a circus do better. 
They lay there panting on the ground where the 
Doctor threw them as if they were exhausted and 
completely beaten. 

Then with a final bow to the ladies John Dolittle 
took a cigar from his pocket, lit it and strolled out 
of the ring. 



S soon as the door closed behind the 
Doctor the most tremendous noise I 
have ever heard broke loose. Some of 
the men appeared to be angry (friends 
of Pepito's, I suppose) ; but the ladies called and 
called to have the Doctor come back into the ring. 
When at length he did so, the women seemed to 
go entirely mad over him. They blew kisses to 
him. They called him a darling. Then they 
started taking off their flowers, their rings, their 
necklaces, and their brooches and threw them down 
at his feet. You never saw anything like it a per- 
fect shower of jewelry and roses. 

But the Doctor just smiled up at them, bowed 
once more and backed out. 

"Now, Bumpo," said Polynesia, u this is where 
you go down and gather up all those trinkets and 
we'll sell 'em. That's what the big matadors do: 
leave the jewelry on the ground and their assistants 
collect it for them. We might as well lay in a good 
supply of money while we've got the chance you 
never know when you may need it when you're 
traveling with the Doctor. Never mind the roses 


194 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

you can leave them but don't leave any rings. 
And when you've finished go and get your three- 
thousand pesetas out of Don Ricky-ticky. Tommy 
and I will meet you outside and we'll pawn the gew- 
gaws at that Jew's shop opposite the bed-maker's. 
Run along and not a word to the Doctor, remem- 

Outside the bull-ring we found the crowd still 
in a great state of excitement. Violent arguments 
were going on everywhere. Bumpo joined us with 
his pockets bulging in all directions; and we made 
our way slowly through the dense crowd to that 
side of the building where the matadors' dressing- 
room was. The Doctor was waiting at the door 
for us. 

"Good work, Doctor!" said Polynesia, flying on 
to his shoulder "Great work! But listen: I 
smell danger. I think you had better get back to 
the ship now as quick and as quietly as you can. 
Put your overcoat on over that giddy suit. I don't 
like the looks of this crowd. More than half of 
them are furious because you've won. Don Ricky- 
ticky must now stop the bullfighting and you know 
how they love it. What I'm afraid of is that some 
of these matadors who are just mad with jealousy 
may start some dirty work. I think this would be 
a good time for us to get away." 

"I dare say you're right, Polynesia," said the 
Doctor "You usually are. The crowd does seem 

We Depart in a Hurry 

to be a bit restless. I'll slip down to the ship alone 
so I shan't be so noticeable; and I'll wait for 
you there. You come by some different way. But 
don't be long about it. Hurry!" 

As soon as the Doctor had departed Bumpo 
sought out Don Enrique and said, 

"Honorable Sir, you owe me three-thousand 

Without a word, but looking cross-eyed with an- 
noyance, Don Enrique paid his bet. 

We. next set out to buy the provisions; and on 
the way we hired a cab and took it along with us. 

Not very far away we found a big grocer's shop 
which seemed to sell everything to eat. We went 
in and bought up the finest lot of food you ever 
saw in your life. 

As a matter of fact, Polynesia had been right 
about the danger we were in. The news of our vic- 
tory must have spread like lightning through the 
whole town. For as we came out of the shop and 
loaded the cab up with our stores, we saw various 
little knots of angry men hunting round the streets, 
waving sticks and shouting, 

"The Englishmen! Where are those accursed 
Englishmen who stopped the bullfighting? Hang 
them to a lamp-post ! Throw them in the sea ! 
The Englishmen ! We want the Englishmen !" 

After that we didn't waste any time, y % ou may be 
sure. Bumpo grabbed the Spanish cab-driver and 

196 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

explained to him in signs that if he didn't drive down 
to the harbor as fast as he knew how and keep his 
mouth shut the whole way, he would choke the life 
out of him. Then we jumped into the cab on top 
of the food, slammed the door,, pulled down the 
blinds and away we went. 

'We won't get a chance to pawn the jewelry now,' 1 
said Polynesia, as we bumped over the cobbly streets. 
"But never mind it may come in handy later on. 
And anyway we've got two-thousand five-hundred 
pesetas left out of the bet. Don't give the cabby 
more than two pesetas fifty, Bumpo. That's the 
right fare, I know." 

Well, we reached the harbor all right and we 
were mighty glad to find that the Doctor had sent 
Chee-Chee back with the row-boat to wait for us 
at the landing-wall. 

Unfortunately w r hile we were in the middle of 
loading the supplies from the cab into the boat, the 
angry mob arrived upon the wharf and made a 
rush for us. Bumpo snatched up a big beam of 
wood that lay near and swung it round and round 
his head, letting out dreadful African battle-yells 
the while. This kept the crowd off while Chee- 
Chee and I hustled the last of the stores into the 
boat and clambered in ourselves. Bumpo threw 
his beam of wood into the thick of the Spaniards 
and leapt in after us. Then we pushed off and 
rowed like mad for the Curlew. 

We Depart in a Hurry 197 

The mob upon the wall howled with rage, shook 
their fists and hurled stones and all manner of 
things after us. Poor old Bumpo got hit on the 
head with a bottle. But as he had a very strong 
head it only raised a small bump while the bottle 
smashed into a thousand pieces. 

When we reached the ship's side the Doctor had 
the anchor drawn up and the sails set and every- 
thing in readiness to get away. Looking back we 
saw boats coming out from the harbor-wall after 
us, filled with angry, shouting men. So we didn't 
bother to unload our rowboat but just tied it on to 
the ship's stern with a rope and jumped aboard. 

It only took a moment more to swing the Curlew 
round into the wind; and soon we were speeding 
out of the harbor on our way to Brazil. 

"Ha!" sighed Polynesia, as we all flopped down 
on the deck to take a rest and get our breath. 
"That wasn't a bad adventure quite reminds me 
of my old seafaring days when I sailed with the 
smugglers Golly, that was the life! Never mind 
your head, Bumpo. It will be all right when the 
Doctor puts a little arnica on it. Think what we 
got out of the scrap: a boat-load of ship's stores, 
pockets full of jewelry and thousands of pesetas. 
Not bad, you know not bad." 

o O o 



MIRANDA, the Purple Bird-of-Paradise 
had prophesied rightly when she had 
foretold a good spell of weather. 
For three weeks the good ship Curlew 
plowed her way through smiling seas before a 
steady powerful wind. 

I suppose most real sailors would have found 
this part of the voyage dull. But not I. As we got 
further South and further West the face of the sea 
seemed different every day. And all the little things 
of a voyage which an old hand would have hardly 
bothered to notice were matters of great interest 
for my eager eyes. 

We did not pass many ships. When we did see 
one, the Doctor would get out his telescope and we 
would all take a look at it. Sometimes he would 
signal to it, asking for news, by hauling up little 
colored flags upon the mast; and the ship would 
signal back to us in the same way. The meaning 
of all the signals was printed in a book which the 
Doctor kept in the cabin. He told me it was the 

language of the sea and that all ships could under- 


Shellfish Languages Again 199 

stand it whether they be English, Dutch, or French. 

Our greatest happening during those first weeks 
was passing an iceberg. When the sun shone on 
it it burst into a hundred colors, sparkling like a 
jeweled palace in a fairy-story. Through the tele- 
scope we saw a mother polar bear with a cub sitting 
on it, watching us. The Doctor recognized her as 
one of the bears who had spoken to him when he 
was discovering the North Pole. So he sailed the 
ship up close and offered to take her and her baby 
on to the Curlew if she wished it. But she only 
shook her head, thanking him; she said it would be 
far too hot for the cub on the deck of our ship, with 
no ice to keep his feet cool. It had been indeed a 
very hot day; but the nearness of that great mountain 
of ice made us all turn up our coat-collars and shiver 
with the cold. 

During those quiet peaceful days I improved my 
reading and writing a great deal with the Doctor's 
help. I got on so well that he let me keep the 
ship's log. This is a big book kept on every ship, a 
kind of diary, in which the number of miles run, 
the direction of your course and everything else 
that happens is written down. 

The Doctor too, in what spare time he had, was 
nearly always writing in his note-books. I used 
to peep into these sometimes, now that I could read, 
but I found it hard work to make out the Doctor's 
handwriting. Many of these note-books seemed to 

2OO The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

be about sea things. There were six thick ones 
filled full with notes and sketches of different sea- 
weeds; and there were others on sea birds; others 
on sea worms; others on seashells. They were all 
some day to be re-written, printed and bound like 
regular books. 

One afternoon we saw, floating around us, great 
quantities of stuff that looked like dead grass. The 
Doctor told me this was gulf-weed. A little further 
on it became so thick that it covered all the water 
as far as the eye could reach; it made the Curlew 
look as though she were moving across a meadow 
instead of sailing the Atlantic. 

Crawling about upon this weed, many crabs were 
to be seen. And the sight of them reminded the 
Doctor of his dream of learning the language of 
the shellfish. He fished several of these crabs up 
with a net and put them in his listening-tank to see 
if he could understand them. Among the crabs he 
also caught a strange-looking, chubby, little fish 
which he told me was called a Silver Fidgit. 

After he had listened to the crabs for a while 
with no success, he put the fidgit into the tank and 
began to listen to that. I had to leave him at this 
moment to go and attend to some duties on the deck. 
But presently I heard him below shouting for me 
to come down again. 

"Stubbins," he cried as soon as he saw me "a 
most extraordinary thing Quite unbelievable 

" 'He talks English 

202 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

I'm not sure whether I'm dreaming Can't believe 
my own senses. I I I " 

"Why, Doctor," I said, u what is it? What's 
the matter?" 

'The fidgit," he whispered, pointing with a trem- 
bling finger to the listening-tank in which the little 
round fish was still swimming quietly, "he talks 
English! And and and he whistles tunes 
English tunes !" 

"Talks English!" I cried "Whistles ! Why, 
it's impossible." 

"It's a fact," said the Doctor, white in the face 
with excitement. "It's only a few words, scattered, 
with no particular sense to them all mixed up with 
his own language which I can't make out yet. But 
they're English words, unless there's something very 
wrong with my hearing And the tune he whistles, 
it's as plain as anything always the same tune. 
Now you listen and tell me what you make of it. 
Tell me everything you hear. Don't miss a word." 

I went to the glass tank upon the table while the 
Doctor grabbed a note-book and a pencil. Undoing 
my collar I stood upon the empty packing-case he 
had been using for a stand and put my right ear 
down under the water. 

For some moments I detected nothing at all 
except, with my dry ear, the heavy breathing of the 
Doctor as he waited, all stiff and anxious, for me to 
say something. At last from within the water. 

Shellfish Languages Again 203 

sounding like a child singing miles and miles away, 
I heard an unbelievably thin, small voice. 

"Ah!" I said. 

"What is it?" asked the Doctor in a hoarse, 
trembly whisper. "What does he say?" 

"I can't quite make it out," I said. "It's mostly 
in some strange fish language Oh, but wait a 
minute! Yes, now I get it 'No smoking'. . . . 
'My, here's a queer one!' 'Popcorn and picture 
postcards here'. . . . 'This way out'. . . . 'Don't 
spit' What funny things to say, Doctor ! Oh, but 
wait! Now he's whistling the tune." 

"What tune is it?" gasped the Doctor. 

"John Peel." 

"Ah hah," cried the Doctor, "that's what I 
made it out to be." And he wrote furiously in his 

I went on listening. 

"This is most extraordinary," the Doctor kept 
muttering to himself as his pencil went wiggling 
over the page "Most extraordinary but fright- 
fully thrilling. I wonder where he " 

"Here's some more," I cried "some more 
English. . . . 'The big tank needs cleaning' 1 . . . . 
That's all. Now he's talking fish-talk again." 

"The big tank!" the Doctor murmured frowning 
in a puzzled kind of way. "I wonder where on 
earth he learned " 

Then he bounded up out of his chair. 

204 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

'I have it," he yelled, "this fish has escaped 
from an aquarium. Why, of course ! Look at the 
kind of things he has learned: 'Picture postcards' 
they always sell them in aquariums; 'Dont spit'; 
'No smoking' ; 'This way out' the things the atten- 
dants say. And then, 'My, here's a queer one!' 
That's the kind of thing that people exclaim when 
they look into the tanks. It all fits. There's no 
doubt about it, Stubbins : we have here a fish 
who has escaped from captivity. And it's quite 
possible not certain, by any means, but quite 
possible that I may now, through him, be able to 
establish communication with the shellfish. This is 
a great piece of luck." 



'ELL, now that he was started once 
more upon his old hobby of the shell- 
fish languages, there was no stopping 
the Doctor. He worked right through 
the night. 

A little after midnight I fell asleep in a chair; 
about two in the morning Bumpo fell asleep at the 
wheel; and for five hours the Curlew was allowed to 
drift where she liked. But still John Dolittle 
worked on, trying his hardest to understand the fid- 
git's language, struggling to make the fidgit under- 
stand him. 

When I woke up it was broad daylight again. 
The Doctor was still standing at the listening-tank, 
looking as tired as an owl and dreadfully wet. But 
on his face there was a proud and happy smile. 

"Stubbins," he said as soon as he saw me stir, 
"I've done it. I've got the key to the fidgit's lan- 
guage. It's a frightfully difficult language quite 
different from anything I ever heard. The only 
thing it reminds me of slightly is ancient Hebrew. 
It isn't shellfish ; but it's a big step towards it. Now, 

the next thing, I want you to take a pencil and a 


The Voyages o r Doctor Dolittle 

fresh notebook and write down everything I say. 
The ridgit has promised to tell me the story of his 

: c. I will translate i: into English and you put 
it down in the book. Are you ready?" 

Once more the Doctor lowered his ear beneath the 
level of the water: and as he began to speak. I 
-ted to write. And this is the story that the 
fidgit told us. 


"I was born in the P.:::".c Ocean, close to the coast 
of Chile. I was one of a family of two-thousand 
five-hundred and ten. ^oon after our mother and 
father left us. we youngsters got scattered. The 
family was rroken up by a herd of whales who 
chased us. I and my sister. Clippa (she was my 
:.;vorite sister) had a very narrow escape for our 
lives. As a rule, whales are not very hard to get 
awiy from if you are good at c 'rig if you've 
only got a quick swerve. But this one that came 
Fter Clippa and mysei: was a very mean whale. 
Every time he lost us under a stone or something 
he'd come b:, ;k and hunt and hunt till he routed us 
out into the open again. I never saw such a nasty, 
;; ersevering brute. 

'Well, we shook him at Last though not before 
he had worried us for hundreds of miles northward, 
up the west co^-st of South America. But luck was 

The Fid git's Story 207 

against us that day. While we were resting and 
trying to get our breath, another family of fidgits 
came rushing by, shouting, 'Come on! Swim for 
your lives! The dog-fish are coming!' 

"Now dog-fish are particularly fond of fidgits. 
We are, you might say, their favorite food and 
for that reason we always keep away from deep, 
muddy waters. What's more, dog-fish are not easy 
to escape from; they are terribly fast and clever 
hunters. So up we had to jump and on again. 

"After we had gone a few more hundred miles 
we looked back and saw that the dog-fish were gain- 
ing on us. So we turned into a harbor. It hap- 
pened to be one on the west coast of the United 
States. Here W T C guessed, and hoped, the dog-fish 
would not be likely to follow us. As it happened, 
they didn't even see us turn in, but dashed on north- 
ward and we never saw them again. I hope they 
froze to death in the Arctic Seas. 

"But, as I said, luck was against us that day. 
While I and my sister were cruising gently round 
the ships anchored in the harbor looking for orange- 
peels, a great delicacy with us Swoop! Bang! 
we were caught in a net. 

"We struggled for all we were worth; but it was 
no use. The net was small-meshed and strongly 
made. Kicking and flipping we were hauled up 
the side of the ship and dumped down on the deck, 
high and dry in a blazing noon-day sun. 

208 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

"Here a couple of old men in whiskers and 
spectacles leant over us, making strange sounds. 
Some codling had got caught in the net the same 
time as we were. These the old men threw back 
into the sea; but us they seemed to think very pre- 
cious. They put us carefully into a large jar and 
after they had taken us on shore they went to a 
big house and changed us from the jar into glass 
boxes full of water. This house was on the edge of 
the harbor; and a small stream of sea-water was 
made to flow through the glass tank so we could 
breathe properly. Of course we had never lived 
inside glass walls before; and at first we kept on 
trying to swim through them and got our noses 
awfully sore bumping the glass at full speed. 

'Then followed weeks and weeks of weary idle- 
ness. They treated us well, so far as they knew 
how. The old fellows in spectacles came and 
looked at us proudly twice a day and saw that we 
had the proper food to eat, the right amount of 
light and that the water was not too hot or too 
cold. But oh, the dullness of that life! It seemed 
we were a kind of a show. At a certain hour every 
morning the big doors of the house were thrown 
open and everybody in the city who had nothing 
special to do came in and looked at us. There were 
other tanks filled with different kinds of fishes all 
round the walls of the big room. And the crowds 
go from tank to tank, looking in at us 

The Fid git's Story 209 

through the glass with their mouths open, like 
half-witted flounders. We got so sick of it that we 
used to open our mouths back at them; and this 
they seemed to think highly comical. 

"One day my sister said to me, 'Think you, 
Brother, that these strange creatures who have 
captured us can talk?' 

'Surely,' said I, 'have you not noticed that 
some talk with the lips only, some with the whole 
face, and yet others discourse with the hands? 
When they come quite close to the glass you can 
hear them. Listen !' 

"At that moment a female, larger than the rest, 
pressed her nose up against the glass, pointed at 
me and said to her young behind her, 'Oh, look, 
here's a queer one !' 

"And then we noticed that they nearly always 
said this when they looked in. And for a long time 
we thought that such was the whole extent of the 
language, this being a people of but few ideas. To 
help pass away the weary hours we learned it by 
heart, 'Oh, look, here's a queer one!' But we 
never got to know what it meant. Other phrases, 
however, we did get the meaning of; and we even 
learned to read a little in man-talk. Many big 
signs there were, set up upon the walls; and when 
we saw that the keepers stopped the people from 
spitting and smoking, pointed to these signs angrily 
and read them out loud, we knew then that these 

2io The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

writings signified, No Smoking and Don't Spit. 

'Then in the evenings, after the crowd had gone, 
the same aged male with one leg of wood, swept up 
the peanut-shells with a broom every night. And 
while he was so doing he always whistled the same 
tune to himself. This melody we rather liked; 
and we learned that too by heart thinking it was 
part of the language. 

'Thus a whole year went by in this dismal place. 
Some days new fishes were brought in to the other 
tanks; and other days old fishes were taken out. 
At first we had hoped we would only be kept acre for 
a while, and that after we had been locked at 
sufficiently we would be returned to freedom and the 


sea. But as month after month went by, und we 
were left undisturbed, our hearts grew heav^ within 
our prison-walls of glass and we spoke to one an- 
other less and less. 

"One day, when the crowd was thickest in the 
big room^ a woman with a red face fainted from the 
heat. I watched through the glass and saw that 
the rest of the people got highly excited though 
to me it did not seem to be a matter of very great 
importance. They threw cold water on her and 
carried her out into the open air. 

'This made me think mightily; and presently a 
great idea burst upon me. 

'Sister,' I said, turning to poor Clippa who 
was sulking at the bottom of our prison trying to 

The Fidgit's Story 211 

hide behind a stone from the stupid gaze of the 
children who thronged about our tank, 'supposing 
that ice pretended we were sick : do you think they 
would take us also from this stuffy house?' 

'Brother,' said she wearily, 'that they might do. 
But most likely they would throw us on a rubbish- 
heap, where we would die in the hot sun.' 

'But,' said I, 'why should they go abroad to 
seek a rubbish-heap, when the harbor is so close? 
While we were being brought here I saw men throw- 
ing their rubbish into the water. If they would 
only throw us also there, we could quickly reach the 


U i 

The Sea!' murmured poor Clippa with a far- 
away look in her eyes (she had fine eyes, had my 
sister, Clippa). 'How like a dream it sounds- 
the Sea ! Oh brother, will we ever swim in it again, 
think you? Every night as I lie awake on the floor 
of this evil-smelling dungeon I hear its hearty voice 
ringing in my ears. How I have longed for it! 
Just to feel it once again, the nice, big, wholesome 
homeliness of it all ! To jump, just to jump from 
the crest of an Atlantic wave, laughing in the trade 
wind's spindrift, down into the blue-green swirling 
trough ! To chase the shrimps on a summer even- 
ing, when the sky is red and the light's all pink 
within the foam! To lie on the top, in the dol- 
drums' noonday calm, and warm your tummy in the 
tropic sun! To wander hand in hand once more 

212 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

through the giant seaweed forests of the Indian 
Ocean, seeking the delicious eggs of the pop-pop ! 
To play hide-and-seek among the castles of the coral 
towns with their pearl and jasper windows span- 
gling the floor of the Spanish Main! To picnic in 
the anemone-meadows, dim blue and lilac-gray, that 
lie in the lowlands beyond the South Sea Garden ! 
To throw somersaults on the springy sponge-beds 
of the Mexican Gulf! To poke about among the 
dead ships and see what wonders and adventures lie 
inside ! And then, on winter nights when the North- 
easter whips the water into froth, to swoop down 
and down to get away from the cold, down to where 
the water's warm and dark, down and still down, till 
we spy the twinkle of the fire-eels far below where 
our friends and cousins sit chatting round the Coun- 
cil Grotto chatting, Brother, over the news and 
gossip of the Sea! . . . Oh ' 

"And then she broke down completely, sniffling. 
'Stop it!' I said. 'You make me homesick. 
Look here: let's pretend we're sick or better still, 
let's pretend we're dead; and see what happens. If 
they throw us on a rubbish-heap and we fry in the 
sun, we'll not be much worse off than we are here in 
this smelly prison. What do you say? Will you 
risk it?' 

'I will,' she said 'and gladly.' 

