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Title: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Author: Hugh Lofting
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0701221.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: December 2007
Date most recently updated: December 2007

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Title: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Author: Hugh Lofting


[Illustration: Title]


By Hugh Lofting

Published by




CHAPTER                                        PAGE
       PROLOGUE                                   1
   I   THE COBBLER'S SON                          3
 III   THE DOCTOR'S HOME                         15
  IV   THE WIFF-WAFF                             24
   V   POLYNESIA                                 32
  VI   THE WOUNDED SQUIRREL                      41
 VII   SHELLFISH TALK                            45
VIII   ARE YOU A GOOD NOTICER?                   50
  IX   THE GARDEN OF DREAMS                      55
   X   THE PRIVATE ZOO                           60
  XI   MY SCHOOLMASTER, POLYNESIA                65
 XII   MY GREAT IDEA                             70
XIII   A TRAVELER ARRIVES                        75
 XIV   CHEE-CHEE'S VOYAGE                        80


   I   THE CREW OF "THE CURLEW"                  88
  II   LUKE THE HERMIT                           91
 III   JIP AND THE SECRET                        95
  IV   BOB                                       99
   V   MENDOZA                                  105
  VI   THE JUDGE'S DOG                          111
 VII   THE END OF THE MYSTERY                   116
VIII   THREE CHEERS                             121
  IX   THE PURPLE BIRD-OF-PARADISE              126
  XI   BLIND TRAVEL                             135
 XII   DESTINY AND DESTINATION                  140


   I   THE THIRD MAN                            144
  II   GOOD-BYE!                                151
 III   OUR TROUBLES BEGIN                       155
  IV   OUR TROUBLES CONTINUE                    160
   V   POLYNESIA HAS A PLAN                     167
  VI   THE BED-MAKER OF MONTEVERDE              172
 VII   THE DOCTOR'S WAGER                       177
VIII   THE GREAT BULLFIGHT                      184
  IX   WE DEPART IN A HURRY                     193


   I  SHELLFISH LANGUAGES AGAIN                 198
  II  THE FIDGIT'S STORY                        205
 III  BAD WEATHER                               221
  IV  WRECKED!                                  225
   V  LAND!                                     233
  VI  THE JABIZRI                               239
 VII  HAWK'S-HEAD MOUNTAIN                      245


   I  A GREAT MOMENT                            253
  II  "THE MEN OF THE MOVING, LAND"             262
 III  FIRE                                      266
  IV  WHAT MAKES AN ISLAND FLOAT                271
   V  WAR!                                      275
  VI  GENERAL POLYNESIA                         282
 VII  THE PEACE OF THE PARROTS                  287
VIII  THE HANGING STONE                         291
  IX  THE ELECTION                              300
   X  THE CORONATION OF KING JONG               308


   I  NEW POPSIPETEL                            314
  II  THOUGHTS OF HOME                          322
 III  THE RED MAN'S SCIENCE                     328
  IV  THE SEA-SERPENT                           332
  VI  THE LAST CABINET MEETING                  346
 VII  THE DOCTOR'S DECISION                     350

[Transcriber's Note: From the original etext #1154 "Scanned by Charles
Keller for Tina." Updated text file to include missing italics and
paragraphs. Added a List of Illustrations and also included the
illustrations in the HTML file.]


"I would sit on the river-wall with my feet dangling over the water"     5
"And in her right foot she carried a lighted candle!"                   22
"'Being a good noticer is terribly important'"                          53
A traveler arrives                                                      77
"On the bed sat the Hermit"                                            101
"Sat scowling down upon the amazed and gaping jury"                    115
"'What else can I think?'"                                             133
"'Boy, where's the skipper?'"                                          147
"The Doctor started chatting in Spanish to the bed-maker"              175
"Did acrobatics on the beast's horns"                                  189
"'He talks English!'"                                                  201
"I was alone in the ocean!"                                            226
"It was a great moment"                                                257
The Terrible Three                                                     279
"Working away with their noses against the end of the island"          293
"The Whispering Rocks"                                                 295
"Had to chase his butterflies with a crown upon his head"              317
"'Tiptoe incognito,' whispered Bumpo"                                  353



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

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

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

That wonderful bird (she is now nearly two hundred and fifty years old)
sits on the top of my desk, usually humming sailor songs to herself,
while I write this book. And, as every one who ever met her knows,
Polynesia's memory is the most marvelous memory in the world. If there
is any happening I am not quite sure of, she is always able to put me
right, to tell me exactly how it took place, who was there and
everything about it. In fact sometimes I almost think I ought to say
that this book was written by Polynesia instead of me.

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




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

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

For I longed always to sail away with those brave ships when they turned
their backs on Puddleby Church and went creeping down the river again,
across the wide lonely marshes to the sea. I longed to go with them out
into the world to seek my fortune in foreign lands--Africa, India, China
and Peru! When they got round the bend in the river and the water was
hidden from view, you could still see their huge brown sails towering
over the roofs of the town, moving onward slowly--like some gentle
giants that walked among the houses without noise. What strange things
would they have seen, I wondered, when next they came back to anchor at
Kingsbridge! And, dreaming of the lands I had never seen, I'd sit on
there, watching till they were out of sight.

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

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

[Illustration: "I would sit on the river-wall with my feet dangling over
the water"]

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

"What's a nacheralist?"

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

"Where does he live?" I asked.

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

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

The first thing I heard as I came into the market-place was some one
calling "Meat! M-E-A-T!"

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

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

"Matthew," I said, "do you know Doctor Dolittle?"

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

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

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

So off we went together.

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

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

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

"I couldn't tell you," he answered. "Nobody never knows where he goes,
nor when he's going, nor when he's coming back. He lives all alone
except for his pets. He's made some great voyages and some wonderful
discoveries. Last time he came back he told me he'd found a tribe of Red
Indians in the Pacific Ocean--lived on two islands, they did. The
husbands lived on one island and the wives lived on the other. Sensible
people, some of them savages. They only met once a year, when the
husbands came over to visit the wives for a great feast--Christmas-time,
most likely. Yes, he's a wonderful man is the Doctor. And as for
animals, well, there ain't no one knows as much about 'em as what he

"How did he get to know so much about animals?" I asked.

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

"_He talks their language_," he said in a hoarse, mysterious voice.

"The animals' language?" I cried.

"Why certainly," said Matthew. "All animals have some kind of a
language. Some sorts talk more than others; some only speak in
sign-language, like deaf-and-dumb. But the Doctor, he understands them
all--birds as well as animals. We keep it a secret though, him and me,
because folks only laugh at you when you speak of it. Why, he can even
write animal-language. He reads aloud to his pets. He's wrote
history-books in monkey-talk, poetry in canary language and comic songs
for magpies to sing. It's a fact. He's now busy learning the language of
the shellfish. But he says it's hard work--and he has caught some
terrible colds, holding his head under water so much. He's a great man."

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

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

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

When we reached the house Matthew went up the steps to the front gate
and I followed him. I thought he was going to go into the garden; but
the gate was locked. A dog came running down from the house; and he took
several pieces of meat which the cat's-meat-man pushed through the bars
of the gate, and some paper bags full of corn and bran, I noticed that
this dog did not stop to eat the meat, as any ordinary dog would have
done, but he took all the things back to the house and disappeared. He
had a curious wide collar round his neck which looked as though it were
made of brass or something. Then we came away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh, a long time. Jip's getting pretty old now. That's why the Doctor
doesn't take him on his voyages any more. He leaves him behind to take
care of the house. Every Monday and Thursday I bring the food to the
gate here and give it him through the bars. He never lets any one come
inside the garden while the Doctor's away--not even me, though he knows
me well. But you'll always be able to tell if the Doctor's back or
not--because if he is, the gate will surely be open."

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



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

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

I felt inclined to throw the shoes into the middle of his flower-bed.
But I thought my father might be angry, so I didn't. I went round to the
back door, and there the Colonel's wife met me and took the shoes from
me. She looked a timid little woman and had her hands all over flour as
though she were making bread. She seemed to be terribly afraid of her
husband whom I could still hear stumping round the house somewhere,
grunting indignantly because I had come to the front door. Then she
asked me in a whisper if I would have a bun and a glass of milk. And I
said, "Yes, please." After I had eaten the bun and milk, I thanked the
Colonel's wife and came away. Then I thought that before I went home I
would go and see if the Doctor had come back yet. I had been to his
house once already that morning. But I thought I'd just like to go and
take another look. My squirrel wasn't getting any better and I was
beginning to be worried about him.

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

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

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

I wondered if it were supper-time yet. Of course I had no watch of my
own, but I noticed a gentleman coming towards me down the road; and when
he got nearer I saw it was the Colonel out for a walk. He was all
wrapped up in smart overcoats and mufflers and bright-colored gloves. It
was not a very cold day but he had so many clothes on he looked like a
pillow inside a roll of blankets. I asked him if he would please tell me
the time.

