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Title: Doctor Dolittle in the Moon
Author: Hugh Lofting
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eBook No.: 0607691.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: September 2006
Date most recently updated: September 2006

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Title: Doctor Dolittle in the Moon
Author: Hugh Lofting

[Transcriber's note: Illustrations have necessarily been omitted from
this plaintext version. They are present in the HTML version.]





































































































In writing the story of our adventures in the Moon I, Thomas Stubbins,
secretary to John Dolittle, M.D. (and son of Jacob Stubbins, the cobbler
of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh), find myself greatly puzzled. It is not an
easy task, remembering day by day and hour by hour those crowded and
exciting weeks. It is true I made many notes for the Doctor, books full
of them. But that information was nearly all of a highly scientific
kind. And I feel that I should tell the story here not for the scientist
so much as for the general reader. And it is in that I am perplexed.

For the story could be told in many ways. People are so different in
what they want to know about a voyage. I had thought at one time that
Jip could help me; and after reading him some chapters as I had first
set them down I asked for his opinion. I discovered he was mostly
interested in whether we had seen any rats in the Moon. I found I could
not tell him. I didn't remember seeing any; and yet I am sure there must
have been some--or some sort of creature like a rat.

Then I asked Gub-Gub. And what he was chiefly concerned to hear was the
kind of vegetables we had fed on. (Dab-Dab snorted at me for my pains
and said I should have known better than to ask him.) I tried my mother.
She wanted to know how we had managed when our underwear wore out--and a
whole lot of other matters about our living conditions, hardly any of
which I could answer. Next I went to Matthew Mugg. And the things he
wanted to learn were worse than either my mother's or Jip's: Were there
any shops in the Moon? What were the dogs and cats like? The good
Cats'-meat-Man seemed to have imagined it a place not very different
from Puddleby or the East End of London.

No, trying to get at what most people wanted to read concerning the Moon
did not bring me much profit. I couldn't seem to tell them any of the
things they were most anxious to know. It reminded me of the first time
I had come to the Doctor's house, hoping to be hired as his assistant,
and dear old Polynesia the parrot had questioned me. "Are you a good
noticer?" she had asked. I had always thought I was--pretty good,
anyhow. But now I felt I had been a very poor noticer. For it seemed I
hadn't noticed any of the things I should have done to make the story of
our voyage interesting to the ordinary public.

The trouble was of course attention. Human attention is like butter:
you can only spread it so thin and no thinner. If you try to spread it
over too many things at once you just don't remember them. And certainly
during all our waking hours upon the Moon there was so much for our ears
and eyes and minds to take in it is a wonder, I often think, that any
clear memories at all remain.

The one who could have been of most help to me in writing my impressions
of the Moon was Jamaro Bumblelily, the giant moth who carried us there.
But as he was nowhere near me when I set to work upon this book I
decided I had better not consider the particular wishes of Jip, Gub-Gub,
my mother, Matthew or any one else, but set the story down in my own
way. Clearly the tale must be in any case an imperfect, incomplete one.
And the only thing to do is to go forward with it, step by step, to the
best of my recollection, from where the great insect hovered, with our
beating hearts pressed close against his broad back, over the near and
glowing landscape of the Moon.

Any one could tell that the moth knew every detail of the country we
were landing in. Planing, circling and diving, he brought his
wide-winged body very deliberately down towards a little valley fenced
in with hills. The bottom of this, I saw as we drew nearer, was level,
sandy and dry.

The hills struck one at once as unusual. In fact all the mountains as
well (for much greater heights could presently be seen towering away in
the dim greenish light behind the nearer, lower ranges) had one
peculiarity. The tops seemed to be cut off and cup-like. The Doctor
afterwards explained to me that they were extinct volcanoes. Nearly all
these peaks had once belched fire and molten lava but were now cold and
dead. Some had been fretted and worn by winds and weather and time into
quite curious shapes; and yet others had been filled up or half buried
by drifting sand so that they had nearly lost the appearance of
volcanoes. I was reminded of "The Whispering Rocks" which we had seen in
Spidermonkey Island. And though this scene was different in many things,
no one who had ever looked upon a volcanic landscape before could have
mistaken it for anything else.

The little valley, long and narrow, which we were apparently making for
did not show many signs of life, vegetable or animal. But we were not
disturbed by that. At least the Doctor wasn't. He had seen a tree and he
was satisfied that before long he would find water, vegetation and

At last when the moth had dropped within twenty feet of the ground he
spread his wings motionless and like a great kite gently touched the
sand, in hops at first, then ran a little, braced himself and came to a

We had landed on the Moon!

By this time we had had a chance to get a little more used to the new
air. But before we made any attempt to "go ashore" the Doctor thought it
best to ask our gallant steed to stay where he was a while, so that we
could still further accustom ourselves to the new atmosphere and

This request was willingly granted. Indeed, the poor insect himself, I
imagine, was glad enough to rest a while. From somewhere in his packages
John Dolittle produced an emergency ration of chocolate which he had
been saving up. All four of us munched in silence, too hungry and too
awed by our new surroundings to say a word.

The light changed unceasingly. It reminded me of the Northern Lights,
the Aurora Borealis. You would gaze at the mountains above you, then
turn away a moment, and on looking back find everything that had been
pink was now green, the shadows that had been violet were rose.

Breathing was still kind of difficult. We were compelled for the moment
to keep the "moon-bells" handy. These were the great orange-coloured
flowers that the moth had brought down for us. It was their perfume (or
gas) that had enabled us to cross the airless belt that lay between the
Moon and the Earth. A fit of coughing was always liable to come on if
one left them too long. But already we felt that we could in time get
used to this new air and soon do without the bells altogether.

The gravity too was very confusing. It required hardly any effort to
rise from a sitting position to a standing one. Walking was no effort at
all--for the muscles--but for the lungs it was another question. The
most extraordinary sensation was jumping. The least little spring from
the ankles sent you flying into the air in the most fantastic fashion.
If it had not been for this problem of breathing properly (which the
Doctor seemed to feel we should approach with great caution on account
of its possible effect on the heart) we would all have given ourselves
up to this most light-hearted feeling which took possession of us. I
remember, myself, singing songs--the melody was somewhat indistinct on
account of a large mouthful of chocolate--and I was most anxious to get
down off the moth's back and go bounding away across the hills and
valleys to explore this new world.

But I realize now that John Dolittle was very wise in making us wait. He
issued orders (in the low whispers which we found necessary in this new
clear air) to each and all of us that for the present the flowers were
not to be left behind for a single moment.

They were cumbersome things to carry but we obeyed orders. No ladder was
needed now to descend by. The gentlest jump sent one flying off the
insect's back to the ground where you landed from a twenty-five-foot
drop with ease and comfort. Zip! The spring was made. And we were wading
in the sands of a new world.

[Illustration: "Zip!--The spring was made"]


We were after all, when you come to think of it, a very odd party, this,
which made the first landing on a new world. But in a great many ways it
was a peculiarly good combination. First of all, Polynesia: she was the
kind of bird which one always supposed would exist under any conditions,
drought, floods, fire or frost. I've no doubt that at that time in my
boyish way I exaggerated Polynesia's adaptability and endurance. But
even to this day I can never quite imagine any circumstances in which
that remarkable bird would perish. If she could get a pinch of seed (of
almost any kind) and a sip of water two or three times a week she would
not only carry on quite cheerfully but would scarcely even remark upon
the strange nature or scantiness of the rations. Then Chee-Chee: he was
not so easily provided for in the matter of food. But he always seemed
to be able to provide for himself anything that was lacking. I have
never known a better forager than Chee-Chee. When every one was hungry
he could go off into an entirely new forest and just by smelling the
wild fruits and nuts he could tell if they were safe to eat. How he did
this even John Dolittle could never find out. Indeed Chee-Chee himself
didn't know.

[Illustration: "By smelling he could tell if they were safe to eat"]

Then myself: I had no scientific qualifications but I had learned how to
be a good secretary on natural history expeditions and I knew a good
deal about the Doctor's ways.

Finally there was the Doctor. No naturalist has ever gone afield to
grasp at the secrets of a new land with the qualities John Dolittle
possessed. He never claimed to know anything, beforehand, for certain.
He came to new problems with a childlike innocence which made it easy
for himself to learn and the others to teach.

Yes, it was a strange party we made up. Most scientists would have
laughed at us no doubt. Yet we had many things to recommend us that no
expedition ever carried before.

As usual the Doctor wasted no time in preliminaries. Most other
explorers would have begun by planting a flag and singing national
anthems. Not so with John Dolittle. As soon as he was sure that we were
all ready he gave the order to march. And without a word Chee-Chee and I
(with Polynesia who perched herself on my shoulder) fell in behind him
and started off.

I have never known a time when it was harder to shake loose the feeling
of living in a dream as those first few hours we spent on the Moon. The
knowledge that we were treading a new world never before visited by Man,
added to this extraordinary feeling caused by the gravity, of lightness,
of walking on air, made you want every minute to have some one tell you
that you were actually awake and in your right senses. For this reason I
kept constantly speaking to the Doctor or Chee-Chee or Polynesia--even
when I had nothing particular to say. But the uncanny booming of my own
voice every time I opened my lips and spoke above the faintest whisper
merely added to the dream-like effect of the whole experience.

However, little by little, we grew accustomed to it. And certainly there
was no lack of new sights and impressions to occupy our minds. Those
strange and ever changing colours in the landscape were most
bewildering, throwing out your course and sense of direction entirely.
The Doctor had brought a small pocket compass with him. But on
consulting it, we saw that it was even more confused than we were. The
needle did nothing but whirl around in the craziest fashion and no
amount of steadying would persuade it to stay still.

[Illustration: "The Doctor had brought a compass"]

Giving that up, the Doctor determined to rely on his moon maps and his
own eyesight and bump of locality. He was heading towards where he had
seen that tree--which was at the end of one of the ranges. But all the
ranges in this section seemed very much alike. The maps did not help us
in this respect in the least. To our rear we could see certain peaks
which we thought we could identify on the charts. But ahead nothing
fitted in at all. This made us feel surer than ever that we were moving
toward the Moon's other side which earthly eyes had never seen.

"It is likely enough, Stubbins," said the Doctor as we strode lightly
forward over loose sand which would ordinarily have been very heavy
going, "that it is only on the other side that water exists. Which may
partly be the reason why astronomers never believed there was any here
at all."

For my part I was so on the look-out for extraordinary sights that it
did not occur to me, till the Doctor spoke of it, that the temperature
was extremely mild and agreeable. One of the things that John Dolittle
had feared was that we should find a heat that was unbearable or a cold
that was worse than Arctic. But except for the difficulty of the strange
new quality of the air, no human could have asked for a nicer climate. A
gentle steady wind was blowing and the temperature seemed to remain
almost constantly the same.

We looked about everywhere for tracks. As yet we knew very little of
what animal life to expect. But the loose sand told nothing, not even to
Chee-Chee, who was a pretty experienced hand at picking up tracks of the
most unusual kind.

Of odours and scents there were plenty--most of them very delightful
flower perfumes which the wind brought to us from the other side of the
mountain ranges ahead. Occasionally a very disagreeable one would come,
mixed up with the pleasant scents. But none of them, except that of the
moon bells the moth had brought with us, could we recognize.

On and on we went for miles, crossing ridge after ridge and still no
glimpse did we get of the Doctor's tree. Of course crossing the ranges
was not nearly as hard travelling as it would have been on Earth.
Jumping and bounding both upward and downward was extraordinarily easy.
Still, we had brought a good deal of baggage with us and all of us were
pretty heavy-laden; and after two and a half hours of travel we began to
feel a little discouraged. Polynesia then volunteered to fly ahead and
reconnoitre, but this the Doctor was loath to have her do. For some
reason he wanted us all to stick together for the present.

[Illustration: "Jumping was extraordinarily easy"]

However, after another half-hour of going he consented to let her fly
straight up so long as she remained in sight, to see if she could spy
out the tree's position from a greater height.


So we rested on our bundles a spell while Polynesia gave an imitation of
a soaring vulture and straight above our heads climbed and climbed. At
about a thousand feet she paused and circled. Then slowly came down
again. The Doctor, watching her, grew impatient at her speed. I could
not quite make out why he was so unwilling to have her away from his
side, but I asked no questions.

Yes, she had seen the tree, she told us, but it still seemed a long way
off. The Doctor wanted to know why she had taken so long in coming down
and she said she had been making sure of her bearings so that she would
be able to act as guide. Indeed, with the usual accuracy of birds, she
had a very clear idea of the direction we should take. And we set off
again, feeling more at ease and confident.

The truth of it was of course that seen from a great height, as the tree
had first appeared to us, the distance had seemed much less than it
actually was. Two more things helped to mislead us. One, that the moon
air, as we now discovered, made everything look nearer than it actually
was in spite of the soft dim light. And the other was that we had
supposed the tree to be one of ordinary earthly size and had made an
unconscious guess at its distance in keeping with a fair-sized oak or
elm. Whereas when we did actually reach it we found it to be
unimaginably huge.

I shall never forget that tree. It was our first experience of moon
life, in the Moon. Darkness was coming on when we finally halted
beneath it. When I say darkness I mean that strange kind of twilight
which was the nearest thing to night which we ever saw in the Moon. The
tree's height, I should say, would be at least three hundred feet and
the width of it across the trunk a good forty or fifty. Its appearance
in general was most uncanny. The whole design of it was different from
any tree I have ever seen. Yet there was no mistaking it for anything
else. It seemed--how shall I describe it?--alive. Poor Chee-Chee was
so scared of it his hair just stood up on the nape of his neck and it
was a long time before the Doctor and I persuaded him to help us pitch
camp beneath its boughs.

[Illustration: "It was different from any tree I have ever seen"]

Indeed we were a very subdued party that prepared to spend its first
night on the Moon. No one knew just what it was that oppressed us but we
were all conscious of a definite feeling of disturbance. The wind still
blew--in that gentle, steady way that the moon winds always blew. The
light was clear enough to see outlines by, although most of the night
the Earth was invisible, and there was no reflection whatever.

I remember how the Doctor, while we were unpacking and laying out the
rest of our chocolate ration for supper, kept glancing uneasily up at
those strange limbs of the tree overhead.

[Illustration: "The Doctor kept glancing up uneasily"]

Of course it was the wind that was moving them--no doubt of that at all.
Yet the wind was so deadly regular and even. And the movement of the
boughs wasn't regular at all. That was the weird part of it. It almost
seemed as though the tree were doing some moving on its own, like an
animal chained by its feet in the ground. And still you could never be
sure--because, after all, the wind was blowing all the time.

And besides, it moaned. Well, we knew trees moaned in the wind at home.
But this one did it differently--it didn't seem in keeping with that
regular even wind which we felt upon our faces.

I could see that even the worldly-wise practical Polynesia was perplexed
and upset. And it took a great deal to disturb her. Yet a bird's senses
towards trees and winds are much keener than a man's. I kept hoping she
would venture into the branches of the tree; but she didn't. And as for
Chee-Chee, also a natural denizen of the forest, no power on earth, I
felt sure, would persuade him to investigate the mysteries of this
strange specimen of a Vegetable Kingdom we were as yet only distantly
acquainted with.

After supper was despatched, the Doctor kept me busy for some hours
taking down notes. There was much to be recorded of this first day in a
new world. The temperature; the direction and force of the wind; the
time of our arrival--as near as it could be guessed; the air pressure
(he had brought along a small barometer among his instruments) and many
other things which, while they were dry stuff for the ordinary mortal,
were highly important for the scientist.

Often and often I have wished that I had one of those memories that seem
to be able to recall all impressions no matter how small and
unimportant. For instance, I have often wanted to remember exactly that
first awakening on the Moon. We had all been weary enough with
excitement and exercise, when we went to bed, to sleep soundly. All I
can remember of my waking up is spending at least ten minutes working
out where I was. And I doubt if I could have done it even then if I had
not finally realized that John Dolittle was awake ahead of me and
already pottering around among his instruments, taking readings.

The immediate business now on hand was food. There was literally nothing
for breakfast. The Doctor began to regret his hasty departure from the
moth. Indeed it was only now, many, many hours after we had left him in
our unceremonious haste to find the tree and explore the new world, that
we realized that we had not as yet seen any signs of animal life. Still
it seemed a long way to go back and consult him; and it was by no means
certain that he would still be there,

Just the same, we needed food, and food we were going to find. Hastily
we bundled together what things we had unpacked for the night's camping.
Which way to go? Clearly if we had here reached one tree, there must be
some direction in which others lay, where we could find that water which
the Doctor was so sure must exist. But we could scan the horizon with
staring eyes or telescope as much as we wished and not another leaf of a
tree could we see.

This time without waiting to be ordered Polynesia soared into the air to
do a little scouting.

[Illustration: "Polynesia soared into the air"]

"Well," she said on her return, "I don't see any actual trees at all.
The beastly landscape is more like the Sahara Desert than any scenery
I've ever run into. But over there behind that higher range-the one with
the curious hat-shaped peak in the middle--you see the one I mean?"

"Yes," said the Doctor. "I see. Go on."

"Well, behind that there is a dark horizon different from any other
quarter. I won't swear it is trees. But myself, I feel convinced that
there is something else there besides sand. We had better get moving. It
is no short walk."

Indeed it was no short walk. It came to be a forced march or race
between us and starvation. On starting out we had not foreseen anything
of the kind. Going off without breakfast was nothing after all. Each one
of us had done that before many a time. But as hour after hour went by
and still the landscape remained a desert of rolling sand-dunes, hills
and dead dry volcanoes, our spirits fell lower and lower.

This was one of the times when I think I saw John Dolittle really at his
best. I know, although I had not questioned him, that he had already
been beset with anxiety over several matters on the first steps of our
march. Later he spoke of them to me: not at the time. And as conditions
grew worse, as hunger gnawed at our vitals and the most terrible thirst
parched our tongues--as strength and vitality began to give way and mere
walking became the most terrible hardship, the Doctor grew cheerier and
cheerier. He didn't crack dry jokes in an irritating way either. But by
some strange means he managed to keep the whole party in good mood. If
he told a funny story it was always at the right time and set us all
laughing at our troubles. In talking to him afterwards about this I
learned that he had, when a young man, been employed on more than one
exploration trip to keep the expedition in good humour. It was, he said,
the only way he could persuade the chief to take him, since at that time
he had no scientific training to recommend him.

Anyway, I sincerely doubt whether our party would have held out if it
had not been for his sympathetic and cheering company. The agonies of
thirst were something new to me. Every step I thought must be my last.

Finally at what seemed to be the end of our second day, I vaguely heard
Polynesia saying something about "Forests ahead!" I imagine I must have
been half delirious by then. I still staggered along, blindly following
the others. I know we did reach water because before I fell and dozed
away into a sort of half faint I remember Chee-Chee trickling something
marvellously cool between my lips out of a cup made from a folded leaf.

[Illustration: "I remember Chee-Chee trickling something cool between my


When I awoke I felt very much ashamed of myself. What an explorer! The
Doctor was moving around already--and, of course, Chee-Chee and
Polynesia. John Dolittle came to my side immediately he saw I was awake.

As though he knew the thoughts that were in my mind he at once started
to reprimand me for feeling ashamed of my performance. He pointed out
that after all Chee-Chee and Polynesia were accustomed to travelling in
hot dry climates and that so, for that matter, was he himself.

"Taken all in all, Stubbins," said he, "your own performance has been
extremely good. You made the trip, the whole way, and only collapsed
when relief was in sight. No one could ask for more than that. I have
known many experienced explorers who couldn't have done nearly as well.
It was a hard lap--a devilish hard lap. You were magnificent. Sit up and
have some breakfast. Thank goodness, we've reached food at last!"

Weak and frowsty, I sat up. Arranged immediately around me was a
collection of what I later learned were fruits. The reliable Chee-Chee,
scared though he might be of a moving tree or a whispering wind, had
served the whole party with that wonderful sense of his for scenting out
wild foodstuffs. Not one of the strange courses on the bill of fare had
I or the Doctor seen before. But if Chee-Chee said they were safe we
knew we need not fear.

Some of the fruits were as big as a large trunk; some as small as a
walnut. But, starving as we were, we just dived in and ate and ate and
ate. Water there was too, gathered in the shells of enormous nuts and
odd vessels made from twisted leaves. Never has a breakfast tasted so
marvellous as did that one of fruits which I could not name.

[Illustration: "Some of the fruits were as big as a trunk"]

Chee-Chee!--Poor little timid Chee-Chee, who conquered your own fears
and volunteered to go ahead of us alone, into the jungle to find food
when our strength was giving out. To the world you were just an
organ-grinder's monkey. But to us whom you saved from starvation, when
terror beset you at every step, you will for ever be ranked high in the
list of the great heroes of all time. Thank goodness we had you with us!
Our bones might to-day be mouldering in the sands of the Moon if it had
not been for your untaught science, your jungle skill--and, above all,
your courage that overcame your fear!