'So next morning two fidgits were found by the 
keeper floating on the top of the water in their 

u r 

The Fid git's Story 213 

tank, stiff and dead. We gave a mighty good 
imitation of dead fish although I say it myself. 
The keeper ran and got the old gentlemen with 
spectacles and whiskers. They threw up their hands 
in horror when they saw us. Lifting us carefully 
out of the water they laid us on wet cloths. That 
was the hardest part of all. If you're a fish and get 
taken out of the water you have to keep opening and 
shutting your mouth to breathe at all and even 
that you can't keep up for long. And all this time we 
had to stay stiff as sticks and breathe silently through 
half-closed lips. 

'Well, the old fellows poked us and felt us and 
pinched us till I thought they'd never be done. 
Then, when their backs were turned a moment, a 
wretched cat got up on the table and nearly ate us. 
Luckily the old men turned round in time and shooed 
her away. You may be sure though that we took a 
couple of good gulps of air while they weren't 
looking; and that was the only thing that saved us 
from choking. I wanted to whisper to Clippa to be 
brave and stick it out. But I couldn't even do that; 
because, as you know, most kinds of fish-talk can- 
not be heard not even a shout unless you're 
under water. 

'Then, just as we were about to give it up and 
let on that we were alive, one of the old men shook 
his head sadly, lifted us up and carried us out of 
the building. 

214 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

"'Now for it!' I thought to myself. 'We'll 
soon know our fate : liberty or the garbage-can.' 

"Outside, to our unspeakable horror, he made 
straight for a large ash-barrel which stood against 
the wall on the other side of a yard. Most happily 
for us, however, while he was crossing this yard a 
very dirty man with a wagon and horses drove up 
and took the ash-barrel away. I suppose it was his 

"Then the old man looked around for some 
other place to throw us. He seemed about to cast 
us upon the ground. But he evidently thought 
that this would make the yard untidy and he de- 
sisted. The suspense was terrible. He moved out- 
side the yard-gate and my heart sank once more as 
I saw that he now intended to throw us in the 
gutter of the roadway. But (fortune was indeed 
with us that day), a large man in blue clothes and 
silver buttons stopped him in the nick of time. Evi- 
dently, from the way the large man lectured and 
waved a short thick stick, it was against the rules 
of the town to throw dead fish in the streets. 

"At last, to our unutterable joy, the old man 
turned and moved off with us towards the harbor. 
He walked so slowly, muttering to himself all the 
way and watching the man in blue out of the corner 
of his eye, that I wanted to bite his finger to make 
him hurry up. Both Clippa and I were actually at 
our last gasp. 

The Fid git' 3 Story 215 

"Finally he reached the sea-wall and giving us one 
last sad look he dropped us into the waters of the 

"Never had we realized anything like the thrill 
of that moment, as we felt the salt wetness close 
over our heads. With one flick of our tails we 
came to life again. The old man was so surprised 
that he fell right into the water, almost on top of 
us. From this he was rescued by a sailor with a 
boat-hook; and the last we saw of him, the man in 
blue was dragging him away by the coat-collar, 
lecturing him again. Apparently it was also against 
the rules of the town to throw dead fish into the 

"But we? What time or thought had we for 
his troubles? We were free! In lightning leaps, 
in curving spurts, in crazy zig-zags whooping, 
shrieking with delight, we sped for home and the 
open sea ! 

"That is all of my story and I will now, as I 
promised last night, try to answer any questions you 
may ask about the sea, on condition that I am set 

liberty as soon as you have done." 

The Doctor: Is there any part of the sea deeper 
than that known as the Nero Deep I mean the 
one near the Island of Guam?" 

The Fidgit: "Why, certainly. There's one mucli 
deeper than that near the mouth of the Amazon 

216 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

River. But it's small and hard to find. We 
call it 'The Deep Hole.' And there's another 
in the Antarctic Sea." 

The Doctor: "Can you talk any shellfish language 

The Fidgit: 'No, not a word. We regular fishes 
don't have anything to do with the shellfish. We 
consider them a low class." 

The Doctor: 'But when you're near them, can you 
hear the sound they make talking I mean without 
necessarily understanding what they say?" 

The Fidgit: "Only with the very largest ones. 
Shellfish have such weak small voices it is almost 
impossible for any but their own kind to hear 
them. But with the bigger ones it is different. 
They make a sad, booming noise, rather like an 
iron pipe being knocked with a stone only not 
nearly so loud of course." 

The Doctor: 'I am most anxious to get down to 
the bottom of the sea- -to study many things. 
But we land animals, as you no doubt know, are 
unable to breathe under water- Have you any 
ideas that might help me?" 

The Fidgit: 'I think that for both your difficulties 
the best thing for you to do would be to try and 
get hold of the Great Glass Sea Snail." 

The Doctor: 'Er who, or what, is the Great 
Glass Sea Snail?" 

The Fidgit: "He is an enormous salt-water snail, 

The Fid git's Story 217 

one of the winkle family, but as large as a big 
house. He talks quite loudly when he speaks, 
but this is not often. He can go to any part of 
the ocean, at all depths because he doesn't have 
to be afraid of any creature in the sea. His 
shell is made of transparent mother-o'-pearl so 
that you can see through it; but it's thick and 
strong. When he is out of his shell and he car- 
ries it empty on his back, there is room in it for 
a wagon and a pair of horses. He has been 
seen carrying his food in it when traveling." 

The Doctor: "I feel that that is just the creature 
I have been looking for. He could take me and 
my assistant inside his shell and we could ex- 
plore the deepest depths in safety. Do you 
think you could get him for me?" 

The Fidgit: "Alas! no. I would willingly if I 
could; but he is hardly ever seen by ordinary fish. 
He lives at the bottom of the Deep Hole, and 
seldom comes out And into the Deep Hole, 
the lower waters of which are muddy, fishes such 
as \ve are afraid to go." 

The Doctor: "Dear me! That's 1 a terrible 
disappointment. Are there many of this kind 
of snail in the sea?" 

The Fidgit: "Oh no. He is the only one in ex- 
istence, since his second wife died long, long ago. 
He is the last of the Giant Shellfish. He be- 
longs to past ages when the whales were land- 

218 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

animals and all that. They say he is over sevent\ 

thousand years old." 
The Doctor: "Good Gracious, what wonderful 

things he could tell me ! I do wish I could meet 

The Fldgit: "Were there any more questions you 

wished to ask me? This water in your tank is 

getting quite warm and sickly. I'd like to be 

put back into the sea as soon as you can spare 


The Doctor: "Just one more thing: when Chris- 
topher Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492, 
he threw overboard two copies of his diary sealed 
up in barrels. One of them was never found. 
It must have sunk. I would like to get it for my 
library. Do you happen to know where is is?" 

The Fidgit: "Yes, I do. That too is in the Deep 
Hole. When the barrel sank the currents drifted 
it northwards down what we call the Orinoco 
Slope, till it finally disappeared into the Deep 
Hole. If it was any other part of the sea I'd 
try and get it for you; but not there." 

The Doctor: "Well, that is all, I think. I hate 
to put you back into the sea, because I know that 
as soon as I do, I'll think of a hundred other ques- 
tions I wanted to ask you. But I must keep my 
promise. Would you care for anything before 
you go? it seems a cold day some cracker- 
crumbs or something?" 

The Fid git's Story 219 

The Fidgit: "No, I won't stop. All I want just 
at present is fresh sea-water." 

The Doctor: "I cannot thank you enough for all 
the information you have given me. You have 
been very helpful and patient." 

The Fidgit: "Pray do not mention it. It has been 
a real pleasure to be of assistance to the great 
John Dolittle. You are, as of course you know, 
already quite famous among the better class of 
fishes. Goodbye ! and good luck to you, to your 
ship and to all your plans !" 

The Doctor carried the listening-tank to a port- 
hole, opened it and emptied the tank into the sea. 

"Good-bye!' 1 he murmured as a faint splash 
reached us from without. 

I dropped my pencil on the table and leaned back 
with a sigh. My fingers were so stiff with writers' 
cramp that I felt as though I should never be able 
to open my hand again. But I, at least, had had 
a night's sleep. As for the poor Doctor, he was 
so weary that he had hardly put the tank back upon 
the table and dropped into a chair, when his eyes 
closed and he began to snore. 

In the passage outside Polynesia scratched angrily 
at the door. I rose and let her in. 

"A nice state of affairs!" she stormed. "What 
sort of a ship is this? There's that colored man 
upstairs asleep under the wheel; the Doctor asleep 

22O The Voyages of Doctor Do little 

down here; and you making pot-hooks in a copy- 
book with a pencil ! Expect the ship to steer her- 
self to Brazil? We're just drifting around the 
sea like an empty bottle and a week behind time 
as it is. What's happened to you all?" 

She was so angry that her voice rose to a scream. 
But it would have taken more than that to wake 
the Doctor. 

I put the note-book carefully in a drawer and went, 
on deck to take the wheel. 



AS soon as I had the Curlew swung round 
upon her course again I noticed some- 
thing peculiar: we were not going as fast 
as we had been. Our favorable wind 
had almost entirely disappeared. 

This, at first, we did not worry about, thinking 
that at any moment it might spring up again. But 
the whole day went by; then two days; then a week, 
ten days, and the wind grew no stronger. The 
Curlew just dawdled along at the speed of a toddling 

I now saw that the Doctor was becoming uneasy. 
He kept getting out his sextant (an instrument 
which tells you what part of the ocean you are in) 
and making calculations. He was forever looking at 
his maps and measuring distances on them. The 
far edge of the sea, all around us, he examined with 
his telescope a hundred times a day. 

"But Doctor," I said when I found him one 
afternoon mumbling to himself about the misty 
appearance of the sky, "it wouldn't matter so much, 
would it, if we did take a little longer over the 
trip? We've got plenty to eat on board now; 


222 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

and the Purple Bird-of-Paradise will know that we 
have been delayed by something that we couldn't 

'Yes, I suppose so," he said thoughtfully. u But 
I hate to keep her waiting. At this season of the 
year she generally goes to the Peruvian mountains 
for her health. And besides, the good weather 
she prophesied is likely to end any day now and 
delay us still further. If we could only keep moving 
at even a fair speed, I wouldn't mind. It's this 
hanging around, almost dead still, that gets me 
restless Ah, here comes a wind Not very strong 
but maybe it'll grow." 

A gentle breeze from the Northeast came singing 
through the ropes; and we smiled up hopefully at 
the Curlew's leaning masts. 

'We've only got another hundred and fifty miles 
to make, to sight the coast of Brazil," said the Doc- 
tor. "If that wind would just stay with us, steady, 
for a full day we'd see land." 

But suddenly the wind changed, swung to the 
East, then back to the Northeast then to the 
North. It came in fitful gusts, as though it hadn't 
made up its mind which way to blow; and I was 
kept busy at the wheel, swinging the Curlew this way 
and that to keep the right side of it. 

Presently we heard Polynesia, who w 7 as in the 
rigging keeping a look-out for land or passing ships, 
screech down to us, 

Bad Weather 223 

"Bad weather coming. That jumpy wind is an 
ugly sign. And look! over there in the East see 
that black line, low down? If that isn't a storm 
I'm a land-lubber. The gales round here are fierce, 
when they do blow tear your canvas out like 
paper. You take the wheel, Doctor : it'll need a 
strong arm if it's a real storm. I'll go wake Bumpo 
and Chee-Chee. This looks bad to me. We'd 
best get all the sail down right away, till we see 
how strong she's going to blow." 

Indeed the whole sky was now beginning to take 
on a very threatening look. The black line to the 
eastward grew blacker as it came nearer and nearer. 
A low, rumbly, whispering noise went moaning over 
the sea. The water which had been so blue and smil- 
ing turned to a ruffled ugly gray. And acrcss the 
darkening sky, shreds of cloud swept like tattered 
witches flying from the storm. 

I must confess I was frightened. You see I had 
only so far seen the sea in friendly moods : some- 
times quiet and lazy; sometimes laughing, venture- 
some and reckless; sometimes brooding and poetic, 
when moonbeams turned her ripples into silver 
threads and dreaming snowy night-clouds piled up 
fairy-castles in the sky. But as yet I had not known, 
or even guessed at, the terrible strength of the Sea's 
wild anger. 

When that storm finally struck us we leaned 
right over flatly on our side, as though some in- 

224 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

visible giant had slapped the poor Curlew on the 

After that things happened so thick and so fast 
that what with the wind that stopped your breath, 
the driving, blinding water, the deafening noise and 
the rest, I haven't a very clear idea of how our 
shipwreck came about. 

I remember seeing the sails, which we were now 
trying to roll up upon the deck, torn out of our 
hands by the wind and go overboard like a penny 
balloon very nearly carrying Chee-Chee with them. 
And I have a dim recollection of Polynesia screech- 
ing somewhere for one of us to go downstairs and 
close the port-holes. 

In spite of our masts being bare of sail we were 
now scudding along to the southward at a great 
pace. But every once in a while huge gray-black 
waves would arise from under the ship's side like 
nightmare monsters, swell and climb, then crash 
down upon us, pressing us into the sea; and the poor 
Curlew would come to a standstill, half under water, 
like a gasping, drowning pig. 

While I was clambering along towards the wheel 
to see the Doctor, clinging like a leech with hands 
and legs to' the rails lest I be blown overboard, one 
of these tremendous seas tore loose my hold, filled 
my throat with water and swept me like a cork the 
full length of the deck. My head struck a door with 
an awful bang. And then I fainted. 



WHEN I awoke I was very hazy in 
my head. The sky was blue and the 
sea was calm. At first I thought 
that I must have fallen asleep in the sun 
on the deck of the Curlew. And thinking that I 
would be late for my turn at the wheel, I tried to 
rise to my feet. I found I couldn't; my arms were 
tied to something behind me with a phce of rope, 
By twisting my neck around I found this to be a 
mast, broken off short. Then I realized that I 
wasn't sitting on a ship at all; I was only sitting on 
a piece of one. I began to feel uncomfortably 
scared. Screwing up my eyes, I searched the rim of 
the sea North, East, South and West: no land: 
no ships; nothing was in sight. I was alone in the 

At last, little by little, my bruised head began to 
remember what had happened: first, the coming of 
the storm; the sails going overboard; then the big 
wave which had banged me against the door. But 
what had become of the Doctor and the others? 
What day was this, to-morrow or the day after? 

And why was I sitting on only part of a ship ? 


"I was alone in the ocean!' 

Wrecked! 227 

Working my hand into my pocket, I found my 
penknife and cut the rope that tied me. This re- 
minded me of a shipwreck story which Joe had once 
told me, of a captain who had tied his son to a mast 
in order that he shouldn't be washed overboard by 
the gale. So of course it must have been the Doc- 
tor who had done the same to me. 

But where was he? 

The awful thought came to me that the Doctor 
and the rest of them must be drowned, since there 
was no other wreckage to be seen upon the waters. 
I got to my feet and stared around the sea again 
Nothing nothing but water and sky! 

Presently a long way off I saw the small dark 
shape of a bird skimming low down over the swell. 
When it came quite close I saw it was a Stormy 
Petrel. I tried to talk to it, to see if it could give 
me news. But unluckily I hadn't learned much sea- 
bird language and I couldn't even attract its atten- 
tion, much less make it understand what I wanted. 

Twice it circled round my raft, lazily, with hardly 
a flip of the wing. And I could not help wondering, 
in spite of the distress I was in, where it had spent 
last night--how it, or any other living thing, had 
weathered such a smashing storm. It made me 
realize the great big difference between different 
creatures; and that size and strength are not every- 
thing. To this petrel, a frail little thing of featb' 
ers, much smaller and weaker than I, the Sea could 

228 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

do anything she liked, it seemed; and his only an- 
swer was a lazy, saucy flip of the wing! He was 
the one who should be called the able seaman. For, 
come raging gale, come sunlit calm, this wilderness 
of water was his home. 

After swooping over the sea around me (just 
looking for food, I supposed) he went off in the 
direction from which he had come. And I was 
alone once more. 

I found I was somewhat hungry and a little 
thirsty too. I began to think all sorts of miserable 
thoughts, the way one does when he is lonesome and 
has missed breakfast. What was going to become 
of me now, if the Doctor and the rest were 
drowned? I would starve to death or die of 
thirst. Then the sun went behind some clouds and 
I felt cold. How many hundreds or thousands of 
miles was I from any land? What if another storm 
should come and smash up even this poor raft on 
which I stood? 

I went on like this for a while, growing gloomier 
and gloomier, when suddenly I thought of Poly- 
nesia. 'You're always safe with the Doctor," she 
had said. "He gets there. Remember that." 

I'm sure I wouldn't have minded so much if he 
had been here with me. It was this being all alone 
that made me want to weep. And yet the petrel 
was alone ! What a baby I was, I told myself, to 
be scared to the verge of tears just by loneliness ! 

Wrecked! 229 

I was quite safe where I was for the present any- 
how. John Dolittle wouldn't get scared by a little 
thing like this. He only got excited when he made 
a discovery, found a new bug or something. And 
if what Polynesia had said was true, he couldn't be 
drowned and things would come out all right in the 
end somehow. 

I threw out my chest, buttoned up my collar and 
began walking up and down the short raft to keep 
warm. I would be like John Dolittle. I wouldn't 
cry And I wouldn't get excited. 

How long I paced back and forth I don't know. 
But it was a long time for I had nothing else to 

At last I got tired and lay down to rest. And 
in spite of all my troubles, I soon fell fast asleep. 

This time when I woke up, stars were staring 
down at me out of a cloudless sky. The sea was 
still calm; and my strange craft was rocking gently 
under me on an easy swell. All my fine courage 
left me as I gazed up into the big silent night and 
felt the pains of hunger and thirst set to work in 
my stomach harder than ever. 

"Are you awake?" said a high silvery voice at 
my elbow. 

I sprang up as though some one had stuck a pin 
in me. And there, perched at the very end of my 
raft, her beautiful golden tail glowing dimly in the 
starlight, sat Miranda, the Purple Bird-of-Paradise ! 

230 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

Never have I been so glad to see any one in my 
life. I almost fell into the water as I leapt to hug 

; 'I didn't want to wake you," said she. "I 
guessed you must be tired after all you've been 
through Don't squash the life out of me, boy: 
I'm not a stuffed duck, you know." 

"Oh, Miranda, you dear old thing," said I, "I'm 
so glad to see you. Tell me, where is the Doctor? 
Is he alive?" 

"Of course he's alive and it's my firm belief 
he always will be. He's over there, about forty 
miles to the westward." 

"What's he doing there?" 

''He's sitting on the other half of the Curlew 
shaving himself or he was, when I left him." 

"Well, thank Heaven he's alive!" said I "And 
Bumpo and the animals, are they all right?" 

"Yes, they're with him. Your ship broke in half 
in the storm. The Doctor had tied you down when 
he found you stunned. And the part you were on 
got separated and floated away. Golly, it was a 
storm! One has to be a gull or an albatross to 
stand that sort of weather. I had been watching 
for the Doctor for three weeks, from a cliff-top; 
but last night I had to take refuge in a cave to keep 
my tail-feathers from blowing out. As soon as I 
found the Doctor, he sent me off with some por- 

Wrecked! 231 

poises to look for you. A Stormy Petrel vol- 
unteered to help us in our search. There had been 
quite a gathering of sea-birds waiting to greet the 
Doctor; but the rough weather sort of broke up the 
arrangements that had been made to welcome him 
properly. It was the petrel that first gave us the 
tip where you were." 

"Well, but how can I get to the Doctor, Mi- 
randa? I haven't any oars." 

"Get to him ! Why, you're going to him now. 
Look behind you." 

I turned around. The moon was just rising on 
the sea's edge. And I now saw that my raft was 
moving through the water, but so gently that I had 
not noticed it before. 

"What's moving us?" I asked. 
'The porpoises," said Miranda. 

I went to the back of the raft and looked down 
into the water. And just below the surface I could 
see the dim forms of four big porpoises, their sleek 
skins glinting in the moonlight, pushing at the raft 
with their noses. 

"They're old friends of the Doctor's," said 
Miranda. "They'd do anything for John Dolittle. 
We should see his party soon now. We're pretty 
near the place I left them Yes, there they are! 
See that dark shape? No, more to the right of 
where you're looking. Can't you make out the 

232 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

figure of the black man standing against the sky? 
Now Chee-Chee spies us he's waving. Don't 
you see them?" 

I didn't for my eyes were not as sharp as 
Miranda's. But presently from somewhere in the 
murky dusk I heard Bumpo singing his African 
comic songs with the full force of his enormous 
voice. And in a little, by peering and peering in 
the direction of the sound, I at last made out a dim 
mass of tattered, splintered wreckage all that re- 
mained of the poor Curlew* floating low down 
upon the water. 

A hulloa came through the night. And I an- 
swered it We kept it up, calling to one another 
back and forth across the calm night sea. And a 
few minutes later the two halves of our brave little 
ruined ship bumped gently together again. 

Now that I was nearer and the moon was higher 
I could see more plainly. Their half of the ship 
was much bigger than mine. 

It lay partly upon its side; and most of them 
were perched upon the top munching ship's biscuit. 

But close down to the edge of the water, using 
the sea's calm surface for a mirror and a piece of 
broken bottle for a razor, John Dolittle was shav- 
ing his free by the light of the moon. 


THEY all gave me a great greeting as I 
clambered off my half of the ship on to 
theirs. Bumpo brought me a wonder- 
ful drink of fresh water which he drew 
from a barrel; and Chee-Chee and Polynesia stood 
around me feeding me ship's biscuit. 