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

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

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

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

I hadn't gone very far when my head bumped into something soft and I sat
down suddenly on the pavement. I looked up to see whom I had run into.
And there in front of me, sitting on the wet pavement like myself, was a
little round man with a very kind face. He wore a shabby high hat and in
his hand he had a small black bag.

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

To my great surprise, instead of getting angry at being knocked down,
the little man began to laugh.

"You know this reminds me," he said, "of a time once when I was in
India. I ran full tilt into a woman in a thunderstorm. But she was
carrying a pitcher of molasses on her head and I had treacle in my hair
for weeks afterwards--the flies followed me everywhere. I didn't hurt
you, did I?"

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

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

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

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

He took hold of my hand and we started running back down the road
together. As we ran I began to wonder who this funny little man could
be, and where he lived. I was a perfect stranger to him, and yet he was
taking me to his own home to get dried. Such a change, after the old
red-faced Colonel who had refused even to tell me the time! Presently we

"Here we are," he said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So there I stood in the pitch-black dark, while all kinds of animals
which I couldn't see chattered and jostled around me. It was a curious
and a funny feeling. I had often wondered, when I had looked in from the
front gate, what Doctor Dolittle would be like and what the funny little
house would have inside it. But I never imagined it would be anything
like this. Yet somehow after I had felt the Doctor's hand upon my arm I
was not frightened, only confused. It all seemed like some queer dream;
and I was beginning to wonder if I was really awake, when I heard the
Doctor speaking again:

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

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

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

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

Then we waited quite a while without anything happening.

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

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

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

[Illustration: "And in her right foot she carried a lighted candle!"]

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

"Tommy Stubbins," I said.

"Oh, are you the son of Jacob Stubbins, the shoemaker?"

"Yes," I said.

"Excellent bootmaker, your father," said the Doctor. "You see these?"
and he held up his right foot to show me the enormous boots he was
wearing. "Your father made me those boots four years ago, and I've been
wearing them ever since--perfectly wonderful boots--Well now, look here,
Stubbins. You 've got to change those wet things and quick. Wait a
moment till I get some more candles lit, and then we'll go upstairs and
find some dry clothes. You'll have to wear an old suit of mine till we
can get yours dry again by the kitchen-fire."

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

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

Already I was beginning to be very fond of this funny little man who
called me "Stubbins," instead of "Tommy" or "little lad" (I did so hate
to be called "little lad"!) This man seemed to begin right away treating
me as though I were a grown-up friend of his. And when he asked me to
stop and have supper with him I felt terribly proud and happy. But I
suddenly remembered that I had not told my mother that I would be out
late. So very sadly I answered,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Doctor was feeling about inside the bag. First he brought out a loaf
of new bread. Next came a glass jar with a curious metal top to it. He
held this up to the light very carefully before he set it down upon the
table; and I could see that there was some strange little water-creature
swimming about inside. At last the Doctor brought out a pound of

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

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

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

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

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

"What is this animal?" I asked.

"Oh that," said the Doctor, turning round--"that's a Wiff-Waff. Its full
name is _hippocampus pippitopitus_. But the natives just call it a
Wiff-Waff--on account of the way it waves its tail, swimming, I imagine.
That's what I went on this last voyage for, to get that. You see I'm
very busy just now trying to learn the language of the shellfish. They
_have_ languages, of that I feel sure. I can talk a little shark
language and porpoise dialect myself. But what I particularly want to
learn now is shellfish."

"Why?" I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a wonderful kitchen, that. I had many meals there afterwards and
I found it a better place to eat in than the grandest dining-room in the
world. It was so cozy and home-like and warm. It was so handy for the
food too. You took it right off the fire, hot, and put it on the table
and ate it. And you could watch your toast toasting at the fender and
see it didn't burn while you drank your soup. And if you had forgotten
to put the salt on the table, you didn't have to get up and go into
another room to fetch it; you just reached round and took the big wooden
box off the dresser behind you. Then the fireplace--the biggest
fireplace you ever saw--was like a room in itself. You could get right
inside it even when the logs were burning and sit on the wide seats
either side and roast chestnuts after the meal was over--or listen to
the kettle singing, or tell stories, or look at picture-books by the
light of the fire. It was a marvelous kitchen. It was like the Doctor,
comfortable, sensible, friendly and solid.

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

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

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

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

"Oh yes. That's quite an easy language," said the Doctor. "You could
learn that yourself without a great deal of trouble. But why do you

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

"Who is Polynesia?" I asked.

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

"Why--is she dead?"

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

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

"Polynesia has come back!" he cried. "Imagine it. Jip says she has just
arrived at the house. My! And it's five years since I saw her--Excuse me
a minute."

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

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

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

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

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

"Stubbins is anxious to learn animal language," said the Doctor. "I was
just telling him about you and the lessons you gave me when Jip ran up
and told us you had arrived."

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

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

"How is Prince Bumpo getting on?" asked the Doctor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And The Sleeping Beauty?--did he ever find her?"

"Well, he brought back something which he _said_ was The Sleeping
Beauty. Myself, I think it was an albino niggeress. She had red hair and
the biggest feet you ever saw. But Bumpo was no end pleased with her and
finally married her amid great rejoicings. The feastings lasted seven
days. She became his chief wife and is now known out there as the
Crown-Princess Bum_pah_--you accent the last syllable."

"And tell me, did he remain white?"

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

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

"Well," said Polynesia frowning,--"Chee-Chee is not entirely happy. I
saw a good deal of him the last few years. He got dreadfully homesick
for you and the house and the garden. It's funny, but I was just the
same way myself. You remember how crazy I was to get back to the dear
old land? And Africa _is_ a wonderful country--I don't care what anybody
says. Well, I thought I was going to have a perfectly grand time. But
somehow--I don't know--after a few weeks it seemed to get tiresome. I
just couldn't seem to settle down. Well, to make a long story short, one
night I made up my mind that I'd come back here and find you. So I
hunted up old Chee-Chee and told him about it. He said he didn't blame
me a bit--felt exactly the same way himself. Africa was so deadly quiet
after the life we had led with you. He missed the stories you used to
tell us out of your animal books--and the chats we used to have sitting
round the kitchen-fire on winter nights. The animals out there were very
nice to us and all that. But somehow the dear kind creatures seemed a
bit stupid. Chee-Chee said he had noticed it too. But I suppose it
wasn't they who had changed; it was we who were different. When I left,
poor old Chee-Chee broke down and cried. He said he felt as though his
only friend were leaving him--though, as you know, he has simply
millions of relatives there. He said it didn't seem fair that I should
have wings to fly over here any time I liked, and him with no way to
follow me. But mark my words, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he found
a way to come--some day. He's a smart lad, is Chee-Chee."

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

"Good evening, Mrs. Stubbins," said the Doctor. "It is my fault your son
is so late. I made him stay to supper while his clothes were drying. He
was soaked to the skin; and so was I. We ran into one another in the
storm and I insisted on his coming into my house for shelter."

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

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

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

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

"The Doctor has come to cure my squirrel, Mother," said I. "He knows all
about animals."

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

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

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

"Won't you come in?" asked my mother. "The place is a little untidy
because I haven't finished the spring cleaning yet. But there's a nice
fire burning in the parlor."

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

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



Inside we found my father busy practising on the flute beside the fire.
This he always did, every evening, after his work was over.

The Doctor immediately began talking to him about flutes and piccolos
and bassoons; and presently my father said,

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

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

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

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

"You are a great musician, Sir," said my father, "a very great musician.
Won't you please play us something else?"

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

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

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

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

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

"I think you will find that his leg will get better now in a very short
time," said the Doctor closing up his bag. "Don't let him run about for
at least two weeks yet, but keep him in the open air and cover him up
with dry leaves if the nights get cool. He tells me he is rather lonely
here, all by himself, and is wondering how his wife and children are
getting on. I have assured him you are a man to be trusted; and I will
send a squirrel who lives in my garden to find out how his family are
and to bring him news of them. He must be kept cheerful at all costs.
Squirrels are naturally a very cheerful, active race. It is very hard
for them to lie still doing nothing. But you needn't worry about him. He
will be all right."

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

Although my parents both liked the Doctor tremendously from the first
moment that they saw him, and were very proud to have him come and play
to us (for we were really terribly poor) they did not realize then what
a truly great man he was one day to become. Of course now, when almost
everybody in the whole world has heard about Doctor Dolittle and his
books, if you were to go to that little house in Puddleby where my
father had his cobbler's shop you would see, set in the wall over the
old-fashioned door, a stone with writing on it which says: "JOHN
YEAR 1839."