Well, to return: as I ate these strange fruits and sipped the water that
brought life back I gazed upward and saw before me a sort of ridge. On
its level top a vegetation, a kind of tangled forest, flourished; and
trailing down from this ridge were little outposts of the Vegetable
Kingdom, groups of bushes and single trees, that scattered and dribbled
away in several directions from the main mass. Why and how that lone
tree survived so far away we could never satisfactorily explain. The
nearest John Dolittle could come to it was that some underground spring
supplied it with enough water or moisture to carry on. Yet there can be
no doubt that to have reached such enormous proportions it must have
been there hundreds--perhaps thousands--of years. Anyway, it is a good
thing for us it was there. If it had not been, as a pointer towards
this habitable quarter of the Moon--it is most likely our whole
expedition would have perished.

When the Doctor and I had finished our mysterious breakfast we started
to question Chee-Chee about the forest from which he had produced the
food we had eaten.

"I don't know how I did it," said Chee-Chee when we asked him. "I just
shut my eyes most of the time--terribly afraid. I passed trees, plants,
creepers, roots. I smelt--Goodness! I too was hungry, remember. I smelt
hard as I could. And soon of course I spotted food, fruits. I climbed a
tree--half the time with my eyes shut. Then I see some monster, golly!
What a jungle--different from any monkey ever see before--Woolly,
woolly!--Ooh, ooh! All the same, nuts smell good. Catch a few. Chase
down the tree. Run some more. Smell again. Good!--Up another tree.
Different fruit, good just the same. Catch a few. Down again. Run home.
On the way smell good root. Same as ginger--only better. Dig a little.
Keep eyes shut--don't want to see monster. Catch a piece of root. Run
all the way home. Here I am. Finish!"

[Illustration: "'I climbed a tree'"]

Well, dear old Chee-Chee's story was descriptive of his own heroic
adventures but it did not give us much idea of the moon forest which we
were to explore. Nevertheless, rested and fit, we now felt much more
inclined to look into things ourselves.

Leaving what luggage we had brought with us from our original landing
point, we proceeded towards the line of trees at the summit of the
bluff, about four miles ahead of us. We now felt that we could find our
way back without much difficulty to the two last camps we had

[Illustration: "We approached the bluff on whose brow the vegetation

The going was about the same, loose sand--only that as we approached the
bluff we found the sand firmer to the tread.

On the way up the last lap towards the vegetation line we were out of
view of the top itself. Often the going was steep. All the way I had the
feeling that we were about to make new and great discoveries--that for
the first time we were to learn something important about the true
nature of the mysterious Moon.


Indeed our first close acquaintance with the forests of the Moon was
made in quite a dramatic manner. If it had been on a stage it could not
have been arranged better for effect. Suddenly as our heads topped the
bluff we saw a wall of jungle some mile or so ahead of us. It would take
a very long time to describe those trees in detail. It wasn't that there
were so many kinds but each one was so utterly different from any tree
we had seen on the Earth. And yet, curiously enough, they did remind you
of vegetable forms you had seen, but not of trees.

For instance, there was one whole section, several square miles in
extent apparently, that looked exactly like ferns. Another reminded me
of a certain flowering plant (I can't recall the name of it) which grows
a vast number of small blossoms on a flat surface at the top. The stems
are a curious whitish green. This moon tree was exactly the same, only
nearly a thousand times as big. The denseness of the foliage (or
flowering) at the top was so compact and solid that we later found no
rain could penetrate it. And for this reason the Doctor and I gave it
the name of the Umbrella Tree. But not one single tree was there which
was the same as any tree we had seen before. And there were many, many
more curious growths that dimly reminded you of something, though you
could not always say exactly what.

[Illustration: "The Umbrella Tree"]

One odd thing that disturbed us quite a little was a strange sound.
Noises of any kind, no matter how faint, we already knew could travel
long distances on the Moon. As soon as we had gained the plateau on top
of the bluff we heard it. It was a musical sound. And yet not the sound
of a single instrument. It seemed almost as though there was a small
orchestra somewhere playing very, very softly. We were by this time
becoming accustomed to strange things. But I must confess that this
distant hidden music upset me quite a little, and so, I know, it did the

At the top of the bluff we rested to get our wind before we covered the
last mile up to the jungle itself. It was curious how clearly marked and
separated were those sections of the Moon's landscape. And yet doubtless
the smaller scale of all the geographical features of this world, so
much less in bulk than our own, could partly account for that. In front
of us a plateau stretched out, composed of hard sand, level and smooth
as a lake, bounded in front by the jungle and to the rear of us by the
cliff we had just scaled. I wondered as I looked across at the forest
what scenery began on the other side of the woods and if it broke off in
as sharp a change as it did here.

As the most important thing to attend to first was the establishment of
a water supply, Chee-Chee was asked to act as guide. The monkey set out
ahead of us to follow his own tracks which he had made last night. This
he had little difficulty in doing across the open plateau. But when we
reached the edge of the forest it was not so easy. Much of his
travelling here had been done by swinging through the trees. He always
felt safer so, he said, while explaining to us how he had been guided to
the water by the sense of smell. Again I realized how lucky we had been
to have him with us. No one but a monkey could have found his way
through that dense, dimly lit forest to water. He asked us to stay
behind a moment on the edge of the woods while he went forward to make
sure that he could retrace his steps. We sat down again and waited.

"Did you wake up at all during the night, Stubbins?" the Doctor asked
after a little.

"No," I said. "I was far too tired. Why?"

"Did you, Polynesia?" he asked, ignoring my question.

"Yes," said she, "I was awake several times."

[Illustration: "'Yes,' said she, 'I was awake several times'"]

"Did you hear or see anything--er--unusual?"

"Yes," said she. "I can't be absolutely certain. But I sort of felt
there was something moving around the camp keeping a watch on us.

"Humph!" muttered the Doctor. "So did I."

Then he relapsed into silence.

Another rather strange thing that struck me as I gazed over the
landscape while we waited for Chee-Chee to return was the appearance of
the horizon. The Moon's width being so much smaller than the Earth's,
the distance one could see was a great deal shorter. This did not apply
so much where the land was hilly or mountainous; but on the level, or
the nearly level it made a very striking difference. The roundness of
this world was much more easily felt and understood than was that of the
world we had left. On this plateau, for example, you could only see
seven or eight miles, it seemed, over the level before the curve cut off
your vision. And it gave quite a new character even to the hills, where
peaks showed behind other ranges, dropping downward in a way that misled
you entirely as to their actual height.

[Illustration: "The roundness of this world was much more easily

Finally Chee-Chee came back to us and said he had successfully retraced
his steps to the water he had found the night before. He was now
prepared to lead us to it. He looked kind of scared and ill at ease. The
Doctor asked him the reason for this, but he didn't seem able to give

"Everything's all right, Doctor," said he--"at least I suppose it is. It
was partly that--oh, I don't know--I can't quite make out what it is they
have asked you here for. I haven't actually laid eyes on any animal life
since we left the moth who brought us. Yet I feel certain that there's
lots of it here. It doesn't appear to want to be seen. That's what
puzzles me. On the Earth the animals were never slow in coming forward
when they were in need of your services."

"You bet they were not!" grunted Polynesia. "No one who ever saw them
clamouring around the surgery door could doubt that."

[Illustration: "'You bet they were not!' grunted Polynesia"]

"Humph!" the Doctor muttered, "I've noticed it myself already. I don't
understand it quite--either. It almost looks as though there were
something about our arrival which they didn't like.... I wonder....
Well, anyway, I wish the animal life here would get in touch with us and
let us know what it is all about. This state of things is, to say the


And so we went forward with Chee-Chee as guide to find the water. Our
actual entrance into that jungle was quite an experience and very
different from merely a distant view of it. The light outside was not
bright; inside the woods it was dimmer still. My only other experience
of jungle life had been in Spidermonkey Island. This was something like
the Spidermonkey forest and yet it was strikingly different.

From the appearance and size of that first tree we had reached, the
Doctor had guessed its age to be very, very great. Here the vegetable
life in general seemed to bear out that idea beyond all question. The
enormous trees with their gigantic trunks looked as though they had been
there since the beginning of time. And there was surprisingly little
decay--a few shed limbs and leaves. That was all. In unkept earthly
forests one saw dead trees everywhere, fallen to the ground or caught
half-way in the crotches of other trees, withered and dry. Not so here.
Every tree looked as though it had stood so and grown in peace for

At length, after a good deal of arduous travel--the going for the most
part was made slow by the heaviest kind of undergrowth, with vines and
creepers as thick as your leg--we came to a sort of open place in which
lay a broad calm lake with a pleasant waterfall at one end. The woods
that surrounded it were most peculiar. They looked like enormous
asparagus. For many, many square miles their tremendous masts rose,
close together, in ranks. No creepers or vines had here been given a
chance to flourish. The enormous stalks had taken up all the room and
the nourishment of the crowded earth. The tapering tops, hundreds of
feet above our heads, looked good enough to eat. Yet I've no doubt that
if we had ever got up to them they would have been found as hard as

The Doctor walked down to the clean sandy shore of the lake and tried
the water. Chee-Chee and I did the same. It was pure and clear and
quenching to the thirst. The lake must have been at least five miles
wide in the centre.

"I would like," said John Dolittle, "to explore this by boat. Do you
suppose, Chee-Chee, that we could find the makings of a canoe or a raft

"I should think so," said the monkey. "Wait a minute and I will take a
look around and see."

So, with Chee-Chee in the lead, we proceeded along the shore in search
of materials for a boat. On account of that scarcity of dead or dried
wood which we had already noticed, our search did not at first appear a
very promising one. Nearly all the standing trees were pretty heavy and
full of sap. For our work of boat-building a light hatchet on the
Doctor's belt was the best tool we had. It looked sadly small compared
with the great timber that reared up from the shores of the lake.

But after we had gone along about a mile I noticed Chee-Chee up ahead
stop and peer into the jungle. Then, after he had motioned to us with
his hand to hurry, he disappeared into the edge of the forest. On coming
up with him we found him stripping the creepers and moss off some
contrivance that lay just within the woods, not more than a hundred
yards from the water's edge.

We all fell to, helping him, without any idea of what it might be we
were uncovering. There seemed almost no end to it. It was a long object,
immeasurably long. To me it looked like a dead tree--the first dead,
lying tree we had seen.

"What do you think it is, Chee-Chee?" asked the Doctor.

"It's a boat," said the monkey in a firm and matter-of-fact voice. "No
doubt of it at all in my mind. It's a dug-out canoe. They used to use
them in Africa."

"But, Chee-Chee," cried John Dolittle, "look at the length! It's a
full-sized Asparagus Tree. We've uncovered a hundred feet of it already
and still there's more to come."

"I can't help that," said Chee-Chee. "It's a dug-out canoe just the
same. Crawl down with me here underneath it, Doctor, and I'll show you
the marks of tools and fire. It has been turned upside down."

With the monkey guiding him, the Doctor scrabbled down below the queer
object; and when he came forth there was a puzzled look on his face.

"Well, they might be the marks of tools, Chee-Chee," he was saying.
"But then again they might not. The traces of fire are more clear. But
that could be accidental. If the tree burned down it could very

"The natives in my part of Africa," Chee-Chee interrupted, "always used
fire to eat out the insides of their dug-out canoes. They built little
fires all along the tree, to hollow out the trunk so that they could sit
in it. The tools they used were very simple, just stone scoops to chop
out the charred wood with. I am sure this is a canoe, Doctor. But it
hasn't been used in a long time. See how the bow has been shaped up into
a point."

"I know," said the Doctor. "But the Asparagus Tree has a natural point
at one end anyhow."

"And, Chee-Chee," put in Polynesia, "who in the name of goodness could
ever handle such a craft? Why, look, the thing is as long as a

Then followed a half-hour's discussion, between the Doctor and Polynesia
on the one side and Chee-Chee on the other, as to whether the find we
had made was, or was not, a canoe. For me, I had no opinion. To my eyes
the object looked like an immensely long log, hollowed somewhat on the
one side, but whether by accident or design I could not tell.

In any case it was certainly too heavy and cumbersome for us to use. And
presently I edged into the argument with the suggestion that we go on
further and find materials for a raft or boat we could handle.

The Doctor seemed rather glad of this excuse to end a fruitless
controversy, and soon we moved on in search of something which would
enable us to explore the waters of the lake. A march of a mile further
along the shore brought us to woods that were not so heavy. Here the
immense asparagus forests gave way to a growth of smaller girth; and the
Doctor's hatchet soon felled enough poles for us to make a raft from. We
laced them together with thongs of bark and found them sufficiently
buoyant when launched to carry us and our small supply of baggage with
ease. Where the water was shallow we used a long pole to punt with; and
when we wished to explore greater depths we employed sweeps, or oars,
which we fashioned roughly with the hatchet.

[Illustration: "We used a long pole to punt with"]

From the first moment we were afloat the Doctor kept me busy taking
notes for him. In the equipment he had brought with him there was a
fine-meshed landing net; and with it he searched along the shores for
signs of life in this moon lake, the first of its kind we had met with.

"It is very important, Stubbins," said he, "to find out what fish we
have here. In evolution the fish life is a very important matter."

"What is evolution?" asked Chee-Chee.

I started out to explain it to him but was soon called upon by the
Doctor to make more notes--for which I was not sorry, as the task turned
out to be a long and heavy one. Polynesia, however, took it up where I
left off and made short work of it.

"Evolution, Chee-Chee," said she, "is the story of how Tommy got rid of
the tail you are carrying--because he didn't need it any more--and the
story of how you grew it and kept it because you did need it....
Evolution! Proof!--Professors' talk. A long word for a simple matter."

It turned out that our examination of the lake was neither exciting nor
profitable. We brought up all sorts of water-flies, many larv of
perfectly tremendous size, but we found as yet no fishes. The plant
life--water plant I mean--was abundant.

"I think," said the Doctor, after we had poled ourselves around the lake
for several hours, "that there can be no doubt now that the Vegetable
Kingdom here is much more important than the Animal Kingdom. And what
there is of the Animal Kingdom seems to be mostly insect. However, we
will camp on the shore of this pleasant lake and perhaps we shall see
more later."

So we brought our raft to anchor at about the place from which we had
started out and pitched camp on a stretch of clean yellow sand.

I shall never forget that night. It was uncanny. None of us slept well.
All through the hours of darkness we heard things moving around us.
Enormous things. Yet never did we see them or find out what they were.
The four of us were nevertheless certain that all night we were being
watched. Even Polynesia was disturbed. There seemed no doubt that there
was plenty of animal life in the Moon, but that it did not as yet want
to show itself to us. The newness of our surroundings alone was
disturbing enough, without this very uncomfortable feeling that
something had made the moon folks distrustful of us.


Another thing which added to our sleeplessness that night was the
continuance of the mysterious music. But then so many strange things
contributed to our general mystification and vague feeling of anxiety
that it is hard to remember and distinguish them all.

The next morning after breakfasting on what remained of our fruits we
packed up and started off for further exploration. While the last of the
packing had been in progress Chee-Chee and Polynesia had gone ahead to
do a little advanced scouting for us. They formed an admirable team for
such work. Polynesia would fly above the forest and get long-distance
impressions from the air of what lay ahead while Chee-Chee would examine
the more lowly levels of the route to be followed, from the trees and
the ground.

The Doctor and I were just helping one another on with our packs when
Chee-Chee came rushing back to us in great excitement. His teeth were
chattering so he could hardly speak.

"What do you think, Doctor!" he stammered. "We've found tracks back
there. Tracks of a man! But so enormous! You've no idea. Come quick and
I'll show you."

[Illustration: "'What do you think, Doctor?' he stammered"]

The Doctor looked up sharply at the scared and excited monkey, pausing a
moment as though about to question him. Then he seemed to change his
mind and turned once more to the business of taking up the baggage. With
loads hoisted we gave a last glance around the camping ground to see if
anything had been forgotten or left.

Our route did not lie directly across the lake, which mostly sprawled
away to the right of our line of march. But we had to make our way
partly around the lower end of it. Wondering what new chapter lay ahead
of us, we fell in behind Chee-Chee and in silence started off along the

After about half an hour's march we came to the mouth of a river which
ran into the upper end of the lake. Along the margin of this we followed
Chee-Chee for what seemed like another mile or so. Soon the shores of
the stream widened out and the woods fell back quite a distance from the
water's edge. The nature of the ground was still clean firm sand.
Presently we saw Polynesia's tiny figure ahead, waiting for us.

When we drew up with her we saw that she was standing by an enormous
footprint. There was no doubt about its being a man's, clear in every
detail. It was the most gigantic thing I have ever seen, a barefoot
track fully four yards in length. There wasn't only one, either. Down
the shore the trail went on for a considerable distance; and the span
that the prints lay apart gave one some idea of the enormous stride of
the giant who had left this trail behind him.

[Illustration: "An enormous footprint"]

Questioning and alarmed, Chee-Chee and Polynesia gazed silently up at
the Doctor for an explanation.

"Humph!" he muttered after a while. "So Man is here, too. My goodness,
what a monster! Let us follow the trail."

Chee-Chee was undoubtedly scared of such a plan. It was clearly both his
and Polynesia's idea that the further we got away from the maker of
those tracks the better. I could see terror and fright in the eyes of
both of them. But neither made any objection; and in silence we plodded
along, following in the path of this strange human who must, it would
seem, be something out of a fairy tale.

But alas! It was not more than a mile further on that the footprints
turned into the woods where, on the mosses and leaves beneath the trees,
no traces had been left at all. Then we turned about and followed the
river quite a distance to see if the creature had come back out on the
sands again. But never a sign could we see. Chee-Chee spent a good deal
of time too at the Doctor's request trying to find his path through the
forest by any signs, such as broken limbs or marks in the earth which he
might have left behind. But not another trace could we find. Deciding
that he had merely come down to the stream to get a drink, we gave up
the pursuit and turned back to the line of our original march.

Again I was thankful that I had company on that expedition. It was
certainly a most curious and extraordinary experience. None of us spoke
very much, but when we did it seemed that all of us had been thinking
the same things.

The woods grew more and more mysterious, and more and more alive, as
we went onward towards the other side of the Moon, the side that earthly
Man had never seen before. For one thing, the strange music seemed to
increase; and for another, there was more movement in the limbs of the
trees. Great branches that looked like arms, bunches of small twigs that
could have been hands, swung and moved and clawed the air in the most
uncanny fashion. And always that steady wind went on blowing, even,
regular and smooth.

[Illustration: "There was more movement in the limbs of the trees"]

All of the forest was not gloomy, however. Much of it was unbelievably
beautiful. Acres of woods there were which presented nothing but a
gigantic sea of many-coloured blossoms, colours that seemed like
something out of a dream, indescribable, yet clear in one's memory as a
definite picture of something seen.

The Doctor as we went forward spoke very little; when he did it was
almost always on the same subject: "the absence of decay," as he put it.

"I am utterly puzzled, Stubbins," said he, in one of his longer
outbursts when we were resting. "Why, there is hardly any leaf-mould at

"What difference would that make, Doctor?" I asked.

"Well, that's what the trees live on, mostly, in our world," said he.
"The forest growth, I mean--the soil that is formed by dying trees and
rotting leaves--that is the nourishment that brings forth the seedlings
which finally grow into new trees. But here! Well, of course there is
some soil--and some shedding of leaves. But I've hardly seen a dead
tree since I've been in these woods. One would almost think that there
were some--er--balance. Some arrangement of--er--well--I can't explain
it.... It beats me entirely."

I did not, at the time, completely understand what he meant. And yet it
did seem as though every one of these giant plants that rose about us
led a life of peaceful growth, undisturbed by rot, by blight or by

Suddenly in our march we found ourselves at the end of the wooded
section. Hills and mountains again spread before us. They were not the
same as those we had first seen, however. These had vegetation, of a
kind, on them. Low shrubs and heath plants clothed this rolling land
with a dense growth--often very difficult to get through.

But still no sign of decay--little or no leaf-mould. The Doctor now
decided that perhaps part of the reason for this was the seasons--or
rather the lack of seasons. He said that we would probably find that
here there was no regular winter or summer. It was an entirely new
problem, so far as the struggle for existence was concerned, such as we
knew in our world.


Into this new heath and hill country we travelled for miles. And
presently we arrived upon a rather curious thing. It was a sort of basin
high up and enclosed by hills or knolls. The strange part of it was that
here there were not only more tracks of the Giant Man, just as we had
seen lower down, but there were also unmistakable signs of fire. In an
enormous hollow ashes lay among the sands. The Doctor was very
interested in those ashes. He took some and added chemicals to them and
tested them in many ways. He confessed himself at last entirely puzzled
by their nature. But he said he nevertheless felt quite sure we had
stumbled on the scene of the smoke signalling we had seen from Puddleby.
Curiously long ago, it seemed, that time when Too-Too, the owl, had
insisted he saw smoke burst from the side of the Moon. That was when the
giant moth lay helpless in our garden. And yet--how long was it? Only a
few days!