But it was the sight of the Doctor's smiling face 
just knowing that I was with him once again 
that cheered me more than anything else. As I 
watched him carefully wipe his glass razor and put 
it away for future use, I could not help comparing 
him in my mind with the Stormy Petrel. Indeed the 
vast strange knowledge which he had gained from 
his speech and friendship with animals had brought 
him the power to do things which no other human 
being would dare to try. Like the petrel, he could 
apparently play with the sea in all her moods. It 
was no wonder that many of the ignorant savage 
peoples among whom he passed in his voyages 
made statues of him showing him as half a fish, half 
a bird, and half a man. And ridiculous though it 
was, I could quite understand what Miranda 
meant when she said she firmly believed that he 


234 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

could never die. Just to be with him gave you a 
wonderful feeling of comfort and safety. 

Except for his appearance (his clothes were 
crumpled and damp and his battered high hat was 
stained with salt water) that storm which had so 
terrified me had disturbed him no more than getting 
stuck on the mud-bank in Puddleby River. 

Politely thanking Miranda for getting me so 
quickly, he asked her if she would now go ahead of 
us and show us the way to Spidermonkey Island. 
Next, he gave orders to the porpoises to leave my 
old piece of the ship and push the bigger half wher- 
ever the Bird-of-Paradise should lead us. 

How much he had lost in the wreck besides his 
raz^or I did not know everything, most likely, 
together with all the money he had saved up to buy 
the ship with. And still he was smiling as though 
he wanted for nothing in the world. The only 
things he had saved, as far as I could see beyond 
the barrel of water and bag of biscuit were his 
precious note-books. These, I saw when he stood 
up, he had strapped around his waist with yards 
and yards of twine. He was, as old Matthew 
Mugg used to say, a great man. He was unbeliev- 

And now for three days we continued our journey 
slowly but steadily southward. 

The only inconvenience we suffered from was the 
cold. This seemed to increase as we went forward. 

Land 235 

The Doctor said that the island, disturbed from its 
usual paths by the great gale, had evidently drifted 
further South than it had ever been before. 

On the third night poor Miranda came back to us 
nearly frozen. She told the Doctor that in the 
morning we would find the island quite close to us, 
though we couldn't see it now as it was a misty dark 
night. She said that she must hurry back at once 
to a warmer climate; and that she would visit the 
Doctor in Puddleby next August as usual. 

"Don't forget, Miranda," said John Dolittle, 
"if you should hear anything of what happened to 
Long Arrow, to get word to me." 

The Bird-of-Paradise assured him she would. 
And after the Doctor had thanked her again and 
again for all that she had done for us, she wished 
us good luck and disappeared into the night. 

We were all awake early in the morning, long be- 
fore it was light, waiting for our first glimpse of 
the country we had come so far to see. And as 
the rising sun turned the eastern sky to gray, of 
course it was old Polynesia who first shouted that 
she could see palm-trees and mountain tops. 

With the growing light it became plain to all of 
us: a long island with high rocky mountains in the 
middle and so near to us that you could almost 
throw your hat upon the shore. 

The porpoises gave us one last push and out 
strange-looking craft bumped gently on a 

236 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

beach. Then, thanking our lucky stars for a 
chance to stretch our cramped legs, we all bundled 
off on to the land the first land, even though it 
was floating land, that we had trodden for six 
weeks. What a thrill I felt as I realized that Spider- 
monkey Island, the little spot in the atlas which my 
pencil had touched, lay at last beneath my feet! 

When the light increased still further we noticed 
that the palms and grasses of the island seemed 
withered and almost dead. The Doctor said that 
it must be on account of the cold that the island 
was now suffering from in its new climate. These 
trees and grasses, he told us, were the kind that 
belonged to warm, tropical weather. 

The porpoises asked if we wanted them any fur- 
ther. And the Doctor said that he didn't think 
so, not for the present nor the raft either, he 
added; for it was already beginning to fall to pieces 
and could not float much longer. 

As we were preparing to go inland and explore 
the island, we suddenly noticed a whole band of Red 
Indians watching us with great curiosity from 
among the trees. The Doctor went forward to 
talk to them. But he could not make them under- 
stand. He tried by signs to show them that he 
had come on a friendly visit. The Indians didn't 
seem to like us however. They had bows and arrows 
and long hunting spears, with stone points, in their 

Land 237 

hands; and they made signs back to the Doctor to 
tell him that if he came a step nearer they would 
kill us all. They evidently wanted us to leave the 
island at once. It was a very uncomfortable situa- 

At last the Doctor made them understand that he 
only wanted to see the island all over and that then 
he would go away though how he meant to do it, 
with no boat to sail in, was more than I could 

While they were talking among themselves an- 
other Indian arrived apparently with a message 
that they were wanted in some other part of the is- 
land. Because presently, shaking their spears 
threateningly at us, they went off with the new* 

"What discourteous pagans !" said Bumpo. "Did 
you ever see such inhospitability? Never even 
asked us if we'd had breakfast, the benighted 
bounders !" 

u Sh! They're going off to their village," said 
Polynesia. "I'll bet there's a village on the other 
side of those mountains. If you take my advice, 
Doctor, you'll get away from this beach while their 
backs are turned. Let us go up into the higher 
land for the present some place where they won't 
know where we are. They may grow friendlier 
when they see we mean no harm. They have 

238 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

honest, open faces and look like a decent crowd to 
me. They're just ignorant probably never saw 
white folks before." 

So, feeling a little bit discouraged by our first 
reception, we moved off towards the mountains in 
the centre of the island. 



E found the woods at the feet of the 
hills thick and tangly and somewhat 
hard to get through. On Polynesia's 
advice, we kept away from all paths 
and trails, feeling it best to avoid meeting any 
Indians for the present. 

But she and Chee-Chee were good guides and 
splendid jungle-hunters; and the two of them set 
to work at once looking for food for us. In a 
very short space of time they had found quite a 
number of different fruits and nuts which made ex- 
cellent eating, though none of us knew the names 
of any of them. We discovered a nice clean stream 
of good water which came down from the mountains ; 
so we were supplied with something to drink as 

We followed the stream up towards the heights. 
And presently we came to parts where the woods 
were thinner and the ground rocky and steep. 
Here we could get glimpses of wonderful views all 
over the island, with the blue sea beyond. 

While we were admiring one of these the Doctor 


240 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

suddenly said, "Sh ! A Jabizri ! Don't you hear 


We listened and heard, somewhere in the air 
about us, an extraordinarily musical hum like 
a bee, but not just one note. This hum rose and 
fell, up and down almost like some one sing- 

"No other insect but the Jabizri beetle hums like 
that," said the Doctor. "I wonder where he is 
quite near, by the sound flying among the trees 
probably. Oh, if I only had my butterfly-net! 
Why didn't I think to strap that around my waist 
too. Confound the storm: I may miss the chance 
of a lifetime now of getting the rarest beetle in the 
world Oh look! There he goes!" 

A huge beetle, easily three inches long I should 
say, suddenly flew by our noses. The Doctor got 
frightfully excited. He took off his hat to use as 
a net, swooped at the beetle and caught it. He 
nearly fell down a precipice on to the rocks below 
in his wild hurry, but that didn't bother him in the 
least. He knelt down, chortling, upon the ground 
with the Jabizri safe under his hat. From his 
pocket he brought out a glass-topped box, and into 
this he very skilfully made the beetle walk from 
under the rim of the hat. Then he rose up, happy 
as a child, to examine his new treasure through the 
glass lid. 

It certainly was a most beautiful insect. It was, 

The Jabizri 241 

pale blue underneath; but its back was glossy black 
with huge red spots on it. 

'There isn't an entymologist in the whole world 
who wouldn't give all he has to be in my shoes 
to-day," said the Doctor "Hulloa ! This Jab- 
izri's got something on his leg Doesn't look like 
mud. I wonder what it is." 

He took the beetle carefully out of the box and 
held it by its back in his fingers, where it waved its 
six legs slowly in the air. We all crowded about 
him peering at it. Rolled around the middle sec- 
tion of its right foreleg was something that looked 
like a thin dried leaf. It was bound on very neatly 
with strong spider-web. 

It was marvelous to see how John Dolittle with 
his fat heavy fingers undid that cobweb cord and 
unrolled the leaf, whole, without tearing it or hurt- 
ing the precious beetle. The Jabizri he put back 
into the box. Then he spread the leaf out flat and 
examined it. 

You can imagine our surprise when we found that 
the inside of the leaf was covered with signs and 
pictures, drawn so tiny that you almost needed a 
magnifying-glass to tell what they were. Some of 
the signs we couldn't make out at all; but nearly all 
of the pictures were quite plain, figures of men and 
mountains mostly. The whole was done in a 
curious sort of brown ink. 

For several moments there was a dead silence 

242 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

while we all stared at the leaf, fascinated and mys- 

"I think this is written in blood," said the Doctor 
at last. "It turns that color when it's dry. Some- 
body pricked his finger to make these pictures. 
It's an old dodge when you're short of ink but 
highly unsanitary What an extraordinary thing 
to find tied to a beetle's leg! I wish I could talk 
beetle language, and find out where the Jabizri got 
it from." 

"But what is it?" I asked "Rows of little pic- 
tures and signs. What do you make of it. Doctor?" 

"It's a letter," he said "a picture letter. All 
these little things put together mean a message 
But why give a message to a beetle to carry and to 
a Jabizri, the rarest beetle in the world? What an 
extraordinary thing!" 

Then he fell to muttering over the pictures. 

"I wonder what it means: men walking up a 
mountain; men walking into a hole in a mountain; 
a mountain falling down it's a good drawing, 
that; men pointing to their open mouths; bars 
prison-bars, perhaps; men praying; men lying 
down they look as though they might be sick; 
and last of all, just a mountain a peculiar-shaped 

All of a sudden the Doctor looked up sharply at 
me, a wonderful smile of delighted understanding 
spreading over his face. 



The Jabizri 243 

"Long Arrow!'' he cried, "don't you s'ee, 
Stubbins? Why, of course! Only a naturalist 
would think of doing a thing like this: giving his 
letter to a beetle not to a common beetle, but to 
the rarest of all, one that other naturalists would 
try to catch Well, well! Long Arrow! A pic- 
ture-letter from Long Arrow. For pictures are 
the only writing that he knows." 

'Yes, but who is the letter to?" I asked. 

'It's to me very likely. Miranda had told him, 
I know, years ago, that some day I meant to come 
here. But if not for me, then it's for any one who 
caught the beetle and read it. It's a letter to the 

'Well, but what does it say? It doesn't seem 
to me that it's much good to you now you've got it." 
"Yes, it is," he said, "because, look, I can read 
it now. First picture : men walking up a mountain 
that's Long Arrow and his party; men going 
into a hole in a mountain they enter a cave looking 
for medicine-plants or mosses; a mountain falling 
down some hanging rocks must have slipped and 
trapped them, imprisoned them in the cave. And 
this was the only living creature that could carry a 
message for them to the outside world a beetle, 
who could burrow his way into the open air. Of 
course it was only a slim chance that the beetle 
would be ever caught and the letter read. But it 
was a chance; and when men are in great danger 

244 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

they grab at any straw of hope. . . . All right. 
Now look *at the next picture : men pointing to their 
open mouths they are hungry; men praying 
begging any one who finds this letter to come to their 
assistance; men lying down they are sick, or starv- 
ing. This letter, Stubbins, is their last cry for help." 

He sprang to his feet as he ended, snatched out 
a note-book and put the letter between the leaves. 
His hands were trembling with haste and agitation. 

"Come on!" he cried "up the mountain all of 
you. There's not a moment to lose. Bumpo, bring 
the water and nuts with you. Heaven only knows 
how long they've been pining underground. Let's 
hope and pray we're not too late!" 

"But where are you going to look?" I asked. 
"Miranda said the island was a hundred miles long 
and the mountains seem to run all the way down the 
centre of it." 

"Didn't you see the last picture?" he said, grab- 
bing up his hat from the ground and cramming it 
on his head. "It was an oddly shaped mountain 
looked like a hawk's head. Well, there's where he 
is if he's still alive. First thing for us to do, is 
to get up on a high peak and look around the island 
for a mountain shaped like a hawks' head Just 
to think of it! There's a chance of my meeting 
Long Arrow, the son of Golden Arrow, after 
all! Come on! Hurry! To delay may mean 
death to the greatest naturalist ever born!" 



E all agreed afterwards that none of 
us had ever worked so hard in our 
lives before as we did that day. For 
my part, I know I was often on the 
point of dropping exhausted with fatigue; but I 
just kept on going like a machine determined 
that, whatever happened, / would not be the first 
to give up. 

When we had scrambled to the top of a high 
peak, almost instantly we saw the strange mountain 
pictured in the letter. In shape it was the perfect 
image of a hawk's head, and was, as far as we could 
see, the second highest summit in the island. 

Although we were all out of breath from our 
climb, the Doctor didn't let us rest a second as soon 
as he had sighted it. With one look at the sun for 
direction, down he dashed again, breaking through 
thickets, splashing over brooks, taking all the short 
cuts. For a fat man, he was certainly the swiftest 
cross-country runner I ever saw. 

We floundered after him as fast as we could. 
When I say we, I mean Bumpo and myself; for the 
animals, Jip, Chee-Chee and Polynesia, were a long 


246 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

way ahead even beyond the Doctor enjoying the 
hunt like a paper-chase. 

At length we arrived at the foot of the mountain 
we were making for; and we found its sides very 
steep. Said the Doctor, 

''Now we will separate and search for caves. 
This spot where we now are, will be our meeting- 
place. If anyone finds anything like a cave or a 
hole where the earth and rocks have fallen in, he 
must shout and hulloa to the rest of us. If we find 
nothing we will all gather here in about an hour's 
time Everybody understand?" 

Then' we all went off our different ways. 

'Each of us, you may be sure, was anxious to be 
the one to make a discovery. And never was a 
mountain searched so thoroughly. But alas! noth- 
ing could we find that looked in the least like a fal- 
len-in cave. There were plenty of places where 
rocks had tumbled down to the foot of the slopes; 
but none of these appeared as though caves or pas- 
sages could possibly lie behind them. 

One by one, tired and disappointed, we straggled 
back to the meeting-place. The Doctor seemed 
gloomy and impatient but by no means inclined to 
give up. 

u jip," he said, "couldn't you smell anything like 
an Indian anywhere?" 

'No," said Jip. ''I sniffed at every crack on the 
mountainside. But I am afraid my nose will be 

Hawk's-Head Mountain 247 

of no use to you here, Doctor. The trouble is, the 
whole air is so saturated with the smell of spider 
monkeys that it drowns every other scent And be- 
sides, it's too cold and dry for good smelling." 

"It is certainly that," said the Doctor "and get- 
ting colder all the time. I'm afraid the island is 
still drifting to the southward. Let's hope it stops 
before long, or we won't be able to get even nuts 
and fruit to eat everything in the island will perish 
Chee-Chee, what luck did you have?" 

"None, Doctor. I climbed to every peak and 
pinnacle I could see. I searched every hollow and 
cleft. But not one place could I find where men 
might be hidden." 

"And Polynesia," asked the Doctor, "did you see 
nothing that might put us on the right track?" 
'Not a thing, Doctor But I have a plan." 

"Oh good !" cried John Dolittle, full of hope re- 
newed. "What is it? Let's hear it." 

"You still have that beetle with you," she asked 
"the Biz-biz, or whatever it is you call the 
wretched insect?" 

'Yes," said the Doctor, producing the glass- 
topped box from his pocket, "here it is." 

"All right. Now listen," said she. "If what 
you have supposed is true that is, that Long Ar- 
row had been trapped inside the mountain by falling 
rock, he probably found that beetle inside the cave 
perhaps many other different beetles too, eh? 

248 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

He wouldn't have been likely to take the Biz-biz 
in with him, would he? He was hunting plants, 
you say, not beetles. Isn't that right?" 

"Yes," said the Doctor, "that's probably so." 

"Very well. It is fair to suppose then that the 
beetle's home, or his hole, is in that place the part 
of the mountain where Long Arrow and his party 
are imprisoned, isn't itr" 

"Quite, quite." 

"All right. Then the thing to do is to let the 
beetle go and watch him; and sooner or later he'll 
return to his home in Long Arrow's cave. And 
there we will follow him Or at all events," she 
added smoothing down her wing-feathers with a 
very superior air, kk we will follow him till the mis- 
erable bug starts nosing under the earth. But at 
least he will show us what part of the mountain 
Long Arrow is hidden in." 

"But he may fly, if I let him out," said the Doc- 
tor. 'Then we shall just lose him and be no better 
oft than we were before." 

"Let him fly," snorted Polynesia scornfully. 4k A 
parrot can wing it as fast as a Biz-biz, I fancy. If 
he takes to the air, I'll guarantee not to let the little 
devil out of my sight. And if he just crawls along 
the ground you can follow him yourself." 

"Splendid!" cried the Doctor. "Polynesia, you 
have a great brain. I'll set him to work at once 
and see what happens." 

Ha^k's-Head Mountain 249 

Again we all clustered round the Doctor as he 
carefully lifted oft the glass lid and let the big beetle 
climb out upon his finger. 

"Ladybug. Ladybug, fly away home!" crooned 
Bumpo. "Your house is on fire and your chil " 

"Oh. be quiet!" snapped Polynesia crossly. 
"M.op insulting him! Don't you suppose he has 
wits enough to go home without your telling him: 

"I thought perchance he might be of a philan- 
dering disposition," said Bumpo humbly. "It could 
be that he is tired of his home and needs to be 
encouraged. Shall I sing him % Home Sweet Home/ 
think you .'" 

"No. Then he'd never go back. Your voice 
needs a rest. Don't sing to him: just watch h:m 
Oh, and Doctor, why not tie another message to 
the creature's leg, telling Long Arrow that we're 
doing our best to reach him and that he musn't give 
up hope?" 

"I will." said the Doctor. And in a minute he 
had pulled a dry leaf from a bush near by and was 
covering it with little pictures in pencil. 

At last, neatly fixed up with his new mail-bag, 
Mr. Jabizri crawled off the Doctor's finger to the 
ground and looked about him. He stretched his 
legs, polished his nose with his front feet and then 
moved off leisurely to the westward. 

We had expected him to walk up the mountain: 
instead, he walked around it. Do vou know how 

250 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

long it takes a beetle to walk round a mountain * 
Well, I assure you it takes an unbelievably long 
time. As the hours dragged by, we hoped and 
hoped that he would get up and fly the rest, and let 
Polynesia carry on the work of following him. But 
he never opened his wings once. I had not realized 
before how hard it is for a human being to walk 
slowly enough to keep up with a beetle. It was the 
most tedious thing I have ever gone through. And 
as we dawdled along behind, watching him like 
hawks lest we lose him under a leaf or something, 
we all got so cross and ill-tempered we were ready 
to bite one another's heads off. And when he 
stopped to look at the scenery or polish his nose 
some more, I could hear Polynesia behind me letting 
out the most dreadful seafaring swear-words you 
ever heard. 

After he had led us the whole way round the 
mountain he brought us to the exact spot where we 
started from and there he came to a dead stop. 

'Well," said Bumpo to Polynesia, "what do you 
think of the beetle's sense now? You see he doesn't 
know enough to go home." 

"Oh, be still, you Hottentot!" snapped Poly- 
nesia. 'Wouldn't you want to stretch your legs 
for exercise if you'd been shut up in a box all day. 
Probably his home is near here, and that's why he's 
come back." 

Hawk's-Head Mountain 251 

"But why," I asked, "did he go the whole way 
round the mountain first?" 

Then the three of us got into a violent argument. 
But in the middle of it all the Doctor suddenly 
called out, 

"Look, look!" 

We turned and found that he was pointing to the 
Jabizri, who was now walking up the mountain at 
a much faster and more business-like gait. 

'Well," said Bumpo sitting down wearily; "if he 
is going to walk over the mountain and back, for 
more exercise, I'll wait for him here. Chee-Chee 
and Polynesia can follow him." 

Indeed it would have taken a monkey or a bird 
to climb the place which the beetle was now walking 
up. It was a smooth, flat part of the mountain's 
side, steep as a wall. 

But presently, when the Jabizri was no more than 
ten feet above our heads, we all cried out together. 
For, even while we watched him, he had disappeared 
into the face of the rock like a raindrop soaking into 

"He's gone," cried Polynesia. "There must be 
a hole up there." And in a twinkling she had flut- 
tered up the rock and was clinging to the face of it 
with her claws. 

"Yes," she shouted down, "we've run him to 
earth at last. His hole is right here, behind a 

252 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

patch of lichen big enough to get two fingers in." 

"Ah," cried the Doctor, "this great slab of 
rock then must have slid down from the summit and 
shut off the mouth of the cave like a door. Poor 
fellows! What a dreadful time they must have 
spent in there ! Oh, if we only had some picks and 
shovels now !" 

"Picks and shovels wouldn't do much good," said 
Polynesia. "Look at the size of the slab: a hun- 
dred feet high and as many broad. You would 
need an army for a week to make any impression 
on it." 

"I wonder how thick it is," said the Doctor; 
and he picked up a big stone and banged it with all 
his might against the face of the rock. It made a 
hollow booming sound, like a giant drum. We all 
stood still listening while the echo of it died slowly 

And then a cold shiver ran down my spine. For, 
from within the mountain, back came three an- 
swering knocks: Boom! . . . Boom! . . . Boom! 

Wide-eyed we looked at one another as 
though the earth itself had spoken. And the sol- 
emn little silence that followed was broken by the 

'Thank Heaven," he said in a hushed reverent 
voice, "some of them at least are alive!" 

o O o 



THE next part of our problem was the 
hardest of all : how to roll aside, pull 
down or break open, that gigantic slab. 
As we gazed up at it towering above our 
heads, it looked indeed a hopeless task for our tiny 

But the sounds of life from inside the mountain 
had put new heart in us. And in a moment we 
were all scrambling around trying to find any open- 
ing or crevice which would give us something to 
work on. Chee-Chee scaled up the sheer wall of 
the slab and examined the top of it where it leaned 
against the mountain's side; I uprooted bushes and 
stripped off hanging creepers that might conceal a 
weak place; the Doctor got more leaves and 
composed new picture-letters for the Jabizri to 
take in if he should turn up again; whilst Polynesia 
carried up a handful of nuts and pushed them into 
the beetle's hole, one by one, for the prisoners in- 
side to eat. 