I often look back upon that night long, long ago. And if I close my eyes
and think hard I can see that parlor just as it was then: a funny little
man in coat-tails, with a round kind face, playing away on the flute in
front of the fire; my mother on one side of him and my father on the
other, holding their breath and listening with their eyes shut; myself,
with Jip, squatting on the carpet at his feet, staring into the coals;
and Polynesia perched on the mantelpiece beside his shabby high hat,
gravely swinging her head from side to side in time to the music. I see
it all, just as though it were before me now.

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



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

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

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

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

"Good morning. How early you are!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I suppose," said I, "that means he hasn't very much sense if his
language is only two or three words?"

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

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

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

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

"Yes," he said, as he poured the hot water from the kettle into the
tea-pot, "if a man could only manage to get right down to the bottom of
the sea, and live there a while, he would discover some wonderful
things--things that people have never dreamed of."

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Well," said the parrot, "I don't suppose you have really missed
much--to judge from what _I_ have seen of school-boys. But listen: are
you a good noticer?--Do you notice things well? I mean, for instance,
supposing you saw two cock-starlings on an apple-tree, and you only took
one good look at them--would you be able to tell one from the other if
you saw them again the next day?"

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

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

"It sounds pretty hard," I said.

[Illustration: "'Being a good noticer is terribly important'"]

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

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

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



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

It had everything--everything a garden can have, or ever has had. There
were wide, wide lawns with carved stone seats, green with moss. Over the
lawns hung weeping-willows, and their feathery bough-tips brushed the
velvet grass when they swung with the wind. The old flagged paths had
high, clipped, yew hedges either side of them, so that they looked like
the narrow streets of some old town; and through the hedges, doorways
had been made; and over the doorways were shapes like vases and peacocks
and half-moons all trimmed out of the living trees. There was a lovely
marble fish-pond with golden carp and blue water-lilies in it and big
green frogs. A high brick wall alongside the kitchen garden was all
covered with pink and yellow peaches ripening in the sun. There was a
wonderful great oak, hollow in the trunk, big enough for four men to
hide inside. Many summer-houses there were, too--some of wood and some
of stone; and one of them was full of books to read. In a corner, among
some rocks and ferns, was an outdoor fireplace, where the Doctor used to
fry liver and bacon when he had a notion to take his meals in the open
air. There was a couch as well on which he used to sleep, it seems, on
warm summer nights when the nightingales were singing at their best; it
had wheels on it so it could be moved about under any tree they sang in.
But the thing that fascinated me most of all was a tiny little
tree-house, high up in the top branches of a great elm, with a long rope
ladder leading to it. The Doctor told me he used it for looking at the
moon and the stars through a telescope.

It was the kind of a garden where you could wander and explore for days
and days--always coming upon something new, always glad to find the old
spots over again. That first time that I saw the Doctor's garden I was
so charmed by it that I felt I would like to live in it--always and
always--and never go outside of it again. For it had everything within
its walls to give happiness, to make living pleasant--to keep the heart
at peace. It was the Garden of Dreams.

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

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

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

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

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

"Most of them," said the Doctor. "But a few rare ones visit me every
year who ordinarily never come near England at all. For instance, that
handsome little fellow hovering over the snapdragon there, he's a
Ruby-throated Humming-bird. Comes from America. Strictly speaking, he
has no business in this climate at all. It is too cool. I make him sleep
in the kitchen at night. Then every August, about the last week of the
month, I have a Purple Bird-of-Paradise come all the way from Brazil to
see me. She is a very great swell. Hasn't arrived yet of course. And
there are a few others, foreign birds from the tropics mostly, who drop
in on me in the course of the summer months. But come, I must show you
the zoo."



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

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

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

"Oh yes," he said, "every door has a lock. But in my zoo the doors open
from the inside, not from the out. The locks are only there so the
animals can go and shut themselves in any time they want to get away
from the annoyance of other animals or from people who might come here.
Every animal in this zoo stays here because he likes it, not because he
is made to."

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

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

"Are those deer over there?" I asked.

"_Deer!_" said the Doctor. "Where do you mean?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Do butterflies have a language?" I asked.

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

At that moment Polynesia joined us and said, "Doctor, there are two
guinea-pigs at the back door. They say they have run away from the boy
who kept them because they didn't get the right stuff to eat. They want
to know if you will take them in."

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Only a little," said she. "Be careful how you turn those pages--don't
tear them. No, I really don't get time enough for reading--much. That
letter there is a _k_ and this is a _b_."

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

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

"Polynesia," I said, "I want to ask you something very important."

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

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

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

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

"Well"--she thought a moment--"I really don't see why not. But is this
what you want to be when you grow up, a naturalist?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

"But my dear Stubbins," said the Doctor, laughing, "you are quite
welcome to come here for three meals a day all the year round. I'm only
too glad to have you. Besides, you do do a lot of work, as it is. I've
often felt that I ought to pay you for what you do--But what arrangement
was it that you thought of?"

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

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

"Who is he?" I asked.

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

"Have you ever seen him?" I asked.

"No," said the Doctor, "I've never seen him. No white man has ever met
him. I fancy Mr. Darwin doesn't even know that he exists. He lives
almost entirely with the animals and with the different tribes of
Indians--usually somewhere among the mountains of Peru. Never stays long
in one place. Goes from tribe to tribe, like a sort of Indian tramp."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At last he shrugged his shoulders and stood up.

"Well, Stubbins," said he, "I'll come and talk it over with you and your
parents next Thursday. And--well, we'll see. We'll see. Give your mother
and father my compliments and thank them for their invitation, will

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: A traveler arrives]

The strange-looking figure in the straw hat stood gazing after them a
moment and then came wearily up to the gate. It didn't bother to undo
the latch but just climbed right over the gate as though it were
something in the way. And then I noticed that it took hold of the bars
with its feet, so that it really had four hands to climb with. But it
was only when I at last got a glimpse of the face under the hat that I
could be really sure it was a monkey.

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

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

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

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

"Run up to my bedroom, Stubbins," said the Doctor, turning to me.
"You'll find a bag of peanuts in the small left-hand drawer of the
bureau. I have always kept them there in case he might come back
unexpectedly some day. And wait a minute--see if Dab-Dab has any bananas
in the pan-try. Chee-Chee hasn't had a banana, he tells me, in two

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



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

So he went off to a town that was quite close, and hopping in through an
open window he found a skirt and bodice lying on a chair. They belonged
to a fashionable black lady who was taking a bath. Chee-Chee put them
on. Next he went back to the seashore, mingled with the crowd there and
at last sneaked safely on to the big ship. Then he thought he had better
hide, for fear people might look at him too closely. And he stayed
hidden all the time the ship was sailing to England--only coming out at
night, when everybody was asleep, to find food.

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

He had a terrible time of it. Whenever he passed through a town all the
children ran after him in a crowd, laughing; and often silly people
caught hold of him and tried to stop him, so that he had to run up
lamp-posts and climb to chimney-pots to escape from them. At night he
used to sleep in ditches or barns or anywhere he could hide; and he
lived on the berries he picked from the hedges and the cob-nuts that
grew in the copses. At length, after many adventures and narrow squeaks,
he saw the tower of Puddleby Church and he knew that at last he was near
his old home. When Chee-Chee had finished his story he ate six bananas
without stopping and drank a whole bowlful of milk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

And then began a long talk which lasted far into the night. At first
both my mother and father were rather against the idea--as they had been
from the beginning. They said it was only a boyish whim, and that I
would get tired of it very soon. But after the matter had been talked
over from every side, the Doctor turned to my father and said,

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

"I don't know," said my father, shaking his head. "You are very kind and
it is a handsome offer you make, Doctor. But I feel that Tommy ought to
be learning some trade by which he can earn his living later on."

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

"Now Jacob," she said, "you know that many lads in the town have been to
the Grammar School till they were fourteen or fifteen years old. Tommy
can easily spare these two years for his education; and if he learns no
more than to read and write, the time will not be lost. Though goodness
knows," she added, getting out her handkerchief to cry, "the house will
seem terribly empty when he's gone."

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

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

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

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

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

"Please don't forget to say something about the voyages."

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

My poor mother looked up sharply, more unhappy and anxious than ever at
this new turn; while I stood behind the Doctor's chair, my heart
thumping with excitement, waiting for my father's answer.

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

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

[Illustration: ]




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

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

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

"I'm very discouraged, Stubbins, very. I've tried the mussels and the
clams, the oysters and the whelks, cockles and scallops; seven different
kinds of crabs and all the lobster family. I think I'll leave it for the
present and go at it again later on."

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

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

"When shall we start?" I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the mussel-man took us off a little way down the river and showed us
the neatest, prettiest, little vessel that ever was built. She was
called _The Curlew_. Joe said he would sell her to us cheap. But the
trouble was that the boat needed three people, while we were only two.