[Illustration: "It was a sort of basin"]

"It was from here, Stubbins," said the Doctor, "that the signals we saw
from the Earth were given out, I feel certain. This place, as you see,
is miles and miles across. But what was used to make an explosion as
large as the one we saw from my house I have no idea."

"But it was smoke we saw," said I, "not a flash."

"That's just it," he said. "Some curious material must have been used
that we have as yet no knowledge of. I thought that by testing the ashes
I could discover what it was. But I can't. However, we may yet find

For two reasons the Doctor was anxious for the present not to get too
far from the forest section. (We did not know then, you see, that there
were other wooded areas beside this through which we had just come.) One
reason was that we had to keep in touch with our food supply which
consisted of the fruits and vegetables of the jungle. The other was that
John Dolittle was absorbed now in the study of this Vegetable Kingdom
which he felt sure had many surprises in store for the student

After a while we began to get over the feeling of uncanny creepiness,
which at the beginning had made us so uncomfortable. We decided that our
fears were mostly caused by the fact that these woods and plants were so
different from our own. There was no unfriendliness in these forests
after all, we assured ourselves--except that we were being watched.
That we knew--and that we were beginning to get used to.

As soon as the Doctor had decided that we would set up our new
headquarters on the edge of the forest, and we had our camp properly
established, we began making excursions in all directions through the
jungle. And from then on I was again kept very busy taking notes of the
Doctor's experiments and studies.

One of the first discoveries we made in our study of the Moon's
Vegetable Kingdom was that there was practically no warfare going on
between it and the Animal Kingdom. In the world we had left we had been
accustomed to see the horses and other creatures eating up the grass in
great quantities and many further examples of the struggle that
continually goes on between the two. Here, on the other hand, the
animals (or, more strictly speaking, the insects, for there seemed as
yet hardly any traces of other animal species) and the vegetable life
seemed for the most part to help one another rather than to fight and
destroy. Indeed we found the whole system of Life on the Moon a
singularly peaceful business. I will speak of this again later on.

We spent three whole days in the investigation of the strange music we
had heard. You will remember that the Doctor, with his skill on the
flute, was naturally fond of music; and this curious thing we had met
with interested him a great deal. After several expeditions we found
patches of the jungle where we were able to see and hear the tree music
working at its best.

There was no doubt about it at all: The trees were making the sounds and
they were doing it deliberately. In the way that an olian harp works
when set in the wind at the right angle, the trees moved their branches
to meet the wind so that certain notes would be given out. The evening
that the Doctor made this discovery of what he called the Singing
Trees he told me to mark down in the diary of the expedition as a Red
Letter Date. I shall never forget it. We had been following the sound
for hours, the Doctor carrying a tuning-fork in his hand, ringing it
every once in a while to make sure of the notes we heard around us.
Suddenly we came upon a little clearing about which great giants of the
forest stood in a circle. It was for all the world like an orchestra.
Spellbound, we stood and gazed up at them, as first one and then another
would turn a branch to the steady blowing wind and a note would boom out
upon the night, clear and sweet. Then a group, three or four trees
around the glade, would swing a limb and a chord would strike the air,
and go murmuring through the jungle. Fantastic and crazy as it sounds,
no one could have any doubt who heard and watched that these trees were
actually making sounds, which they wanted to make, with the aid of the

[Illustration: "Spellbound, we gazed up at them"]

Of course, as the Doctor remarked, unless the wind had always blown
steadily and evenly such a thing would have been impossible. John
Dolittle himself was most anxious to find out on what scale of music
they were working. To me, I must confess, it sounded just mildly
pleasant. There was a time: I could hear that. And some whole phrases
repeated once in a while, but not often. For the most part the melody
was wild, sad and strange. But even to my uneducated ear it was beyond
all question a quite clear effort at orchestration; there were certainly
treble voices and bass voices and the combination was sweet and

I was excited enough myself, but the Doctor was worked up to a pitch of
interest such as I have seldom seen in him.

"Why, Stubbins," said he, "do you realize what this means?--It's
terrific. If these trees can sing, a choir understands one another and
all that, they must have a language.--They can talk! A language in the
Vegetable Kingdom! We must get after it. Who knows? I may yet learn it
myself. Stubbins, this is a great day!"

And so, as usual on such occasions, the good man's enthusiasm just
carried him away bodily. For days, often without food, often without
sleep, he pursued this new study. And at his heels I trotted with my
note book always ready--though, to be sure, he put in far more work than
I did because frequently when we got home he would go on wrestling for
hours over the notes or new apparatus he was building, by which he hoped
to learn the language of the trees.

You will remember that even before we left the Earth John Dolittle had
mentioned the possibility of the moon bells having some means of
communicating with one another. That they could move, within the limits
of their fixed position, had been fully established. To that we had
grown so used and accustomed that we no longer thought anything of it.
The Doctor had in fact wondered if this might possibly be a means of
conversation in itself--the movement of limbs and twigs and leaves,
something like a flag signal code. And for quite a long while he sat
watching certain trees and shrubs to see if they used this method for
talking between themselves.

[Illustration: "For quite a long while he sat watching certain shrubs"]


About this time there was one person whom both the Doctor and I were
continually reminded of, and continually wishing for, and that was Long
Arrow, the Indian naturalist whom we had met in Spidermonkey Island. To
be sure, he had never admitted to the Doctor that he had had speech with
plant life. But his knowledge of botany and the natural history of the
Vegetable Kingdom was of such a curious kind we felt that here he would
have been of great help to us. Long Arrow, the son of Golden Arrow,
never booked a scientific note in his life. How would he--when he was
unable to write? Just the same he could tell you why a certain coloured
bee visited a certain coloured flower; why that moth chose that
shrub to lay its eggs in; why this particular grub attacked the roots of
this kind of water plant.

Often of an evening the Doctor and I would speak of him, wondering where
he was and what he was doing. When we sailed away from Spidermonkey
Island he was left behind. But that would not mean he stayed there. A
natural-born tramp who rejoiced in defying the elements and the
so-called laws of Nature, he could be looked for anywhere in the two
American continents.

And again, the Doctor would often refer to my parents. He evidently had
a very guilty feeling about them--despite the fact that it was no fault
of his that I had stowed away aboard the moth that brought us here. A
million and one things filled his mind these days, of course; but
whenever there was a let-down, a gap, in the stream of his scientific
inquiry, he would come back to the subject.

"Stubbins," he'd say, "you shouldn't have come.... Yes, yes, I know, you
did it for me. But Jacob, your father--and your mother too--they must be
fretting themselves sick about your disappearance. And I am
responsible.... Well, we can't do anything about that now, I suppose.
Let's get on with the work."

And then he'd plunge ahead into some new subject and the matter would be
dropped--till it bothered him again.

Throughout all our investigations of the Moon's Vegetable Kingdom we
could not get away from the idea that the animal life was still, for
some unknown reason, steering clear of us. By night, when we were
settling down to sleep, we'd often get the impression that huge moths,
butterflies or beetles were flying or crawling near us.

We made quite sure of this once or twice by jumping out of our beds and
seeing a giant shadow disappear into the gloom. Yet never could we get
near enough to distinguish what the creatures were before they escaped
beyond the range of sight. But that they had come--whatever they
were--to keep an eye on us seemed quite certain. Also that all of them
were winged. The Doctor had a theory that the lighter gravity of the
Moon had encouraged the development of wings to a much greater extent
than it had on the Earth.

[Illustration: "Seeing a giant shadow disappear into the gloom"]

And again those tracks of the strange Giant Man. They were always
turning up in the most unexpected places; I believe that if the Doctor
had allowed Polynesia and Chee-Chee complete liberty to follow them that
the enormous Human would have been run down in a very short time. But
John Dolittle seemed still anxious to keep his family together. I
imagine that with his curiously good instinctive judgment he feared an
attempt to separate us. And in any case of course both Chee-Chee and
Polynesia were quite invaluable in a tight place. They were neither of
them heavy-weight fighters, it is true; but their usefulness as scouts
and guides was enormous. I have often heard John Dolittle say that he
would sooner have that monkey or the parrot Polynesia with him in savage
countries than he would the escort of a dozen regiments.

With some of our experimental work we wandered off long distances into
the heath lands to see what we could do with the gorgeous flowering
shrubs that thronged the rolling downs; and often we followed the
streams many miles to study the gigantic lilies that swayed their
stately heads over the sedgy banks.

And little by little our very arduous labours began to be repaid.

I was quite astonished when I came to realize how well the Doctor had
prepared for this expedition. Shortly after he decided that he would set
to work on the investigation of this supposed language of the plants he
told me we would have to go back and fetch the remainder of our baggage
which we had left at the point of our first arrival.

So the following morning, bright and early, he, Chee-Chee and I set out
to retrace our steps. Polynesia was left behind. The Doctor told none of
us why he did this, but we decided afterwards that, as usual, he knew
what he was doing.

It was a long and hard trip. It took us a day and a half going there and
two days coming back with the load of baggage. At our original
landing-place we again found many tracks of the Giant Human, and other
strange marks on the sands about our baggage-dump which told us that
here too curious eyes had been trying to find out things without being

A closer examination of the tracks made by the Giant Human in these
parts where they were especially clear told the Doctor that his right
leg stride was considerably longer than his left. The mysterious Moon
Man evidently walked with a limp. But with such a stride he would
clearly be a very formidable creature anyway.

When we got back and started unpacking the bundles and boxes which had
been left behind, I saw, as I have already said, how well the Doctor had
prepared for his voyage. He seemed to have brought everything that he
could possibly need for the trip: hatchets, wire, nails, files, a
hand-saw, all the things we couldn't get on the Moon. It was so
different from his ordinary preparations for a voyage--which hardly ever
consisted of more than the little black bag and the clothes he stood in.

[Illustration: "He seemed to have brought everything he could need"]

As usual he rested only long enough to get a few mouthfuls of food
before he set to work. There seemed to be a dozen different apparatuses
he wanted to set up at once, some for the testing of sound, others for
vibrations, etc., etc. With the aid of a saw and an axe and a few other
tools, half a dozen small huts had sprung up in an hour around our camp.


Laying aside for the present all worry on the score of why he had been
summoned to the Moon--of why the Animal Kingdom continued to treat us
with suspicion, of why the Giant Human so carefully kept out of our way,
the Doctor now plunged into the study of plant languages heart and soul.

He was always happy so, working like a demon, snatching his meals and
his sleep here and there when he thought of such earthly matters. It was
a most exhausting time for the rest of us, keeping pace with this
firebrand of energy when he got on an interesting scent. And yet it was
well worth while too. In one and a half days he had established the fact
that the trees did converse with one another by means of branch
gestures. But that was only the first step. Copying and practising, he
rigged himself up like a tree and talked in the glade--after a
fashion--with these centuries-old denizens of the jungle.

From that he learned still more--that language, of a kind, was carried
on by using other means--by scents given out, in a definite way--short
or long perfumes, like a regular Morse Code; by the tones of wind-song
when branches were set to the right angle to produce certain notes; and
many other odd strange means.

Every night, by bed-time, I was nearly dead from the strain and effort
of taking notes in those everlasting books, of which he seemed to have
brought an utterly inexhaustible supply.

Chee-Chee looked after the feeding of us--Thank goodness!--or I fear we
would easily have starved to death, if overwork itself hadn't killed us.
Every three hours the faithful little monkey would come to us wherever
we were at the moment with his messes of strange vegetables and fruits
and a supply of good clean drinking water.

[Illustration: "The faithful monkey would come to us every three hours
with his strange vegetables" ]

As official recorder of the Expedition (a job of which I was very proud
even if it was hard work) I had to book all the Doctor's calculations as
well as his natural history notes. I have already told you something of
temperature, air pressure, time and what not. A further list of them
would have included the calculation of distance travelled. This was
quite difficult. The Doctor had brought with him a pedometer (that is a
little instrument which when carried in the pocket tells you from the
number of strides made the miles walked). But in the Moon, with the
changed gravity, a pace was quite different from that usual on the
Earth. And what is more, it never stayed the same. When the ground
sloped downward it was natural to spring a step that quite possibly
measured six or seven feet--this with no out-of-the-way effort at all.
And even on the up grade one quite frequently used a stride that was far
greater than in ordinary walking.

[Illustration: "It was natural to spring a step that measured six or
seven feet"]

It was about this time that the Doctor first spoke of making a tour of
the Moon. Magellan, you will remember, was the first to sail around our
world. And it was a very great feat. The Earth contains more water area
than land. The Moon, on the contrary, we soon saw, had more dry land
than water. There were no big oceans. Lakes and chains of lakes were all
the water area we saw. To complete a round trip of this world would
therefore be harder, even though it was shorter, than the voyage that
Magellan made.

It was on this account that the Doctor was so particular about my
booking a strict record of the miles we travelled. As to direction, we
had not as yet been so careful about maintaining a perfectly straight
line. Because it was by no means easy for one thing; and for another,
the subjects we wished to study, such as tree-music, tracks, water
supply, rock formation, etc., often led us off towards every quarter of
the compass. When I say the compass I mean something a little
different from the use of that word in earthly geography. As I have told
you, the magnetic compass which John Dolittle had brought with him from
Puddleby did not behave in a helpful manner at all. Something else must
be found to take its place.

John Dolittle, as usual, went after that problem too with much energy.
He was a very excellent mathematician, was the Doctor. And one afternoon
he sat down with a note book and the Nautical Almanac and worked out
tables which should tell him from the stars where he was and in what
direction he was going. It was curious, that strange sense of comfort we
drew from the stars. They, the heavenly bodies which from the Earth
seemed the remotest, most distant, unattainable and strangest of
objects, here suddenly became friendly; because, I suppose, they were
the only things that really stayed the same. The stars, as we saw them
from the Moon, were precisely as the stars we had seen from the Earth.
The fact that they were nearly all countless billions of miles away made
no difference. For us they were something that we had seen before and

It was while we were at work on devising some contrivance to take the
place of the compass that we made the discovery of the explosive wood.
The Doctor after trying many things by which he hoped to keep a definite
direction had suddenly said one day:

"Why, Stubbins, I have it.--The wind! It always blows steady--and
probably from precisely the same quarter--or at all events with a
regular calculable change most likely. Let us test it and see."

So right away we set to work to make various wind-testing devices. We
rigged up weather-vanes from long streamers of light bark. And then John
Dolittle hit upon the idea of smoke.

[Illustration: "We rigged up weather vanes"]

"That is something," said he, "if we only place it properly, which will
warn us by smell if the wind changes. And in the meantime we can carry
on our studies of the Animal Kingdom and its languages." So without
further ado we set to work to build fires--or rather large smoke
smudges--which should tell us how reliable our wind would be if depended
on for a source of direction.


We went to a lot of trouble working out how we could best place these
fires so that they should give us the most satisfactory results. First
of all we decided with much care on the exact position where we would
build them. Mostly they were on bare knolls or shoulders, where they
couldn't spread to the underbrush and start a bush-fire. Then came the
question of fuel:--What would be the best wood to build them of?

[Illustration: "Mostly they were on bare knolls"]

There were practically no dead trees, as I have said. The only thing to
do then was to cut some timber down and let it dry.

This we proceeded to do but did not get very far with it before the
Doctor suddenly had qualms of conscience. Trees that could talk could,
one would suppose, also feel. The thought was dreadful. We hadn't even
the courage to ask the trees about it--yet. So we fell back upon
gathering fallen twigs and small branches. This made the work heavier
still because, of course, we needed a great deal of fuel to have fires
big enough to see and smell for any distance.

After a good deal of discussion we decided that this was a thing which
couldn't be hurried. A great deal depended on its success. It was a
nuisance, truly, but we had just got to be patient. So we went back into
the jungle-lands and set to work on getting out various samples of woods
to try.

It took a longish time, for the Doctor and myself were the only ones who
could do this work. Chee-Chee tried to help by gathering twigs; but the
material we most needed was wood large enough to last a fair time.

Well, we harvested several different kinds. Some wouldn't burn at all
when we tried them. Others, we found, were pretty fair burners, but not
smoky enough.

With about the fifth kind of wood, I think it was that we tested out, we
nearly had a serious accident. Fire seemed to be (outside of the traces
we had found of the smoke signal apparatus) a thing quite unusual in the
Moon. There were no traces of forest burnings anywhere, so far as we had
explored. It was therefore with a good deal of fear and caution that we
struck matches to test out our fuel.

About dusk one evening the Doctor set a match to a sort of fern wood
(something like a bamboo) and he narrowly escaped a bad burning. The
stuff flared up like gunpowder.

We took him off, Chee-Chee and I, and examined him. We found he had
suffered no serious injuries, though he had had a very close shave. His
hands were somewhat blistered and he told us what to get out of the
little black bag to relieve the inflammation.

We had all noticed that as the wood flared up it sent off dense masses
of white smoke. And for hours after the explosion clouds of heavy fumes
were still rolling round the hills near us.

When we had the Doctor patched up he told us he was sure that we had
stumbled by accident on the fuel that had been used for making the smoke
signals we had seen from Puddleby.

"But my goodness, Doctor," said I, "what an immense bonfire it must
have been to be visible all that distance!--Thousands of tons of the
stuff, surely, must have been piled together to make a smudge which
could be seen that far."

"And who could have made it?" put in Chee-Chee.

For a moment there was silence. Then Polynesia spoke the thought that
was in my mind--and I imagine in the Doctor's too.

"The man who made those torches," said she quietly, "could move an awful
lot of timber in one day, I'll warrant."

"You mean you think it was he who sent the signals?" asked Chee-Chee,
his funny little eyes staring wide open with astonishment.

[Illustration: "'You mean you think it was he who sent the signals?'"]

"Why not?" said Polynesia. Then she lapsed into silent contemplation and
no further questioning from Chee-Chee could get a word out of her.

"Well," said the monkey at last, "if he did send it that would look as
though he were responsible for the whole thing. It must have been he who
sent the moth down to us--who needed the Doctor's assistance and
presence here."

He looked towards John Dolittle for an answer to this suggestion. But
the Doctor, like Polynesia, didn't seem to have anything to say.

Well, in spite of our little mishap, our wood tests with smoke were
extremely successful. We found that the wind as a direction-pointer
could certainly be relied on for three or four days at a time.

"Of course, Stubbins," said the Doctor, "we will have to test again
before we set off on our round trip. It may be that the breeze, while
blowing in one prevailing direction now, may change after a week or so.
Also we will have to watch it that the mountain ranges don't deflect the
wind's course and so lead us astray. But from what we have seen so far,
I feel pretty sure that we have here something to take the place of the

I made one or two attempts later, when Polynesia and Chee-Chee were out
of earshot, to discover what John Dolittle thought about this idea that
it had really been the Moon Man who had brought us here and not the
Animal Kingdom. I felt that possibly he might talk more freely to me
alone on the subject than he had been willing to with all of us
listening. But he was strangely untalkative.

"I don't know, Stubbins," said he, frowning, "I really don't know. To
tell the truth, my mind is not occupied with that problem now--at all
events, not as a matter for immediate decision. This field of the lunar
Vegetable Kingdom is something that could take up the attention of a
hundred naturalists for a year or two. I feel we have only scratched the
surface. As we go forward into the unknown areas of the Moon's further
side we are liable to make discoveries of--well, er--who can tell? When
the Moon Man and the Animal Kingdom make up their minds that they want
to get in touch with us, I suppose we shall hear from them. In the
meantime we have our work to do--more than we can do.... Gracious, I
wish I had a whole staff with me!--Surveyors, cartographers, geologists
and the rest. Think of it! Here we are, messing our way along across a
new world--and we don't even know where we are! I think I have a vague
idea of the line we have followed. And I've tried to keep a sort of
chart of our march. But I should be making maps, Stubbins, real maps,
showing all the peaks, valleys, streams, lakes, plateaux and
everything.--Dear, dear! Well, we must do the best we can."

[Illustration: "'I don't know, Stubbins', said he, frowning"]


Of course on a globe larger than that of the Moon we could never have
done as well as we did. When you come to think of it, one man, a boy, a
monkey and a parrot, as a staff for the exploration of a whole world,
makes the expedition sound, to say the least, absurd.

We did not realize, any of us, when we started out from our first
landing that we were going to make a circular trip of the Moon's globe.
It just worked out that way. To begin with, we were expecting every hour
that some part of the Animal Kingdom would come forward into the open.
But it didn't. And still we went on. Then this language of the trees and
flowers came up and got the Doctor going on one of his fever-heat
investigations. That carried us still further. We always took great care
when departing from one district for an excursion of any length to leave
landmarks behind us, camps or dumps, so that we could find our way back
to food and shelter if we should get caught in a tight place.