''Nuts are so nourishing," she said. 
But Jip it was who, scratching at the foot of the 


254 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

L - - 

slab like a good ratter, made the discovery which 
led to our final success. 

'Doctor," he cried, running up to John Dolittle 
with his nose all covered with black mud, "this slab 
is resting on nothing but a bed of soft earth. You 
never saw such easy digging. I guess the cave 
behind must be just too high up for the Indians to 
reach the earth with their hands, or they could 
have scraped a way out long ago. If we can only 
scratch the earth-bed away from under, the slab 
might drop a little. Then maybe the Indians can 
climb out over the top." 

The Doctor hurried to examine the place where 
Jip had dug. 

'Why, yes," he said, "if we can get the 
earth away from under this front edge, the slab 
is standing up so straight, we might even make it 
fall right dow r n in this direction. It's well worth 
trying. Let's get at it, quick." 

We had no tools but the sticks and slivers of 
stone which we could find around. A strange sight 
we must have looked, the whole crew of us squatting 
down on our heels, scratching and burrowing at the 
foot of the mountain, like six badgers in a row. 

After about an hour, during which in spite of the 
cold the sweat fell from our foreheads in all direct- 
ions, the Doctor said, 

'Be ready to jump from under, clear out of the 
way, if she shows signs of moving. If this slab 

A Great Moment 255 

falls on anybody, it will squash him flatter than a 

Presently there was a grating, grinding sound. 

"Look out!" yelled John Dolittle, "here she 
comes ! Scatter !" 

We ran for our lives, outwards, toward the sides. 
The big rock slid gently down, about a foot, into the 
trough which we had made beneath it. For a mo- 
ment I was disappointed, for like that, it was as hope- 
less as before no signs of a cave-mouth showing 
above it. But as I looked upward, I saw the top 
coming very slowly away from the mountainside. 
We had unbalanced it below. As it moved apart 
from the face of the mountain, sounds of human 
voices, crying gladly in a strange tongue, issued from 
behind. Faster and faster the top swung forward, 
downward. Then, with a roaring crash which 
shook the whole mountain-range beneath our feet, 
it struck the earth and cracked in halves. 

How can I describe to any one that first meeting 
between the two greatest naturalists the world ever 
knew, Long Arrow, the son of Golden Arrow and 
John Dolittle, M.D., of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh? 
The scene rises before me now, plain and clear in 
every detail, though it took place so many, many 
years ago. But when I come to write of it, words 
seem such poor things with which to tell vou of that 
great occasion. 

I know that the Doctor, whose life was surely 

256 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

full enough of big happenings, always counted the 
setting free of the Indian scientist as the greatest 
thing he ever did. For my part, knowing how much 
this meeting must mean to him, I was on pins and 
needles of expectation and curiosity as the great 
stone finally thundered down at our feet and we 
gazed across it to see what lay behind. 

The gloomy black mouth of a tunnel, full twenty 
feet high, was revealed. In the centre of this open- 
ing stood an enormous red Indian, seven feet tall, 
handsome, muscular, slim and naked but for a 
beaded cloth about his middle and an eagle's feather 
in his hair. He held one hand across his face to 
shield his eyes from the blinding sun which he had 
not seen in many days. 

'It is he!" I heard the Doctor whisper at my 
elbow. "I know him by his great height and the 
scar upon his chin." 

And he stepped forward slowly across the fallen 
stone with his hand outstretched to the red man. 

Presently the Indian uncovered his eyes. And I 
saw that they had a curious piercing gleam in them 
like the eyes of an eagle, but kinder and more gen- 
tle. He slowly raised his right arm, the rest of him 
still and motionless like a statue, and took the Doc- 
tor's hand in his. It was a great moment. Poly- 
nesia nodded to me in a knowing, satisfied kind of 
way. And I heard old Bumpo sniffle sentimentally. 

Then the Doctor tried to speak to Long Arrow. 

'It was a great moment" 

258 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

But the Indian knew no English of course, and the 
Doctor knew no Indian. Presently, to my surprise, 
I heard the Doctor trying him in different animal 

'How do you do?" he said in dog-talk; "I am 
glad to see you," in horse-signs; 'How long have 
you been buried?" in deer-language. Still the In- 
dian made no move but stood there, straight and 
stiff, understanding not a word. 

The Doctor tried again, in several other animal 
dialects. But with no result. 

Till at last he came to the language of eagles. 

"Great Red-Skin," he said in the fierce screams 
and short grunts that the big birds use, "never have 
I been so glad in all my life as I am to-day to find you 
still alive." 

In a flash Long Arrow's stony face lit up with a 
smile of understanding; and back came the answer 
in eagle-tongue, 

"Mighty White Man, I owe my life to you. For 
the remainder of my days I am your servant to com- 

Afterwards Long Arrow told us that this was the 
only bird or animal language that he had ever been 
able to learn. But that he had not spoken it in a 
long time, for no eagles ever came to this island. 

Then the Doctor signaled to Bumpo who came 
forward with the nuts and water. But Long Arrow 
neither ate nor drank. Taking the supplies with a 

A Great Moment 259 

nod of thanks, he turned and carried them into the 
inner dimness of the cave. We followed him. 

Inside we found nine other Indians, men, women 
and boys, lying on the rock floor in a dreadful state 
of thinness and exhaustion. 

Some had their eyes closed, as if dead. Quickly 
the Doctor went round them all and listened to their 
hearts. They were all alive; but one woman was 
too weak even to stand upon her feet. 

At a word from the Doctor, Chee-Chee and 
Polynesia sped off into the jungles after more fruit 
and water. 

While Long Arrow was handing round what food 
we had to his starving friends, we suddenly heard 
a sound outside the cave. Turning about we saw, 
clustered at the entrance, the band of Indians who 
had met us so inhospitably at the beach. 

They peered into the dark cave cautiously at first. 
But as soon as they saw Long Arrow and the other 
Indians w 7 ith us, they came rushing in, laughing, 
clapping their hands with joy and jabbering away at 
a tremendous rate. 

Long Arrow explained to the Doctor that the 
nine Indians we had found in the cave with him were 
two families who had accompanied him into the 
mountains to help him gather medicine-plants. And 
while they had been searching for a kind of moss 
good for indigestion which grows only inside 
of damp caves, the great rock slab had slid down 

260 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

and shut them in. Then for two weeks they had 
lived on the medicine-moss and such fresh water as 
could be found dripping from the damp walls of the 
cave. The other Indians on the island had given 
them up for lost and mourned them as dead; and they 
were now very surprised and happy to find their 
relatives alive. 

When Long Arrow turned to the newcomers and 
told them in their own language that it was the white 
man who had found and freed their relatives, they 
gathered round John Dolittle, all talking at once 
and beating their breasts. 

Long Arrow said they were apologizing and try- 
ing to tell the Doctor how sorry they were that 
they had seemed unfriendly to him at the beach. 
They had never seen a white man before and had 
really been afraid of him especially when they saw 
him conversing with the porpoises. They had 
thought he was the Devil, they said. 

Then they went outside and looked at the great 
stone we had thrown down, big as a meadow; and 
they walked round and round it, pointing to the 
break running through the middle and wondering 
how the trick of felling it \vas done. 

Travelers who have since visited Spidermonkey 
Island tell me that that huge stone slab is now one 
of the regular sights of the island. And that the 
Indian guides, when showing it to visitors, always 
tell their story of how it came there. They say that 

A Great Moment 261 

when the Doctor found that the rocks had entrapped 
his friend, Long Arrow, he was so angry that he 
ripped the mountain in halves with his bare hands 
and let him out. 



ROM that time on the Indians' treatment 
of us was very different. We were invited 
to their village for a feast to celebrate the 
recovery of the lost families. And after 
we had made a litter from saplings to carry the sick 
woman in, we all started off down the mountain. 

On the way the Indians told Long Arrow some- 
thing which appeared to be sad news, for on hearing 
it, his face grew very grave. The Doctor asked him 
what was wrong. And Long Arrow said he had 
just been informed that the chief of the tribe, an old 
man of eighty, had died early that morning. 

'That," Polynesia whispered in my ear, "must 
have been what they went back to the village for, 
when the messenger fetched them from the beach. 

"What did he die of?" asked the Doctor. 
"He died of cold," said Long Arrow. 
Indeed, now that the sun was setting, we were 
all shivering ourselves. 

'This is a serious thing," said the Doctor to me. 
'The island is still in the grip of that wretched cur- 
rent flowing southward. We will have to look into 


"The Men of the Moving Land" 263 

this to-morrow. If nothing can be done about it, 
the Indians had better take to canoes and leave the 
island. The chance of being wrecked will be better 
than getting frozen to death in the ice-floes of the 

Presently we can:e over a saddle in the hills, and 
looking downward on the far side of the island, we 
saw the village a large cluster of grass huts and 
gaily colored totem-poles close by the edge of the 

"How artistic!" said the Doctor "Delightfully 
situated. What is the name of the village?" 

"Popsipetel," said Long Arrow. 'That is the 
name also of the tribe. The word signifies in Indian 
tongue, The Men of The Moving Land. There are 
two tribes of Indians on the island: the Popsipetels 
at this end and the Bag-jagderags at the other." 

'Which is the larger of the two peoples?" 

'The Bag-jagderags, by far. Their city covers 
two square leagues. But," added Long Arrow a 
slight frown darkening his handsome face, "for me, 
I would rather have one Popsipetel than a hundred 

The news of the rescue we had made had evidently 
gone ahead of us. For as we drew nearer to the 
village we saw crowds of Indians streaming out to 
greet the friends and relatives whom they had never 
thought to see again. 

These good people, when they too were told how 

264 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

the rescue had been the work of the strange white 
visitor to their shores, all gathered round the Doc- 
tor, shook him by the hands, patted him and hugged 
him. Then they lifted him up upon their strong 
shoulders and carried him down the hill into the 

There the w r elcome we received was even more 
wonderful. In spite of the cold air of the coming 
night, the villagers, who had all been shivering 
within their houses, threw open their doors and came 
out in hundreds. I had no idea that the little vill- 
age could hold so many. They thronged about us, 
smiling and nodding and waving their hands; and 
as the details of what we had done were recited by 
Long Arrow they kept shouting strange singing 
noises, which we supposed were words of gratitude 
or praise. 

We were next escorted to a brand-new grass 
house, clean and sweet-smelling within, and informed 
that it was ours. Six strong Indian boys were told 
off to be our servants. 

On our way through the village we noticed a 
house, larger than the rest, standing at the end of the 
main street. Long Arrow pointed to it and told 
us it was the Chief's house, but that it was now 
empty no new chief having yet been elected to 
take the place of the old one who had died. 

Inside our new home a feast of fish and fruit had 
been prepared. Most of the more important men 

"The Men of the Moving Land" 265 

of the tribe were already seating themselves at the 
long dining-table when we got there. Long Arrow 
invited us to sit down and eat. 

This we were glad enough to do, as we were all 
hungry. But we were both surprised and disap- 
pointed when we found that the fish had not been 
cooked. The Indians did not seem' to think this 
extraordinary in the least, but went ahead gobbling 
the fish with much relish the way it was, raw. 

With many apologies, the Doctor explained to 
Long Arrow that if they had no objection we would 
prefer our fish cooked. 

Imagine our astonishment when we found that 
the great Long Arrow, so learned in the natural 
sciences, did not know what the word cooked meant! 

Polynesia who was sitting on the bench between 
John Dolittle and myself pulled the Doctor by the 

"I'll tell you what's wrong, Doctor," she whis- 
pered as he leant down to listen to her: (l 'these peo- 
ple have no fires! They don't know how to make 
a fire. Look outside: It's almost dark, and there 
isn't a light showing in the whole village. This is 
a fireless people." 



THEN the Doctor asked Long Arrow if 
he knew what fire was, explaining it to 
him by pictures drawn on the buckskin 
table-cloth. Long Arrow said he had 
seen such a thing coming out of the tops of vol- 
canoes; but that neither he nor any of the Popsipet- 
els knew how it was made. 

"Poor perishing heathens!" muttered Bumpo. 
"No wonder the old chief died of cold!" 

At that moment we heard a crying sound at the 
door. And turning round, we saw a weeping Indian 
mother with a baby in her arms. She said some- 
thing to the Indians which we could not understand; 
and Long Arrow told us the baby was sick and she 
wanted the white doctor to try and cure it. 

"Oh Lord!" groaned Polynesia in my ear 
"Just like Puddleby: patients arriving in the middle 
of dinner. Well, one thing: the food's raw, so 
nothing can get cold anyway." 

The Doctor examined the baby and found at once 
that it was thoroughly chilled. 

"Fire fire! That's what it needs," he said 
turning to Long Arrow "That's what you all need. 


Fire 267 

This child will have pneumonia ir it isn t kept warm." 

"Aye, truly. But how to make a fire," said Long 
Arrow "where to get it: that is the difficulty. 
All the volcanoes in this land are dead." 

Then we fell to hunting through our pockets to 
see if any matches had survived the shipwreck. 
The best we could muster were two whole ones and 
a half all with the heads soaked off them by salt 

"Hark, Long Arrow," said the Doctor: "divers 
ways there be of making fire without the aid of 
matches. One: with a strong glass and the rays of 
the sun. That however, since the sun has set, we can- 
not now employ. Another is by grinding a hard stick 
into a soft log Is the daylight gone without? Alas 
yes. Then I fear we must await the morrow; for 
besides the different woods, we need an old squirrel's 
nest fo'r fuel And that without lamps you could 
not find in your forests at this hour." 

"Great are your cunning and your skill, oh White 
Man," Long Arrow replied. "But in this you do 
us an injustice. Know you not that all fireless peo- 
ples can see in the dark? Having no lamps we are 
forced to train ourselves to travel through the black- 
est night, lightless. I will despatch a messenger 
and you shall have your squirrel's nest within the 

He gave an order to two of our boy-servants 
who promptly disappeared running. And sure 

268 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

enough, in a very short space of time a squirrel's nest, 
together with hard and soft woods, was brought 
to our door. 

The moon had not yet risen and within the house 
it was practically pitch-black. I could feel and hear, 
however, that the Indians were moving about com- 
fortably as though it were daylight. The task of 
making fire the Doctor had to perform almost en- 
tirely by the sense of touch, asking Long Arrow and 
the Indians to hand him his tools when he mislaid 
them in the dark. And then I made a curious dis- 
covery: now that I had to, I found that I was be- 
ginning to see a little in the dark myself. And for 
the first time I realized that of course there is no 
such thing as pitch-dark, so long as you have a door 
open or a sky above you. 

Calling for the loan of a bow, the Doctor loosened 
the string, put the hard stick into a loop and began 
grinding this stick into the soft wood of the log. 
Soon I smelt that the log was smoking. Then he 
kept feeding the part that was smoking with the 
inside lining of the squirrel's nest, and he asked me 
to blow upon it with my breath. He made the stick 
drill faster and faster. More smoke filled the 
room. And at last the darkness about us was sud- 
denly lit up. The squirrel's nest had burst into 

The Indians murmured and grunted with astonish- 
ment. At first they were all for falling on their 

Fire 269 

knees and worshiping the fire. Then they wanted 
to pick it up with their bare hands and play with it. 
We had to teach them how it was to be used; and 
they were quite fascinated when we laid our fish 
across it on sticks and cooked it. They sniffed the 
air with relish as, for the first time in history, the 
smell of fried fish passed through the village of 

Then we got them to bring us piles and stacks 
of dry wood; and we made an enormous bonfire 
in the middle of the main street. Round this, 
when they felt its warmth, the whole tribe gathered 
and smiled and wondered. It was a striking sight, 
one of the pictures from our voyages that I most 
frequently remember: that roaring jolly blaze be- 
neath the black night sky, and all about it a vast 
ring of Indians, the firelight gleaming on bronze 
cheeks, white teeth and flashing eyes a whole town 
trying to get warm, giggling and pushing like school- 

In a little, when we had got them more used to 
the handling of fire, the Doctor showed them how it 
could be taken into their houses if a hole were only 
made in the roof to let the smoke out. And before 
we turned in after that long, long, tiring day, we 
had fires going in every hut in the village. 

The poor people were so glad to get really warm 
again that we thought they'd never go to bed. 
Well on into the early hours of the morning the 

270 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

little town fairly buzzed with a great low murmur: 
the Popsipetels sitting up talking of their wonderful 
pale-faced visitor and this strange good thing he 
had brought with him fire! 



VERY early in our experience of Popsi- 
petel kindness we saw that if we were 
to get anything done at all, we would 
almost always have to do it secretly. 
The Doctor was so popular and loved by all that as 
soon as he showed his face at his door in the morn- 
ing crowds of admirers, waiting patiently outside, 
flocked about him and followed him wherever he 
went. After his fire-making feat, this childlike peo- 
ple expected him, I think, to be continually doing 
magic; and they were determined not to miss a trick. 
It was only with great difficulty that we escaped 
from the crowd the first morning and set out with 
Long Arrow to explore the island at our leisure. 

In the interior we found that not only the plants 
and trees were suffering from the cold: the animal 
life was in even worse straits. Everywhere shiver- 
ing birds were to be seen, their feathers all fluffed 
out, gathering together for flight to summer lands. 
And many lay dead upon the ground. Going down 
to the shore, we watched land-crabs in large numbers 
taking to the sea to find some better home. While 
away to the Southeast we could see many icebergs 


272 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

floating -a sign that we were now not far from 
the terrible region of the Antarctic. 

As we were looking out to sea, we noticed our 
friends the porpoises jumping through the waves. 
The Doctor hailed them and they came inshore. 

I le asked them how far we were from the South 
Polar Continent. 

About a hundred miles, they told him. And then 
they asked why he wanted to know. 

'Because this floating island we arc on," said he, 
"is drifting southward all the time in a current. 
It's an island that ordinarily belongs somewhere in 
the tropic zone real sultry weather, sunst-t-otrr-<; 

i i * 

and all that. If it doesn't stop going southward 
pretty soon everything on it is going to perish." 

'Well," said the porpoises, "then the thing to 
do is to get it back into a warmer climate, isn't it?" 

"Yes, but how?" said the Doctor. "We can't 
row it back." 

'No," said they, "but whales could push it- 
if you only got enough of them." 

'What a splendid idea !- -Whales, the very 
thing!' said the Doctor. 'Do you think you could 
get me some?" 

'Why, certainly," said the porpoises, "we passed 
one herd of them out there, sporting about among 
the icebergs. We'll ask them to come over. And 
if they aren't enough, we'll try and hunt up some 
more. Better have plenty." 

What Makes an Island Float 273 

'Thank you," said the Doctor. 'You are very 
kind By the way, do you happen to know how 
this island came to be a floating island? At least 
half of it, I notice, is made of stone. It is very odd 
that it floats at all, isn't it?" 

''It is unusual," they said. : 'But the explanation 
is quite simple. It used to be a mountainous part ot 
South America- -an overhanging part--sort of an 
awkward corner, you might say. Way back in the 
glacial days, thousands of years ago, it broke off 
from the mainland; and by some curious accident the 
inside of it, which is hollow, got filled with air 
as it fell into the ocean. You can only see less than 
half of the island: the bigger half is under water. 
And in the middle of it, underneath, is a huge rock 
air-chamber, running right up inside the mountains. 
And that's what keeps it floating." 

'What a pecurious phenometer! said Bumpo. 

''It is indeed," said the Doctor. ''I must make 
a note of that." And out came the everlasting 

The porpoises went bounding oft towards the 
icebergs. And not long after, we saw the sea 
heaving and frothing as a big herd of whales came 
towards us at full speed. 

They certainly were enormous creatures; and 
there must have been a good two hundred of them. 

; 'Here they are," said the porpoises, poking their 
heads out of the water. 

274 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

"Good!" said the Doctor. "Now just explain 
to them, will you please? that this is a very serious 
matter for all the living creatures in this land. And 
ask them il they will be so good as to go down to 
the far end of the island, put their noses against 
it and push it back near the coast of Southern 

The porpoises evidently succeeded in persuading 
the whales to do as the Doctor asked; for presently 
we saw them thrashing through the seas, going 
off towards the south end of the island. 

Then we lay down upon the beach and waited. 

After about an hour the Doctor got up and threw 
a stick into the water. For a while this floated 
motionless. But soon we saw it begin to move 
gently down the coast. 

"Ah!" said the Doctor, "see that? The island 
is going North at last. Thank goodness !" 

Faster and faster we left the stick behind; and 
smaller and dimmer grew the icebergs on the sky- 

The Doctor took out his watch, threw more sticks 
into the water and made a rapid calculation. 

"Humph! Fourteen and a half knots an hour," 
he murmured "A very nice speed. It should take 
us about five days to get back near Brazil. Well, 
that's that Quite a load off my mind. I declare 
I feel warmer already. Let's go and get something 
to eat." 


ON our way back to the village the Doctor 
began discussing natural history with 
Long Arrow. But their most interest- 
ing talk, mainly about plants, had hardly 
begun when an Indian runner came dashing up to 
us with a message. 

Long Arrow listened gravely to the breathless, 
babbled words, then turned to the Doctor and said 
in eagle tongue, 

"Great White Man, an evil thing has befallen 
the Popsipetels. Our neighbors to the southward, 
the thievish Bag-jagderags, who for so long have 
cast envious eyes on our stores of ripe corn, have 
gone upon the war-path; and even now are advancing 
to attack us." 

"Evil news indeed," said the Doctor. "Yet let 
us not judge harshly. Perhaps it is that they are 
desperate for food, having their own crops frost- 
killed before harvest. For are they not even nearer 
the cold South than you?" 

"Make no excuses for any man of the tribe of the 

Bag-jagderags," said Long Arrow shaking his head. 

'They are an idle shiftless race. They do but see 


276 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

a chance to get corn without the labor of husbandry. 
If it were not that they are a much bigger tribe 
and hope to defeat their neighbor by sheer force of 
numbers, they would not have dared to make open 
war upon the brave Popsipetels." 