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

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

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

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

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

"How about Luke the Hermit?" I asked.

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



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

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

This afternoon, crossing the marshes we faced a cold wind blowing from
the East. As we approached the hut Jip put up his ears and said,

"That's funny!"

"What's funny?" asked the Doctor.

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

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

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

We hurried forward, all three of us thinking hard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Jip didn't answer.

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

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

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

"He knows something all right," whispered the Doctor. "And I think he
knows what has happened too. It's funny, his not wanting to tell me. He
has never done that before--not in eleven years. He has always told me
everything--Strange--very strange!"

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

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

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

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

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

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



When we reached the house the first question the Doctor asked of Dab-Dab
in the hall was,

"Is Jip home yet?"

"No," said Dab-Dab, "I haven't seen him."

"Let me know the moment he comes in, will you, please?" said the Doctor,
hanging up his hat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Why?" asked the Doctor.

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

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

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

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

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

"In prison!"


"What for?--What's he done?"

Jip went over to the door and smelt at the bottom of it to see if any
one were listening outside. Then he came back to the Doctor on tip-toe
and whispered,

"_He killed a man!_"

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

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

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

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

"Where is Bob now?" asked the Doctor.

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

"It's ten minutes past one."

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

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

"And yet--I wonder--"

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



Dab-Dab was terribly upset when she found we were going away again
without luncheon; and she made us take some cold pork-pies in our
pockets to eat on the way.

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

This was the week of the Assizes--a business which happened every three
months, when many pick-pockets and other bad characters were tried by a
very grand judge who came all the way from London. And anybody in
Puddleby who had nothing special to do used to come to the Court-house
to hear the trials.

But to-day it was different. The crowd was not made up of just a few
idle people. It was enormous. The news had run through the countryside
that Luke the Hermit was to be tried for killing a man and that the
great mystery which had hung over him so long was to be cleared up at
last. The butcher and the baker had closed their shops and taken a
holiday. All the farmers from round about, and all the townsfolk, were
there with their Sunday clothes on, trying to get seats in the
Court-house or gossiping outside in low whispers. The High Street was so
crowded you could hardly move along it. I had never seen the quiet old
town in such a state of excitement before. For Puddleby had not had such
an Assizes since 1799, when Ferdinand Phipps, the Rector's oldest son,
had robbed the bank.

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

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

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

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

"He is a policeman."

"And what are policemen?"

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

[Illustration: "On the bed sat the Hermit"]

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

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

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

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

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

Very slowly the Hermit looked up from the floor.

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

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

Luke shook his head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

"That one is called the witness-box," said the Doctor. "Now I'm going
down to speak to one of those men in white wigs; and I want you to wait
here and keep these two seats for us. Bob will stay with you. Keep an
eye on him--better hold on to his collar. I shan't be more than a minute
or so."

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

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

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

"_Biz--biz--biz--biz--biz_--otherwise known as Luke the
Hermit, of--_biz--biz--biz--biz_--for killing his partner
with--_biz--biz--biz_--otherwise known as Bluebeard Bill on the
night of the--_biz--biz--biz--in the biz--biz--biz_--of Mexico.
Therefore Her Majesty's--_biz--biz--biz_--"

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

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

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

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

He put his hand over his mouth to smother a laugh and his eyes fairly
sparkled with mischief. "Who is Conkey?" I asked the Doctor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"This, Your Honor," said Mr. Jenkyns, talking in a very grand manner as
though he were on a stage in a theatre: "there is in this court-room at
the present moment a bulldog, who was the only living thing that saw the
man killed. With the Court's permission I propose to put that dog in the
witness-stand and have him questioned before you by the eminent
scientist, Doctor John Dolittle."



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

Presently up sprang the nasty lawyer with the long nose.

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

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

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

"If there is any doubt on the score of our being able to do as we say,
Your Honor will have no objection, I trust, to the Doctor's giving the
Court a demonstration of his powers--of showing that he actually can
understand the speech of animals?" I thought I saw a twinkle of
amusement come into the old judge's eyes as he sat considering a moment
before he answered.

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

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

"Quite, Your Honor," said the Doctor--"quite sure."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Now, Doctor," said the judge, "did you ever see this dog
before?--Remember you are in the witness-stand and under oath."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Honorable Eustace Beauchamp Conckley went white to the lips.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: "Sat scowling down upon the amazed and gaping jury"]



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

"On the night of the 29th of November, 1824, I was with my master, Luke
Fitzjohn (otherwise known as Luke the Hermit) and his two partners,
Manuel Mendoza and William Boggs (otherwise known as Bluebeard Bill) on
their gold-mine in Mexico. For a long time these three men had been
hunting for gold; and they had dug a deep hole in the ground. On the
morning of the 29th gold was discovered, lots of it, at the bottom of
this hole. And all three, my master and his two partners, were very
happy about it because now they would be rich. But Manuel Mendoza asked
Bluebeard Bill to go for a walk with him. These two men I had always
suspected of being bad. So when I noticed that they left my master
behind, I followed them secretly to see what they were up to. And in a
deep cave in the mountains I heard them arrange together to kill Luke
the Hermit so that they should get all the gold and he have none."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And soon my master grew afraid; for he saw that if Mendoza only told
enough lies to the police, it _would_ look as though he had killed Bill
on purpose. So while Mendoza was gone he and I stole away together
secretly and came to England. Here he shaved off his beard and became a
hermit. And ever since, for fifteen years, we've remained in hiding.
This is all I have to say. And I swear it is the truth, every word."

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

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

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

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

I thought the long-nosed lawyer would have a fit. He looked first at the
dog, then at the Doctor, then at the judge, then back at the dog
scowling from the witness-box. He opened his mouth to say something; but
no words came. He waved his arms some more. His face got redder and
redder. At last, clutching his forehead, he sank weakly into his seat
and had to be helped out of the court-room by two friends. As he was
half carried through the door he was still feebly murmuring, "I
protest--I object--I protest!"



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

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

"They always do that at the end of a trial--to make up their minds
whether the prisoner did it or not."

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

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

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

"Your Honor," said the little man, "the jury returns a verdict of _Not

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the hush while the judge was leaving, a sudden shriek rang out, and
there, in the doorway stood a woman, her arms outstretched to the

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

"It's his wife," the fat woman in front of me whispered. "She ain't seen
'im in fifteen years, poor dear! What a lovely reunion. I'm glad I came.
I wouldn't have missed this for anything!"

As soon as the judge had gone the noise broke out again; and now the
folks gathered round Luke and his wife and shook them by the hand and
congratulated them and laughed over them and cried over them.

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

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

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

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

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

And a man came running up to us and said,

"The people are calling for you, Sir."

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

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

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

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

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

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

"They're still clamoring for you," I said. "Listen!"

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

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



Polynesia was waiting for us in the front porch. She looked full of some
important news.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

"Tell me," said the Doctor as though he had been impatiently waiting to
say something for a long time: "what did Long Arrow say when you gave
him my message?"

The Purple Bird-of-Paradise hung her head.

"That's the worst part of it," she said. "I might almost as well have
not come at all. I wasn't able to deliver your message. I couldn't find
him. _Long Arrow, the son of Golden Arrow, has disappeared!_"

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

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

There was a sad silence in the room after she had finished; the Doctor
was frowning in a peculiar sort of way and Polynesia scratched her head.

"Did you ask the black parrots?" asked Polynesia. "They usually know

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

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

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

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

"Yes, that's it. Of course I flew there right away and asked every bird
on the island--and it is a big island, a hundred miles long. It seems
that Long Arrow was visiting some peculiar Indians that live there; and
that when last seen he was going up into the mountains looking for rare
medicine-plants. I got that from a tame hawk, a pet, which the Chief of
the Indians keeps for hunting partridges with. I nearly got caught and
put in a cage for my pains too. That's the worst of having beautiful
feathers: it's as much as your life is worth to go near most
humans--They say, 'oh how pretty!' and shoot an arrow or a bullet into
you. You and Long Arrow were the only two men that I would ever trust
myself near--out of all the people in the world."

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: "'What else can I think?'"]

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

"What else can I think?" asked Miranda, bursting into tears, "when for
six whole months he has not been seen by flesh, fish or fowl."



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

I did my best to cheer him up by reminding him of all he had done for
Luke and his wife that afternoon. And when that didn't seem to work, I
went on talking about our preparations for the voyage.