[Illustration: "We always took care to leave landmarks behind us"]

In this sort of feeling our way forward Polynesia was most helpful. The
Doctor used to let her off regularly now to fly ahead of us and bring
back reports. That gave us some sort of idea of what we should prepare
for. Then in addition to that, the Doctor had brought with him several
small pocket surveying instruments with which he marked on his chart
roughly the points at which we changed course to any considerable

In the earlier stages of our trip we had felt we must keep in touch with
the first fruit section we had met with, in order to have a supply of
vegetables and fruits to rely on for food. But we soon discovered from
Polynesia's scouting reports, that other wooded sections lay ahead of
us. To these we sent Chee-Chee, the expert, to investigate. And when he
returned and told us that they contained even a better diet than those
further back, we had no hesitation in leaving her old haunts and
venturing still further into the mysteries of the Moon's Further Side.

The Doctor's progress with the language of the trees and plants seemed
to improve with our penetration into the interior. Many times we stopped
and pitched camp for four or five days, while he set up some new
apparatus and struggled with fresh problems in plant language. It seemed
to grow easier and easier for him all the time. Certainly the plant life
became more elaborate and lively. By this we were all grown more
accustomed to strange things in the Vegetable Kingdom. And even to my
unscientific eyes it was quite evident that here the flowers and bushes
were communicating with one another with great freedom and in many
different ways.

[Illustration: "Certainly the plant life became more elaborate and

I shall never forget our first meeting with the Vanity Lilies, as the
Doctor later came to call them. Great gaudy blooms they were, on long
slender stems that swayed and moved in groups like people whispering and
gossiping at a party. When we came in sight of them for the first time,
they were more or less motionless. But as we approached, the movement
among them increased as though they were disturbed by, or interested in,
our coming.

I think they were beyond all question the most beautiful flowers I have
ever seen. The wind, regular as ever, had not changed. But the heads of
these great masses of plants got so agitated as we drew near, that the
Doctor decided he would halt the expedition and investigate,

We pitched camp as we called it--a very simple business in the Moon,
because we did not have to raise tents or build a fire. It was really
only a matter of unpacking, getting out the food to eat and the bedding
to sleep in.

We were pretty weary after a full day's march. Beyond the lily beds
(which lay in a sort of marsh) we could see a new jungle district with
more strange trees and flowering creepers.

After a short and silent supper, we lay down and pulled the covers over
us. The music of the forest grew louder as darkness increased. It seemed
almost as though the whole vegetable world was remarking on these
visitors who had invaded their home.

And then above the music of the woods we'd hear the drone of flying,
while we dropped off to sleep. Some of the giant insects were hovering
near, as usual, to keep an eye on these creatures from another world.

I think that of all our experiences with the plant life of the Moon that
with the Vanity Lilies was perhaps the most peculiar and the most
thrilling. In about two days the Doctor had made extraordinary strides
in his study of this language. That, he explained to me, was due more to
the unusual intelligence of this species and its willingness to help
than to his own efforts. But of course if he had not already done
considerable work with the trees and bushes it is doubtful if the lilies
could have got in touch with him as quickly as they did.

By the end of the third day Chee-Chee, Polynesia and I were all
astonished to find that John Dolittle was actually able to carry on
conversation with these flowers. And this with the aid of very little
apparatus. He had now discovered that the Vanity Lilies spoke among
themselves largely by the movement of their blossoms. They used
different means of communication with species of plants and trees other
than their own--and also (we heard later) in talking with birds and
insects; but among themselves the swaying of the flower-heads was the
common method of speech.

The lilies, when seen in great banks, presented a very gorgeous and
wonderful appearance. The flowers would be, I should judge, about
eighteen inches across, trumpet-shaped and brilliantly coloured. The
background was a soft cream tone and on this great blotches of violet
and orange were grouped around a jet-black tongue in the centre. The
leaves were a deep olive green.

[Illustration: "The flowers would be about eighteen inches across"]

But it was that extraordinary look of alive intelligence that was the
most uncanny thing about them. No one, no matter how little he knew of
natural history in general or of the Moon's Vegetable Kingdom, could see
those wonderful flowers without immediately being arrested by this
peculiar character. You felt at once that you were in the presence of
people rather than plants; and to talk with them, or to try to, seemed
the most natural thing in the world.

I filled up two of those numerous note books of the Doctor's on his
conversations with the Vanity Lilies. Often he came back to these
flowers later, when he wanted further information about the Moon's
Vegetable Kingdom. For as he explained to us, it was in this species
that Plant Life--so far at all events as it was known on either the Moon
or the Earth--had reached its highest point of development.


Another peculiar thing that baffled us completely, when we first came
into the marshy regions of the Vanity Lily's home, was the variety of
scents which assailed our noses. For a mile or so around the locality
there was no other flower visible; the whole of the marsh seemed to have
been taken up by the lilies and nothing else intruded on their domain.
Yet at least half a dozen perfumes were distinct and clear. At first we
thought that perhaps the wind might be bringing us scents from other
plants either in the jungle or the flowering heath lands. But the
direction of the breeze was such that it could only come over the sandy
desert areas and was not likely to bring perfumes as strong as this.

It was the Doctor who first hit upon the idea that possibly the lily
could give off more than one scent at will. He set to work to find out
right away. And it took no more than a couple of minutes to convince him
that it could. He said he was sorry he had not got Jip with him. Jip's
expert sense of smell would have been very useful here. But for ordinary
purposes it required nothing more delicate than an average human's nose
to tell that this flower, when John Dolittle had communicated the idea
to it, was clearly able to give out at least half a dozen different
smells as it wished.

The majority of these perfumes were extremely agreeable. But there were
one or two that nearly knocked you down. It was only after the Doctor
had asked the lilies about this gift of theirs that they sent forth
obnoxious ones in demonstrating all the scents that they could give out.
Chee-Chee just fainted away at the first sample. It was like some deadly
gas. It got into your eyes and made them run. The Doctor and I only
escaped suffocation by flight--carrying the body of the unconscious
monkey along with us.

[Illustration: "Chee-Chee just fainted away at the first sample"]

The Vanity Lilies, seeing what distress they had caused, immediately
threw out the most soothing lovely scent I have ever smelled. Clearly
they were anxious to please us and cultivate our acquaintance. Indeed it
turned out later from their conversation with the Doctor (which I took
down word for word) that in spite of being a stationary part of the
Moon's landscape, they had heard of John Dolittle, the great naturalist,
and had been watching for his arrival many days. They were in fact the
first creatures in our experience of the Moon that made us feel we were
among friends.

I think I could not do better, in trying to give you an idea of the
Doctor's communication with the Vegetable Kingdom of the Moon, than to
set down from my diary, word for word, some parts of the conversation
between him and the Vanity Lilies as he translated them to me for
dictation at the time. Even so, there are many I am sure who will doubt
the truth of the whole idea: that a man could talk with the flowers. But
with them I am not so concerned. Any one who had followed John Dolittle
through the various stages of animal, fish, and insect languages would
not, I feel certain, find it very strange, when the great man did at
last come in touch with plant life of unusual intelligence, that he
should be able to converse with it.

On looking over my diary of those eventful days the scene of that
occasion comes up visibly before my eyes. It was about an hour before
dusk--that is the slight dimming of the pale daylight which proceeded a
half darkness, the nearest thing to real night we ever saw on the Moon.
The Doctor, as we left the camp, called back over his shoulder to me to
bring an extra note book along as he expected to make a good deal of
progress to-night. I armed myself therefore with three extra books and
followed him out.

Halting about twenty paces in front of the lily beds (we had camped back
several hundred yards from them after they had nearly suffocated
Chee-Chee) the Doctor squatted on the ground and began swaying his head
from side to side. Immediately the lilies began moving their heads in
answer, swinging, nodding, waving, and dipping.

"Are you ready, Stubbins?" asked John Dolittle.

[Illustration: "'Are you ready, Stubbins?'"]

"Yes, Doctor," said I, making sure my pencil point would last a while.

"Good," said he.--"Put it down":

The Doctor--"Do you like this stationary life--I mean, living in the
same place all the time, unable to move?"

The Lilies--(Several of them seemed to answer in chorus)--"Why,
yes--of course. Being stationary doesn't bother us. We hear about all
that is going on."

The Doctor--"From whom, what, do you hear it?"

The Lilies--"Well, the other plants, the bees, the birds, bring us
news of what is happening."

The Doctor-"Oh, do you communicate with the bees and the birds?"

The Lilies-"Why, certainly, of course!"

The Doctor--"Yet the bees and the birds are races different from your

The Lilies--"Quite true, but the bees come to us for honey. And the
birds come to sit among our leaves--especially the warblers--and they
sing and talk and tell us of what is happening in the world. What more
would you want?"

The Doctor-"Oh, quite so, quite so. I didn't mean you should be
discontented. But don't you ever want to move, to travel?"

The Lilies--"Good gracious, no! What's the use of all this running
about? After all, there's no place like home--provided it's a good one.
It's a pleasant life we lead--and very safe. The folks who rush around
are always having accidents, breaking legs and so forth. Those troubles
can't happen to us. We sit still and watch the world go by. We chat
sometimes among ourselves and then there is always the gossip of the
birds and the bees to entertain us."

The Doctor--"And you really understand the language of the birds and
bees!--You astonish me."

The Lilies--"Oh, perfectly--and of the beetles and moths too."

It was at about this point in our first recorded conversation that we
made the astonishing discovery that the Vanity Lilies could see. The
light, as I have told you, was always somewhat dim on the Moon. The
Doctor, while he was talking, suddenly decided he would like a smoke. He
asked the lilies if they objected to the fumes of tobacco. They said
they did not know because they had never had any experience of it. So
the Doctor said he would light his pipe and if they did not like it he
would stop.

So taking a box of matches from his pocket he struck a light. We had not
fully realized before how soft and gentle was the light of the Moon
until that match flared up. It is true that in testing our woods for
smoke fuel we had made much larger blazes. But then, I suppose we had
been more intent on the results of our experiments than on anything
else. Now, as we noticed the lilies suddenly draw back their heads and
turn aside from the flare, we saw that the extra illumination of a mere
match had made a big difference to the ordinary daylight they were
accustomed to.

[Illustration: "He struck a light"]


When the Doctor noticed how the lilies shrank away from the glow of the
matches he became greatly interested in this curious unexpected effect
that the extra light had had on them.

"Why, Stubbins," he whispered, "they could not have felt the heat. We
were too far away. If it is the glare that made them draw back it must
be that they have some organs so sensitive to light that quite possibly
they can see! I must find out about this."

Thereupon he began questioning the lilies again to discover how much
they could tell him of their sense of vision. He shot his hand out and
asked them if they knew what movement he had made. Every time (though
they had no idea of what he was trying to find out) they told him
precisely what he had done. Then going close to one large flower he
passed his hand all round it; and the blossom turned its head and faced
the moving hand all the way round the circle.

[Illustration: "He passed his hand all around it"]

There was no doubt in our minds whatever, when we had finished our
experiments, that the Vanity Lilies could in their own way see--though
where the machinery called eyes was placed in their anatomy we could not
as yet discover.

The Doctor spent hours and days trying to solve this problem. But, he
told me, he met with very little success. For a while he was forced to
the conclusion (since he could not find in the flowers any eyes such as
we knew) that what he had taken for a sense of vision was only some
other sense, highly developed, which produced the same results as

"After all, Stubbins," said he, "just because we ourselves only have
five senses, it doesn't follow that other creatures can't have more. It
has long been supposed that certain birds had a sixth sense. Still, the
way those flowers feel light, can tell colours, movement, and form,
makes it look very much as though they had found a way of seeing--even
if they haven't got eyes.... Humph! Yes, one might quite possibly see
with other things besides eyes."

Going through his baggage that night after our day's work was done, the
Doctor discovered among his papers an illustrated catalogue which had
somehow got packed by accident. John Dolittle, always a devoted
gardener, had catalogues sent to him from nearly every seed merchant and
nurseryman in England.

"Why, Stubbins!" he cried, turning over the pages of gorgeous annuals in
high glee--"Here's a chance; if those lilies can see we can test them
with this.--Pictures of flowers in colour!"

The next day he interviewed the Vanity Lilies with the catalogue and his
work was rewarded with very good results. Taking the brightly coloured
pictures of petunias, chrysanthemums and hollyhocks, he held them in a
good light before the faces of the lilies. Even Chee-Chee and I could
see at once that this caused quite a sensation. The great trumpet-shaped
blossoms swayed downwards and forwards on their slender stems to get a
closer view of the pages. Then they turned to one another as though in
critical conversation.

[Illustration: "He held them before the lilies"]

Later the Doctor interpreted to me the comments they had made and I
booked them among the notes. They seemed most curious to know who
these flowers were. They spoke of them (or rather of their species) in a
peculiarly personal way. This was one of the first occasions when we got
some idea or glimpses of lunar Vegetable Society, as the Doctor later
came to call it. It almost seemed as though these beautiful creatures
were surprised, like human ladies, at the portraits displayed and wanted
to know all about these foreign beauties and the lives they led.

This interest in personal appearance on the part of the lilies was, as a
matter of fact, what originally led the Doctor to call their species the
Vanity Lily. In their own strange tongue they questioned him for hours
and hours about these outlandish flowers whose pictures he had shown
them. They seemed very disappointed when he told them the actual size of
most earthly flowers. But they seemed a little pleased that their
sisters of the other world could not at least compete with them in that.
They were also much mystified when John Dolittle explained to them that
with us no flowers or plants (so far as was known) had communicated with
Man, birds, or any other members of the Animal Kingdom.

Questioning them further on this point of personal appearance, the
Doctor was quite astonished to find to what an extent it occupied their
attention. He found that they always tried to get nearer water so that
they could see their own reflections in the surface. They got terribly
upset if some bee or bird came along and disturbed the pollen powder on
their gorgeous petals or set awry the angle of their pistils.

The Doctor talked to various groups and individuals; and in the course
of his investigations he came across several plants who, while they had
begun their peaceful lives close to a nice pool or stream which they
could use as a mirror, had sadly watched while the water had dried up
and left nothing but sun-baked clay for them to look into.

So then and there John Dolittle halted his questioning of the Vanity
Lilies for a spell while he set to work to provide these unfortunates,
whose natural mirrors had dried up, with something in which they could
see themselves.

We had no regular looking-glasses of course, beyond the Doctor's own
shaving mirror, which he could not very well part with. But from the
provisions we dug out various caps and bottoms of preserved fruits and
sardine tins. These we polished with clay and rigged up on sticks so
that the lilies could see themselves in them.

[Illustration: "These we rigged up on sticks"]

"It is a fact, Stubbins," said the Doctor, "that the natural tendency is
always to grow the way you want to grow. These flowers have a definite
conscious idea of what they consider beautiful and what they consider
ugly. These contrivances we have given them, poor though they are, will
therefore have a decided effect on their evolution."

That is one of the pictures from our adventures in the Moon which always
stands out in my memory: the Vanity Lilies, happy in the possession of
their new mirrors, turning their heads this way and that to see how
their pollen-covered petals glowed in the soft light, swaying with the
wind, comparing, whispering and gossiping.

I truly believe that if other events had not interfered, the Doctor
would have been occupied quite contentedly with his study of these very
advanced plants for months. And there was certainly a great deal to be
learned from them. They told him for instance of another species of lily
that he later came to call the Poison Lily or Vampire Lily. This
flower liked to have plenty of room and it obtained it by sending out
deadly scents (much more serious in their effects than those unpleasant
ones which the Vanities used) and nothing round about it could exist for

Following the directions given by the Vanity Lilies we finally ran some
of these plants down and actually conversed with them--though we were in
continual fear that they would be displeased with us and might any
moment send out their poisonous gases to destroy us.

From still other plants which the Vanities directed us to the Doctor
learned a great deal about what he called "methods of propagating."
Certain bushes, for example, could crowd out weeds and other shrubs by
increasing the speed of their growth at will and by spreading their seed
abroad several times a year.

In our wanderings, looking for these latter plants, we came across great
fields of the "moon bells" flourishing and growing under natural
conditions. And very gorgeous indeed they looked, acres and acres of
brilliant orange. The air was full of their invigorating perfume. The
Doctor wondered if we would see anything of our giant moth near these
parts. But though we hung about for several hours we saw very few signs
of insect life.


"I don't understand it at all," John Dolittle muttered. "What reason at
least can the moth who brought us here have for keeping out of our way?"

"His reasons may not be his own," murmured Polynesia.

"What do you mean?" asked the Doctor.

"Well," said she, "others may be keeping him--and the rest, away from

"You mean the Moon Man?" said John Dolittle.

But to this Polynesia made no reply and the subject was dropped.

"That isn't the thing that's bothering me so much," said Chee-Chee.

There was a pause. And before he went on I know that all of us were
quite sure what was in his mind.

"It's our getting back home," he said at last. "Getting here was done
for us by these moon folks--for whatever reason they had. But we'd stand
a mighty poor chance of ever reaching the Earth again if they're going
to stand off and leave us to ourselves to get back."

Another short spell of silence--during which we all did a little serious
and gloomy thinking.

"Oh, well," said the Doctor, "come, come! Don't let's bother about the
stiles till we reach them. After all we don't know for certain that
these--er--whoever it is--are definitely unfriendly to us. They may have
reasons of their own for working slowly. You must remember that we are
just as strange and outlandish to them as they and their whole world are
to us. We mustn't let any idea of that kind become a nightmare. We have
only been here, let's see, not much over two weeks. It is a pleasant
land and there is lots to be learned. The Vegetable Kingdom is clearly
well disposed towards us. And if we give them time I'm sure that
the--er--others will be too, in the end."

Another matter which came up about this time was the effect of moon food
on ourselves. Polynesia was the first to remark upon it.

"Tommy," said she one day, "you seem to be getting enormously tall--and
fat, aren't you?"

[Illustration: "'Tommy, you seem to be getting enormously tall'"]

"Er--am I?" said I. "Well, I had noticed my belt seemed a bit tight.
But I thought it was just ordinary growing."

"And the Doctor too," the parrot went on. "I'll swear he's
bigger--unless my eyesight is getting queer."

"Well, we can soon prove that," said John Dolittle. "I know my height
exactly--five feet two and a half. I have a two-foot rule in the
baggage. I'll measure myself against a tree right away."

When the Doctor had accomplished this he was astonished to find that his
height had increased some three inches since he had been on the Moon. Of
what my own had been before I landed, I was not so sure; but measurement
made it too a good deal more than I had thought it. And as to my waist
line, there was no doubt that it had grown enormously. Even Chee-Chee,
when we came to look at him, seemed larger and heavier. Polynesia was of
course so small that it would need an enormous increase in her figure to
make difference enough to see.

[Illustration: "His height had increased some three inches"]

But there was no question at all that the rest of us had grown
considerably since we had been here.

"Well," said the Doctor, "I suppose it is reasonable enough. All the
vegetable and insect world here is tremendously much larger than
corresponding species in our own world. Whatever helped them to
grow--climate, food, atmosphere, air-pressure, etc.--should make us do
the same. There is a great deal in this for the investigation of
biologists and physiologists. I suppose the long seasons--or almost no
seasons at all, you might say--and the other things which contribute to
the long life of the animal and vegetable species would lengthen our
lives to hundreds of years, if we lived here continually. You know when
I was talking to the Vampire Lilies the other day they told me that even
cut flowers--which with them would mean of course only blossoms that
were broken off by the wind or accident--live perfectly fresh for weeks
and even months--provided they get a little moisture. That accounts for
the moon bells which the moth brought down with him lasting so well in
Puddleby. No, we've got to regard this climate as something entirely
different from the Earth's. There is no end to the surprises it may
spring on us yet. Oh, well, I suppose we will shrink back to our
ordinary size when we return home. Still I hope we don't grow too
gigantic. My waistcoat feels most uncomfortably tight already. It's
funny we didn't notice it earlier. But, goodness knows, we have had
enough to keep our attention occupied."

It had been indeed this absorbing interest in all the new things that
the Moon presented to our eyes that had prevented us from noticing our
own changed condition. The following few days, however, our growth went
forward at such an amazing pace that I began seriously to worry about
it. My clothes were literally splitting and the Doctor's also. Finally,
taking counsel on the matter, we proceeded to look into what means this
world offered of making new ones.

Luckily the Doctor, while he knew nothing about tailoring, did know
something about the natural history of those plants and materials that
supply clothes and textile fabrics for Man.

"Let me see," said he one afternoon when we had decided that almost
everything we wore had become too small to be kept any longer: "Cotton
is out of the question. The spinning would take too long, even if we had
any, to say nothing of the weaving. Linen? No, likewise.--I haven't seen
anything that looked like a flax plant. About all that remains is root
fibre, though heaven help us if we have to wear that kind of material
next our skins! Well, we must investigate and see what we can find."

With the aid of Chee-Chee we searched the woods. It took us several days
to discover anything suitable, but finally we did. It was an odd-looking
swamp tree whose leaves were wide and soft. We found that when these
were dried in the proper way they kept a certain pliability without
becoming stiff or brittle. And yet they were tough enough to be sewn
without tearing. Chee-Chee and Polynesia supplied us with the thread we
needed. This they obtained from certain vine tendrils--very fine--which
they shredded and twisted into yarn. Then one evening we set to work and
cut out our new suits.