When we reached the village we found it in a 
great state of excitement. Everywhere men were 
seen putting their bows in order, sharpening spears, 
grinding battle-axes and making arrows by the hun- 
dred. Women were raising a high fence of bamboo 
poles all round the village. Scouts and messengers 
kept coming and going, bringing news of the move- 
ments of the enemy. While high up in the trees 
and hills about the village we could see look-outs 
watching the mountains to the southward. 

Long Arrow brought another Indian, short but 
enormously broad, and introduced him to the Doctor 
as Big Teeth, the chief warrior of the Popsipetels. 

The Doctor volunteered to go and see the enemy 
and try to argue the matter out peacefully with 
them instead of fighting; for war, he said, was at 
best a stupid wasteful business. But the two shook 
their heads. Such a plan was hopeless, they said. 
In the last war when they had sent a messenger to 
do peaceful arguing, the enemy had merely hit him 
with an ax. 

While the Doctor was asking Big Teeth how he 
meant to defend the village against attack, a cry 
of alarm was raised by the look-outs. 

Wart 277 

'They're coming! The Bag-jagderags swarm- 
ing down the mountains in thousands!" 

"Well," said the Doctor, "it's all in the day's 
work, I suppose. I don't believe in war; but if the 
village is attacked we must help defend it." 

And he picked up a club from the ground and 
tried the heft of it against a stone. 

'This," he said, "seems like a pretty good tool 
to me." And he walked to the bamboo fence and 
took his place among the other waiting fighters. 

Then we all got hold of some kind of weapon with 
which to help our friends, the gallant Popsipetels : 
I borrowed a bow and a quiver full of arrows; Jip 
was content to rely upon his old, but still strong 
teeth; Chee-Chee took a bag of rocks and climbed 
a palm where he could throw them down upon the 
enemies' heads; and Bumpo marched after the 
Doctor to the fence armed with a young tree in 
one hand and a door-post in the other. 

When the enemy drew near enough to be seen 
from where we stood we all gasped with astonish- 
ment. The hillsides were actually covered with 
them thousands upon thousands. They made our 
small army within the village look like a mere hand- 

"Saints alive!" muttered Polynesia, "our little 
lot will stand no chance against that swarm. This 
will never do. I'm going off to get some help." 

Where she was going and what kind of help 

278 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

she meant to get, I had no idea. She just disap- 
peared from my side. But Jip, who had heard her, 
poked his nose between the bamboo bars of 
the fence to get a better view of the enemy and 

"Likely enough she's gone after the Black Par- 
rots. Let's hope she finds them in time. Just 
look at those ugly ruffians climbing down the rocks 
millions of 'em! This fight's going to keep us 
all hopping." 

And Jip was right. Before a quarter of an 
hour had gone by our village was completely sur- 
rounded by one huge mob of yelling, raging Bag- 

I now come again to a part in the story of our 
voyages where things happened so quickly, one upon 
the other, that looking backwards I see the picture 
only in a confused kind of way. I know that if it 
had not been for the Terrible Three as they 
came afterwards to be fondly called in Popsipetel 
history Long Arrow, Bumpo and the Doctor, the 
war would have been soon over and the whole island 
would have belonged to the worthless Bag-jagderags. 
But the Englishman, the African and the Indian 
were a regiment in themselves; and between them 
they made that village a dangerous place for any 
man to try to enter. 

The bamboo fencing which had been hastily set 
up around the town was not a very strong affair; 

280 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

and right from the start it gave way in one place 
after another as the enemy thronged and crowded 
against it. Then the Doctor, Long Arrow and 
Bumpo would hurry to the weak spot, a terrific 
hand-to-hand fight would take place and the enemy 
be thrown out. But almost instantly a cry of 
alarm would come from some other part of the 
village-wall; and the Three would have to rush off 
and do the same thing all over again. 

The Popsipetels were themselves no mean 
fighters; but the strength and weight of those three 
men of different lands and colors, standing close 
together, swinging their enormous war-clubs, was 
really a sight for the wonder and admiration of 
any one. 

Many weeks later when I was passing an Indian 
camp-fire at night I heard this song being sung. 
It has since become one of the traditional folk- 
songs of the Popsipetels. 


Oh hear ye the Song of the Terrible Three 
And the fight that they fought by the edge of the sea. 

Down from the mountains, the rocks and the crags, 
Swarming like wasps, came the Bag-jagderags. 

Surrounding our village, our walls they broke down. 
Oh, sad was the plight of our men and our town! 

But Heaven determined our land to set free 
And sent us the help of the Terrible Three. 

War! 281 

One was a Black he was dark as the night ; 
One was a Red-skin, a mountain of height; 

But the chief was a White Man, round like a bee; 
And all in a row stood the Terrible Three. 

Shoulder to shoulder, they hammered and hit. 
Like demons of fury they kicked and they bit. 

Like a wall of destruction they stood in a row, 
Flattening enemies, six at a blow r . 

Oh, strong was the Red-skin fierce was the Black. 
Bag-jagderags trembled and tried to turn back. 

But 'twas of the White Man they shouted, "Beware! 
He throws men in handfuls, straight up in the air!" 

Long shall they frighten bad children at night 
With tales of the Red and the Black and the White. 

And long shall we sing of the Terrible Three 
And the fight that they fought by the edge of the sea. 



[JT alas ! even the Three, mighty though 
they were, could not last forever against 
an army which seemed to have no end. 
In one of the hottest scrimmages, when 
the enemy had broken a particularly wide hole 
through the fence, I saw Long Arrow's great figure 
topple and come down with a spear sticking in his 
broad chest. 

For another half-hour Bumpo and the Doctor 
fought on side by side. How their strength held 
out so long I cannot tell, for never a second were 
they given to get their breath or rest their arms. 
The Doctor the quiet, kindly, peaceable, little 
Doctor ! well, you wouldn't have known him if you 
had seen him that day dealing out whacks you could 
hear a mile off, walloping and swatting in all direc- 

As for Bumpo, with staring eye-balls and grim 
set teeth, he was a veritable demon. None dared 
come within yards of that wicked, wide-circling door- 
post. But a stone, skilfully thrown, struck him at 

last in the centre of the forehead. And down went 


General Polynesia 283 

the second of the Three. John Dolittle, the last 
of the Terribles, was left fighting alone. 

Jip and I rushed to his side and tried to take the 
places of the fallen ones. But, far too light and 
too small, we made but a poor exchange. Another 
length of the fence crashed down, and through the 
widened gap the Bag-jagderags poured in on us 
like a flood. 

"To the canoes! To the sea!" shouted the Pop- 
sipetels. "Fly for your lives! All is over! The 
war is lost!" 

But the Doctor and I never got a chance to 
fly for our lives. We were swept off our feet and 
knocked down flat by the sheer weight of the mob. 
And once down, we were unable to get up again. I 
thought we would surely be trampled to death. 

But at that moment, above the din and racket of 
the battle, we heard the most terrifying noise that 
ever assaulted human ears: the sound of millions 
and millions of parrots all screeching with fury to- 

The army, which in the nick of time Polynesia 
had brought tor our rescue, darkened the whole sky 
to the westward. I asked her afterwards, how 
many birds there were; and she said she didn't 
know exactly but that they certainly numbered 
somewhere between sixty and seventy millions. In 
that extraordinarily short space of time she had 
brought them from the mainland of South America. 

284 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

If you have ever heard a parrot screech with 
anger you will know that it makes a truly frightful 
sound; and if you have ever been bitten by one, 
you will know that its bite can be a nasty and a pain- 
ful thing. 

The Black Parrots (coal-black all over, they were 
except for a scarlet beak and a streak of red 
in wing and tail) on the word of command from 
Polynesia set to work upon the Bag-jagderags who 
were now pouring through the village looking for 

And the Black Parrots' method of fighting was 
peculiar. This is what they did: on the head of 
each Bag-jagderag three or four parrots settled and 
took a good foot-hold in his hair with their claws; 
then they leant down over the sides of his head and 
began clipping snips out of his ears, for all the 
world as though they were punching tickets. That 
is all they did. They never bit them anywhere else 
except the ears. But it won the war for us. 

With howls pitiful to hear, the Bag-jagderags 
fell over one another in their haste to get out of 
that accursed village. It was no use their trying 
to pull the parrots off their heads; because for each 
head there were always four more parrots waiting 
impatiently to get on. 

Some of the enemy were lucky; and with only 
a snip or two managed to get outside the fence 
where the parrots immediately left them alone. 

General Polynesia 285 

But with most, before the black birds had done 
with them, the ears presented a very singular 
appearance like the edge of a postage-stamp. 
This treatment, very painful at the time, did not 
however do them any permanent harm beyond the 
change in looks. And it later got to be the tribal 
mark of the Bag-jagderags. No really smart young 
lady of this tribe would be seen walking with a man 
who did not have scalloped ears for such was a 
proof that he had been in the Great War. And 
that (though it is not generally known to scientists) 
is how this people came to be called by the other 
Indian nations, the Ragged-Eared Bag-jagderags. 

As soon as the village was cleared of the enemy 
the Doctor turned his attention to the wounded. 

In spite of the length and fierceness of the strug- 
gle, there were surprisingly few serious injuries. 
Poor Long Arrow was the worst off. However, 
after the Doctor had washed his wound and got him 
to bed, he opened his eyes and said he already felt 
better. Bumpo was only badly stunned. 

With this part of the business over, the Doctor 
called to Polynesia to have the Black Parrots drive 
the enemy right back into their own country and to 
wait there, guarding them all night. 

Polynesia gave the short word of command; and 
like one bird those millions of parrots opened their 
red beaks and let out once more their terrifying 

286 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

The Bag-jagderags didn't wait to be bitten a 
second time, but fled helter-skelter over the moun 
tains from which they had come; whilst Polynesia 
and her victorious army followed watchfully behind 
like a great, threatening, black cloud. 

The Doctor picked up his high hat which had 
been knocked off in the fight, dusted it carefully and 
put it on. 

'To-morrow," he said, shaking his fist towards 
the hills, u we will arrange the terms of peace and 
we will arrange them in the City of Bag-jagde- 

His words were greeted with cheers of triumph 
from the admiring Popsipetels. The war was over. 



HE next day we set out for the far end 
of the island, and reaching it in canoes 
(for we went by sea) after a journey 
of twenty-five hours, we remained no 
longer than was necessary in the City of Bag-jag- 

When he threw himself into that fight at Popsi- 
petel, I saw the Doctor really angry for the first 
time in my life. But his anger, once aroused, was 
slow to die. All the way down the coast of the 
island he never ceased to rail against this cowardly 
people who had attacked his friends, the Popsi- 
petels, for no other reason but to rob them of their 
corn, because they were too idle to till the land 
themselves. And he was still angry when he 
reached the City of Bag-jagderag. 

Long Arrow had not come with us for he was 
as yet too weak from his wound. But the Doctor 
always clever at languages was already getting 
familiar with the Indian tongue. Besides, among 
the half-dozen Popsipetels who accompanied us to 
paddle the canoes, was one boy to whom we had 

taught a little English. He and the Doctor be- 


2 88 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

tween them managed to make themselves under- 
stood to the Bag-jagderags. This people, with 
the terrible parrots still blackening the hills about 
their stone town, waiting for the word to descend 
and attack, were, we found, in a very humble mood. 

Leaving our canoes we passed up the main street 
to the palace of the chief. Bumpo and I couldn't 
help smiling with satisfaction as we saw how the 
waiting crowds which lined the roadway bowed 
their heads to the ground, as the little, round, angry 
figure of the Doctor strutted ahead of us with his 
chin in the air. 

At the foot of the palace-steps the chief and all 
the more important personages of the tribe were 
waiting to meet him, smiling humbly and holding 
out their hands in friendliness. The Doctor took 
not the slightest notice. He marched right by them, 
up the steps to the door of the palace. There he 
turned around and at once began to address the 
people in a, firm voice. 

I never heard such a speech in my life and I am 
quite sure that they never did either. First he 
called them a long string of names: cowards, loaf- 
ers, thieves, vagabonds, good-for-nothings, bullies 
and what not. Then he said he was still seriously 
thinking of allowing the parrots to drive them on 
into the sea, in order that this pleasant land might 
be rid, once for all, of their worthless carcases. 

At this a great cry for mercy went up, and the 

The Peace of the Parrots 289 

chief and all of them fell on their knees, calling out 
that they would submit to any conditions of peace 
he wished. 

Then the Doctor called for one of their scribes 
that is, a man who did picture-writing. And on the 
stone walls of the palace of Bag-jagderag he bade 
him write down the terms of the peace as he dic- 
tated it. This peace is known- as The Peace of The 
Parrots, and unlike most peaces was, and is, 
strictly kept even to this day. 

It was quite long in words. The half of the 
palace-front was covered with picture-writing, and 
fifty pots of paint were used, before the weary scribe 
had done. But the main part of it all was that 
there should be no more fighting; and that the two 
tribes should give solemn promise to help one 
another whenever there was corn-famine or other 
distress in the lands belonging to either. 

This greatly surprised the Bag-jagderags. They 
had expected from the Doctor's angry face that he 
would at least chop a couple of hundred heads off 
and probably make the rest of them slaves for life. 

But when they saw that he only meant kindly by 
them, their great fear of him changed to a tremen- 
dous admiration. And as he ended his long speech 
and walked briskly down the steps again on his way 
back to the canoes, the group of chieftains threw 
themselves at his feet and cried, 

"Do but stay with us, Great Lord, and all the 

290 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

riches of Bag-jagderag shall be poured into 
your lap. Gold-mines we know of in the moun- 
tains and pearl-beds beneath the sea. Only stay 
with us, that your all-powerful wisdom may lead our 
Council and our people in prosperity and peace." 

The Doctor held up his hand for silence. 
'No man," said he, "would wish to be the guest 
of the Bag-jagderags till they had proved by their 
deeds that they are an honest race. Be true to the 
terms of the Peace and from yourselves shall come 
good government and prosperity Farewell!" 

Then he turned and followed by Bumpo, the 
Popsipetels and myself, walked rapidly down to the 



UT the change of heart in the Bag-jag- 
derags was really sincere. The Doctor 
had made a great impression on them 
a deeper one than even he himself re- 
alized at the time. In fact I sometimes think that 
that speech of his from the palace-steps had more 
effect upon the Indians of Spidermonkey Island than 
had any of his great deeds which, great though they 
were, were always magnified and exaggerated when 
the news of them was passed from mouth to mouth. 
A sick girl was brought to him as he reached the 
place where the boats lay. She turned out to have 
some quite simple ailment which he quickly gave the 
remedy for. But this increased his popularity still 
more. And when he stepped into his canoe, the 
people all around us actually burst into tears. It 
seems (I learned this afterwards) that they thought 
he was going away across the sea, for good, to the 
mysterious foreign lands from which he had come. 

Some of the chieftains spoke to the Popsipetels as 
we pushed off. What they said I did not under- 
stand; but we noticed that several canoes filled with 


292 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

Bag-jagderags followed us at a respectful distance 
all the way back to Popsipetel. 

The Doctor had determined to return by the 
other shore, so that we should be thus able to make 
a complete trip round the island's shores. 

Shortly after we started, while still off the lower 
end of the island, we sighted a steep point on the 
coast where the sea was in a great state of turmoil, 
white with soapy froth. On going nearer, we 
found that this was caused by our friendly whales 
who were still faithfully working away with their 
noses against the end of the island, driving us north- 
ward. We had been kept so busy with the war that 
we had forgotten all about them. But as we 
paused and watched their mighty tails lashing and 
churning the sea, we suddenly realized that we had 
not felt cold in quite a long while. Speeding up our 
boat lest the island be carried away from us al- 
together, we passed on up the coast; and here and 
there we noticed that the trees on the shore already 
looked greener and more healthy. Spidermonkey 
Island was getting back into her home climates. 

About halfway to Popsipetel we went ashore and 
spent two or three days exploring the central part 
of the island. Our Indian paddlers took us up into 
the mountains, very steep and high in this region, 
overhanging the sea. And they showed us what 
they called the Whispering Rocks. 

This was a very peculiar and striking piece of 

Working away with their noses against the end of the 


294 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

scenery. It was like a great vast basin, or circus, 
in the mountains, and out of the centre of it there 
rose a table of rock with an ivory chair upon it, 
All around this the mountains went up like stairs, 
or theatre-seats, to a great height except at one 
narrow end which was open to a view of the sea. 
You could imagine it a council-place or concert-hall 
for giants, and the rock table in the centre the stage 
for performers or the stand for the speaker. 

We asked our guides why it was called the Whis- 
pering Rocks; and they said, "Go down into it and 
we will show you." 

The great bowl was miles deep and miles wide. 
We scrambled down the rocks and they showed us 
how, even when you stood far, far apart from one 
another, you merely had to whisper in that great 
place and every one in the theatre could hear you. 
This was, the Doctor said, on account of the echoes 
which played backwards and forwards between the 
high walls of rock. 

Our guides told us that it was here, in days long 
gone by when the Popsipetels owned the whole of 
Spidermonkey Island, that the kings were crowned. 
The ivory chair upon the table was the throne in 
which they sat. And so great was the big theatre 
that all the Indians in the island were able to get 
seats in it to see the ceremony. 

They showed us also an enormous hanging stone 
perched on the edge of a volcano's crater the 


lnW^6i;t-K'//J.jO J ,' MRj&ik.t- 

'The Whispering Rocks 

296 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

highest summit in the whole island. Although it 
was very far below us, we could see it quite plainly; 
and it looked wobbly enough to be pushed off its 
perch with the hand. There was a legend among 
the people, they said, that when the greatest of all 
Popsipetel kings should be crowned in the ivory 
chair, this hanging stone would tumble into the 
volcano's mouth and go straight down to the centre 
of the earth. 

The Doctor said he would like to go and examine 
it closer. 

And when we were come to the lip of the volcano 
(it took us half a day to get up to it) we found the 
stone was unbelievably large big as a cathedral. 
Underneath it we could look right down into a 
black hole which seemed to have no bottom. The 
Doctor explained to us that volcanoes sometimes 
spurted up fire from these holes in their tops; but 
that those on floating islands were always cold and 

"Stubbins," he said, looking up at the great stone 
towering above us, "do you know what would most 
likely happen if that boulder should fall in?" 

"No," said I, "what?" 

'You remember the air-chamber which the por- 
poises told us lies under the centre of the island?" 


'Well, this stone is heavy enough, if it fell into 

The Hanging Stone 297 

the volcano, to break through into that air-chamber 
from above. And once it did, the air would escape 
and the floating island would float no more. It 
would sink." 

"But then everybody on it would be drowned, 
wouldn't they?" said Bumpo. 

"Oh no, not necessarily. That would depend on 
the depth of the sea where the sinking took place. 
The island might touch bottom when it had only 
gone down, say, a hundred feet. But there would 
be lots of it still sticking up above the water then, 
wouldn't there?" 

"Yes," said Bumpo, "I suppose there would. 
Well, let us hope that the .ponderous fragment does 
not lose its equilibriosity, for I don't believe it 
would stop at the centre of the earth more likely 
it would fall right through the world and come out 
the other side." 

Many other wonders there were which these men 
showed us in the central regions of their island. 
But I have not time or space to tell you of them 

Descending towards the shore again, we noticed 
that we were still being watched, even here among 
the highlands, by the Bag-jagderags who had fol- 
lowed us. And when we put to sea once more a 
boatload of them proceeded to go ahead of us 
in the direction of Popsipetel. Having lighter 

298 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

canoes, they traveled faster than our party; and we 
judged that they should reach the village if that 
was where they were going many hours before we 

The Doctor was now becoming anxious to see 
how Long Arrow was getting on, so we all took 
turns at the paddles and went on traveling by moon- 
light through the whole night. 

We reached Popsipetel just as the dawn was 

To our great surprise we found that not only we, 
but the whole village also, had been up all night. 
A great crowd was gathered about the dead chief's 
house. And as we landed our canoes upon the 
beach we saw a large number of old men, the seniors 
of the tribe, coming out at the main door. 

We inquired what was the meaning of all this; 
and were told that the election of a new chief had 
been going on all through the whole night. Bumpo 
asked the name of the new chief; but this, it seemed, 
had not yet been given out. It would be announced 
at mid-day. 

As soon as the Doctor had paid a visit to Long 
Arrow and seen that he was doing nicely, we 
proceeded to our own house at the far end of the 
village. Here we ate some breakfast and then lay 
down to take a good rest. 

Rest, indeed, we needed; for life had been stren- 

The Hanging Stone 299 

uous and busy for us ever since we had landed on 
the island. And it wasn't many minutes after our 
weary heads struck the pillows that the whole crew 
of us were sound asleep. 



WE were awakened by music. The glar- 
ing noonday sunlight was streaming 
in at our door, outside of which some 
kind of a band appeared to be playing. 
We got up and looked out. Our house was sur- 
rounded by the whole population of Popsipetel. 
We were used to having quite a number of curious 
and admiring Indians waiting at our door at all 
hours; but this was quite different. The vast 
crowd was dressed in its best clothes. Bright 
beads, gawdy feathers and gay blankets gave cheer- 
ful color to the scene. Every one seemed in very 
good humor, singing or playing on musical in- 
struments mostly painted wooden whistles or 
drums made from skins. 

We found Polynesia who while we slept had 
arrived back from Bag-jagderag sitting on our 
door-post watching the show. We asked her what 
all the holiday-making was about. 

"The result of the election has just been an- 
nounced," said she. "The name of the new chief 
was given out at noon." 

"And who is the new chief?" asked the Doctor. 


The Election 301 

'You are," said Polynesia quietly. 

"//" gasped the Doctor "Well, of all things!" 

"Yes," said she. "You're the one And what's 
more, they've changed your surname for you. They 
didn't think that Dolittle was a proper or respectful 
name for a man who had done so much. So you are 
now to be known as Jong Thinkalot. How do you 
like it?" 