"But you see, Stubbins," said he as we rose from the table and Dab-Dab
and Chee-Chee began to clear away, "I don't know where to go now. I feel
sort of lost since Miranda brought me this news. On this voyage I had
planned going to see Long Arrow. I had been looking forward to it for a
whole year. I felt he might help me in learning the language of the
shellfish--and perhaps in finding some way of getting to the bottom of
the sea. But now?--He's gone! And all his great knowledge has gone with

Then he seemed to fall a-dreaming again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"_You've been to the north pole!_" I managed to gasp out at last. "But I
thought it was still undiscovered. The map shows all the places
explorers have reached to, _trying_ to get there. Why isn't your name
down if you discovered it?"

"I promised to keep it a secret. And you must promise me never to tell
any one. Yes, I discovered the North Pole in April, 1809. But shortly
after I got there the polar bears came to me in a body and told me there
was a great deal of coal there, buried beneath the snow. They knew, they
said, that human beings would do anything, and go anywhere, to get coal.
So would I please keep it a secret. Because once people began coming up
there to start coal-mines, their beautiful white country would be
spoiled--and there was nowhere else in the world cold enough for polar
bears to be comfortable. So of course I had to promise them I would. Ah,
well, it will be discovered again some day, by somebody else. But I want
the polar bears to have their play-ground to themselves as long as
possible. And I daresay it will be a good while yet--for it certainly is
a fiendish place to get to--Well now, are we ready?--Good! Take the
pencil and stand here close to the table. When the book falls open, wave
the pencil round three times and jab it down. Ready?--All right. Shut
your eyes."

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

"I'm so glad it wasn't Oxenthorpe or Bristol," I said. "It'll be a grand
voyage, this. Look at all the sea we've got to cross. Will it take us

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

"What are Jabizri beetles?"

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

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

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

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

"I'll bet it will be a great voyage," I said. "It looks a lovely island
on the map. Will there be black men there?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




That same week we began our preparations for the voyage.

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

I was surprised to find how roomy and big she was inside. There were
three little cabins, a saloon (or dining-room) and underneath all this,
a big place called the hold where the food and extra sails and other
things were kept.

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

"My Goodness, Tommy," said he, as he watched me carrying on some sacks
of flour, "but that's a pretty boat! Where might the Doctor be going to
this voyage?"

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

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

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

Matthew grunted; then squinted up at the graceful masts of the _Curlew_.

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

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

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

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

But it wasn't very long before some one else came along and interrupted
my work. This was a huge, big, burly man with a red beard and
tattoo-marks all over his arms. He wiped his mouth with the back of his
hand, spat twice on to the river-wall and said,

"Boy, where's the skipper?"

"The _skipper!_--Who do you mean?" I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Illustration: "'Boy, where's the skipper?'"]

The Doctor assured him that he was; but the man didn't go away. He hung
around and argued. He told us he had known of many ships being sunk
through "undermanning." He got out what he called his _stiffikit_--a
paper which said what a good sailor he was--and implored us, if we
valued our lives, to take him.

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

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

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

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

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

"Who shall I say it is?"

"I am Bumpo Kahbooboo, Crown Prince of Jolliginki."

I ran downstairs at once and told the Doctor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Two days after that we had all in readiness for our departure.

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

Of course, as is always the way, at the last moment we kept remembering
things we had forgotten; and when we finally closed the house up and
went down the steps to the road, we were all burdened with armfuls of
odd packages.

Halfway to the river, the Doctor suddenly remembered that he had left
the stock-pot boiling on the kitchen-fire. However, we saw a blackbird
flying by who nested in our garden, and the Doctor asked her to go back
for us and tell Dab-Dab about it.

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

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

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

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

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

"These little accidents will happen in the most carefully regulated
voyages," he said as he leaned over the side and fished for his boots
which had got stuck in the mud while we were pushing off. "Sailing is
much easier when you get out into the open sea. There aren't so many
silly things to bump into."

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

I looked around me and took in a deep breath. The Doctor was at the
wheel steering the boat which was now leaping and plunging gently
through the waves. (I had expected to feel seasick at first but was
delighted to find that I didn't.) Bumpo had been told off to go
downstairs and prepare dinner for us. Chee-Chee was coiling up ropes in
the stern and laying them in neat piles. My work was fastening down the
things on the deck so that nothing could roll about if the weather
should grow rough when we got further from the land. Jip was up in the
peak of the boat with ears cocked and nose stuck out--like a statue, so
still--his keen old eyes keeping a sharp look-out for floating wrecks,
sand-bars, and other dangers. Each one of us had some special job to do,
part of the proper running of a ship. Even old Polynesia was taking the
sea's temperature with the Doctor's bath-ther-mometer tied on the end of
a string, to make sure there were no icebergs near us. As I listened to
her swearing softly to herself because she couldn't read the pesky
figures in the fading light, I realized that the voyage had begun in
earnest and that very soon it would be night--my first night at sea!



Just before supper-time Bumpo appeared from downstairs and went to the
Doctor at the wheel.

"A stowaway in the hold, Sir," said he in a very business-like seafaring
voice. "I just discovered him, behind the flour-bags."

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

So Bumpo and I went down into the hold; and there, behind the
flour-bags, plastered in flour from head to foot, we found a man. After
we had swept most of the flour off him with a broom, we discovered that
it was Matthew Mugg. We hauled him upstairs sneezing and took him before
the Doctor.

"Why Matthew!" said John Dolittle. "What on earth are you doing here?"

"The temptation was too much for me, Doctor," said the cat's-meat-man.
"You know I've often asked you to take me on voyages with you and you
never would. Well, this time, knowing that you needed an extra man, I
thought if I stayed hid till the ship was well at sea you would find I
came in handy like and keep me. But I had to lie so doubled up, for
hours, behind them flour-bags, that my rheumatism came on something
awful. I just had to change my position; and of course just as I
stretched out my legs along comes this here African cook of yours and
sees my feet sticking out--Don't this ship roll something awful! How
long has this storm been going on? I reckon this damp sea air wouldn't
be very good for my rheumatics."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They explained to the Doctor that after they had settled down to live
together in the little shack out on the fens, so many people came to
visit them (having heard about the great trial) that life became
impossible; and they had decided to escape from Puddleby in this
manner--for they had no money to leave any other way--and try to find
some new place to live where they and their story wouldn't be so well
known. But as soon as the ship had begun to roll Mrs. Luke had got most
dreadfully unwell.

Poor Luke apologized many times for being such a nuisance and said that
the whole thing had been his wife's idea.

The Doctor, after he had sent below for his medicine-bag and had given
Mrs. Luke some _sal volatile_ and smelling-salts, said he thought the
best thing to do would be for him to lend them some money and put them
ashore at Penzance with Matthew. He also wrote a letter for Luke to take
with him to a friend the Doctor had in the town of Penzance who, it was
hoped, would be able to find Luke work to do there.

As the Doctor opened his purse and took out some gold coins I heard
Polynesia, who was sitting on my shoulder watching the whole affair,
mutter beneath her breath,

"There he goes--lending his last blessed penny--three pounds ten--all
the money we had for the whole trip! Now we haven't the price of a
postage-stamp aboard if we should lose an anchor or have to buy a pint
of tar--Well, let's, pray we don't run out of food--Why doesn't he give
them the ship and walk home?"

Presently with the help of the map the course of the boat was changed
and, to Mrs. Luke's great relief, we made for Penzance and dry land.

I was tremendously interested to see how a ship could be steered into a
port at night with nothing but light-houses and a compass to guide you.
It seemed to me that the Doctor missed all the rocks and sand-bars very

We got into that funny little Cornish harbor about eleven o'clock that
night. The Doctor took his stowaways on shore in our small row-boat
which we kept on the deck of the _Curlew_ and found them rooms at the
hotel there. When he got back he told us that Mrs. Luke had gone
straight to bed and was feeling much better.

It was now after midnight; so we decided to stay in the harbor and wait
till morning before setting out again.

I was glad to get to bed, although I felt that staying up so
tremendously late was great fun. As I climbed into the bunk over the
Doctor's and pulled the blankets snugly round me, I found I could look
out of the port-hole at my elbow, and, without raising my head from the
pillow, could see the lights of Penzance swinging gently up and down
with the motion of the ship at anchor. It was like being rocked to sleep
with a little show going on to amuse you. I was just deciding that I
liked the life of the sea very much when I fell fast asleep.



The next morning when we were eating a very excellent breakfast of
kidneys and bacon, prepared by our good cook Bumpo, the Doctor said to

"I was just wondering, Stubbins, whether I should stop at the Capa
Blanca Islands or run right across for the coast of Brazil. Miranda said
we could expect a spell of excellent weather now--for four and a half
weeks at least."

"Well," I said, spooning out the sugar at the bottom of my cocoa-cup, "I
should think it would be best to make straight across while we are sure
of good weather. And besides the Purple Bird-of-Paradise is going to
keep a look-out for us, isn't she? She'll be wondering what's happened
to us if we don't get there in about a month."