"Better make them large enough," said the Doctor, waving a pair of
scissors over our rock work-table, "Goodness only knows how soon we'll
outgrow them."

We had a lot of fun at one another's expense when at length the suits
were completed and we tried them on.

"We look like a family of Robinson Crusoes," said John Dolittle. "No
matter: they will serve our purpose. Any port in a storm."

[Illustration: "'We look like a family of Robinson Crusoes'"]

For underwear we cut up all we had and made one garment out of two or
three. We were afraid as yet to try our new tailoring next the skin.
Luckily we only had to provide for a very mild climate.

"Now what about footwear?" said I when I had my coat and trousers on.
"My shoes are all split across the top."

"That part is easy," said Chee-Chee. "I know a tree in the jungle which
I found when hunting for fruits. The bark strips off easily and you can
cut it into sandals that will last quite a while. The only hard part
will be plaiting thongs strong enough to keep them in place on your

He guided us to the tree he had spoken of and we soon had outfitted
ourselves with footgear which would last us at least a week.

"Good!" said the Doctor. "Now we need not worry about clothes for a
while anyway, and can give our attention to more serious matters."


It was when we were on our way to visit still another new kind of plant
that the subject of the Moon's early history came up again in
conversation. The Doctor had heard of a "whispering vine" which used, as
a method of conversation, the rattling or whispering of its leaves.

"Do you remember, Chee-Chee," the Doctor asked, "if your grandmother
ever spoke, in her stories of very ancient times, of any peculiar or
extraordinary plants or trees?"

"I don't think so, Doctor," he replied. "My grandmother in her talks of
the Time Before There Was a Moon kept pretty much to animals and people.
She hardly ever mentioned the trees or vegetable world, except to say of
this country or that, that it was heavily wooded, or bare and desert.

"Well, of course in my mind there is no doubt that the Moon was once a
part of the Earth, as many scientists believe. And if so I am wondering
why we do not see more plants and trees of our own home kinds here."

"Well, but we have, Doctor," said Polynesia. "How about the Asparagus

"Quite so," said the Doctor. "There have been many that reminded one of
earthly species in their shapes, even if they have grown into giants
here. But this speech among plants and trees--and other evidences of
social advance and development in the Vegetable Kingdom--is something so
established and accepted here I am all the time wondering if something
like it had not started on the Earth long ago--say in the Days Before
There Was a Moon. And it was merely because our naturalists were not
quick enough to--er--catch on to it, that we supposed there was no means
of communication among flowers and trees."

"Let me think," said Chee-Chee, and he held his forehead tightly with
both hands.

[Illustration: "'Let me think,' said Chee-Chee"]

"No," he said after a while, "I don't recall my grandmother's speaking
of things like that at all. I remember in her story of Otho Bludge, the
prehistoric artist, that she told us about certain woods he used to make
handles for his flint chisels and other tools and household implements.
She described the wood, for instance, that he used to make bowls out of
for carrying water in. But she never spoke of trees and plants that
could talk."

It was about midday and we had halted for lunch on our excursion in
search of the Whispering Vines we had been told of. We were not more
than two or three hours' walk from our old base camp. But that, with the
speed so easy in moon marching, means a much greater distance than it
does on the Earth. From this camp where the Doctor had set up his
apparatus for his special botanical studies, we had now for nearly a
week been making daily expeditions in search of the various new species
that the Vanity Lilies had described for us. But we always got back
before nightfall. Well, this noon the Doctor was leaning back, munching
a large piece of yellow yam--a vegetable we got from the edges of the
jungle and which we had found so nourishing we had made it almost our
chief article of diet.

[Illustration: "Leaning back, munching a piece of yellow yam"]

"Tell me, Chee-Chee," said he: "what was the end of that story about
Otho Bludge the prehistoric artist? It was a most fascinating tale."

"Well, I think I have told you," said Chee-Chee, "pretty nearly all
there was to tell. In the Days Before There Was a Moon, as Grandmother
always began, Otho Bludge was a man alone, a man apart. Making pictures
on horn and bone with a stone knife, that was his hobby. His great
ambition was to make a picture of Man. But there was no one to draw
from, for Otho Bludge was a man alone. One day, when he wished aloud for
some one to make a picture from, he saw this beautiful girl--Pippiteepa
was her name--kneeling on a rock waiting for him to make a portrait of
her. He made it--the best work he ever did, carved into the flat of a
reindeer's antler. About her right ankle she wore a string of blue stone
beads. When the picture was finished she started to disappear again into
the mountains' evening mist, as mysteriously as she had come. Otho
called to her to stay. She was the only human being he had ever seen
besides his own image in the pools. He wanted her company, poor Otho
Bludge, the carver of horn, the man apart. But even as she passed into
the twilight for ever she cried out to him that she could not stay--for
she was of the Fairy Folk and not of his kin. He rushed to the rock
where she had knelt; but all he found was the string of blue stone beads
which she had worn about her ankle. Otho, broken-hearted, took them and
bound them on his own wrist where he wore them night and day, hoping
always that she would come back.

"There is nothing more. We youngsters used to pester my grandmother for
a continuance of the tale. It seemed so sad, so unsatisfying, an ending.
But the old lady insisted that that was the end. Not long after
apparently Otho Bludge, the carver of horn and the man apart, just
disappeared, completely, as though the Earth had swallowed him up."

"Humph!" muttered the Doctor. "Have you any idea when?"

"No," said the monkey. "You see, even my grandmother's ideas of time and
place in these stories she told us were very hazy. She had only had them
handed down to her by her parents and grandparents, just as she passed
them on to us. But I am pretty sure it was around the time of the Great
Flood. Grandmother used to divide her stories into two periods: those
belonging to the Days Before There Was a Moon and those that happened
after. The name of Otho Bludge the artist only came into those before."

"I see," said the Doctor thoughtfully. "But tell me: can you recall
anything your grandmother said about the time of the change--I mean,
when the one period left off and the other began?"

"Not a very great deal," said Chee-Chee. "It was the same when we
questioned her about the Flood. That that event had taken place, there
was no doubt; but, except for a few details, very little seemed to have
been handed down as to how it came about, or of what was going on on the
Earth at the time, or immediately after it. I imagine they were both
great catastrophes--perhaps both came together--and such confusion fell
upon all creatures that they were far too busy to take notes, and too
scattered afterwards to keep a very clear picture in their minds. But I
do remember that my grandmother said the first night when the Moon
appeared in the sky some of our monkey ancestors saw a group of men
kneeling on a mountain-top worshipping it. They had always been
sun-worshippers and were now offering up prayers to the Moon also,
saying it must be the Sun's Wife,"

"But," asked the Doctor, "did not Man know that the Moon must have flown
off from the Earth?"

"That is not very clear," said Chee-Chee. "We often questioned my
grandmother on this point. But there were certainly some awful big gaps
in her information. It was like a history put together from odd bits
that had been seen from different sides of the Earth and filled in by
gossip and hearsay generations after. It seems that to begin with the
confusion was terrible. Darkness covered the Earth, the noise of a
terrible explosion followed and there was great loss of life. Then the
sea rushed into the hole that had been made, causing more havoc and
destruction still. Man and beast slunk into caves for shelter or ran
wild across the mountains, or just lay down and covered their eyes to
shut out the dreadful vision. From what Monkey History has to relate,
none lived who had actually seen the thing take place. But that I have
always doubted. And much later there was a regular war among mankind
when human society had pulled itself together again sufficiently to get
back to something like the old order."

[Illustration: "A terrible explosion followed"]

"What was the war about?" asked the Doctor.

"Well, by that time," said Chee-Chee, "Man had multiplied considerably
and there were big cities everywhere. The war was over the question: Was
the Moon a goddess, or was she not? The old sun-worshippers said she was
the wife or daughter of the Sun and was therefore entitled to adoration.
Those who said the Moon had flown off from the flanks of the Earth had
given up worshipping the Sun. They held that if the Earth had the power
to shoot off another world like that, that it should be adored, as the
Mother Earth from which we got everything, and not the Sun. They said it
showed the Earth was the centre of all things, since the Sun had never
shot off children. Then there were others who said that the Sun and the
new Earth should be adored as gods--and yet others that wanted all
three, Sun and Earth and Moon, to form a great triangle of Almighty
Power. The war was a terrible one, men killing one another in
thousands--greatly to the astonishment of the Monkey People. For to us
it did not seem that any of the various parties really knew anything
for certain about the whole business."

"Dear, dear," the Doctor muttered as Chee-Chee ended. "The first
religious strife-the first of so many. What a pity!--Just as though it
mattered to any one what his neighbour believed so long as he himself
led a sincere and useful life and was happy!"


This expedition on the trail of the Whispering Vines proved to be one of
the most fruitful and satisfactory of all our excursions.

When we finally arrived at the home of this species, we found it a very
beautiful place. It was a rocky gulch hard by the jungle, where a dense
curtain of creepers hung down into a sort of pocket precipice with a
spring-fed pool at the bottom. In such a place you could imagine fairies
dancing in the dusk, wild beasts of the forest sheltering, or outlaws
making their headquarters.

[Illustration: "It was a rocky gulch"]

With a squawk Polynesia flew up and settled in the hanging tendrils that
draped the rock wall. Instantly we saw a general wave of movement go
through the vines and a whispering noise broke out which could be
plainly heard by any ears. Evidently the vines were somewhat disturbed
at this invasion by a bird they did not know. Polynesia, a little upset
herself, flew back to us at once.

"Shiver my timbers!" said she in a disgruntled mutter. "This country
would give a body the creeps. Those vines actually moved and squirmed
like snakes when I took a hold of them."

"They are not used to you, Polynesia," laughed the Doctor. "You probably
scared them to death. Let us see if we can get into conversation with

Here the Doctor's experience with the Singing Trees came in very
helpfully. I noticed as I watched him go to work with what small
apparatus he had brought with him that he now seemed much surer of how
to begin. And it was indeed a surprisingly short time before he was
actually in conversation with them, as though he had almost been talking
with them all his life.

Presently he turned to me and spoke almost the thought that was in my

"Stubbins," he said, "the ease with which these plants answer me would
almost make me think they have spoken with a man before! Look, I can
actually make responses with the lips, like ordinary human speech."

He dropped the little contrivance he held in his hands and hissing
softly through his teeth he gave out a sort of whispered cadence. It was
a curious combination between some one humming a tune and hissing a
conversational sentence.

Usually it had taken John Dolittle some hours, occasionally some days,
to establish a communication with these strange almost human moon trees
good enough to exchange ideas with them. But both Chee-Chee and I
grunted with astonishment at the way they instantly responded to his
whispered speech. Swinging their leafy tendrils around to meet the
breeze at a certain angle, they instantly gave back a humming, hissing
message that might have been a repetition of that made by the Doctor

"They say they are glad to see us, Stubbins," he jerked out over his

"Why, Doctor," I said, "this is marvellous! You got results right away.
I never saw anything like it."

"They have spoken with a man before," he repeated. "Not a doubt of it. I
can tell by the way they--Good gracious, what's this?"

He turned and found Chee-Chee tugging at his left sleeve. I have never
seen the poor monkey so overcome with fright. He stuttered and jibbered
but no intelligible sounds came through his chattering teeth.

"Why, Chee-Chee!" said the Doctor. "What is it?--What's wrong?"

"Look!"--was all he finally managed to gulp.

He pointed down to the margin of the pond lying at the foot of the
cliff. We had scaled up to a shelf of rock to get nearer to the vines
for convenience. Where the monkey now pointed there was clearly visible
in the yellow sand of the pool's beach two enormous footprints such as
we had seen by the shores of the lake.

"The Moon Man!" the Doctor whispered.--"Well, I was sure of it--that
these vines had spoken with a man before. I wonder--"

"Sh!" Polynesia interrupted. "Don't let them see you looking. But when
you get a chance glance up towards the left-hand shoulder of the gulch."

Both the Doctor and I behaved as though we were proceeding with our
business of conversing with the vines. Then pretending I was scratching
my ear I looked up in the direction the parrot had indicated. There I
saw several birds. They were trying to keep themselves hidden among the
leaves. But there was no doubt that they were there on the watch.

[Illustration: "There was no doubt that they were on the watch"]

As we turned back to our work an enormous shadow passed over us,
shutting off the light of the sun. We looked up, fearing as any one
would, some attack or danger from the air. Slowly a giant moth of the
same kind that had brought us to this mysterious world sailed across the
heavens and disappeared.

A general silence fell over us all that must have lasted a good three

"Well," said the Doctor at length, "if this means that the Animal
Kingdom has decided finally to make our acquaintance, so much the
better. Those are the first birds we have seen--and that was the first
insect--since our moth left us. Curious, to find the bird life so much
smaller than the insect. However, I suppose they will let us know more
when they are ready. Meantime we have plenty to do here. Have you a note
book, Stubbins?"

"Yes, Doctor," said I. "I'm quite prepared whenever you are."

Thereupon the Doctor proceeded with his conversation with the Whispering
Vines and fired off questions and answers so fast that I was kept more
than busy booking what he said.

[Illustration: "Proceeded with his conversation with the vines"]

It was indeed, as I have told you, by far the most satisfactory inquiry
we had made into the life of the Moon, animal or vegetable, up to that
time. Because while these vines had not the almost human appearance of
the Vanity Lilies, they did seem to be in far closer touch with the
general life of the Moon. The Doctor asked them about this warfare which
we had heard of from the last plants we had visited--the struggle that
occurred when one species of plant wished for more room and had to push
away its intruding neighbours. And it was then for the first time we
heard about the Council.

"Oh," said they, "you mustn't get the idea that one species of plant is
allowed to make war for its own benefit regardless of the lives or
rights of others. Oh, dear, no! We folk of the Moon have long since got
past that. There was a day when we had constant strife, species against
species, plants against plants, birds against insects, and so on. But
not any more."

"Well, how do you manage?" asked the Doctor, "when two different species
want the same thing?"

"It's all arranged by the Council," said the vines.

"Er--excuse me," said the Doctor. "I don't quite understand. What

"Well, you see," said the vines, "some hundreds of years ago--that is,
of course, well within the memory of most of us, we--"

"Excuse me again," the Doctor interrupted. "Do you mean that most of the
plants and insects and birds here have been living several centuries

"Why, certainly," said the Whispering Vines. "Some, of course, are older
than others. But here on the Moon we consider a plant or a bird or a
moth quite young if he has seen no more than two hundred years. And
there are several trees, and a few members of the Animal Kingdom too,
whose memories go back to over a thousand years."

"You don't say!" murmured the Doctor. "I realized, of course, that your
lives were much longer than ours on the Earth. But I had no idea you
went as far back as that. Goodness me!--Well, please go on."

"In the old days, then, before we instituted the Council," the vines
continued, "there was a terrible lot of waste and slaughter. They tell
of one time when a species of big lizard overran the whole Moon. They
grew so enormous that they ate up almost all the green stuff there was.
No tree or bush or plant got a chance to bring itself to seeding-time
because as soon as it put out a leaf it was gobbled up by those hungry
brutes. Then the rest of us got together to see what we could do."

[Illustration: "A species of big lizard overran the Moon"]

"Er--pardon," said the Doctor. "But how do you mean, got together? You
plants could not move, could you?"

"Oh, no," said the vines. "We couldn't move, But we could communicate
with the rest--take part in conferences, as it were, by means of
messengers--birds and insects, you know."

"How long ago was that?" asked the Doctor.--"I mean, for how long has
the animal and vegetable world here been able to communicate with one

"Precisely," said the vines, "we can't tell you. Of course, some sort of
communication goes back a perfectly enormous long way, some hundreds of
thousands of years. But it was not always as good as it is now. It has
been improving all the time. Nowadays it would be impossible for
anything of any importance at all to happen in our corner of the Moon
without its being passed along through plants and trees and insects and
birds to every other corner of our globe within a few moments. For
instance, we have known almost every movement you and your party have
made since you landed in our world."

"Dear me!" muttered the Doctor. "I had no idea. However, please

"Of course," they went on, "it was not always so. But after the
institution of the Council communication and co-operation became much
better and continued to grow until it reached its present stage."


The Whispering Vines then went on to tell the Doctor in greater detail
of that institution which they had vaguely spoken of already, "The
Council." This was apparently a committee or general government made up
of members from both the Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms. Its main purpose
was to regulate life on the Moon in such a way that there should be no
more warfare. For example, if a certain kind of shrub wanted more room
for expansion, and the territory it wished to take over was already
occupied by, we'll say, bullrushes, it was not allowed to thrust out its
neighbour without first submitting the case to the Council. Or if a
certain kind of butterfly wished to feed upon the honey of some flower
and was interfered with by a species of bee or beetle, again the
argument had to be put to the vote of this all-powerful committee before
any action could be taken.

This information explained a great deal which had heretofore puzzled us.

"You see, Stubbins," said the Doctor, "the great size of almost all life
here, the development of intelligence in plant forms, and much more
besides, could not possibly have come about if this regulation had not
been in force. Our world could learn a lot from the Moon, Stubbins--the
Moon, its own child whom it presumes to despise! We have no balancing or
real protection of life. With us it is, and has always been, 'dog eat

The Doctor shook his head and gazed off into space to where the globe of
our mother Earth glowed dimly. Just so had I often seen the Moon from
Puddleby by daylight.

[Illustration: "Where the globe of the Earth glowed dimly"]

"Yes," he repeated, his manner becoming of a sudden deeply serious, "our
world that thinks itself so far advanced has not the wisdom, the
foresight, Stubbins, which we have seen here. Fighting, gighting,
fighting, always fighting!--So it goes on down there with us.... The
'survival of the fittest'! ... I've spent my whole life trying to help the
animal, the so-called lower, forms of life. I don't mean I am
complaining. Far from it. I've had a very good time getting in touch
with the beasts and winning their friendship. If I had my life over
again I'd do just the same thing. But often, so often, I have felt that
in the end it was bound to be a losing game. It is this thing here, this
Council of Life--of life adjustment--that could have saved the day and
brought happiness to all."

"Yes, Doctor," said I, "but listen: compared with our world, they have
no animal life here at all, so far as we've seen. Only insets and birds.
They've no lions or tigers who have to hunt for deer and wild goats to
get a living, have they?"

"True, Stubbins--probably true," said he. "But don't forget that that
same warfare of species against species goes on in the Insect Kingdom as
well as among the larger carnivora. In another million years from now
some scientist may show that the war going on between Man and the House
Fly to-day is the most important thing in current history.--And besides,
who shall say what kind of a creature the tiger was before he took to a
diet of meat?"

John Dolittle then turned back to the vines and asked some further
questions. These were mostly about the Council; how it worked; of what
it was composed; how often it met, etc. And the answers that they gave
filled out a picture which we had already half guessed and half seen of
Life on the Moon.

When I come to describe it I find myself wishing that I were a great
poet, or at all events a great writer. For this moon-world was indeed a
land of wondrous rest. Trees that sang; flowers that could see;
butterflies and bees that conversed with one another and with the plants
on which they fed, watched over by a parent council that guarded the
interests of great and small, strong and weak, alike--the whole
community presented a world of peace, goodwill and happiness which no
words of mine could convey a fair idea of.

"One thing I don't quite understand," said the Doctor to the vines, "is
how you manage about seeding. Don't some of the plants throw down too
much seed and bring forth a larger crop than is desirable?"

"That," said the Whispering Vines, "is taken care of by the birds. They
have orders to eat up all the seed except a certain quantity for each
species of plant."

"Humph!" said the Doctor. "I hope I have not upset things for the
Council. I did a little experimental planting myself when I first
arrived here. I had brought several kinds of seed with me from the Earth
and I wanted to see how they would do in this climate. So far, however,
the seeds have not come up at all."

The vines swayed slightly with a rustling sound that might easily have
been a titter of amusement.

"You have forgotten, Doctor," said they, "that news travels fast in the
Moon. Your gardening experiments were seen and immediately reported to
the Council. And after you had gone back to your camp every single seed
that you had planted was carefully dug up by long-billed birds and
destroyed. The Council is awfully particular about seeds. It has to be.
If we got overrun by any plant, weed or shrub, all of our peaceful
balance would be upset and goodness knows what might happen. Why, the

[Illustration: "Every single seed was carefully dug up by long-billed

The particular vines which were doing the talking were three large ones
that hung close by the Doctor's shoulder. In a very sudden and curious
manner they had broken off in the middle of what they were saying like a
person who had let something slip out in conversation which had been
better left unsaid. Instantly a tremendous excitement was visible
throughout all the creepers that hung around the gulch. You never saw
such swaying, writhing, twisting and agitation. With squawks of alarm a
number of brightly coloured birds fluttered out of the curtain of leaves
and flew away over the rocky shoulders above our heads.