"But I don't want to be a chief," said the Doctor 
in an irritable voice. 

"I'm afraid you'll have hard work to get out of it 
now," said she "unless you're willing to put to sea 
again in one of their rickety canoes. You see you've 
been elected not merely the Chief of the Popsipetels; 
you're to be a king the King of the whole of Spider- 
monkey Island. The Bag-jagderags, who were so 
anxious to have you govern them, sent spies and 
messengers ahead of you; and when they found that 
you had been elected Chief of the Popsipetels over- 
night they were bitterly disappointed. However, 
rather than lose you altogether, the Bag-jagderags 
were willing to give up their independence, and in- 
sisted that they and their lands be united to the Pop- 
sipetels in order that you could be made king of 
both. So now you're in for it." 

"Oh Lord!" groaned the Doctor, "I do wish 
they wouldn't be so enthusiastic! Bother it, I 
don't want to be a king!" 

"I should think, Doctor," said I, "you'd feel 

302 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

rather proud and glad. I wish / had a chance to 
be a king." 

"Oh I know it sounds grand," said he, pulling on 
his boots miserably. 1( But the trouble is, you can't 
take up responsibilities and then just drop them a- 
gain when you feel like it. I have my own work 
to do. Scarcely one moment have I had to give to 
natural history since I landed on this island. I've 
been doing some one else's business all the time. 
And now they want me to go on doing it ! Why, 
once I'm made King of the Popsipetels, that's the 
end of me as a useful naturalist. I'd be too busy 
for anything. All I'd be then is just a er er 
just a king." 

"Well, that's something!" said Bumpo. "My 
father is a king and has a hundred and twenty 


"That would make it worse," said the Doctor 
-"a hundred and twenty times worse. I have my 
work to do. I don't want to be a king." 

"Look," said Polynesia, "here come the head men 
to announce your election. Hurry up and get your 
boots laced." 

The throng before our door had suddenly parted 
asunder, making a long lane; and down this we now 
saw a group of personages coming towards us. 
The man in front, a handsome old Indian with a 
wrinkled face, carried in his hands a wooden crown 
a truly beautiful and gorgeous crown, even though 

The Election 303 

of wood. Wonderfully carved and painted, it had 
two lovely blue feathers springing from the front 
of it. Behind the old man came eight strong 
Indians bearing a litter, a sort of chair with long 
handles underneath to carry it by. 

Kneeling down on one knee, bending his head 
almost to the ground, the old man addressed the 
Doctor who now stood in the doorway putting on 
his collar and tie. 

"Oh, Mighty One," said he, "we bring you word 
from the Popsipetel people. Great are your deeds 
beyond belief, kind is your heart and your wisdom, 
deeper than the sea. Our chief is dead. The 
people clamor for a worthy leader. Our old 
enemies, the Bag-jagderags are become, through you, 
our brothers and good friends. They too desire 
to bask beneath the sunshine of your smile. Behold 
then, I bring to you the Sacred Crown of Popsipetel 
which, since ancient days when this island and its 
peoples were one, beneath one monarch, has rested 
on no kingly brow. Oh Kindly One. we are bid- 
den by the united voices of the peoples of this 
land to carry you to the Whispering Rocks, that 
there, with all respect and majesty, you may be 
crowned our king King of all the Moving 

The good Indians did not seem to have even con- 
sidered the possibility of John Dolittle's refusing. 
As for the poor Doctor, I never saw him so upset 

304 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

by anything. It was in fact the only time I have 
known him to get thoroughly fussed. 

"Oh dear!" I heard him murmur, looking around 
wildly for some escape. "What shall I do? Did 
any of you see where I laid that stud of mine ? How 
on earth can I get this collar on without a stud? 
What a day this is, to be sure! Maybe it rolled 
under the bed, Bumpo I do think they might have 
given me a day or so to think it over in. Who ever 
heard of waking a man right out of his sleep, and 
telling him he's got to be a king, before he has 
even washed his face? Can't any of you find it? 
Maybe you're standing on it, Bumpo. Move your 

"Oh don't bother about your stud," said Poly- 
nesia. "You will have to be crowned without a col- 
lar. They won't know the difference." 

U I tell you I'm not going to be crowned," cried 
the Doctor "not if I can help it. I'll make them 
a speech. Perhaps that will satisfy them." 

He turned back to the Indians at the door. 

"My friends," he said, "I am not worthy of this 
great honor you would do me. Little or no skill 
have I in the arts of kingcraft. Assuredly among 
your own brave men you will find many better fitted 
to lead you. For this compliment, this confidence 
and trust, I thank you. But, I pray you, do not 
think of me for such high duties which I could not 
possibly fulfil." 

The Election 305 

The old man repeated his words to the people 
behind him in a louder voice. Stolidly they shook 
their heads, moving not an inch. The old man 
turned back to the Doctor. 

'You are the chosen one," said he. "They will 
have none but you." 

Into the Doctor's perplexed face suddenly there 
came a flash of hope. 

"I'll go and see Long Arrow," he whispered to 
me. "Perhaps he will know of some way to get 
me out of this." 

And asking the personages to excuse him a mo- 
ment, he left them there, standing at his door, and 
hurried off in the direction of Long Arrow's house. 
I followed him. 

We found our big friend lying on a grass bed 
outside his home, where he had been moved that he 
might witness the holiday-making. 

"Long Arrow," said the Doctor speaking quickly 
in eagle tongue so that the bystanders should not 
overhear, "in dire peril I come to you for help. 
These men would make me their king. If such a 
thing befall me, all the great work I hoped to do 
must go undone, for who is there unfreer than a 
king? I pray you speak with them and persuade 
their kind well-meaning hearts that what they plan 
to do would be unwise." 

Long Arrow raised himself upon his elbow. 

"Oh Kindly One," said he (this seemed now to 

306 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

have become the usual manner of address when 
speaking to the Doctor), "sorely it grieves me that 
the first wish you ask of me I should be unable to 
grant. Alas ! I can do nothing. These people 
have so set their hearts on keeping you for king that 
if I tried to interfere they would drive me from their 
land and likely crown you in the end in any case. 
A king you must be, if only for a while. We must 
so arrange the business of governing that you may 
have time to give to Nature's secrets. Later we 
may be able to hit upon some plan to relieve you of 
the burden of the crown. But for now you must 
be king. These people are a headstrong tribe and 
they will have their way. There is no other course." 

Sadly the Doctor turned away from the bed and 
faced about. And there behind him stood the old 
man again, the crown still held in his wrinkled 
hands and the royal litter waiting at his elbow. With 
a deep reverence the bearers motioned towards 
the seat of the chair, inviting the white man to get in. 

Once more the poor Doctor looked wildly, hope- 
lessly about him for some means of escape. For a 
moment I thought he was going to take to his heels 
and run for it. But the crowd around us was far 
too thick and densely packed for anyone to break 
through it. A band of whistles and drums near by 
suddenly started the music of a solemn processional 
march. He turned back pleadingly again to Long 
Arrow in a last appeal for help. But the big 

The Election 307 

Indian merely shook his head and pointed, like the 
bearers, to the waiting chair. 

At last, almost in tears, John Dolittle stepped 
slowly into the litter and sat down. As he was 
hoisted on to the broad shoulders of the bearers 
I heard him still feebly muttering beneath his breath, 

"Botheration take it! I don't want to be a 

"Farewell!' 1 called Long Arrow from his bed, 
"and may good fortune ever stand within the 
shadow of your throne!" 

; 'He comes! He comes!" murmured the crowd. 
"Away! Away! To the Whispering Rocks!" 

And as the procession formed up to leave the vil- 
lage, the crowd about us began hurrying off in the 
direction of the mountains to make sure of good 
seats in the giant theatre where the crowning cere- 
mony would take place. 



IN my long lifetime I have seen many grand 
and inspiring things, but never anything that 
impressed me half as much as the sight of the 
Whispering Rocks as they looked on the day 
King Jong was crowned. As Bumpo, Chee-Chee, 
Polynesia, Jip and I finally reached the dizzy edge 
of the great bowl and looked down inside it, it 
was like gazing over a never-ending ocean of cop- 
per-colored faces; for every seat in the theatre was 
filled, every man, woman and child in the island 
including Long Arrow who had been carried up on 
his sick bed was there to see the show. 

Yet not a sound, not a pin-drop, disturbed the 
solemn silence of the Whispering Rocks. It was 
quite creepy and sent chills running up and down 
your spine. Bumpo told me afterwards that it took 
his breath away too much for him to speak, but 
that he hadn't known before that there were that 
many people in the world. 

Away down by the Table of the Throne stood a 
brand-new, brightly colored totem-pole. All the 

Indian families had totem-poles and kept them set 


The Coronation of King Jong 309 

up before the doors of their houses. The idea of 
a totem-pole is something like a door-plate or a 
visiting card. It represents in its carvings the 
deeds and qualities of the family to which it belongs. 
This one, beautifully decorated and much higher 
than any other, was the Dolittle or, as it was to be 
henceforth called, the Royal Thinkalot totem. It 
had nothing but animals on it, to signify the Doc- 
tor's great knowledge of creatures. And the ani- 
mals chosen to be shown were those which to the 
Indians were supposed to represent good qualities 
of character, such as, the deer for speed; the ox 
for perseverance; the fish for discretion, and so on. 
But at the top of the totem is always placed the sign 
or animal by which the family is most proud to be 
known. This, on the Thinkalot pole, was an enor- 
mous parrot, in memory of the famous Peace of the 

The Ivory Throne had been all polished with 
scented oil and it glistened whitely in the strong 
sunlight. At the foot of it there had been strewn 
great quantities of branches of flowering trees, 
which with the new warmth of milder climates were 
now blossoming in the valleys of the island. 

Soon we saw the royal litter, with the Doctor 
seated in it, slowly ascending the winding steps of 
the Table. Reaching the flat top at last, it halted 
and the Doctor stepped out upon the flowery carpet. 
So still and perfect was the silence that even at that 

310 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

distance above I distinctly heard a twig snap beneath 
his tread. 

Walking to the throne accompanied by the old 
man, the Doctor got up upon the stand and sat 
down. How tiny his little round figure looked when 
seen from that tremendous height! The throne had 
been made for longer-legged kings; and when he 
was seated, his feet did not reach the ground but 
dangled six inches from the top step. 

Then the old man turned round and looking up 
at the people began to speak in a quiet even voice; 
but every word he said was easily heard in the 
furthest corner of the Whispering Rocks. 

First he recited the names of all the great Pop- 
sipetel kings who in days long ago had been crowned 
in this ivory chair. He spoke of the greatness of 
the Popsipetel people, of their triumphs, of their 
hardships. Then waving his hand towards the Doc- 
tor he began recounting the things which this king- 
to-be had done. And I am bound to say that they 
easily outmatched the deeds of those who had gone 
before him. 

As soon as he started to speak of what the Doctor 
had achieved for the tribe, the people, still strictly 
silent, all began waving their right hands towards 
the throne. This gave to the vast theatre a very 
singular appearance: acres and acres of something 
moving with never a sound. 

At last the old man finished his speech and step- 

The Coronation of King Jong 311 

ping up to the chair, very respectfully removed the 
Doctor's battered high hat. He was about to 
put it upon the ground; but the Doctor took it from 
him hastily and kept it on his lap. Then taking up 
the Sacred Crown he placed it upon John Dolittle's 
head. It did not fit very well (for it had been 
made for smaller-headed kings), and when the wind 
blew in freshly from the sunlit sea the Doctor had 
some difficulty in keeping it on. But it looked very 

Turning once more to the people, the old man 

"Men of Popsipetel, behold your elected king! 
Are you content?" 

And then at last the voice of the people broke 

"JONG! JONG!" they shouted, "LONG LIVE 

The sound burst upon the solemn silence with the 
crash of a hundred cannon. There, where even 
a whisper carried miles, the shock of it was like a 
blow in the face. Back and forth the mountains 
threw it to one another. I thought the echoes of it 
would never die away as it passed rumbling through 
the whole island, jangling among the lower valleys, 
booming in the distant sea-caves. 

Suddenly I saw the old man point upward, to the 
highest mountain in the island; and looking over 
my shoulder, I was just in time to see the Hanging 

312 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

Stone topple slowly out of sight down into the 
heart of the volcano. 

"See ye, Men of the Moving Land!" the old man 
cried: 'The stone has fallen and our legend has 
come true: the King of Kings is crowned this day!' 1 

The Doctor too had seen the stone fall and he was 
now standing up looking at the sea expectantly. 

"He's thinking of the air-chamber," said Bumpo 
in my ear. "Let us hope that the sea isn't very deep 
in these parts." 

After a full minute (so long did it take the stone 
to fall that depth) we heard a muffled, distant, 
crunching thud and then immediately after, a 
great hissing of escaping air. The Doctor, his face 
tense with anxiety, sat down in the throne again 
still watching the blue water of the ocean with star- 
ing eyes. 

Soon we felt the island slowly sinking beneath 
us. We saw the sea creep inland over the beaches 
as the shores went down one foot, three feet, ten 
feet, twenty, fifty, a hundred. And then, thank 
goodness, gently as a butterfly alighting on a rose, 
it stopped! Spidermonkey Island had come to rest 
on the sandy bottom of the Atlantic, and earth was 
joined to earth once more. 

Of course many of the houses near the shores 
were now under water. Popsipetel Village itself 
had entirely disappeared. But it didn't matter. 
No one was drowned; for every soul in the island 

The Coronation of King Jong 313 

was high up in the hills watching the coronation of 
King Jong. 

The Indians themselves did not realize at the 
time what was taking place, though of course they 
had felt the land sinking beneath them. The Doc- 
tor told us afterwards that it must have been the 
shock of that tremendous shout, coming from a 
million throats at once, which had toppled the 
Hanging Stone off its perch. But in Popsipetel 
history the story was handed down (and it is firmly 
believed to this day) that when King Jong sat upon 
the throne, so great was his mighty weight, that 
the very island itself sank down to do him honor 
and never moved again. 

o O o 



JONG THINKALOT had not ruled over his 
new kingdom for more than a couple of days 
before my notions about kings and the kind 
of lives they led changed very considerably. 
I had thought that all that kings had to do was to 
sit on a throne and have people bow down before 
them several times a day. I now saw that a kin<? 
can be the hardest-working man in the world if 
he attends properly to his business. 

From the moment that he got up, early in the 
morning, till the time he went to bed, late at night 
seven days in the week John Dolittle was busy, 
busy, busy. First of all there was the new town 
to be built. The village of Popsipetel had dis- 
appeared: the City of New Popsipetel must be 
made. With great care a place was chosen for it 
and a very beautiful position it was, at the mouth 
of a large river. The shores of the island at this 
point formed a lovely wide bay where canoes and 
ships too, if they should ever come could lie peace- 
fully at anchor without danger from storms. 

In building this town the Doctor gave the Indians 

New Popsipetel 315 

a lot of new ideas. He showed them what town- 
sewers were, and how garbage should be collected 
each day and burnt. High up in the hills he made 
a large lake by damming a stream. This was the 
water-supply for the town. None of these things 
had the Indians ever seen; and many of the sick- 
nesses which they had suffered from before were 
now entirely prevented by proper drainage and pure 

Peoples who don't use fire do not of course have 
metals either; because without fire it is almost im- 
possible to shape iron and steel. One of the first 
things that John Dolittle did was to search the 
mountains till he found iron and copper mines. 
Then he set to work to teach the Indians how these 
metals could be melted and made into knives and 
plows and water-pipes and all manner of things. 

In his kingdom the Doctor tried his hardest to 
do away with most of the old-fashioned pomp and 
grandeur of a royal court. As he said to Bnmpo 
and me, if he must be a king he meant to be a 
thoroughly democratic one, that is a king who is 
chummy and friendly with his subjects and doesn't 
put on airs. And when he drew up the plans for 
the City of New Popsipetel he had no palace shown 
of any kind. A little cottage in a back street was 
all that he had provided for himself. 

But this the Indians would not permit on any 
account. They had been used to having their kings 

316 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

rule in a truly grand and kingly manner; and they 
insisted that he have built for himself the most 
magnificent palace ever seen. In all else they let 
him have his own way absolutely; but they wouldn't 
allow him to wriggle out of any of the ceremony or 
show that goes with being a king. A thousand serv- 
ants he had to keep in his palace, night and day, to 
wait on him. The Royal Canoe had to be kept up 
a gorgeous, polished mahogany boat, seventy feet 
long, inlaid with mother-o'-pearl and paddled by 
the hundred strongest men in the island. The 
palace-gardens covered a square mile and employed 
a hundred and sixty gardeners. 

Even in his dress the poor man was compelled 
always to be grand and elegant and uncomfortable. 
The beloved and battered high hat was put away in 
a closet and only looked at secretly. State robes 
had to be worn on all occasions. And when the 
Doctor did once in a while manage to sneak off for 
a short, natural-history expedition he never dared 
to wear his old clothes, but had to chase his butter- 
flies with a crown upon his head and a scarlet cloak 
flying behind him in the wind. 

There was no end to the kinds of duties the Doc- 
tor had to perform and the questions he had to 
decide upon everything, from settling disputes 
about lands and boundaries, to making peace be- 
tween husband and wife who had been throwing 
shoes at one another. In the east wing of the 

"Had to chase his butterflies with a crown upon his head" 

318 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

Royal Palace was the Hall of Justice. And here 
King Jong sat every morning from nine to eleven 
passing judgment on all cases that were brought be- 
fore him. 

Then in the afternoon he taught school. The 
sort of things he taught were not always those you 
find in ordinary schools. Grown-ups as well as 
children came to learn. You see, these Indians 
were ignorant of many of the things that quite small 
white children know though it is also true that 
they knew a lot that white grown-ups never dreamed 

Bumpo and I helped with the teaching as far as 
we could simple arithmetic, and easy things like 
that. But the classes in astronomy, farming sci- 
ence, the proper care of babies, with a host of other 
subjects, the Doctor had to teach himself. The 
Indians were tremendously keen about the schooling 
and they came in droves and crowds; so that even 
with the open-air classes (a school-house was im- 
possible of course) the Doctor had to take them in 
relays and batches of five or six thousand at a time 
and used a big megaphone or trumpet to make him- 
self heard. 

The rest of his day was more than filled with 
road-making, building water-mills, attending the 
sick and a million other things. 

In spite of his being so unwilling to become a 

New Popsipetel 319 

king, John Dolittle made a very good one once he 
got started. He may not have been as dignified as 
many kings in history who were always running off 
to war and getting themselves into romantic situa- 
tions; but since I have grown up and seen something 
of foreign lands and governments I have often 
thought that Popsipetel under the reign of Jong 
Thinkalot was perhaps the best ruled state in the 
history of the world. 

The Doctor's birthday came round after we had 
been on the island six months and a half. The 
people made a great public holiday of it and there 
was much feasting, dancing, fireworks, speech- 
making and jollification. 

Towards the close of the day the chief men of the 
two tribes formed a procession and passed through 
the streets of the town, carrying a very gorgeously 
painted tablet of ebony wood, ten feet high. This 
was a picture-history, such as they preserved for 
each of the ancient kings of Popsipetel to record 
their deeds. 

With great and solemn ceremony it was set up 
over the door of the new palace: and everybody 
then clustered round to look at it. It had six pic- 
tures on it commemorating the six great events in 
the life of King Jong and beneath were written the 
verses that explained them. They were composed 
by the Court Poet; and this is a translation: 

320 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 


(His Landing on The Island) 


In his dolphin-drawn canoe 

From worlds unknown 

He landed on our shores. 

The very palms 

Bowed down their heads 

In welcome to the coming King. 

(His Meeting With The Beetle) 

By moonlight in the mountains 

He communed with beasts. 

The shy Jabizri brings him picture-words 

Of great distress. 


(He liberates The Lost Families) 
Big was his heart with pity ; 
Big were his hands with strength. 
See how he tears the mountain like a yam ! 
See how the lost ones 
Dance forth to greet the day! 


(He Makes Fire) 

Our land was cold and dying. 
He waved his hand and lo ! 
Lightning leapt from cloudless skies; 
The sun leant down; 

New Popsipetel 321 

And Fire was born ! 
Then while we crowded round 
The grateful glow, pushed he 
Our wayward, floating land 
Back to peaceful anchorage 
In sunny seas. 


(He Leads The People To Victory in War) 

Once only 

Was his kindly countenance 

Darkened by a deadly frown. 

Woe to the wicked enemy 

That dares attack 

The tribe with Thinkalot for Chief ! 


(He Is Crowned King) 

The birds of the air rejoiced; 

The Sea laughed and gambolled with her shores; 

All Red-skins wept for joy 

The day we crowned him King. 

He is the Builder, the Healer, the Teacher and the Prince ; 

He is the greatest of them all. 

May he live a thousand thousand years, 

Happy in his heart, 

To bless our land with Peace. 



IN the Royal Palace Bumpo and I had a beauti- 
ful suite of rooms of our very own which 
Polynesia, Jip and Chee-Chee shared with us. 
Officially Bumpo was Minister of the Interior; 
while I was First Lord of the Treasury. Long 
Arrow also had quarters there; but at present he 
was absent, traveling abroad. 

One night after supper when the Doctor was away 
in the town somewhere visiting a new-born baby, 
we were all sitting round the big table in Bumpo's 
reception-room. This we did every evening, to talk 
over the plans for the following day and various 
affairs of state. It was a kind of Cabinet Meeting. 
To-night however w r e were talking about England 
and also about things to eat. We had got a little 
tired of Indian food. You see, none of the natives 
knew how to cook; and we had the most discouraging 
time training a chef for the Royal Kitchen. Most 
of them were champions at spoiling good food. 
Often we got so hungry that the Doctor would sneak 
downstairs with us into the palace basement, after 
all the cooks were safe in bed, and fry pancakes 
secretly over the dying embers of the fire. The 


Thoughts of Home 323 

Doctor himself was the finest cook that ever lived. 
But he used to make a terrible mess of the kitchen; 
and of course we had to be awfully careful that we 
didn't get caught. 