"True, quite true, Stubbins. On the other hand, the Capa Blancas make a
very convenient stopping place on our way across. If we should need
supplies or repairs it would be very handy to put in there."

"How long will it take us from here to the Capa Blancas?" I asked.

"About six days," said the Doctor--"Well, we can decide later. For the
next two days at any rate our direction would be the same practically in
either case. If you have finished breakfast let's go and get under way."

Upstairs I found our vessel surrounded by white and gray seagulls who
flashed and circled about in the sunny morning air, looking for
food-scraps thrown out by the ships into the harbor.

By about half past seven we had the anchor up and the sails set to a
nice steady breeze; and this time we got out into the open sea without
bumping into a single thing. We met the Penzance fishing fleet coming in
from the night's fishing, and very trim and neat they looked, in a line
like soldiers, with their red-brown sails all leaning over the same way
and the white water dancing before their bows.

For the next three or four days everything went smoothly and nothing
unusual happened. During this time we all got settled down into our
regular jobs; and in spare moments the Doctor showed each of us how to
take our turns at the wheel, the proper manner of keeping a ship on her
right course, and what to do if the wind changed suddenly. We divided
the twenty-four hours of the day into three spells; and we took it in
turns to sleep our eight hours and be awake sixteen. So the ship was
well looked after, with two of us always on duty.

Besides that, Polynesia, who was an older sailor than any of us, and
really knew a lot about running ships, seemed to be always awake--except
when she took her couple of winks in the sun, standing on one leg beside
the wheel. You may be sure that no one ever got a chance to stay abed
more than his eight hours while Polynesia was around. She used to watch
the ship's clock; and if you overslept a half-minute, she would come
down to the cabin and peck you gently on the nose till you got up.

I very soon grew to be quite fond of our funny black friend Bumpo, with
his grand way of speaking and his enormous feet which some one was
always stepping on or falling over. Although he was much older than I
was and had been to college, he never tried to lord it over me. He
seemed to be forever smiling and kept all of us in good humor. It wasn't
long before I began to see the Doctor's good sense in bringing him--in
spite of the fact that he knew nothing whatever about sailing or travel.

On the morning of the fifth day out, just as I was taking the wheel over
from the Doctor, Bumpo appeared and said,

"The salt beef is nearly all gone, Sir."

"The salt beef!" cried the Doctor. "Why, we brought a hundred and twenty
pounds with us. We couldn't have eaten that in five days. What can have
become of it?"

"I don't know, Sir, I'm sure. Every time I go down to the stores I find
another hunk missing. If it is rats that are eating it, then they are
certainly colossal rodents."

Polynesia who was walking up and down a stay-rope taking her morning
exercise, put in,

"We must search the hold. If this is allowed to go on we will all be
starving before a week is out. Come downstairs with me, Tommy, and we
will look into this matter."

So we went downstairs into the store-room and Polynesia told us to keep
quite still and listen. This we did. And presently we heard from a dark
corner of the hold the distinct sound of someone snoring.

"Ah, I thought so," said Polynesia. "It's a man--and a big one. Climb in
there, both of you, and haul him out. It sounds as though he were behind
that barrel--Gosh! We seem to have brought half of Puddleby with us.
Anyone would think we were a penny ferry-boat. Such cheek! Haul him

So Bumpo and I lit a lantern and climbed over the stores. And there,
behind the barrel, sure enough, we found an enormous bearded man fast
asleep with a well-fed look on his face. We woke him up.

"Washamarrer?" he said sleepily.

It was Ben Butcher, the able seaman.

Polynesia spluttered like an angry fire-cracker.

"This is the last straw," said she. "The one man in the world we least
wanted. Shiver my timbers, what cheek!"

"Would it not be advisable," suggested Bumpo, "while the varlet is still
sleepy, to strike him on the head with some heavy object and push him
through a port-hole into the sea?"

"No. We'd get into trouble," said Polynesia. "We're not in Jolliginki
now, you know--worse luck!--Besides, there never was a port-hole big
enough to push that man through. Bring him upstairs to the Doctor."

So we led the man to the wheel where he respectfully touched his cap to
the Doctor.

"Another stowaway, Sir," said Bumpo smartly. I thought the poor Doctor
would have a fit.

"Good morning, Captain," said the man. "Ben Butcher, able seaman, at
your service. I knew you'd need me, so I took the liberty of stowing
away--much against my conscience. But I just couldn't bear to see you
poor landsmen set out on this voyage without a single real seaman to
help you. You'd never have got home alive if I hadn't come--Why look at
your mainsail, Sir--all loose at the throat. First gust of wind come
along, and away goes your canvas overboard--Well, it's all right now I'm
here. We'll soon get things in shipshape."

"No, it isn't all right," said the Doctor, "it's all wrong. And I'm not
at all glad to see you. I told you in Puddleby I didn't want you. You
had no right to come."

"But Captain," said the able seaman, "you can't sail this ship without
me. You don't understand navigation. Why, look at the compass now:
you've let her swing a point and a half off her course. It's madness for
you to try to do this trip alone--if you'll pardon my saying so, Sir.
Why--why, you'll lose the ship!"

"Look here," said the Doctor, a sudden stern look coming into his eyes,
"losing a ship is nothing to me. I've lost ships before and it doesn't
bother me in the least. When I set out to go to a place, I get there. Do
you understand? I may know nothing whatever about sailing and
navigation, but I get there just the same. Now you may be the best
seaman in the world, but on _this_ ship you're just a plain ordinary
nuisance--very plain and very ordinary. And I am now going to call at
the nearest port and put you ashore."

"Yes, and think yourself lucky," Polynesia put in, "that you are not
locked up for stowing away and eating all our salt beef."

"I don't know what the mischief we're going to do now," I heard her
whisper to Bumpo. "We've no money to buy any more; and that salt beef
was the most important part of the stores."

"Would it not be good political economy," Bumpo whispered back, "if we
salted the able seaman and ate him instead? I should judge that he would
weigh more than a hundred and twenty pounds."

"How often must I tell you that we are not in Jolliginki," snapped
Polynesia. "Those things are not done on white men's ships--Still," she
murmured after a moment's thought, "it's an awfully bright idea. I don't
suppose anybody saw him come on to the ship--Oh, but Heavens! we haven't
got enough salt. Besides, he'd be sure to taste of tobacco."



Then the Doctor told me to take the wheel while he made a little
calculation with his map and worked out what new course we should take.

"I shall have to run for the Capa Blancas after all," he told me when
the seaman's back was turned. "Dreadful nuisance! But I'd sooner swim
back to Puddleby than have to listen to that fellow's talk all the way
to Brazil."

Indeed he was a terrible person, this Ben Butcher. You'd think that any
one after being told he wasn't wanted would have had the decency to keep
quiet. But not Ben Butcher. He kept going round the deck pointing out
all the things we had wrong. According to him there wasn't a thing right
on the whole ship. The anchor was hitched up wrong; the hatches weren't
fastened down properly; the sails were put on back to front; all our
knots were the wrong kind of knots.

At last the Doctor told him to stop talking and go downstairs. He
refused--said he wasn't going to be sunk by landlubbers while he was
still able to stay on deck.

This made us feel a little uneasy. He was such an enormous man there was
no knowing what he might do if he got really obstreperous.

Bumpo and I were talking about this downstairs in the dining-saloon when
Polynesia, Jip and Chee-Chee came and joined us. And, as usual,
Polynesia had a plan.

"Listen," she said, "I am certain this Ben Butcher is a smuggler and a
bad man. I am a very good judge of seamen, remember, and I don't like
the cut of this man's jib. I--"

"Do you really think," I interrupted, "that it is safe for the Doctor to
cross the Atlantic without any regular seamen on his ship?"

You see it had upset me quite a good deal to find that all the things we
had been doing were wrong; and I was beginning to wonder what might
happen if we ran into a storm--particularly as Miranda had only said the
weather would be good for a certain time; and we seemed to be having so
many delays. But Polynesia merely tossed her head scornfully.

"Oh, bless you, my boy," said she, "you're always safe with John
Dolittle. Remember that. Don't take any notice of that stupid old salt.
Of course it is perfectly true the Doctor does do everything wrong. But
with him it doesn't matter. Mark my words, if you travel with John
Dolittle you always get there, as you heard him say. I've been with him
lots of times and I know. Sometimes the ship is upside down when you get
there, and sometimes it's right way up. But you get there just the same.
And then of course there's another thing about the Doctor," she added
thoughtfully: "he always has extraordinary good luck. He may have his
troubles; but with him things seem to have a habit of turning out all
right in the end. I remember once when we were going through the Straits
of Magellan the wind was so strong--"

"But what are we going to do about Ben Butcher?" Jip put in. "You had
some plan Polynesia, hadn't you?"