"What's the matter?--What has happened, Doctor?" I asked as still more
birds left the concealment of the creepers and disappeared in the

[Illustration: "Still more birds left the concealment of the creepers"]

"I've no idea, Stubbins," said he. "Some one has said a little too much,
I fancy. Tell me," he asked, turning to the vines again: "Who is the

"The president of the Council," they replied after a pause.

"Yes, that I understand," said the Doctor. "But what, who, is he?"

For a little there was no answer, while the excitement and agitation
broke out with renewed confusion among the long tendrils that draped the
rocky alcove. Evidently some warnings and remarks were being exchanged
which we were not to understand.

At last the original vines which had acted as spokesmen in the
conversation addressed John Dolittle again.

"We are sorry," they said, "but we have our orders. Certain things we
have been forbidden to tell you."

"Who forbade you?" asked the Doctor.

But from then on not a single word would they answer. The Doctor made
several attempts to get them talking again but without success. Finally
we were compelled to give it up and return to camp--which we reached
very late.

"I think," said Polynesia, as the Doctor, Chee-Chee and I set about
preparing the vegetarian supper, "that we sort of upset Society in the
Moon this afternoon. Gracious, I never saw such a land in my life!--And
I've seen a few. I suppose that by now every bumble bee and weed on the
whole globe is talking about the Whispering Vines and the slip they made
in mentioning the President. President! Shiver my timbers! You'd think
he were St. Peter himself! What are they making such a mystery about,
I'd like to know?"

"We'll probably learn pretty soon now," said the Doctor, cutting into a
huge melon-like fruit. "I have a feeling that they won't think it worth
while to hold aloof from us much longer.--I hope not anyway."

"Me too," said Chee-Chee. "Frankly, this secrecy is beginning to get
under my skin. I'd like to feel assured that we are going to be given a
passage back to Puddleby. For a while, anyway, I've had enough of

"Oh, well, don't worry," said the Doctor. "I still feel convinced that
we'll be taken care of. Whoever it was that got us up here did so with
some good intention. When I have done what it is that's wanted of me,
arrangements will be made for putting us back on the Earth, never fear."

"Humph!" grunted Polynesia, who was cracking nuts on a limb above our
heads. "I hope you're right. I'm none too sure, myself--No, none too


That night was, I think, the most disturbed one that we spent in the
whole course of our stay on the Moon. Not one of us slept soundly or
continuously. For one thing, our growth had proceeded at an alarming and
prodigious rate; and what bedding we had (we slept in that mild climate
with the blankets under us instead of over us) had become absurdly short
and insufficient for our new figures. Knees and elbows spilled over the
sides and got dreadfully sore on the hard earth. But besides that
discomfort, we were again conscious throughout the whole night of
mysterious noises and presences. Every one of us seemed to be uneasy in
his mind. I remember waking up one time and hearing the Doctor,
Chee-Chee and Polynesia all talking in their sleep at the same time.

Hollow-eyed and unrested we finally, at daybreak, crawled out of our
various roosts and turned silently to the business of getting breakfast.
That veteran campaigner Polynesia was the first to pull herself
together. She came back from examining the ground about the camp with a
very serious look on her old face.

[Illustration: "With a very serious look on her old face"]

"Well," said she, "if there's any one in the Moon who hasn't been
messing round our bunks while we slept I'd like to know who it is."

"Why?" asked the Doctor. "Anything unusual?"

"Come and see," said the parrot, and led the way out into the clearing
that surrounded our bunks and baggage.

Well, we were accustomed to finding tracks around our home, but this
which Polynesia showed us was certainly something quite out of the
ordinary. For a belt of a hundred yards or more about our headquarters
the earth and sand and mud was a mass of footprints. Strange insect
tracks, the marks of enormous birds, and--most evident of
all--numberless prints of that gigantic human foot which we had seen

"Tut, tut!" said the Doctor peevishly. "They don't do us any harm
anyway. What does it matter if they come and look at us in our sleep?
I'm not greatly interested, Polynesia. Let us take breakfast. A few
extra tracks don't make much difference."

We sat down and started the meal.

But John Dolittle's prophecy that the Animal Kingdom would not delay
much longer in getting in touch with us was surprisingly and suddenly
fulfilled. I had a piece of yam smeared with honey half-way to my mouth
when I became conscious of an enormous shadow soaring over me. I looked
up and there was the giant moth who had brought us from Puddleby; I
could hardly believe my eyes. With a graceful sweep of his gigantic
wings he settled down beside me--a battleship beside a mouse--as though
such exact and accurate landings were no more than a part of the
ordinary day's work.

We had no time to remark on the moth's arrival before two or three more
of the same kind suddenly swept up from nowhere, fanned the dust all
over us with their giant wings and settled down beside their brother.

Next, various birds appeared. Some species among these we had already
seen in the vines. But there were many we had not: enormous storks,
geese, swans and several others. Half of them seemed little bigger than
their own kind on the Earth. But others were unbelievably large and were
coloured and shaped somewhat differently--though you could nearly always
tell to what family they belonged.

[Illustration: "Others were unbelievably large"]

Again more than one of us opened his mouth to say something and then
closed it as some new and stranger arrival made its appearance and
joined the gathering. The bees were the next. I remembered then seeing
different kinds on the Earth, though I had never made a study of them.
Here they all came trooping, magnified into great terrible-looking
monsters out of a dream: the big black bumble bee, the little yellow
bumble bee, the common honey bee, the bright green, fast-flying, slender
bee. And with them came all their cousins and relatives, though there
never seemed to be more than two or three specimens of each kind.

I could see that poor Chee-Chee was simply scared out of his wits. And
little wonder! Insects of this size gathering silently about one were
surely enough to appal the stoutest heart. Yet to me they were not
entirely terrible. Perhaps I was merely taking my cue from the Doctor
who was clearly more interested than alarmed. But besides that, the
manner of the creatures did not appear unfriendly. Serious and orderly,
they seemed to be gathering according to a set plan; and I felt sure
that very soon something was going to happen which would explain it all.

And sure enough, a few moments later, when the ground about our camp was
literally one solid mass of giant insects and birds, we heard a tread.
Usually a footfall in the open air makes little or no sound at
all--though it must not be forgotten that we had found that sound of any
kind travelled much more readily on the Moon than on the Earth. But this
was something quite peculiar. Actually it shook the ground under us in a
way that might have meant an earthquake. Yet somehow one knew it was a

Chee-Chee ran to the Doctor and hid under his coat. Polynesia never
moved, just sat there on her tree-branch, looking rather peeved and
impatient but evidently interested. I followed the direction of her gaze
with my own eyes, for I knew that her instinct was always a good guide.
I found that she was watching the woods that surrounded the clearing
where we had established our camp. Her beady little eyes were fixed
immovably on a V-shaped cleft in the horizon of trees away to my left.

It is curious how in those important moments I always seemed to keep an
eye on old Polynesia. I don't mean to say that I did not follow the
Doctor and stand ready to take his orders. But whenever anything unusual
or puzzling like this came up, especially a case where animals were
concerned, it was my impulse to keep an eye on the old parrot to see how
she was taking it.

Now I saw her cocking her head on one side--in a quite characteristic
pose--looking upward towards the cleft in the forest wall. She was
muttering something beneath her breath (probably in Swedish, her
favourite swearing language), but I could not make out more than a low
peevish murmur. Presently, watching with her, I thought I saw the trees
sway. Then something large and round seemed to come in view above them
in the cleft.

It was now growing dusk. It had taken, we suddenly realized, a whole day
for the creatures to gather; and in our absorbed interest we had not
missed our meals. One could not be certain of his vision, I noticed the
Doctor suddenly half rise, spilling poor old Chee-Chee out upon the
ground. The big round thing above the tree-tops grew bigger and higher;
it swayed gently as it came forward and with it the forest swayed also,
as grass moves when a cat stalks through it.

Any minute I was expecting the Doctor to say something. The creature
approaching, whatever--whoever--it was, must clearly be so monstrous
that everything we had met with on the Moon so far would dwindle into
insignificance in comparison.

And still old Polynesia sat motionless on her limb muttering and
spluttering like a fire-cracker on a damp night.

Very soon we could hear other sounds from the oncoming creature besides
his earth-shaking footfall. Giant trees snapped and crackled beneath his
tread like twigs under a mortal's foot. I confess that an ominous terror
clutched at my heart too now. I could sympathize with poor Chee-Chee's
timidity. Oddly enough though at this, the most terrifying moment in all
our experience on the Moon, the monkey did not try to conceal himself.
He was standing beside the Doctor fascinatedly watching the great shadow
towering above the trees.

Onward, nearer, came the lumbering figure. Soon there was no mistaking
its shape. It had cleared the woods now. The gathered insects and
waiting birds were making way for it. Suddenly we realized that it was
towering over us, quite near, its long arms hanging at its sides. It
was human.

[Illustration: "It was human!"]

We had seen the Moon Man at last!

"Well, for pity's sake!" squawked Polynesia, breaking the awed silence.
"You may be a frightfully important person here. But my goodness! It has
taken you an awfully long time to come and call on us!"

Serious as the occasion was in all conscience, Polynesia's remarks,
continued in an uninterrupted stream of annoyed criticism, finally gave
me the giggles. And after I once got started I couldn't have kept a
straight face if I had been promised a fortune.

The dusk had now settled down over the strange assembly. Starlight
glowed weirdly in the eyes of the moths and birds that stood about us,
like a lamp's flame reflected in the eyes of a cat. As I made another
effort to stifle my silly titters I saw John Dolittle, the size of his
figure looking perfectly absurd in comparison with the Moon Man's, rise
to meet the giant who had come to visit us.

"I am glad to meet you--at last," said he in dignified well-bred
English. A curious grunt of incomprehension was all that met his

Then seeing that the Moon Man evidently did not follow his language,
John Dolittle set to work to find some tongue that would be
understandable to him. I suppose there never was, and probably never
will be, any one who had the command of languages that the Doctor had.
One by one he ran through most of the earthly human tongues that are
used to-day or have been preserved from the past. None of them had the
slightest effect upon the Moon Man. Turning to animal languages however,
the Doctor met with slightly better results. A word here and there
seemed to be understood.

But it was when John Dolittle fell back on the languages of the Insect
and Vegetable Kingdoms that the Moon Man at last began to wake up and
show interest. With fixed gaze Chee-Chee, Polynesia and I watched the
two figures as they wrestled with the problems of common speech. Minute
after minute went by, hour after hour. Finally the Doctor made a signal
to me behind his back and I knew that now he was really ready. I picked
up my note book and pencil from the ground.

As I laid back a page in preparation for dictation there came a strange
cry from Chee-Chee.

"Look!--The right wrist!--Look!"

[Illustration: "'Look!--The right wrist!--Look!'"]

We peered through the twilight.... Yes, there was something around the
giant's wrist, but so tight that it was almost buried in the flesh. The
Doctor touched it gently. But before he could say anything Chee-Chee's
voice broke out again, his words cutting the stillness in a curious,
hoarse, sharp whisper.

"The blue stone beads!--Don't you see them?... They don't fit him any
more since he's grown a giant. But he's Otho Bludge the artist. That's
the bracelet he got from Pippiteepa the grandmother of the Fairies!:--It
is he, Doctor, Otho Bludge, who was blown off the Earth in the Days
Before There Was a Moon!"


"All right, Chee-Chee, all right," said the Doctor hurriedly. "Wait now.
We'll see what we can find out. Don't get excited."

In spite of the Doctor's reassuring words, I could see that he himself
was by this time quite a little agitated. And for that no one could
blame him. After weeks in this weird world where naught but
extraordinary things came up day after day we had been constantly
wondering when we'd see the strange Human whose traces and influence
were everywhere so evident. Now at last he had appeared.

I gazed up at the gigantic figure rearing away into the skies above our
heads. With one of his feet he could easily have crushed the lot of us
like so many cockroaches. Yet he, with the rest of the gathering, seemed
not unfriendly to us, if a bit puzzled by our size. As for John
Dolittle, he may have been a little upset by Chee-Chee's announcement,
but he certainly wasn't scared. He at once set to work to get into touch
with this strange creature who had called on us. And, as was usual with
his experiments of this kind, the other side seemed more than willing to

The giant wore very little clothes. A garment somewhat similar to our
own, made from the flexible bark and leaves we had discovered in the
forest, covered his middle from the arm-pits down to the lower thighs.
His hair was long and shaggy, falling almost to his shoulders. The
Doctor measured up to a line somewhere near his ankle-bone. Apparently
realizing that it was difficult for John Dolittle to talk with him at
that range, the giant made a movement with his hand and at once the
insects nearest to us rose and crawled away. In the space thus cleared
the man-monster sat down to converse with his visitors from the Earth.

It was curious that after this I too no longer feared the enormous
creature who looked like something from a fairy-tale or a nightmare.
Stretching down a tremendous hand, he lifted the Doctor, as though he
had been a doll, and set him upon his bare knee. From this height--at
least thirty feet above my head--John Dolittle clambered still further
up the giant's frame till he stood upon his shoulder.

Here he apparently had much greater success in making himself understood
than he had had lower down. By standing on tip-toe he could just reach
the Moon Man's ear. Presently descending to the knee again, he began
calling to me.

"Stubbins--I say, Stubbins! Have you got a notebook handy?"

[Illustration: "'Stubbins!--I say, Stubbins!'"]

"Yes, Doctor. In my pocket. Do you want me to take dictation?"

"Please," he shouted back--for all the world like a foreman yelling
orders from a high building. "Get this down. I have hardly established
communication yet, but I want you to book some preliminary notes. Are
you ready?"

As a matter of fact, the Doctor in his enthusiasm had misjudged how easy
he'd find it to converse with the Moon Man. For a good hour I stood
waiting with my pencil poised and no words for dictation were handed
down. Finally the Doctor called to me that he would have to delay
matters a little till he got in close touch with our giant visitor.

"Humph!" grunted Polynesia. "I don't see why he bothers. I never saw
such an unattractive enormous brute.--Doesn't look as though he had the
wits of a caterpillar anyway. And to think that it was this great lump
of unintelligent mutton that has kept the Doctor--John Dolittle,
M.D.--and the rest of us, hanging about till it suited him to call on
us!--After sending for us, mind you! That's the part that rattles me!"

"Oh, but goodness!" muttered Chee-Chee, peering up at the towering
figure in the dusk. "Think--think how old he is! That man was living
when the Moon separated from the Earth--thousands, maybe millions, of
years ago! Golly, what an age!"

"Yes: he's old enough to know better," snapped the parrot--"better
manners anyway. Just because he's fat and overgrown is no reason why he
should treat his guests with such outrageous rudeness."

"Oh, but come now, Polynesia," I said, "we must not forget that this is
a human being who has been separated from his own kind for centuries and
centuries. And even such civilization as he knew on the Earth, way back
in those Stone Age days, was not, I imagine, anything to boast of.
Pretty crude, I'll bet it was, the world then. The wonder is, to my way
of thinking, that he has any mind at all--with no other humans to mingle
with through all that countless time. I'm not surprised that John
Dolittle finds it difficult to talk with him."

"Oh, well now, Tommy Stubbins," said she, "that may sound all very
scientific and high-falutin. But just the same there's no denying that
this overgrown booby was the one who got us up here. And the least he
could have done was to see that we were properly received and cared
for--instead of letting us fish for ourselves with no one to guide us or
to put us on to the ropes. Very poor hospitality, I call it."

[Illustration: "'Very poor hospitality, I call it'"]

"You seem to forget, Polynesia," I said mildly, "that in spite of our
small size, we may have seemed--as the Doctor said--quite as fearful to
him and his world as he and his have been to us--even if he did arrange
to get us here. Did you notice that he limped?"

"I did," said she, tossing her head. "He dragged his left foot after him
with an odd gait. Pshaw! I'll bet that's what he got the Doctor up here
for--rheumatism or a splinter in his toe. Still, what I don't
understand is how he heard of John Dolittle, famous though he is, with
no communication between his world and ours."

It was very interesting to me to watch the Doctor trying to talk with
the Moon Man. I could not make the wildest guess at what sort of
language it could be that they would finally hit upon. After all that
time of separation from his fellows, how much could this strange
creature remember of a mother tongue?

As a matter of fact, I did not find out that evening at all. The Doctor
kept at his experiments, in his usual way, entirely forgetful of time or
anything else. After I had watched for a while Chee-Chee's head nodding
sleepily I finally dozed off myself.

[Illustration: "I watched Chee-Chee's head nodding sleepily"]

When I awoke it was daylight. The Doctor was still engaged with the
giant in his struggles to understand and be understood. However, I could
see at once that he was encouraged. I shouted up to him that it was
breakfast-time. He heard, nodded back to me and then apparently asked
the giant to join us at our meal. I was surprised and delighted to see
with what ease he managed to convey this idea to our big friend. For the
Moon Man at once sat him down upon the ground near our tarpaulin which
served as a table-cloth and gazed critically over the foodstuffs laid
out. We offered him some of our famous yellow yam. At this he shook his
head vigorously. Then with signs and grunts he proceeded to explain
something to John Dolittle.

"He tells me, Stubbins," said the Doctor presently, "that the yellow yam
is the principal cause of rapid growth. Everything in this world, it
seems, tends towards size; but this particular food is the worst. He
advises us to drop it--unless we want to grow as big as he is. He has
been trying to get back to our size, apparently, for ever so long."

"Try him with some of the melon, Doctor," said Chee-Chee.

This, when offered to the Moon Man, was accepted gladly; and for a
little we all munched in silence.

"How are you getting on with his language, Doctor?" I asked presently.

"Oh, so so," he grumbled. "It's odd--awfully strange. At first I
supposed it would be something like most human languages, a variation of
vocal sounds. And I tried for hours to get in touch with him along those
lines. But it was only a few vague far-off memories that I could bring
out. I was, of course, particularly interested to link up a connection
with some earthly language. Finally I went on to the languages of the
insects and the plants and found that he spoke all dialects, in both,
perfectly. On the whole I am awfully pleased with my experiments. Even
if I cannot link him up with some of our own dead languages, at least
his superior knowledge of the insect and vegetable tongues will be of
great value to me."

"Has he said anything so far about why he got you up here?" asked

"Not as yet," said the Doctor. "But we've only just begun, you know. All
in good time, Polynesia, all in good time."


The Doctor's warning to the parrot that perhaps we were just as
terrifying to the Moon Man (in spite of his size) as he and his world
were to us, proved to be quite true. After breakfast was over and I got
out the usual note book for dictation it soon appeared that this giant,
the dread President of the Council, was the mildest creature living. He
let us crawl all over him and seemed quite pleased that we took so much
interest in him. This did not appear to surprise the Doctor, who from
the start had regarded him as a friend. But to Chee-Chee and myself, who
had thought that he might gobble us up at any moment, it was, to say the
least, a great relief. I will not set down here in detail that first
talk between the Moon Man and the Doctor. It was very long and went into
a great many matters of languages and natural history that might not be
of great interest to the general reader. But here and there in my report
of that conversation I may dictate it word for word, where such a course
may seem necessary to give a clear picture of the ideas exchanged. For
it was certainly an interview of great importance.

The Doctor began by questioning the giant on the history that Chee-Chee
had told us as it had been handed down to him by his grandmother. Here
the Moon Man's memory seemed very vague; but when prompted with details
from the Monkeys' History, he occasionally responded and more than once
agreed with the Doctor's statements or corrected them with a good deal
of certainty and firmness.

I think I ought perhaps to say something here about the Moon Man's face.
In the pale daylight of a lunar dawn it looked clever and intelligent
enough, but not nearly so old as one would have expected. It is indeed
hard to describe that face. It wasn't brutish and yet it had in it
something quite foreign to the average human countenance as seen on the
Earth. I imagine that his being separated from human kind for so long
may have accounted for this. Beyond question it was an animal-like
countenance and yet it was entirely free from anything like ferocity. If
one could imagine a kindly animal who had used all his faculties in the
furtherance of helpful and charitable ends one would have the nearest
possible idea of the face of the Moon Man, as I saw it clearly for the
first time when he took breakfast with us that morning.

In the strange tongues of insects and plants John Dolittle fired off
question after question at our giant guest. Yes, he admitted, he
probably was Otho Bludge, the prehistoric artist. This bracelet?--Yes,
he wore it because some one... And then his memory failed him.... What
some one?... Well anyway he remembered that it had first been worn by a
woman before he had it. What matter, after all? It was long ago,
terribly long. Was there anything else that we would like to know?

There was a question I myself wanted to ask. The night before, in my
wanderings with Chee-Chee over the giant's huge body, I had discovered a
disc or plate hanging to his belt. In the dusk then I had not been able
to make out what it was. But this morning I got a better view of it: the
most exquisite picture of a girl kneeling with a bow and arrow in her
hands, carved upon a plate of reindeer horn. I asked the Doctor did he
not want to question the Moon Man about it. We all guessed, of course,
from Chee-Chee's story, what it was. But I thought it might prompt the
giant's memory to things out of the past that would be of value to the
Doctor. I even whispered to John Dolittle that the giant might be
persuaded to give it to us or barter it for something. Even I knew
enough about museum relics to realize its tremendous value.