Well, as I was saying, to-night food was the sub- 
ject of discussion at the Cabinet Meeting; and I had 
just been reminding Bumpo of the nice dishes we had 
had at the bed-maker's house in Monteverde. 

I tell you what I would like now," said Bumpo: 
a large cup of cocoa with whipped cream on the 
top of it. In Oxford we used to be able to get the 
most wonderful cocoa. It is really too bad they 
haven't any cocoa-trees in this island, or cows to give 



'When do you suppose," asked Jip, "the Doctor 
intends to move on from here?" 

"I was talking to him about that only yesterday," 
said Polynesia. "But I couldn't get any satisfactory 
answer out of him. He didn't seem to want to 
speak about it." 

There was a pause in the conversation. 

"Do you know what I believe?" she added pres- 
ently. "I believe the Doctor has given up even 
thinking of going home." 

"Good Lord!" cried Bumpo. 'You don't say!" 

"Sh!" said Polynesia. "What's that noise?" 

We listened; and away off in the distant corridors 
of the palace we heard the sentries crying, 

"The King! Make way! The King!" 

324 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

"It's he at last," whispered Polnesia "late, 
as usual. Poor man, how he does work! Chee- 
Chee, get the pipe and tobacco out of the cupboard 
and lay the dressing-gown ready on his chair." 

When the Doctor came into the room he looked 
serious and thoughtful. Wearily he took off his 
crown and hung it on a peg behind the door. Then 
he exchanged the royal cloak for the dressing-gown, 
dropped into his chair at the head of the table with 
a deep sigh and started to fill his pipe. 

"Well," asked Polynesia quietly, "how did you 
find the baby?" 

'The baby?" he murmured his thoughts still 
seemed to be very far away "Ah yes. The baby 
was much better, thank you It has cut its second 

Then he was silent again, staring dreamily at the 
ceiling through a cloud of tobacco-smoke; while we 
all sat round quite still, waiting. 

'We were wondering, Doctor," said I at last, 
'just before you came in when you would be start- 
ing home again. We will have been on this island 
seven months to-morrow." 

The Doctor sat forward in his chair looking rather 

'Well, as a matter of fact," said he after a mo- 
ment, "I meant to speak to you myself this evening 
on that very subject. But it's er a little hard 


Thoughts of Home 325 

to make any one exactly understand the situation. 
I am afraid that it would be impossible for me to 
leave the work I am now engaged on. . . . You 
remember, when they first insisted on making me 
king, I told you it was not easy to shake off responsi- 
bilities, once you had taken them up. These people 
have come to rely on me for a great number of 
things. We found them ignorant of much that 
white people enjoy. And we have, one might say, 
changed the current of their lives considerably. 
Now it is a very ticklish business, to change the lives 
of other people. And whether the changes we have 
made will be, in the end, for good or for bad, is our 

He thought a moment then went on in a quieter, 
sadder voice: 

"I would like to continue my voyages and my 
natural history work; and I would like to go back 
to Puddleby as much as any of you. This is 
March, and the crocuses will be showing in the lawn. 
. . . But that which I feared has come true : I can- 
not close my eyes to what might happen if I should 
leave these people and run away. They would prob- 
ably go back to their old habits and customs: wars, 
superstitions, devil-worship and what not; and many 
of the new things we have taught them might be put 
to improper use and make their condition, then, 
worse by far than that in which we found them. 

326 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

. . . They like me; they trust me; they have come to 
look to me for help in all their problems and trou- 
bles. And no man wants to do unfair things to 
them who trust him. . . . And then again, / like 
them. They are, as it were, my children I never 
had any children of my own and I am terribly 
interested in how they will grow up. Don't you 
see what I mean? How can I possibly run away 
and leave them in the lurch? . . . No. I have 
thought it over a good deal and tried to decide 
what was best. And I am afraid that the work 
I took up when I assumed the crown I must stick 
to. I'm afraid I've got to stay." 

"For good for your whole life?" asked Bumpo 
in a low voice. 

For some moments the Doctor, frowning, made 
no answer. 

'I don't know," he said at last "Anyhow for the 
present there is certainly no hope of my leaving. 
It wouldn't be right." 

The sad silence that followed was broken finally 
by a knock upon the door. 

With a patient sigh the Doctor got up and put 
on his crown and cloak again. 

"Come in," he called, sitting down in his chair 
once more. 

The door opened and a footman one of the 
hundred and forty-three who were always on night 
duty stood bowing in the entrance. 

Thoughts of Home 327 

"Oh, Kindly One," said he, "there is a traveler 
at the palace-gate who would have speech with 
Your Majesty." 

"Another baby's been born, I'll bet a shilling," 
muttered Polynesia. 

"Did you ask the traveler's name?" enquired the 

"Yes, Your Majesty," said the footman. "It 
is Long Arrow, the son of Golden Arrow." 



LONG ARROW!" cried the Doctor. 
"How splendid! Show him in show 
him in at once." 
"I'm so glad," he continued, turning 
to us as soon as the footman had gone. "I've 
missed Long Arrow terribly. He's an awfully good 
man to have around even if he doesn't talk much. 
Let me see: it's five months now since he went off 
to Brazil. I'm so glad he's back safe. He does 
take such tremendous chances with that canoe of 
his clever as he is. It's no joke, crossing a hun- 
dred miles of open sea in a twelve-foot canoe. I 
wouldn't care to try it." 

Another knock; and when the door swung open 
in answer to the Doctor's call, there stood our big 
friend on the threshold, a smile upon his strong, 
bronzed face. Behind him appeared two porters 
carrying loads done up in Indian palm-matting. 
These, when the first salutations were over, Long 
Arrow ordered to lay their burdens down. 

'Behold, oh Kindly One," said he, "I bring you, 

as I promised, my collection of plants which I had 


The Red Mans Science 329 

hidden in a cave in the Andes. These treasures 
represent the labors of my life." 

The packages were opened; and inside were many 
smaller packages and bundles. Carefully they were 
laid out in rows upon the table. 

It appeared at first a large but disappointing dis- 
play. There were plants, flowers, fruits, leaves, 
roots, nuts, beans, honeys, gums, bark, seeds, bees 
and a few kinds of insects. 

The study of plants or botany, as it is called 
was a kind of natural history which had never 
interested me very much. I had considered it, com- 
pared with the study of animals, a dull science. But 
as Long Arrow began taking up the various things 
in his collection and explaining their qualities to us, 
I became more and more fascinated. And before 
he had done I was completely absorbed by the won- 
ders of the Vegetable Kingdom which he had 
brought so far. 

"These," said he, taking up a little packet of 
big seeds, "are what I have called 'laughing- 
beans.' " 

"What are they for?" asked Bumpo. 
'To cause mirth," said the Indian. 

Bumpo, while Long Arrow's back was turned, 
took three of the beans and swallowed them. 

"Alas!" said the Indian when he discovered what 
Bumpo had done. 'If he wished to try the powers 
of these seeds he should have eaten no more than a 

330 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

quarter of a one. Let us hope that he does not die 
of laughter." 

The beans' effect upon Bumpo was most ex- 
traordinary. First he broke into a broad smile; 
then he began to giggle; finally he burst into such 
prolonged roars of hearty laughter that we had to 
carry him into the next room and put him to bed. 
The Doctor said afterwards that he probably would 
have died laughing if he had not had such a strong 
constitution. All through the night he gurgled 
happily in his sleep. And even when we woke him 
up the next morning he rolled out of bed still chuck- 

Returning to the Reception Room, we were shown 
some red roots which Long Arrow told us had the 
property, when made into a soup with sugar and 
salt, of causing people to dance with extraordinary 
speed and endurance. He asked us to try them; 
but we refused, thanking him. After Bumpo's ex- 
hibition we were a little afraid of any more experi- 
ments for the present. 

There was no end to the curious and useful things 
that Long Arrow had collected : an oil from a vine 
which would make hair grow in one night; an orange 
as big as a pumpkin which he had raised in his own 
mountain-garden in Peru; a black honey (he had 
brought the bees that made it too and the seeds of 
the flowers they fed on) which would put you tc 
sleep, just with a teaspoonful, and make you wake 

The Red Man's Science 331 

up fresh in the morning; a nut that made the voice 
beautiful for singing; a water-weed that stopped 
cuts from bleeding; a moss that cured snake-bite; 
a lichen that prevented sea-sickness. 

The Doctor of course was tremendously inter- 
ested. Well into the early hours of the morning he 
was busy going over the articles on the table one 
by one, listing their names and writing their proper- 
ties and descriptions into a note-book as Long Arrow 

"There are things here, Stubbins," he said as he 
ended, "which in the hands of skilled druggists will 
make a vast difference to the medicine and chemistry 
of the world. I suspect that this sleeping-honey by 
itself will take the place of half the bad drugs we 
have had to use so far. Long Arrow has discovered 
a pharmacopaeia of his own. Miranda was right: 
he is a great naturalist. His name deserves to be 
placed beside Linnaeus. Some day I must get all 
these things to England- -But when," he added 
sadly "Yes, that's the problem: when?" 



FOR a long time after that Cabinet Meeting 
of which I have just told you we did not 
ask the Doctor anything further about 
going home. Life in Spidermonkey Is- 
land went forward, month in month out, busily and 
pleasantly. The Winter, with Christmas celebra- 
tions, came and went, and Summer was with us once 
again before we knew it. 

As time passed the Doctor became more and more 
taken up with the care of his big family; and the 
hours he could spare for his natural history work 
grew fewer and fewer. I knew that he often still 
thought of his house and garden in Puddlcby and 
of his old plans and ambitions; because once in a 
while we would notice his face grow thoughtful and 
a little sad, when something reminded him of Eng- 
land or his old life. But he never spoke of these 
things. And I truly believe he would have spent the 
remainder of his days on Spidermonkey Island if 
it hadn't been for an accident and for Polynesia. 
The old parrot had grown very tired of the In- 
dians and she made no secret of it. 

'The very idea," she said to me one day as we 


The Sea-Serpent 333 

were walking on the seashore -"the idea of the 
famous John Dolittle spending his valuable life 
waiting on these greasy natives ! Why, it's pre- 
posterous !" 

All that morning we had been watching the Doc- 
tor superintend the building of the new theatre in 
Popsipetel there was already an opera-house and 
a concert-hall; and finally she had got so grouchy 
and annoyed at the sight that I had suggested her 
taking a walk with me. 

"Do you really think," I asked as we sat down 
on the sands, "that he will never go back to Pud- 
dleby again?" 

"I don't know," said she. "At one time I felt 
sure that the thought of the pets he had left be- 
hind at the house would take him home soon. But 
since Miranda brought him word last August that 
everything was all right there, that hope's gone. 
For months and months I've been racking my brains 
to think up a plan. If we could only hit upon some- 
thing that would turn his thoughts back to natural 
history again I mean something big enough to get 
him really excited we might manage it. But 
how?" she shrugged her shoulders in disgust 
"How? when all he thinks of now is paving 
streets and teaching papooses that twice one are 

It was a perfect Popsipetel day, bright and hot, 
blue and yellow. Drowsily I looked out to sea 

334 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

thinking of my mother and father. I wondered if 
they were getting anxious over my long absence. 
Beside me old Polynesia went on grumbling away 
in low steady tones; and her words began to mingle 
and mix with the gentle lapping of the waves upon 
the shore. It may have been the even murmur of 
her voice, helped by the soft and balmy air, that 
lulled me to sleep. I don't know. Anyhow I pres- 
ently dreamed that the island had moved again 
not floatingly as before, but suddenly, jerkily, as 
though something enormously powerful had heaved 
it up from its bed just once and let it down. 

How long I slept after that I have no idea. I 
was awakened by a gentle pecking on the nose. 

'Tommy! Tommy!" (it was Polynesia's voice) 

'Wake up ! Gosh, what a boy, to sleep through an 

earthquake and never notice it! Tommy, listen: 

here's our chance now. Wake up, for goodness' 


'What's the matter?" I asked sitting up with a 

"Sh! Look!" whispered Polynesia pointing out 
to sea. 

Still only half awake, I stared before me with 
bleary, sleep-laden eyes. And in the shallow water, 
not more than thirty yards from shore I saw an 
enormous pale pink shell. Dome-shaped, it towered 
up in a graceful rainbow curve to a tremendous 
height; and round its base the surf broke gently in 

The Sea-Serpent 3315 

little waves of white. It could have belonged to 
the wildest dream. 

"What in the world is it?" I asked. 

'That," whispered Polynesia, "is what sailors 
for hundreds of years have called the Sea-serpent. 
I've seen it myself more than once from the decks 
of ships, at long range, curving in and out of the 
water. But now that I see it close and still, I 
very strongly suspect that the Sea-serpent of history 
is no other than the Great Glass Sea-snail that the 
fidgit told us of. If that isn't the only fish of its 
kind in the seven seas, call me a carrion-crow 
Tommy, we're in luck. Our job is to get the Doctor 
down here to look at that prize specimen before 
it moves off to the Deep Hole. If we can, then 
trust me, we may leave this blessed island yet. You 
stay here and keep an eye on it while I go after 
the Doctor. Don't move or speak don't even 
breathe heavy: he might get scared awful timid 
things, snails. Just watch him; and I'll be back in 
two shakes." 

Stealthily creeping up the sands till she could get 
behind the cover of some bushes before she took 
to her wings, Polynesia went off in the direction of 
the town; while I remained alone upon the shore 
fascinatedly watching this unbelievable monster wal- 
lowing in the shallow sea. 

It moved very little. From time to time it lifted 
its head out of the water showing its enormously 

336 The Voyaqes of Doctor Dolittle 

long neck and horns. Occasionally it would try and 
draw itself up, the way a snail does when he goes 
to move, but almost at once it would sink down 
again as if exhausted. It seemed to me to act as 
though it were hurt underneath; but the lower part 
of it, which was below the level of the water, I could 
not see. 

I was still absorbed in watching the great beast 
when Polynesia returned with the Doctor. They 
approached so silently and so cautiously that I 
neither saw nor heard them coming till I found 
them crouching beside me on the sand. 

One sight of the snail changed the Doctor com- 
pletely. His eyes just sparkled with delight. I 
had not seen him so thrilled and happy since the 
time we caught the Jabizri beetle when we first 
landed on the island. 

"It is he!" he whispered "the Great Glass Sea- 
snail himself not a doubt of it. Polynesia, go 
down the shore a way and see if you can find any of 
the porpoises for me. Perhaps they can tell us 
what the snail is doing here It's very unusual for 
him to be in shallow water like this. And Stubbins, 
you go over to the harbor and bring me a small 
canoe. But be most careful how you paddle it 
round into this bay. If the snail should take fright 
and go out into the deeper water, we may never get 
a chance to see him again." 

"And don't tell any of the Indians," Polynesia 

The Sea-Serpent 337 

added in a whisper as I moved to go. 'We must 
keep this a secret or we'll have a crowd of sight- 
seers round here in five minutes. It's mighty lucky 
we found the snail in a quiet bay." 

Reaching the harbor, I picked out a small light- 
canoe from among the number that were lying there 
and without telling any one what I wanted it for, 
got in and started off to paddle it down the shore. 

I was mortally afraid that the snail might have 
left before I got back. And you can imagine how 
delighted I was, when I rounded a rocky cape and 
came in sight of the bay, to find he was still there. 

Polynesia, I saw, had got her errand done and 
returned ahead of me, bringing with her a pair of 
porpoises. These were already conversing in low 
tones with John Dolittle. I beached the canoe and 
went up to listen. 

"What I want to know," the Doctor was saying, 
"is how the snail comes to be here. I was given to 
understand that he usually stayed in the Deep Hole: 
and that when he did come to the surface it was 
always in mid-ocean." 

"Oh, didn't you know? Haven't you heard?" the 
porpoises replied: "you covered up the Deep Hole 
when you sank the island. Why yes : you let it down 
right on top of the mouth of the Hole sort of 
put the lid on, as it were. The fishes that were in 
it at the time have been trying to get out ever since. 
The Great Snail had the worst luck of all: the 

338 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

island nipped him by the tail just as he was leaving 
the Hole for a quiet evening stroll. And he was 
held there for six months trying to wriggle himself 
free. Finally he had to heave the whole island up 
at one end to get his tail loose. Didn't you feel 
a sort of an earthquake shock about an hour ago?" 

'Yes I did," said the Doctor, "it shook down 
part of the theatre I was building." 

'Well, that was the snail heaving up the island 
to get out of the Hole," they said. "All the other 
fishes saw their chance and escaped when he raised 
the lid. It was lucky for them he's so big and strong. 
But the strain of that terrific heave told on him: 
he sprained a muscle in his tail and it started swelling 
rather badly. He wanted some quiet place to rest 
up; and seeing this soft beach handy he crawled 
in here." 

"Dear me!" said the Doctor. "I'm terribly 
sorry. I suppose I should have given some sort of 
notice that the island was going to be let down. 
But, to tell the truth, we didn't know it ourselves; 
it happened by a kind of an accident. Do you 
imagine the poor fellow is hurt very badly?" 

'We're not sure," said the porpoises; "because 
none of us can speak his language. But we swam 
right around him on our way in here, and he did 
not seem to be really seriously injured." 

"Can't any of your people speak shellfish?" the 
Doctor asked. 

The Sea-Serpent 339 

"Not a word," said they. "It's a most fright- 
fully difficult language." 

"Do you think that you might be able to find me 
some kind of a fish that could?" 

"We don't know," said the porpoises. "We 
might try." 

"I should be extremely grateful to you if you 
would," said the Doctor. "There are many im- 
portant questions I want to ask this snail And 
besides, I would like to do my best to cure his tail 
for him. It's the least I can do. After all, it was 
my fault, indirectly, that he got hurt." 

"Well, if you wait here," said the porpoises, 
"we'll see what can be done." 




SO Doctor Dolittle with a crown on his head 
sat down upon the shore like King Knut, 
and waited. And for a whole hour the 
porpoises kept going and coming, bringing 
up different kinds of sea-beasts from the deep to see 
if they could help him. 

Many and curious were the creatures they pro- 
duced. It would seem however that there were very 
few things that spoke shellfish except the shellfish 
themselves. Still, the porpoises grew a little more 
hopeful when they discovered a very old sea-urchin 
(a funny, ball-like, little fellow with long whiskers 
all over him) who said he could not speak pure 
shellfish, but he used to understand starfish enough 
to get along when he was young. This was com- 
ing nearer, even if it wasn't anything to go crazy 
about. Leaving the urchin with us, the porpoises 
went off once more to hunt up a starfish. 

They were not long getting one, for they were 
quite common in those parts. Then, using the 
sea-urchin as an interpreter, they questioned the 
starfish. He was a rather stupid sort of creature; 
but he tried his best to be helpful. And after a 


The Shellfish Riddle Solved at Last 341 


little patient examination we found to our delight 
that he could speak shellfish moderately well. 

Feeling quite encouraged, the Doctor and I now 
got into the canoe; and, with the porpoises, the ur- 
chin and the starfish swimming alongside, we paddled 
very gently out till we were close under the towering 
shell of the Great Snail. 

And then began the most curious conversation I 
have ever witnessed. First the starfish would ask 
the snail something; and whatever answer the snail 
gave, the starfish would tell it to the sea-urchin, the 
urchin would tell it to the porpoises and the por- 
poises would tell it to the Doctor. 

In this way we obtained considerable information, 
mostly about the very ancient history of the Ani- 
mal Kingdom; but we missed a good many of the 
finer points in the snail's longer speeches on account 
of the stupidity of the starfish and all this translat- 
ing from one language to another. 

While the snail was speaking, the Doctor and I 
put our ears against the wall of his shell and found 
that we could in this way hear the sound of his 
voice quite plainly. It was, as the fidgit had de- 
scribed, deep and bell-like. But of course we could 
not understand a single word he said. However the 
Doctor was by this time terrifically excited about 
getting near to learning the language he had sought 
so long. And presently by making the other fishes 
over and over again short phrases which the 

342 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

snail used, he began to put words together for him- 
self. You see, he was already familiar with one or 
two fish languages; and that helped him quite a little. 
After he had practised for a while like this he leant 
over the side of the canoe and putting his face be- 
low the water, tried speaking to the snail direct. 

It was hard and difficult work; and hours went by 
before he got any results. But presently I could tell 
by the happy look on his face that little by little he 
was succeeding. 

The sun was low in the West and the cool even- 
ing breeze was beginning to rustle softly through the 
bamboo-groves when the Doctor finally turned from 
his work and said to me, 

"Stubbins, I have persuaded the snail to come 
in on to the dry part of the beach and let me ex- 
amine his tail. Will you please go back to the 
town and tell the workmen to stop working on the 
theatre for to-day? Then go on to the palace and 
get my medicine-bag. I think I left it under the 
throne in the Audience Chamber." 

"And remember," Polynesia whispered as I 
turned away, "not a word to a soul. If you get 
asked questions, keep your mouth shut. Pretend 
you have a toothache or something." 

This time when I got back to the shore with the 
medicine-bag I found the snail high and dry on 
the beach. Seeing him in his full length like this, 
it was easy to understand how old-time, superstitious 

The Shellfish Riddle Solved at Last 343 

sailors had called him the Sea-serpent. He cer- 
tainly was a most gigantic, and in his way, a grace- 
ful, beautiful creature. John Dolittle was examin- 
ing a swelling on his tail. 

From the bag which I had brought the Doctor 
took a large bottle of embrocation and began rub- 
bing the sprain. Next he took all the bandages he 
had in the bag and fastened them end to end. But 
even like that, they were not long enough to go more 
than halfway round the enormous tail. The Doc- 
tor insisted that he must get the swelling strapped 
tight somehow. So he sent me off to the palace 
once more to get all the sheets from the Royal 
Linen-closet. These Polynesia and I tore into ban- 
dages for him. And at last, after terrific exertions, 
we got the sprain strapped to his satisfaction. 