"Yes. What I'm afraid of is that he may hit the Doctor on the head when
he's not looking and make himself captain of the _Curlew_. Bad sailors
do that sometimes. Then they run the ship their own way and take it
where they want. That's what you call a mutiny."

"Yes," said Jip, "and we ought to do something pretty quick. We can't
reach the Capa Blancas before the day after to-morrow at best. I don't
like to leave the Doctor alone with him for a minute. He smells like a
very bad man to me."

"Well, I've got it all worked out," said Polynesia. "Listen: is there a
key in that door?"

We looked outside the dining-room and found that there was.

"All right," said Polynesia. "Now Bumpo lays the table for lunch and we
all go and hide. Then at twelve o'clock Bumpo rings the dinner-bell down
here. As soon as Ben hears it he'll come down expecting more salt beef.
Bumpo must hide behind the door outside. The moment that Ben is seated
at the dining-table Bumpo slams the door and locks it. Then we've got
him. See?"

"How stratagenious!" Bumpo chuckled. "As Cicero said, _parrots cum
parishioners facilime congregation_. I'll lay the table at once."

"Yes and take that Worcestershire sauce off the dresser with you when
you go out," said Polynesia. "Don't leave any loose eatables around.
That fellow has had enough to last any man for three days. Besides, he
won't be so inclined to start a fight when we put him ashore at the Capa
Blancas if we thin him down a bit before we let him out."

So we all went and hid ourselves in the passage where we could watch
what happened. And presently Bumpo came to the foot of the stairs and
rang the dinner-bell like mad. Then he hopped behind the dining-room
door and we all kept still and listened.

Almost immediately, _thump, thump, thump_, down the stairs tramped Ben
Butcher, the able seaman. He walked into the dining-saloon, sat himself
down at the head of the table in the Doctor's place, tucked a napkin
under his fat chin and heaved a sigh of expectation.

Then, _bang!_ Bumpo slammed the door and locked it.

"That settles _him_ for a while," said Polynesia coming out from her
hiding-place. "Now let him teach navigation to the side-board. Gosh, the
cheek of the man! I've forgotten more about the sea than that lumbering
lout will ever know. Let's go upstairs and tell the Doctor. Bumpo, you
will have to serve the meals in the cabin for the next couple of days."

And bursting into a rollicking Norwegian sea-song, she climbed up to my
shoulder and we went on deck.



We remained three days in the Capa Blanca Islands.

There were two reasons why we stayed there so long when we were really
in such a hurry to get away. One was the shortage in our provisions
caused by the able seaman's enormous appetite. When we came to go over
the stores and make a list, we found that he had eaten a whole lot of
other things besides the beef. And having no money, we were sorely
puzzled how to buy more. The Doctor went through his trunk to see if
there was anything he could sell. But the only thing he could find was
an old watch with the hands broken and the back dented in; and we
decided this would not bring us in enough money to buy much more than a
pound of tea. Bumpo suggested that he sing comic songs in the streets
which he had learned in Jolliginki. But the Doctor said he did not think
that the islanders would care for African music.

The other thing that kept us was the bullfight. In these islands, which
belonged to Spain, they had bullfights every Sunday. It was on a Friday
that we arrived there; and after we had got rid of the able seaman we
took a walk through the town.

It was a very funny little town, quite different from any that I had
ever seen. The streets were all twisty and winding and so narrow that a
wagon could only just pass along them. The houses overhung at the top
and came so close together that people in the attics could lean out of
the windows and shake hands with their neighbors on the opposite side of
the street. The Doctor told us the town was very, very old. It was
called Monteverde.

As we had no money of course we did not go to a hotel or anything like
that. But on the second evening when we were passing by a bed-maker's
shop we noticed several beds, which the man had made, standing on the
pavement outside. The Doctor started chatting in Spanish to the
bed-maker who was sitting at his door whistling to a parrot in a cage.
The Doctor and the bed-maker got very friendly talking about birds and
things. And as it grew near to supper-time the man asked us to stop and
sup with him.

This of course we were very glad to do. And after the meal was over
(very nice dishes they were, mostly cooked in olive-oil--I particularly
liked the fried bananas) we sat outside on the pavement again and went
on talking far into the night.

At last when we got up, to go back to our ship, this very nice
shopkeeper wouldn't hear of our going away on any account. He said the
streets down by the harbor were very badly lighted and there was no
moon. We would surely get lost. He invited us to spend the night with
him and go back to our ship in the morning.

Well, we finally agreed; and as our good friend had no spare bedrooms,
the three of us, the Doctor, Bumpo and I, slept on the beds set out for
sale on the pavement before the shop. The night was so hot we needed no
coverings. It was great fun to fall asleep out of doors like this,
watching the people walking to and fro and the gay life of the streets.
It seemed to me that Spanish people never went to bed at all. Late as it
was, all the little restaurants and cafes around us were wide open, with
customers drinking coffee and chatting merrily at the small tables
outside. The sound of a guitar strumming softly in the distance mingled
with the clatter of chinaware and the babble of voices.

[Illustration: "The Doctor started chatting in Spanish to the

Somehow it made me think of my mother and father far away in Puddleby,
with their regular habits, the evening practise on the flute and the
rest--doing the same thing every day. I felt sort of sorry for them in a
way, because they missed the fun of this traveling life, where we were
doing something new all the time--even sleeping differently. But I
suppose if they had been invited to go to bed on a pavement in front of
a shop they wouldn't have cared for the idea at all. It is funny how
some people are.



Next morning we were awakened by a great racket. There was a procession
coming down the street, a number of men in very gay clothes followed by
a large crowd of admiring ladies and cheering children. I asked the
Doctor who they were.

"They are the bullfighters," he said. "There is to be a bullfight

"What is a bullfight?" I asked.

To my great surprise the Doctor got red in the face with anger. It
reminded me of the time when he had spoken of the lions and tigers in
his private zoo.

"A bullfight is a stupid, cruel, disgusting business," said he. "These
Spanish people are most lovable and hospitable folk. How they can enjoy
these wretched bullfights is a thing I could never understand."

Then the Doctor went on to explain to me how a bull was first made very
angry by teasing and then allowed to run into a circus where men came
out with red cloaks, waved them at him, and ran away. Next the bull was
allowed to tire himself out by tossing and killing a lot of poor, old,
broken-down horses who couldn't defend themselves. Then, when the bull
was thoroughly out of breath and wearied by this, a man came out with a
sword and killed the bull.

"Every Sunday," said the Doctor, "in almost every big town in Spain
there are six bulls killed like that and as many horses."

"But aren't the men ever killed by the bull?" I asked.

"Unfortunately very seldom," said he. "A bull is not nearly as dangerous
as he looks, even when he's angry, if you are only quick on your feet
and don't lose your head. These bullfighters are very clever and nimble.
And the people, especially the Spanish ladies, think no end of them. A
famous bullfighter (or matador, as they call them) is a more important
man in Spain than a king--Here comes another crowd of them round the
corner, look. See the girls throwing kisses to them. Ridiculous

At that moment our friend the bed-maker came out to see the procession
go past. And while he was wishing us good morning and enquiring how we
had slept, a friend of his walked up and joined us. The bed-maker
introduced this friend to us as Don Enrique Cardenas.

Don Enrique when he heard where we were from, spoke to us in English. He
appeared to be a well-educated, gentlemanly sort of person.

"And you go to see the bullfight to-morrow, yes?" he asked the Doctor

"Certainly not," said John Dolittle firmly. "I don't like
bullfights--cruel, cowardly shows."

Don Enrique nearly exploded. I never saw a man get so excited. He told
the Doctor that he didn't know what he was talking about. He said
bullfighting was a noble sport and that the matadors were the bravest
men in the world.

"Oh, rubbish!" said the Doctor. "You never give the poor bull a chance.
It is only when he is all tired and dazed that your precious matadors
dare to try and kill him."

I thought the Spaniard was going to strike the Doctor he got so angry.
While he was still spluttering to find words, the bed-maker came between
them and took the Doctor aside. He explained to John Dolittle in a
whisper that this Don Enrique Cardenas was a very important person; that
he it was who supplied the bulls--a special, strong black kind--from his
own farm for all the bullfights in the Capa Blancas. He was a very rich
man, the bed-maker said, a most important personage. He mustn't be
allowed to take offense on any account.

I watched the Doctor's face as the bed-maker finished, and I saw a flash
of boyish mischief come into his eyes as though an idea had struck him.
He turned to the angry Spaniard.

"Don Enrique," he said, "you tell me your bullfighters are very brave
men and skilful. It seems I have offended you by saying that
bullfighting is a poor sport. What is the name of the best matador you
have for to-morrow's show?"

"Pepito de Malaga," said Don Enrique, "one of the greatest names, one of
the bravest men, in all Spain."