The Doctor indeed did speak of it to him. The giant raised it from his
belt, where it hung by a slender thong of bark and gazed at it a while.
A spark of recollection lit up his eyes for a moment Then, with a
pathetic fumbling sort of gesture, he pressed it to his heart a moment
while that odd fuddled look came over his countenance once more. The
Doctor and I, I think, both felt we had been rather tactless and did not
touch upon the subject again.

I have often been since--though I certainly was not at the time--amused
at the way the Doctor took charge of the situation and raced all over
this enormous creature as though he were some new kind of specimen to be
labelled and docketed for a natural history museum. Yet he did it in
such a way as not to give the slightest offence.

"Yes. Very good," said he. "We have now established you as Otho Bludge,
the Stone Age artist, who was blown off the Earth when the Moon set
herself up in the sky. But how about this Council? I understand you are
president of it and can control its workings. Is that so?"

The great giant swung his enormous head round and regarded for a moment
the pigmy figure of the Doctor standing, just then, on his forearm.

"The Council?" said he dreamily. "Oh, ah, yes, to be sure, the
Council.... Well, we had to establish that, you know. At one time it was
nothing but war--war, war all the time. We saw that if we did not
arrange a balance we would have an awful mess. Too many seeds. Plants
spread like everything. Birds laid too many eggs. Bees swarmed too
often. Terrible!--You've seen that down there on the Earth, I imagine,
have you not?"

"Yes, yes, to be sure," said the Doctor. "Go on, please."

"Well, there isn't much more to that. We just made sure, by means of the
Council, that there should be no more warfare"

"Humph!" the Doctor grunted. "But tell me: how is it you yourself have
lived so long? No one knows how many years ago it is that the Moon broke
away from the Earth. And your age, compared with the life of Man in our
world, must be something staggering."

"Well, of course," said the Moon Man, "just how I got here is something
that I have never been able to explain completely, even to myself. But
why bother? Here I am. What recollections I have of that time are
awfully hazy. Let me see: when I came to myself I could hardly breathe.
I remember that. The air--everything--was so different. But I was
determined to survive. That, I think, is what must have saved me. I was
determined to survive. This piece of land, I recollect, when it
stopped swirling, was pretty barren. But it had the remnants of trees
and plants which it had brought with it from the Earth. I lived on roots
and all manner of stuff to begin with. Many a time I thought that I
would have to perish. But I didn't--because I was determined to
survive. And in the end I did. After a while plants began to grow;
insects, which had come with the plants, flourished. Birds the same
way--they, like me, were determined to survive. A new world was formed.
Years after I realized that I was the one to steer and guide its destiny
since I had--at that time anyway--more intelligence than the other forms
of life. I saw what this fighting of kind against kind must lead to. So
I formed the Council. Since then--oh, dear, how long ago!--vegetable and
animal species have come to--Well, you see it here.... That's all. It's
quite simple."

[Illustration: "I lived on roots"]

"Yes, yes," said the Doctor hurriedly. "I quite understand that--the
necessities that led you to establish the Council.--And an exceedingly
fine thing it is, in my opinion. We will come back to that later. In the
meantime I am greatly puzzled as to how you came to hear of me--with no
communication between your world and ours. Your moth came to Puddleby
and asked me to accompany him back here. It was you who sent him, I

"Well, it was I and the Council who sent him," the Moon Man corrected.
"As for the ways in which your reputation reached us, communication is,
as you say, very rare between the two worlds. But it does occur once in
a long while. Some disturbance takes place in your globe that throws
particles so high that they get beyond the influence of earth gravity
and come under the influence of our gravity. Then they are drawn to the
Moon and stay here. I remember,' many centuries ago, a great whirlwind
or some other form of rumpus in your world occurred which tossed shrubs
and stones to such a height that they lost touch with the Earth
altogether and finally landed here. And a great nuisance they were too.
The shrubs seeded and spread like wildfire before we realized they had
arrived and we had a terrible time getting them under control."

"That is most interesting," said the Doctor, glancing in my direction,
as he translated, to make sure I got the notes down in my book. "But
please tell me of the occasion by which you first learned of me and
decided you wanted me up here."

"That," said the Moon Man, "came about through something which was, I
imagine, a volcanic eruption. From what I can make out, one of your big
mountains down there suddenly blew its head off, after remaining quiet
and peaceful for many years. It was an enormous and terribly powerful
explosion and tons of earth and trees and stuff were fired off into
space. Some of this material that started away in the direction of the
Moon finally came within the influence of our attraction and was drawn
to us. And, as you doubtless know, when earth or plants are shot away
some animal life nearly always goes with it. In this case a bird, a
kingfisher, in fact, who was building her nest in the banks of a
mountain lake, was carried off. Several pieces of the earth landed on
the Moon. Some, striking land, were smashed to dust and any animal life
they carried--mostly insect of course--was destroyed. But the piece on
which the kingfisher travelled fell into one of our lakes."

[Illustration: "The piece fell into one of our lakes"]

It was an astounding story and yet I believe it true. For how else could
the Doctor's fame have reached the Moon? Of course any but a water bird
would have been drowned because apparently the mass plunged down fifty
feet below the surface, but the kingfisher at once came up and flew off
for the shore. It was a marvel that she was alive. I imagine her trip
through the dead belt had been made at such tremendous speed that she
managed to escape suffocation without the artificial breathing devices
which we had been compelled to use.


The bird the Moon Man had spoken of (it seems he had since been elected
to the Council) was presently brought forward and introduced to the
Doctor. He gave us some valuable information about his trip to the Moon
and how he had since adapted himself to new conditions.

[Illustration: "The bird was introduced to the Doctor"]

He admitted it was he who had told the Moon Folk about John Dolittle and
his wonderful skill in treating sicknesses, of his great reputation
among the birds, beasts and fishes of the Earth.

It was through this introduction also that we learned that the gathering
about us was nothing less than a full assembly of the Council
itself--with the exception, of course, of the Vegetable Kingdom, who
could not come. That community was however represented by different
creatures from the Insect and Bird Worlds who were there to see to it
that its interests were properly looked after.

This was evidently a big day for the Moon People. After our interview
with the kingfisher we could see that arguments were going on between
different groups and parties all over the place. At times it looked like
a political meeting of the rowdiest kind. These discussions the Doctor
finally put down quite firmly by demanding of the Moon Man in a loud
voice the reason for his being summoned here.

"After all," said he when some measure of quiet had been restored, "you
must realize that I am a very busy man. I appreciate it as a great
honour that I have been asked to come here. But I have duties and
obligations to perform on the Earth which I have left. I presume that
you asked me here for some special purpose. Won't you please let me know
what it is?"

A silent pause spread over the chattering assembly. I glanced round the
queer audience of birds and bugs who squatted, listening. The Doctor,
quite apart from his demand for attention, had evidently touched upon a
ticklish subject. Even the Moon Man himself seemed somewhat ill at ease.

"Well," he said at last, "the truth is we were sorely in need of a good
physician. I myself have been plagued by a bad pain in the foot. And
then many of the bigger insects--the grasshoppers especially--have been
in very poor health now for some time. From what the kingfisher told me,
I felt you were the only one who could help us--that you--er--perhaps
wouldn't mind if we got you up here where your skill was so sorely
needed. Tell me now: you were not put out by the confidence we placed in
you? We had no one in our own world who could help us. Therefore we
agreed, in a special meeting of the Council, to send down and try to get

The Doctor made no reply.

"You must realize," the Moon Man went on, his voice dropping to a still
more apologetic tone, "that this moth we sent took his life in his hand.
We cast lots among the larger birds, moths, butterflies and other
insects. It had to be one of our larger kinds. It was a long trip,
requiring enormous staying power...."

The Moon Man spread out his giant hands in protest--a gesture very
suggestive of the other world from which he originally came. The Doctor
hastened to reassure him.

"Why, of course, of course," said he. "I--we--were most glad to come. In
spite of the fact that I am always terribly busy down there, this was
something so new and promising in natural history I laid every interest
aside in my eagerness to get here. With the moth you sent the difficulty
of language did not permit me to make the preparations I would have
liked. But pray do not think that I have regretted coming. I would not
have missed this experience for worlds. It is true I could have wished
that you had seen your way to getting in touch with us sooner. But
there--I imagine you too have your difficulties. I suppose you must be
kept pretty busy."

"Busy?" said the Moon Man blankly. "Oh, no. I'm not busy. Life is very
quiet and pleasant here.--Sometimes too quiet, we think. A session with
the Council every now and then and a general inspection of the globe
every so often: that is all I have to bother with. The reason I didn't
come and see you sooner, to be quite honest, was because I was a bit
scared. It was something so new, having human folks visit you from
another world. There was no telling what you might turn out to be--what
you might do. For another thing, I expected you to be alone. For weeks
past I have had the birds and insects--and the plants too--send me
reports of your movements and character. You see, I had relied solely on
the statements of a kingfisher. No matter how kind and helpful you had
been to the creatures of your own world, it did not follow that you
would be the same way inclined towards the Moon Folk. I am sorry if I
did not appear properly hospitable. But you must make allowances. It--it
was all so--so new."

[Illustration: "I had the birds bring me reports of your movements"]

"Oh, quite, quite," said the Doctor, again most anxious to make his host
feel at ease. "Say no more, please, of that. I understand perfectly.
There are a few points, however, on which I would like to have some
light thrown. For one thing, we thought we saw smoke on the Moon, from
Puddleby, shortly after your moth arrived. Can you tell us anything
about that?"

"Why, of course," said the Moon Man quickly. "I did that. We were quite
worried about the moth. As I told you, we felt kind of guilty about the
risky job we had given him. It was Jamaro who finally drew the marked
card in the lottery."

"Jamaro!" muttered the Doctor, slightly bewildered--"Lottery?--I--er--"

"The lottery to decide who should go," the Moon Man explained. "I told
you: we drew lots. Jamaro Bumblelily was the moth who drew the ticket
which gave the task to him."

"Oh, I see," said the Doctor--"Jamaro. Yes, yes. You give your insects
names in this land. Very natural and proper of course, where they are so
large and take such an important part in the life and government of the
community. You can no doubt tell all these insects one from another,
even when they belong to the same species?"

"Certainly," said the Moon Man. "We have, I suppose, several hundreds of
thousands of bees in the Moon. But I know each one by his first name, as
well as his swarm, or family, name. Anyhow, to continue: it was then
Jamaro Bumblelily who drew the ticket that gave him the job of going to
the Earth after you. He was very sportsmanlike and never grumbled a bit.
But we were naturally anxious. It is true that creatures had come, at
rare intervals, from the Earth to our world. But so far none had gone
from us to the Earth. We had only the vaguest idea of what your world
would be like--from the descriptions of the kingfisher. And even in
getting those we had been greatly handicapped by language. It had only
been after days and weeks of work that we had been able to understand
one another in the roughest way. So we had arranged with Jamaro
Bumblelily that as soon as he landed he was to try and find some way to
signal us to let us know he was all right. And we were to signal back to
him. It seems he made a bad landing and lay helpless in your garden for
some days. For a long while we waited in great anxiety. We feared he
must have perished in his heroic exploit. Then we thought that maybe if
we signalled to him he would be encouraged and know that we were still
expecting his return. So we set off the smoke smudge."

"Yes," said the Doctor. "I saw it, even if Jamaro didn't. But tell me:
how did you manage to raise such an enormous smudge? It must have been
as big as a mountain."

"True," said the Moon Man. "For twenty days before Jamaro's departure I
and most of the larger birds and insects had gathered the Jing-jing bark
from the forest."

"Gathered the what?" asked the Doctor.

"The Jing-jing bark," the Moon Man repeated. "It is a highly explosive
bark from a certain tree we have here."

"But how did you light it?" asked the Doctor.

"By friction," said the Moon Man--"drilling a hard-wood stick into a
soft-wood log. We had tons and tons of the bark piled in a barren rocky
valley where it would be safe from firing the bush or jungle. We are
always terrified of bush-fires here--our world is not large, you know. I
set the pile off with a live ember which I carried on a slate. Then I
sprang back behind a rock bluff to defend my eyes. The explosion was
terrific and the smoke kept us all coughing for days before it finally
cleared away."

[Illustration: "I set the pile off with a live ember"]


We were frequently reminded during this long conversation (it lasted
over a full day and a half) that the strange crowd about us was the
great Council itself. Questions every now and then were hurled at the
Moon Man from the dimness of the rear. He was continually turning his
head as messages and inquiries were carried across to him from mouth to
mouth. Sometimes without consulting the Doctor further he would answer
them himself in queer sounds and signs. It was quite evident that the
Council was determined to keep in touch with any negotiations that were
going on.

As for John Dolittle, there was so much that he wanted to find out it
looked--in spite of his hurry to get back to the Earth--as though his
queries would never end--which, in a first meeting between two worlds,
is not after all to be wondered at.

"Can you remember," he asked, "when you first felt the Moon steadying
herself, how you got accustomed to the new conditions? We had on our
arrival a perfectly terrible time, you know. Different air, different
gravity, different hearing and the rest. Tell me: how did you manage?"

Frowning, the Moon Man passed his gigantic hand across his brow.

"Really--it's so long ago," he muttered. "As I told you, I nearly died,
many times. Getting enough food to stay alive on kept me busy the first
few months, Then when I was sure that that problem was solved I began to
watch. Soon I saw that the birds and insects were faced with the same
difficulties as I was. I searched the Moon globe from end to end. There
were no others of my own kind here. I was the only man. I needed company
badly. 'All right,' I said, 'I'll study the Insect and Bird Kingdoms.'
The birds adapted themselves much quicker than I did to the new
conditions. I soon found that they, being in the same boat as myself,
were only too glad to co-operate with me in anything that would
contribute to our common good. Of course I was careful to kill nothing.
For one thing I had no desire to; and for another I realized that if, on
such a little globe, I started to make enemies, I could not last long.
From the beginning I had done my best to live and let live. With no
other human to talk with I can't tell you how terribly, desperately
lonely I felt. Then I decided I'd try to learn the language of the
birds. Clearly they had a language. No one could listen to their
warblings and not see that. For years I worked at it--often terribly
discouraged at my poor progress. Finally--don't ask me when--I got to
the point where I could whistle short conversations with them. Then came
the insects--the birds helped me in that too. Then the plant languages.
The bees started me. They knew all the dialects. And ... well ..."

[Illustration: "I could whistle short conversations"]

"Go on," said the Doctor. The tone of his voice was calm and quiet, but
I could see that he was deeply, intensely interested.

"Oh, dear me," sighed the Moon Man, almost petulantly, "my memory, you
know, for dates as far back as that, is awfully poor. To-day it seems as
though I had talked Heron and Geranium all my life. But just when it
was, actually, that I reached the point where I could converse freely
with the insects and plants, I couldn't give you the vaguest idea. I do
know that it took me far, far longer to get in touch with the vegetable
forms of life than it did with either the insects or the birds. I am
afraid that our keeping count of time throughout has been pretty
sketchy--certainly in our earlier history anyway. But then you must
remember we were occupied with a great number of far more serious tasks.
Recently--the last thousand years or so--we have been making an effort
to keep a history and we can show you, I think, a pretty good record of
most of the more important events within that time. The trouble is that
nearly all of the dates you want are earlier than that."

"Well, never mind," said the Doctor. "We are getting on very well under
the circumstances. I would like very much to see that record you speak
of and will ask you to show it to me, if you will be so good, later."

He then entered into a long examination of the Moon Man (carefully
avoiding all dates, periods and references to time) on a whole host of
subjects. The majority of them were concerned with insect and plant
evolution and he kept a strict eye on me to see that all questions and
replies were jotted down in the note book. Gracious! What an unending
list it seemed to my tired mind! How had the Moon Man first realized
that the plants were anxious to talk and co-operate with him? What had
led him to believe that the bees were in communication with the flowers
they fed on? Which fruits and vegetables had he found were good for
human food and how had he discovered their nutritious qualities without
poisoning himself? etc., etc., etc. It went on for hours. I got most of
it down, with very few mistakes, I think. But I know I was more than
half asleep during the last hours of the interview.

The only trouble with most of it was this same old bugbear of time.
After all these ages of living without human company the poor giant's
mind had got to the point where it simply didn't use time. Even in
this record of the last thousand years, which he had proudly told us was
properly dated, we found, when he showed it to us, that an error of a
century more or less meant very little.

This history had been carved in pictures and signs on the face of a wide
flat rock. The workmanship of Otho the prehistoric artist showed up here
to great advantage. While the carvings were not by any means to be
compared with his masterpiece of the kneeling girl, they nevertheless
had a dash and beauty of design that would arrest the attention of
almost any one.

[Illustration: "This history had been carved in pictures on the face of
a rock"]

Nevertheless, despite the errors of time, both in his recollections and
his graven history, we got down the best booking that we could in the
circumstances. And with all its slips and gaps it was a most thrilling
and exciting document. It was the story of a new world's evolution; of
how a man, suddenly transported into space with nothing but what his two
hands held at the moment of the catastrophe, had made himself the kindly
monarch of a kingdom--a kingdom more wondrous than the wildest
imaginings of the mortals he had left behind. For he was indeed a king,
even if he called himself no more than the President of the Council. And
what hardships and terrible difficulties he had overcome in doing it,
only we could realize--we, who had come here with advantages and aids
which he had never known.

Finally a lull did come in this long, long conversation between the
Doctor and the Moon Man. And while I lay back and stretched my right
hand, cramped from constant writing, Polynesia gave vent to a great deal
which she had evidently had on her mind for some time.

"Well," she grunted, lifting her eyebrows, "what did I tell you, Tommy?
Rheumatism! That's what the Doctor has come all this way
for--rheumatism! I wouldn't mind it so much in the case of the Moon
Man himself. Because he certainly is a man in a hundred. But
grasshoppers! Think of it!--Think of bringing John Dolittle, M.D.,
billions of miles" (Polynesia's ideas on geographical measurement were a
bit sketchy) "just to wait on a bunch of grasshoppers! I--"

[Illustration: "'But grasshoppers!'"]

But the remainder of her indignant speech got mixed up with some of her
favourite Swedish swear words and the result was something that no one
could make head or tail of.

Very soon this pause in the conversation between the Doctor and the Moon
Man was filled up by a great deal of talking among the Council. Every
member of that important parliament apparently wanted to know exactly
what had been said and decided on and what new measures--if any--were to
be put in force. We could see that the poor President was being kept
very busy.

At length the Doctor turned once more to the giant and said:

"Well now, when would it be convenient for you and the insect patients
to be examined? I shall be most happy to do everything possible for you
all, but you must realize that I would like to get back to the Earth as
soon as I conveniently can."

Before answering the Moon Man proceeded to consult his Council behind
him. And, to judge from the length of the discussions that followed, he
was meeting with quite a little criticism in whatever plans he was
proposing. But finally he managed to quiet them; and addressing John
Dolittle once more, he said:

"Thank you. If it will not inconvenience you, we will come to-morrow and
have you minister to us. You have been very kind to come at all. I hope
we will not seem too large an undertaking for you. At least, since you
have approved of our system and government here, you will have the
satisfaction of knowing that you are assisting us in a time of great

"Why, of course, of course," said the Doctor at once. "I shall be only
too glad. That is what I am for, after all. I am a doctor, you know, a
physician--even if I have become a naturalist in my later years. At what
hour will you be ready for me?"

"At dawn," said the Moon Man. Even in these modern days ideas of time on
the Moon seemed strangely simple. "We will wait on you at sunrise. Till
then, pleasant dreams and good rest!"


Even the garrulous Polynesia was too tired to talk much more that night.
For all of us it had been a long and steady session, that interview,
tense with excitement. The Moon Man and his Council had barely departed
before every one of us was dozing off without a change of clothes or a
bite to eat. I am sure that nothing on Earth--or Moon--could have
disturbed our slumbers.

The daylight was just beginning to show when we were awakened. I am not
certain who was the first to arouse himself (probably John Dolittle),
but I do know that I was the first to get up.

What a strange sight! In the dim light hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
gigantic insects, all invalids, stood about our camp staring at the tiny
human physician who had come so far to cure their ailments. Some of
these creatures we had not so far seen and never even suspected their
presence on the Moon: caterpillars as long as a village street with gout
in a dozen feet; immense beetles suffering from an affliction of the
eyes; grasshoppers as tall as a three-storey house with crude bandages
on their gawky joints; enormous birds with a wing held painfully in an
odd position. The Doctor's home had become once more a clinic; and all
the halt and lame of Moon Society had gathered at his door.

[Illustration: "Grasshoppers with crude bandages on their gawky joints"]

The great man, when I finally roused him, swallowed two or three gulps
of melon, washed them down with a draft of honey and water, took off his
coat and set to work.