The snail really seemed to be quite pleased with 
the attention he had received; and he stretched 
himself in lazy comfort when the Doctor was done. 
In this position, when the shell on his back was 
empty, you could look right through it and see the 
palm-trees on the other side. 

"I think one of us had better sit up with him all 
night," said the Doctor. "We might put Bumpo 
on that duty; he's been napping all day, I know 
in the summer-house. It's a pretty bad sprain, that; 
and if the snail shouldn't be able to sleep, he'll be 
happier with some one with him for company. He'll 
get all right though in a few days I should judge. 

344 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

If I wasn't so confoundedly busy I'd sit up with him 
myself. I wish I could, because I still have a lot 
of things to talk over with him." 

; 'But Doctor," said Polynesia as we prepared to 
go back to the town, "you ought to take a holiday. 
All Kings take holidays once in the while every 
one of them. King Charles, for instance of 
course Charles was before your time but he! 
why, he was always holiday-making. Not that he 
was ever what you would call a model king. But 
just the same, he was frightfully popular. Every- 
body liked him even the golden-carp in the fish- 
pond at Hampton Court. As a king, the only thing 
I had against him was his inventing those stupid, 
little, snappy dogs they call King Charles Spaniels. 
There are lots of stories told about poor Charles; 
but that, in my opinion, is the worst thing he did. 
However, all this is beside the point. As I was 
saying, kings have to take holidays the same as 
anybody else. And you haven't taken one since 
you were crowned, have you now?" 

'No," said the Doctor, "I suppose that's true." 
'Well now I tell you what you do," said she: 
u as soon as you get back to the palace you publish a 
royal proclamation that you are going away for a 
week into the country for your health. And you're 
going Without any servants, you understand just 
like a plain person. It's called traveling incognito, 
when kings go off like that. They all do it It's 

The Shellfish Riddle Solved at Last 345 

.^ .^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

the only way they can ever have a good time. Then 
the week you're away you can spend lolling on the 
beach back there with the snail. How's that?" 

"I'd like to," said the Doctor. "It sounds most- 
attractive. But there's that new theatre to be 
built; none of our carpenters would know how to 
get those rafters on without me to show them 
And then there are the babies : these native mothers 
are so frightfully ignorant." 

"Oh bother the theatre and the babies too," 
snapped Polynesia. "The theatre can wait a week. 
And as for babies, they never have anything more 
than colic. How do you suppose babies got along 
before you came here, for heaven's sake? Take a 
holiday. . . . You need it." 



FROM the way Polynesia talked, I guessed 
that this idea of a holiday was part of her 
The Doctor made no reply; and we 
walked on silently towards the town. I could see, 
nevertheless that her words had made an impression 
on him. 

After supper he disappeared from the palace 
without saying where he was going a thing he had 
never done before. Of course we all knew where 
he had gone : back to the beach to sit up with the 
snail. We were sure of it because he had said 
nothing to Bumpo about attending to the matter. 

As soon as the doors were closed upon the Cabi- 
net Meeting that night, Polynesia addressed the 

"Look here, you fellows," said she: "we've sim- 
ply got to get the Doctor to take this holiday some- 
how unless we're willing to stay in this blessed 
island for the rest of our lives." 

'But what difference," Bumpo asked, "is his taking 
a holiday going to make?" 

Impatiently Polynesia turned upon the Minister of 
the Interior. 


The Last Cabinet Meeting 347 

"Don't you see? If he has a clear week to get 
thoroughy interested in his natural history again 
marine stuff, his dream of seeing the floor of the 
ocean and all that there may be some chance of his 
consenting to leave this pesky place. But while he 
is here on duty as king he never gets a moment to 
think of anything outside of the business of govern- 


"Yes, that's true. He's far too consententious," 
Bumpo agreed. 

"And besides," Polynesia went on, "his only hope 
of ever getting away from here would be to escape 
secretly. He's got to leave while he is holiday- 
making, incognito when no one knows where he is 
or what he's doing, but us. If he built a ship big 
enough to cross the sea in, all the Indians would see 
it, and hear it, being built; and they'd ask what i* 
was for. They would interfere. They'd sooner 
have anything happen than lose the Doctor. Why, 
I believe if they thought he had any idea of escap- 
ing they would put chains on him." 

"Yes, I really think they would," I agreed. "Yet 
without a ship of some kind I don't see how the 
Doctor is going to get away, even secretly." 

"Well, I'll tell you," said Polynesia. "If we do 
succeed in making him take this holiday, our next 
step will be to get the sea-snail to promise to take 
us all in his shell and carry us to the mouth of 
Puddleby River. If we can once get the snail will- 

348 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

ing, the temptation will be too much for John Do- 
little and he'll come, I know especially as he'll 
be able to take those new plants and drugs of Long 
Arrow's to the English doctors, as well as see the 
floor of the ocean on the way." 

"How thrilling!" I cried. "Do you mean the 
snail could take us under the sea all the way back 
to Puddleby?" 

"Certainly," said Polynesia, "a little trip like 
that is nothing to him. He would crawl along the 
floor of the ocean and the Doctor could see all the 
sights. Perfectly simple. Oh, John Dolittle will 
come all right, if we can only get him to take that 
holiday and if the snail will consent to give us the 

"Golly, I hope he does !" sighed Jip. "I'm sick of 
these beastly tropics they make you feel so lazy 
and good-for-nothing. And there are no rats or 
anything here not that a fellow would have the 
energy to chase 'em even if there were. My, 
wouldn't I be glad to see old Puddleby and the 
garden again! And won't Dab-Dab be glad to 
have us back!" 

"By the end of next month," said I, "it will be 
two whole years since we left England since we 
pulled up the anchor at Kingsbridge and bumped our 
way out into the river." 

"And got stuck on the mud-bank," added Chee- 
Chee in a dreamy, far-away voice. 

The Last Cabinet Meeting 349 

"Do you remember how all the people waved 
to us from the river-wall?" I asked. 

"Yes. And I suppose they've often talked about 
us in the town since," said Jip "wondering whether 
we're dead or alive." 

"Cease," said Bumpo, "I feel I am about to weep 
from sediment." 


WELL, you can guess how glad we were 
when next morning the Doctor, after 
his all-night conversation with the 
snail, told us that he had made up his 
mind to take the holiday. A proclamation was pub- 
lished right away by the Town Crier that His Maj- 
esty was going into the country for a seven-day rest, 
but. that during his absence the palace and the gov- 
ernment offices would be kept open as usual. 

Polynesia was immensely pleased. She at once 
set quietly to work making arrangements for our 
departure taking good care the while that no one 
should get an inkling of where we were going, what 
we were taking with us, the hour of our leaving or 
which of the palace-gates we would go out by. 

Cunning old schemer that she was, she forgot 
nothing. And not even we, who were of the Doc- 
tor's party, could imagine what reasons she had 
for some of her preparations. She took me inside 
and told me that the one thing I must remember 
to bring with me was all of the Doctor's note-books. 
Long Arrow, who was the only Indian let into the se- 
cret of our destination, said he would like to come 


The Doctor's Decision 351 

with us as far as the beach to see the Great Snail; 
and him Polynesia told to be sure and bring his 
collection of plants. Bumpo she ordered to carry 
the Doctor's high hat carefully hidden under his 
coat. She sent off nearly all the footmen who were 
on night duty to do errands in the town, so that there 
should be as few servants as possible to see us leave. 
And midnight, the hour when most of the towns* 
people would be asleep, she finally chose for our 

We had to take a week's food-supply with us for 
the royal holiday. So, with our other packages, 
we were heavy laden when on the stroke of twelve 
we opened the west door of the palace and stepped 
cautiously and quietly into the moonlit garden. 

'Tiptoe incognito," whispered Bumpo as we 
gently closed the heavy doors behind us. 

No one had seen us leave. 

At the foot of the stone steps leading from the 
Peacock Terrace to the Sunken Rosary, something 
made me pause and look back at the magnificent 
palace which we had built in this strange, far-ofi 
land where no white men but ourselves had ever 
come. Somehow I felt it in my bones that we were 
leaving it to-night never to return again. And I 
wondered what other kings and ministers would 
dwell in its splendid halls when we were gone. The 
air was hot; and everything was deadly still but for 
the gentle splashing of the tame flamingoes paddling 

352 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

in the lily-pond. Suddenly the twinkling lantern 
of a night watchman appeared round the corner of 
a cypress hedge. Polynesia plucked at my stocking 
and, in an impatient whisper, bade me hurry before 
our flight be discovered. 

On our arrival at the beach we found the snail 
already feeling much better and now able to move 
his tail without pain. 

The porpoises (who are by nature inquisitive 
creatures) were still hanging about in the offing to 
see if anything of interest was going to happen. 
Polynesia, the plotter, while the Doctor was oc- 
cupied with his new patient, signaled to them and 
drew them aside for a little private chat. 

"Now see here, my friends," said she speaking 
low: "you know how much John Dolittle has done 
for the animals given his whole life up to them, 
one might say. Well, here is your chance to do 
something for him. Listen: he got made king of 
this island against his will, see? And now that he 
has taken the job on, he feels that he can't leave 
it thinks the Indians won't be able to get along 
without him and all that which is nonsense, as you 
and I very well know. All right. Then here's the 
point: if this snail were only willing to take him and 
us and a little baggage not very much, thirty or 
forty pieces, say inside his shell and carry us to 
England, we feel sure that the Doctor would go; 
because he's just crazy to mess about on the floor of 

'Z&^m -??j^mft'%^ W^t+ 


^iS:^^''} ' . ' " '.$ffl$i^JmlhB '' .' 'r^-'"r-^-^ 
sjiJsiiliiM X:'-?,*^;;:'.^^---'^' i^L^iiJ 

^^^^^sfe 22 ? 


'Tiptoe incognito/ whispered Bumpo" 

The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

the ocean. What's more this would be his one and 
only chance of escape from the island. Now it is 
highly important that the Doctor return to his own 
country to carry on his proper work which means 
such a lot to the animals of the world. So what 
we want you to do is to tell the sea-urchin to tell 
the starfish to tell the snail to take us in his shell 
and carry us to Puddleby River. Is that plain?" 

"Quite, quite," said the porpoises. "And we 
will willingly do our very best to persuade him 
for it is, as you say, a perfect shame for the great 
man to be wasting his time here when he is so much 
needed by the animals." 

"And don't let the Doctor know what you're 


about," said Polynesia as they started to move off. 
"He might balk if he thought we had any hand in 
it. Get the snail to offer on his own account to take 
us. See?" 

John Dolittle, unaware of anything save the work 
he was engaged on, was standing knee-deep in the 
shallow water, helping the snail try out his mended 
tail to see if it were well enough to travel on. Bum- 
po and Long Arrow, with Chee-Chee and Jip, were 
lolling at the foot of a palm a little way up the 
beach. Polynesia and I now went and joined them. 

Half an hour passed. 

What success the porpoises had met with, we did 
not know, till suddenly the Doctor left the snail's 
side and came splashing out to us, quite breathless. 

The Doctor's Decision 355 

"What do you think?" he cried, "while I was 
talking to the snail just now he offered, of his own 
accord, to take us all back to England inside his 
shell. He says he has got to go on a voyage of 
discovery anyway, to hunt up a new home, now that 
the Deep Hole is closed. Said it wouldn't be much 
out of his way to drop us at Puddleby River, if we 
cared to come along Goodness, what a chance! 
I'd love to go. To examine the floor of the ocean 
all the way from Brazil to Europe ! No man ever 
did it before. What a glorious trip ! Oh that I 
had never allowed myself to be made king! Now 
I must see the chance of a lifetime slip by." 

He turned from us and moved down the sands 
again to the middle beach, gazing wistfully, long- 
ingly out at the snail. There was something pecul- 
iarly sad and forlorn about him as he stood there 
on the lonely, moonlit shore, the crown upon his 
head, his figure showing sharply black against the 
glittering sea behind. 

Out of the darkness at my elbow Polynesia rose 
and quietly moved down to his side. 

"Now Doctor," said she in a soft persuasive voice 
as though she were talking to a wayward child, 
"you know this king business is not your real work 
in life. These natives will be able to get along 
without you not so well as they do with you of 
course but they'll manage the same as they did 
before you came. Nobody can say you haven't 

356 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 


done your duty by them. It was their fault: they 
made you king. Why not accept the snail's offer; 
and just drop everything now, and go? The work 
you'll do, the information you'll carry home, will 
be of far more value than what you're doing here." 
"Good friend," said the Doctor turning to her 
sadly, "I cannot. They would go back to their old 
unsanitary ways : bad water, uncooked fish, no drain- 
age, enteric fever and the rest. . . . No. I must 
think of their health, their welfare. I began life 
as a people's doctor: I seem to have come back to it 
in the end. I cannot desert them. Later perhaps 
something will turn up. But I cannot leave them 


'That's where you're wrong, Doctor," said she. 
"Now is when you should go. Nothing will 'turn 
up.' The longer you stay, the harder it will be to 
leave Go now. Go to-night." 

'What, steal away without even saying good-bye 
to them! Why, Polynesia, what a thing to 

"A fat chance they would give you to say good- 
bye !" snorted Polynesia growing impatient at last. 
"I tell you, Doctor, if you go back to that palace 
tonight, for goodbys or anything else, you will 
stay there. Now this moment is the time for 
you to go." 

The truth of the old parrot's words seemed to 



The Doctor's Decision 357 

be striking home; for the Doctor stood silent a min- 
ute, thinking. 

But there are the note-books," he said presently: 
I would have to go back to fetch them." 

"I have them here, Doctor," said I, speaking up 
"all of them." 

Again he pondered. 

"And Long Arrow's collection," he said. "I 
would have to take that also with me." 

"It is here, Oh Kindly One," came the Indian's 
deep voice from the shadow beneath the palm. 

"But what about provisions," asked the Doctor 
"food for the journey?" 

'We have a week's supply with us, for our hol- 
iday," said Poynesia "that's more than we will 

For a third time the Doctor was silent and 

"And then there's my hat," he said fretfully at 
last. "That settles it: I'll have to go back to the 
palace. I can't leave without my hat. How could 
I appear in Puddleby with this crown on my head?" 

"Here it is, Doctor," said Bumpo producing the 
hat, old, battered and beloved, from under his coat. 

Polynesia had indeed thought of everything. 

Yet even now we could see the Doctor was still 
trying to think up further excuses. 

"Oh Kindly One," said Long Arrow, "why tempt 

358 The Voyages of Doctor Dollttle 

ill fortune? Your way is clear. Your future and 
your work beckon you back to your foreign home 
beyond the sea. With you will go also what lore 
I too have gathered for mankind to lands where 
it will be of wider use than it can ever here. I see 
the glimmerings of dawn in the eastern heaven. 
Day is at hand. Go before your subjects are 
abroad. Go before your project is discovered. 
For truly I believe that if you go not now you will 
linger the remainder of your days a captive king in 

Great decisions often take no more than a mo- 
ment in the making. Against the now paling sky 
I saw the Doctor's figure suddenly stiffen. Slowly 
he lifted the Sacred Crown from off his head and 
laid it on the sands. 

And when he spoke his voice was choked with 

'They will find it here," he murmured, "when 
they come to search for me. And they will know 
that I have gone. . . . My children, my poor chil- 
dren ! I wonder will they ever understand why it 
was I left them. ... I wonder will they ever un- 
derstand and forgive." 

He took his old hat from Bumpo; then facing 
Long Arrow, gripped his outstretched hand in 

'You decide aright, oh Kindly One," said the 
Indian "though none will miss and mourn you 

The Doctor's Decision 359 

more than Long Arrow, the son of Golden Arrow 
Farewell, and may good fortune ever lead you by 
the hand!" 

It was the first and only time I ever saw the Doc- 
tor weep. Without a word to any of us, he turned 
and moved down the beach into the shallow water 
of the sea. 

The snail humped up its back and made an 
opening between its shoulders and the edge of its 
shell. The Doctor clambered up and passed 
within. We followed him, after handing up the 
baggage. The opening shut tight with a whistling 
suction noise. 

Then turning in the direction of the East, the 
great creature began moving smoothly forward, 
down the slope into the deeper waters. 

Just as the swirling dark green surf was closing 
in above our heads, the big morning sun popped his 
rim up over the edge of the ocean. And through 
our transparent walls of pearl we saw the watery 
world about us suddenly light up with that most 
wondrously colorful of visions, a daybreak beneath 
the sea. 

- The rest of the story of our homeward voyage 

is soon told. 

Our new quarters we found very satisfactory. 
Inside the spacious shell, the snail's wide back was 

360 The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

extremely comfortable to sit and lounge on better 
than a sofa, when you once got accustomed to the 
damp and clammy feeling of it. He asked us, 
shortly after we started, if we wouldn't mind taking 
off our boots, as the hobnails in them hurt his back 
as we ran excitedly from one side to another to see 
the different sights. 

The motion was not unpleasant, very smooth and 
even; in fact, but for the landscape passing outside, 
you would not know, on the level going, that you 
were moving at all. 

I had always thought for some reason or other 
that the bottom of the sea was flat. I found that 
it was just as irregular and changeful as the surface 
of the dry land. We climbed over great mountain- 
ranges, with peaks towering above peaks. We 
threaded our way through dense forests of tall 
sea-plants. We crossed wide empty stretches of 
sandy mud, like deserts so vast that you went on 
for a whole day w r ith nothing ahead of you but 
a dim horizon. Sometimes the scene was moss- 
covered, rolling country, green and restful to the 
eye like rich pastures; so that you almost looked to 
see sheep cropping on these underwater downs. 
And sometimes the snail would roll us forward 
inside him like peas, when he suddenly dipped down- 
ward to descend into some deep secluded valley 
with steeply sloping sides. 

In these lower levels we often came upon the 

The Doctor's Decision 361 

shadowy shapes of dead ships, wrecked and sunk 
Heaven only knows how many years ago; and 
passing them we would speak in hushed whispers 
like children seeing monuments in churches. 

Here too, in the deeper, darker waters, mon- 
strous fishes, feeding quietly in caves and hollows 
would suddenly spring up, alarmed at our approach, 
and flash away into the gloom with the speed of an 
arrow. While other bolder ones, all sorts of un- 
earthly shapes and colors, would come right up and 
peer in at us through the shell. 

"I suppose they think we are a sort of sana- 
quarium," said Bumpo "I'd hate to be a fish." 

It was a thrilling and ever-changing show. The 
Doctor wrote or sketched incessantly. Before long 
we had filled all the blank note-books we had 
left. Then we searched our pockets for any odd 
scraps of paper on which to jot down still more ob- 
servations. We even went through the used books 
a second time, writing in between the lines, scribbling 
all over the covers, back and front. 

Our greatest difficulty was getting enough light 
to see by. In the lower waters it w r as very dim. 
On the third day we passed a band of fire-eels, a sort 
of large, marine glow-worm; and the Doctor asked 
the snail to get them to come with us for a way. 
This they did, swimming alongside; and their light 
was very helpful, though not brilliant. 

How our giant shellfish found his way across 

361 The Voyage* :~ Doctor Do!i:: e 

tha: vis: and gloomy world was a great puzzle to 
us. John Dolittle asked him by what means he 
navigated how he knew he was on the right re: 
to Puddleby River. And what the snail said in 
reply got the Doctor so excite :i that having no 
paper left, he tore out the of his precious 
hat and covered it with notes. 

By night of course it was irr.T rssible to see any- 
thing: and during the hours of darkness the snail 
used to swim inste:,i of crawl. When he did so he 
could travel at a terrir.; speed, just by w;, _-_-'_ing 
that long tail of his. This was the reason why we 
comrietei the trip in so short a time and a 
half days. 

The air of our chamber, not having a change in 
the whole voyage, got very close and stufiy: and 
for the first two d.v ~ we all had headaches. But 
after that we got used to it and didn't mind it in 
the least 

Early in the afternoon of the sixth day. we no- 
I :ed we were climbing a long gentle slope. As we 
went upward it gre~ lighter. inally we saw that 
the snail had crawled right out of the water al- 
together and had now come to a dead stop on a 
long strip or gray sand. 

Behind us v - w the surface of the sea rippled 

the " On our left s the mouth of a river 

? th the tide running out. While in front, the low 

la: stretched - - i into the mist which 

The Doctor's Decision 363 

prevented one from seeing very far in any direction. 
A pair of wild ducks with craning necks and whir- 
ring wings passed over us and disappeared like 
shadows, seaward. 

As a landscape, it was a great change from the 
hot brilliant sunshine of Popsipetel. 

With the same whistling suction sound, the snail 
made the opening for us to crawl out by. As we 
stepped down upon the marshy land we noticed that 
a fine, drizzling autumn rain was falling. 

"Can this be Merrie England?" asked Bumpo, 
peering into the fog "doesn't look like any place 
in particular. Maybe the snail hasn't brought us 
right after all." 

'Yes," sighed Polynesia, shaking the rain off her 
feathers, "this is England all right You can tell 
it by the beastly climate." 

"Oh, but fellows," cried Jip, as he sniffed up the 
air in great gulps, "it has a smell a good and glo- 
rious smell! Excuse me a minute: I see a water- 


"Sh! Listen!" said Chee-Chee through teeth 
that chattered with the cold. "There's Puddleby 
church-clock striking four. Why don't we divide 
up the baggage and get moving. We've got a long 
way to foot it home across the marshes." 

"Let's hope," I put in, "that Dab-Dab has a nice 
fire burning in the kitchen." 

"I'm sure she will," said the Doctor as he picked 


The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle 

out his old handbag from among the bundles 
"With this wind from the East she'll need it to 
keep the animals in the house warm. Come on. 
Let's hug the river-bank so we don't miss our way 
in the fog. You know, there's something rather 
attractive in the bad weather of England when 
you've got a kitchen-fire to look forward to. ... 
Four o'clock! Come along we'll just be in nice 
time for tea." 

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