Of course the poor little black bag, which had done such yeoman service
for many years in many lands, was not equal to a demand like this. The
first thing to run out was the supply of bandages. Chee-Chee and I tore
up blankets and shirts to make more. Then the embrocation became
exhausted; next the iodine and the rest of the antiseptics. But in his
botanical studies of the trees and plants of this world the Doctor had
observed and experimented with several things which he had found helpful
in rheumatic conditions and other medical uses. Chee-Chee and Polynesia
were despatched at once to find the herbs and roots and leaves that he

For hours and hours he worked like a slave. It seemed as though the end
of the line of patients would never be reached. But finally he did get
the last of them fixed up and despatched. It was only then he realized
that the Moon Man had let all the other sufferers come forward ahead of
himself. Dusk was coming on. The Doctor peered round the great space
about our camp. It was empty, save for a giant figure that squatted
silent, motionless and alone, by the forest's edge.

"My goodness!" muttered the Doctor. "I had entirely forgotten him. And
he never uttered a word. Well, no one can say he is selfish. That, I
fancy, is why he rules here. I must see what is the matter with him at

John Dolittle hurried across the open space and questioned the giant. An
enormous left leg was stretched out for his examination. Like a fly, the
Doctor travelled rapidly up and down it, pinching and squeezing and
testing here and there.

"More gout," he said at last with definite decision. "A bad enough case
too. Now listen, Otho Bludge."

Then he lectured his big friend for a long time. Mostly it seemed about
diet, but there was a great deal concerning anatomy, exercise, dropsy,
and starch in it too.

[Illustration: "Then he lectured his big friend"]

At the end of it the Moon Man seemed quite a little impressed, much
happier in his mind and a great deal more lively and hopeful. Finally,
after thanking the Doctor at great length, he departed, while the ground
shook again beneath his limping tread.

Once more we were all fagged out and desperately sleepy.

"Well," said the Doctor as he arranged his one remaining blanket on his
bed, "I think that's about all we can do. To-morrow--or maybe the next
day--we will, if all goes well, start back for Puddleby."

"Sh!" whispered Polynesia. "There's some one listening. I'm sure--over
there behind those trees."

"Oh, pshaw!" said the Doctor. "No one could hear us at that range."

"Don't forget how sound travels on the Moon," warned the parrot.

"But my goodness!" said the Doctor. "They know we've got to go some
time. We can't stay here for ever. Didn't I tell the President himself I
had jobs to attend to on the Earth? If I felt they needed me badly
enough I wouldn't mind staying quite a while yet. But there's Stubbins
here. He came away without even telling his parents where he was going
or how long it might be before he returned. I don't know what Jacob
Stubbins may be thinking, or his good wife. Probably worried to death.

"Sh!--Sh!--Will you be quiet?" whispered Polynesia again. "Didn't you
hear that? I tell you there's some one listening--or I'm a Double
Dutchman. Pipe down, for pity's sake. There are ears all round us. Go to

We all took the old parrot's advice--only too willingly. And very soon
every one of us was snoring.

This time we did not awaken early. We had no jobs to attend to and we
took advantage of a chance to snooze away as long as we wished.

It was nearly midday again when we finally got stirring. We were in need
of water for breakfast. Getting the water had always been Chee-Chee's
job. This morning, however, the Doctor wanted him to hunt up a further
supply of medicinal plants for his surgical work. I volunteered
therefore to act as water-carrier.

With several vessels which we had made from gourds I started out for the

I had once or twice performed this same office of emergency
water-carrier before. I was therefore able on reaching the edge of the
jungle to make straight for the place where we usually got our supplies.

I hadn't gone very far before Polynesia overtook me.

"Watch out, Tommy!" said she, in a mysterious whisper as she settled on
my shoulder.

[Illustration: "Watch out, Tommy!"]

"Why?" I asked. "Is anything amiss?"

"I don't quite know," said she. "But I'm uneasy and I wanted to warn
you. Listen: that whole crowd that came to be doctored yesterday, you
know? Well, not one of them has shown up again since. Why?"

There was a pause.

"Well," said I presently, "I don't see any particular reason why they
should. They got their medicine, their treatment. Why should they pester
the Doctor further? It's a jolly good thing that some patients leave him
alone after they are treated, isn't it?"

"True, true," said she. "Just the same their all staying away the next
day looks fishy to me. They didn't all get treated. There's something
in it. I feel it in my bones. And besides, I can't find the Moon Man
himself. I've been hunting everywhere for him. He too has gone into
hiding again, just the same as they all did when we first arrived
here.... Well, look out! That's all. I must go back now. But keep your
eyes open, Tommy. Good luck!"

I couldn't make head or tail of the parrot's warning and, greatly
puzzled, I proceeded on my way to the pool to fill my water-pots.

There I found the Moon Man. It was a strange and sudden meeting. I had
no warning of his presence till I was actually standing in the water
filling the gourds. Then a movement of one of his feet revealed his
immense form squatting in the concealment of the dense jungle. He rose
to his feet as soon as he saw that I perceived him.

His expression was not unfriendly--just as usual, a kindly, calm
half-smile. Yet I felt at once uneasy and a little terrified. Lame as he
was, his speed and size made escape by running out of the question. He
did not understand my language, nor I his. It was a lonely spot, deep in
the woods. No cry for help would be likely to reach the Doctor's ears.

I was not left long in doubt as to his intentions. Stretching out his
immense right hand, he lifted me out of the water as though I were a
specimen of some flower he wanted for a collection. Then with enormous
strides he carried me away through the forest. One step of his was
half-an-hour's journey for me. And yet it seemed as though he put his
feet down very softly, presumably in order that his usual thunderous
tread should not be heard--or felt--by others.

At length he stopped. He had reached a wide clearing. Jamaro Bumblelily,
the same moth that had brought us from the Earth, was waiting. The Moon
Man set me down upon the giant insect's back. I heard the low rumble of
his voice as he gave some final orders. I had been kidnapped.


Never have I felt so utterly helpless in my life. While he spoke with
the moth the giant held me down with his huge hand upon the insect's
back. A cry, I thought, might still be worth attempting. I opened my
mouth and bawled as hard as I could. Instantly the Moon Man's thumb came
round and covered my face. He ceased speaking.

Soon I could feel from the stirring of the insect's legs that he was
getting ready to fly. The Doctor could not reach me now in time even if
he had heard my cry. The giant removed his hand and left me free as the
moth broke into a run. On either side of me the great wings spread out,
acres-wide, to breast the air. In one last mad effort I raced over the
left wing and took a flying leap. I landed at the giant's waistline and
clung for all I was worth, still yelling lustily for the Doctor. The
Moon Man picked me off and set me back upon the moth. But as my hold at
his waist was wrenched loose something ripped and came away in my hand.
It was the masterpiece, the horn picture of Pippiteepa. In his anxiety
to put me aboard Jamaro again, who was now racing over the ground at a
terrible speed, he never noticed that I carried his treasure with me.

Nor indeed was I vastly concerned with it at the moment. My mind only
contained one thought: I was being taken away from the Doctor.
Apparently I was to be carried off alone and set back upon the Earth. As
the moth's speed increased still further I heard a fluttering near my
right ear. I turned my head. And there, thank goodness, was Polynesia
flying along like a swallow! In a torrent of words she poured out her
message. For once in her life she was too pressed for time to swear.

"Tommy!--They know the Doctor is worried about your staying away from
your parents. I told him to be careful last night. They heard. They're
afraid if you stay he'll want to leave too, to get you back. And--"

The moth's feet had left the ground and his nose was tilted upward to
clear the tops of the trees that bordered the open space. The powerful
rush of air, so familiar to me from my first voyage of this kind, was
already beginning--and growing all the time. Flapping and beating,
Polynesia put on her best speed and for a while longer managed to stay
level with my giant airship.

"Don't worry, Tommy," she screeched. "I had an inkling of what the Moon
Man had up his sleeve, though I couldn't find out where he was hiding.
And I warned the Doctor. He gave me this last message for you in case
they should try to ship you out: Look after the old lame horse in the
stable. Give an eyes to the fruit trees. And don't worry! He'll find a
way down all right, he says. Watch out for the second smoke signal."
(Polynesia's voice was growing faint and she was already dropping
behind.) ... "Good-bye and good luck!"

I tried to shout an answer; but the rushing air stopped my breath and
made me gasp. "Good-bye and good luck!"--It was the last I heard from
the Moon.

I lowered myself down among the deep fur to avoid the pressure of the
tearing wind. My groping hands touched something strange. It was the
moon bells. The giant in sending me down to the Earth had thought of the
needs of the human. I grabbed one of the big flowers and held it handy
to plunge my face in. Bad times were coming, I knew when we must cross
the Dead Belt. There was nothing more I could do for the present. I
would lie still and take it easy till I reached Puddleby and the little
house with the big garden.

Well, for the most part my journey back was not very different from out
first voyage. If it was lonelier for me than had been the trip with the
Doctor, I, at all events, had the comfort this time of knowing from
experience that the journey could be performed by a human with safety.

But dear me, what a sad trip it was! In addition to my loneliness I had
a terrible feeling of guilt. I was leaving the Doctor behind--the Doctor
who had never abandoned me nor any friend in need. True, it was not my
fault, as I assured myself over and over again. Yet I couldn't quite get
rid of the idea that if I had only been a little more resourceful or
quicker-witted this would not have happened. And how, how was I going
to face Dab-Dab, Jip and the rest of them with the news that John
Dolittle had been left in the Moon?

The journey seemed endlessly long. Some fruit also had been provided, I
found, by the Moon Man; but as soon as we approached the Dead Belt I
felt too seasick to eat and remained so for the rest of the voyage.

At last the motion abated enough to let me sit up and take observations.
We were quite close to the Earth. I could see it shining cheerfully in
the sun and the sight of it warmed my heart. I had not realized till
then how homesick I had been for weeks past.

The moth landed me on Salisbury Plain. While not familiar with the
district, I knew the spire of Salisbury Cathedral from pictures. And the
sight of it across this flat characteristic country told me where I was.
Apparently it was very early morning, though I had no idea of the exact

The heavier air and gravity of the Earth took a good deal of getting
used to after the very different conditions of the Moon. Feeling like
nothing so much as a ton-weight of misery, I clambered down from the
moth's back and took stock of my surroundings.

Morning mists were rolling and breaking over this flat piece of my
native Earth. From higher up it had seemed so sunny and homelike and
friendly. Down here on closer acquaintance it didn't seem attractive at

Presently when the mists broke a little, I saw, not far off, a road. A
man was walking along it. A farm labourer, no doubt, going to his work.
How small he seemed! Perhaps he was a dwarf. With a sudden longing for
human company, I decided to speak to him. I lunged heavily forward (the
trial of the disturbing journey and the unfamiliar balance of earth
gravity together made me reel like a drunken man) and when I had come
within twenty paces I hailed him. The results were astonishing to say
the least. He turned at the sound of my voice. His face went white as a
sheet. Then he bolted like a rabbit and was gone into the mist.

I stood in the road down which he had disappeared. And suddenly it came
over me what I was and how I must have looked. I had not measured myself
recently on the Moon, but I did so soon after my return to the Earth. My
height was nine feet nine inches and my waist measurement fifty-one
inches and a half. I was dressed in a home-made suit of bark and leaves.
My shoes and leggings were made of root-fibre and my hair was long
enough to touch my shoulders.

No wonder the poor farm hand suddenly confronted by such an apparition
on the wilds of Salisbury Plain had bolted! Suddenly I thought of Jamaro
Bumblelily again. I would try to give him a message for the Doctor. If
the moth could not understand me, I'd write something for him to carry
back. I set out in search. But I never saw him again. Whether the mists
misled me in direction or whether he had already departed moonwards
again I never found out.

So, here I was, a giant dressed like a scarecrow, no money in my
pockets--no earthly possessions beyond a piece of reindeer horn, with a
prehistoric picture carved on it. And then I realized, of course, that
the farm labourer's reception of me would be what I would meet with
everywhere. It was a long way from Salisbury to Puddleby, that I knew. I
must have coach-fare; I must have food.

I tramped along the road a while thinking. I came in sight of a
farm-house. The appetizing smell of frying bacon reached me. I was
terribly hungry. It was worth trying. I strode up to the door and
knocked gently. A woman opened it. She gave one scream at sight of me
and slammed the door in my face. A moment later a man threw open a
window and levelled a shot-gun at me.

"Get off the place," he snarled--"Quick! Or I'll blow your ugly head

More miserable than ever I wandered on down the road. What was to become
of me? There was no one to whom I could tell the truth. For who would
believe my story? But I must get to Puddleby. I admitted I was not
particularly keen to do that--to face the Dolittle household with the
news. And yet I must. Even without the Doctor's last message about the
old horse and the fruit trees, and the rest, it was my job--to do my
best to take his place while he was away. And then my parents--poor
folk! I fear I had forgotten them in my misery. And would even they
recognize me now?

Then of a sudden I came upon a caravan of gipsies. They were camped in a
thicket of gorse by the side of the road and I had not seen them as I

They too were cooking breakfast and more savoury smells tantalized my
empty stomach. It is rather strange that the gipsies were the only
people I met who were not afraid of me. They all came out of the wagons
and gathered about me gaping; but they were interested, not scared. Soon
I was invited to sit down and eat. The head of the party, an old man,
told me they were going on to a county fair and would be glad to have me
come with them.

I agreed with thanks. Any sort of friendship which would save me from an
outcast lot was something to be jumped at. I found out later that the
old gipsy's idea was to hire me off (at a commission) to a circus as a

But as a matter of fact, that lot also I was glad to accept when the
time came. I had to have money. I could not appear in Puddleby like a
scarecrow. I needed clothes, I needed coach-fare, and I needed food to
live on.

The circus proprietor--when I was introduced by my friend the
gipsy--turned out to be quite a decent fellow. He wanted to book me up
for a year's engagement. But I, of course, refused. He suggested six
months. Still I shook my head. My own idea was the shortest possible
length of time which would earn me enough money to get back to Puddleby
looking decent. I guessed from the circus man's eagerness that he wanted
me in his show at almost any cost and for almost any length of time.
Finally after much argument we agreed upon a month.

Then came the question of clothes. At this point I was very cautious. He
at first wanted me to keep my hair long and wear little more than a
loin-cloth. I was to be a "Missing Link from Mars" or something of the
sort. I told him I didn't want to be anything of the kind (though his
notion was much nearer to the truth than he knew). His next idea for me
was "The Giant Cowboy from the Pampas." For this I was to wear an
enormous sun-hat, woolly trousers, pistols galore, and spurs with rowels
like saucers. That didn't appeal to me either very much as a Sunday suit
to show to Puddleby.

Finally, as I realized more fully how keen the showman was to have me, I
thought I would try to arrange my own terms.

"Look here, Sir," I said: "I have no desire to appear something I am
not. I am a scientist, an explorer, returned from foreign parts. My
great growth is a result of the climates I have been through and the
diet I have had to live on. I will not deceive the public by
masquerading as a Missing Link or Western Cowboy. Give me a decent suit
of black such as a man of learning would wear. And I will guarantee to
tell your audiences tales of travel--true tales--such as they have never
imagined in their wildest dreams. But I will not sign on for more than a
month. That is my last word. Is it a bargain?"

Well, it was. He finally agreed to all my terms. My wages were to be
three shillings a day. My clothes were to be my own property when I had
concluded my engagement. I was to have a bed and a wagon to myself. My
hours for public appearance were strictly laid down and the rest of my
time was to be my own.

It was not hard work. I went on show from ten to twelve in the morning,
from three to five in the afternoon, and from eight to ten at night. A
tailor was produced who fitted my enormous frame with a decent-looking
suit. A barber was summoned to cut my hair. During my show hours I
signed my autograph to pictures of myself which the circus proprietor
had printed in great numbers. They were sold at threepence apiece. Twice
a day I told the gaping crowds of holiday folk the story of my travels.
But I never spoke of the Moon. I called it just a "foreign land"--which
indeed was true enough.

At last the day of my release came. My contract was ended, and with
three pounds fifteen shillings in my pocket, and a good suit of clothes
upon my back, I was free to go where I wished. I took the first coach in
the direction of Puddleby. Of course many changes had to be made and I
was compelled to stop the night at one point before I could make
connections for my native town.

On the way, because of my great size, I was stared and gaped at by all
who saw me. But I did not mind it so much now. I knew that at least I
was not a terrifying sight.

On reaching Puddleby at last, I decided I would call on my parents
first, before I went to the Doctor's house. This may have been just a
putting off of the evil hour. But anyway, I had the good excuse that I
should put an end to my parents' anxiety.

I found them just the same as they had always been--very glad to see me,
eager for news of where I had gone and what I had done. I was
astonished, however, that they had taken my unannounced departure so
calmly--that is, I was astonished until it came out that, having heard
that the Doctor also had mysteriously disappeared, they had not been
nearly so worried as they might have been. Such was their faith in the
great man, like the confidence that all placed in him. If he had gone
and taken me with him, then everything was surely all right.

I was glad too that they recognized me despite my unnatural size.
Indeed, I think they took a sort of pride in that I had, like Csar,
"grown so great." We sat in front of the fire and I told them all of our
adventures as well as I could remember them.

It seemed strange that they, simple people though they were, accepted my
preposterous story of a journey to the Moon with no vestige of doubt or
disbelief. I feared there were no other humans in the world--outside of
Matthew Mugg, who would so receive my statement. They asked me when I
expected the Doctor's return. I told them what Polynesia had said of the
second smoke signal by which John Dolittle planned to notify me of his
departure from the Moon. But I had to admit I felt none too sure of his
escape from a land where his services were so urgently demanded. Then
when I almost broke down, accusing myself of abandoning the Doctor, they
both comforted me with assurances that I could not have done more than I

Finally my mother insisted that I stay the night at their house and not
attempt to notify the Dolittle household until the morrow. I was clearly
overtired and worn out, she said. So, still willing to put off the evil
hour, I persuaded myself that I was tired and turned in.

The next day I sought out Matthew Mugg, the Cats'-meat-Man. I merely
wanted his support when I should present myself at "the little house
with the big garden." But it took me two hours to answer all the
questions he fired at me about the Moon and our voyage.

At last I did get to the Doctor's house. My hand had hardly touched the
gate-latch before I was surrounded by them all. Too-Too the vigilant
sentinel had probably been on duty ever since we left and one hoot from
him brought the whole family into the front garden like a fire alarm. A
thousand exclamations and remarks about my increased growth and changed
appearance filled the air. But there never was a doubt in their minds as
to who I was.

And then suddenly a strange silence fell over them all when they saw
that I had returned alone. Surrounded by them I entered the house and
went to the kitchen. And there by the fireside, where the great man
himself has so often sat and told us tales, I related the whole story of
our visit to the Moon.

At the end they were nearly all in tears, Gub-Gub howling out loud.

"We'll never see him again!" he wailed. "They'll never let him go. Oh,
Tommy, how could you have left him?"

"Oh, be quiet!" snapped Jip. "He couldn't help it. He was kidnapped.
Didn't he tell you? Don't worry. We'll watch for the smoke signal. John
Dolittle will come back to us, never fear. Remember he has Polynesia
with him."

"Aye!" squeaked the white mouse. "She'll find a way."

"I am not worried," sniffed Dab-Dab, brushing away her tears with one
wing, and swatting some flies off the bread-board with the other. "But
it's sort of lonely here without him."

"Tut-tut!" grunted Too-Too. "Of course he'll come back!"

There was a tapping at the window.

"Cheapside," said Dab-Dab. "Let him in, Tommy."

I lifted the sash and the cockney sparrow fluttered in and took his
place upon the kitchen table, where he fell to picking up what
bread-crumbs had been left after the housekeeper's careful "clearing
away." Too-Too told him the situation in a couple of sentences.

"Why, bless my heart!" said the sparrow. "Why all these long faces? John
Dolittle stuck in the Moon!--Preposterous notion!--Pre-posterous, I
tell you. You couldn't get that man stuck nowhere. My word, Dab-Dab!
When you clear away you don't leave much fodder behind, do you? Any mice
what live in your 'ouse shouldn't 'ave no difficulty keepin' their

Well, it was done. And I was glad to be back in the old house. I knew it
was only a question of time before I would regain a normal size on a
normal diet. Meanwhile here I would not have to see anyone I did not
want to.

And so I settled down to pruning the fruit-trees, caring for the comfort
of the old horse in the stable and generally trying to take the Doctor's
place as best I could. And night after night as the year wore on Jip,
Too-Too and I would sit out, two at a time, while the Moon was visible,
to watch for the smoke signal. Often when we returned to the house with
the daylight, discouraged and unhappy, Jip would rub his head against my
leg and say:

"Don't worry, Tommy. He'll come back. Remember he has Polynesia with
him. Between them they will find a way."

[Illustration: "'Don't worry, Tommy, he'll come back'"]


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