"Very well," said the Doctor, "I have a proposal to make to you. I have
never fought a bull in my life. Now supposing I were to go into the ring
to-morrow with Pepito de Malaga and any other matadors you choose; and
if I can do more tricks with a bull than they can, would you promise to
do something for me?"

Don Enrique threw back his head and laughed.

"Man," he said, "you must be mad! You would be killed at once. One has
to be trained for years to become a proper bullfighter."

"Supposing I were willing to take the risk of that--You are not afraid,
I take it, to accept my offer?"

The Spaniard frowned.

"Afraid!" he cried, "Sir, if you can beat Pepito de Malaga in the
bull-ring I'll promise you anything it is possible for me to grant."

"Very good," said the Doctor, "now I understand that you are quite a
powerful man in these islands. If you wished to stop all bullfighting
here after to-morrow, you could do it, couldn't you?"

"Yes," said Don Enrique proudly--"I could."

"Well that is what I ask of you--if I win my wager," said John Dolittle.
"If I can do more with angry bulls than can Pepito de Malaga, you are to
promise me that there shall never be another bullfight in the Capa
Blancas so long as you are alive to stop it. Is it a bargain?"

The Spaniard held out his hand.

"It is a bargain," he said--"I promise. But I must warn you that you are
merely throwing your life away, for you will certainly be killed.
However, that is no more than you deserve for saying that bullfighting
is an unworthy sport. I will meet you here to-morrow morning if you
should wish to arrange any particulars. Good day, Sir."

As the Spaniard turned and walked into the shop with the bed-maker,
Polynesia, who had been listening as usual, flew up on to my shoulder
and whispered in my ear,

"I, have a plan. Get hold of Bumpo and come some place where the Doctor
can't hear us. I want to talk to you."

I nudged Bumpo's elbow and we crossed the street and pretended to look
into a jeweler's window; while the Doctor sat down upon his bed to lace
up his boots, the only part of his clothing he had taken off for the

"Listen," said Polynesia, "I've been breaking my head trying to think up
some way we can get money to buy those stores with; and at last I've got

"The money?" said Bumpo.

"No, stupid. The idea--to make the money with. Listen: the Doctor is
simply bound to win this game to-morrow, sure as you're alive. Now all
we have to do is to make a side bet with these Spaniards--they're great
on gambling--and the trick's done."

"What's a side bet?" I asked.

"Oh I know what that is," said Bumpo proudly. "We used to have lots of
them at Oxford when boat-racing was on. I go to Don Enrique and say, 'I
bet you a hundred pounds the Doctor wins.' Then if he does win, Don
Enrique pays me a hundred pounds; and if he doesn't, I have to pay Don

"That's the idea," said Polynesia. "Only don't say a hundred pounds: say
two-thousand five-hundred pesetas. Now come and find old Don Ricky-ticky
and try to look rich."

So we crossed the street again and slipped into the bed-maker's shop
while the Doctor was still busy with his boots.

"Don Enrique," said Bumpo, "allow me to introduce myself. I am the Crown
Prince of Jolliginki. Would you care to have a small bet with me on
to-morrow's bullfight?"

Don Enrique bowed.

"Why certainly," he said, "I shall be delighted. But I must warn you
that you are bound to lose. How much?"

"Oh a mere truffle," said Bumpo--"just for the fun of the thing, you
know. What do you say to three-thousand pesetas?"

"I agree," said the Spaniard bowing once more. "I will meet you after
the bullfight to-morrow."

"So that's all right," said Polynesia as we came out to join the Doctor.
"I feel as though quite a load had been taken off my mind."



The next day was a great day in Monteverde. All the streets were hung
with flags; and everywhere gaily dressed crowds were to be seen flocking
towards the bull-ring, as the big circus was called where the fights
took place.

The news of the Doctor's challenge had gone round the town and, it
seemed, had caused much amusement to the islanders. The very idea of a
mere foreigner daring to match himself against the great Pepito de
Malaga!--Serve him right if he got killed!

The Doctor had borrowed a bullfighter's suit from Don Enrique; and very
gay and wonderful he looked in it, though Bumpo and I had hard work
getting the waistcoat to close in front and even then the buttons kept
bursting off it in all directions.

When we set out from the harbor to walk to the bull-ring, crowds of
small boys ran after us making fun of the Doctor's fatness, calling out,
"_Juan Hagapoco, el grueso matador!_" which is the Spanish for, "John
Dolittle, the fat bullfighter." As soon as we arrived the Doctor said he
would like to take a look at the bulls before the fight began; and we
were at once led to the bull pen where, behind a high railing, six
enormous black bulls were tramping around wildly.

In a few hurried words and signs the Doctor told the bulls what he was
going to do and gave them careful instructions for their part of the
show. The poor creatures were tremendously glad when they heard that
there was a chance of bullfighting being stopped; and they promised to
do exactly as they were told.

Of course the man who took us in there didn't understand what we were
doing. He merely thought the fat Englishman was crazy when he saw the
Doctor making signs and talking in ox tongue.

From there the Doctor went to the matadors' dressing-rooms while Bumpo
and I with Polynesia made our way into the bull-ring and took our seats
in the great open-air theatre.

It was a very gay sight. Thousands of ladies and gentlemen were there,
all dressed in their smartest clothes; and everybody seemed very happy
and cheerful.

Right at the beginning Don Enrique got up and explained to the people
that the first item on the program was to be a match between the English
Doctor and Pepito de Malaga. He told them what he had promised if the
Doctor should win. But the people did not seem to think there was much
chance of that. A roar of laughter went up at the very mention of such a

When Pepito came into the ring everybody cheered, the ladies blew kisses
and the men clapped and waved their hats.

Presently a large door on the other side of the ring was rolled back and
in galloped one of the bulls; then the door was closed again. At once
the matador became very much on the alert. He waved his red cloak and
the bull rushed at him. Pepito stepped nimbly aside and the people
cheered again.

This game was repeated several times. But I noticed that whenever Pepito
got into a tight place and seemed to be in real danger from the bull, an
assistant of his, who always hung around somewhere near, drew the bull's
attention upon himself by waving another red cloak. Then the bull would
chase the assistant and Pepito was left in safety. Most often, as soon
as he had drawn the bull off, this assistant ran for the high fence and
vaulted out of the ring to save himself. They evidently had it all
arranged, these matadors; and it didn't seem to me that they were in any
very great danger from the poor clumsy bull so long as they didn't slip
and fall.

After about ten minutes of this kind of thing the small door into the
matadors' dressing-room opened and the Doctor strolled into the ring. As
soon as his fat figure, dressed In sky-blue velvet, appeared, the crowd
rocked in their seats with laughter.

Juan Hagapoco, as they had called him, walked out into the centre of the
ring and bowed ceremoniously to the ladies in the boxes. Then he bowed
to the bull. Then he bowed to Pepito. While he was bowing to Pepito's
assistant the bull started to rush at him from behind.

"Look out! Look out!--The bull! You will be killed!" yelled the crowd.

But the Doctor calmly finished his bow. Then turning round he folded his
arms, fixed the on-rushing bull with his eye and frowned a terrible

Presently a curious thing happened: the bull's speed got slower and
slower. It almost looked as though he were afraid of that frown. Soon he
stopped altogether. The Doctor shook his finger at him. He began to
tremble. At last, tucking his tail between his legs, the bull turned
round and ran away.

The crowd gasped. The Doctor ran after him. Round and round the ring
they went, both of them puffing and blowing like grampuses. Excited
whispers began to break out among the people. This was something new in
bullfighting, to have the bull running away from the man, instead of the
man away from the bull. At last in the tenth lap, with a final burst of
speed, Juan Hagapoco, the English matador, caught the poor bull by the

Then leading the now timid creature into the middle of the ring, the
Doctor made him do all manner of tricks: standing on the hind legs,
standing on the front legs, dancing, hopping, rolling over. He finished
up by making the bull kneel down; then he got on to his back and did
handsprings and other acrobatics on the beast's horns.

Pepito and his assistant had their noses sadly out of joint. The crowd
had forgotten them entirely. They were standing together by the fence
not far from where I sat, muttering to one another and slowly growing
green with jealousy.

Finally the Doctor turned towards Don Enrique's seat and bowing said in
a loud voice, "This bull is no good any more. He's terrified and out of
breath. Take him away, please."

"Does the caballero wish for a fresh bull?" asked Don Enrique.

"No," said the Doctor, "I want five fresh bulls. And I would like them
all in the ring at once, please."

At this a cry of horror burst from the people. They had been used to
seeing matadors escaping from one bull at a time. But _five!_--That must
mean certain death.

[Illustration: "Did acrobatics on the beast's horns"]

Pepito sprang forward and called to Don Enrique not to allow it, saying
it was against all the rules of bullfighting. ("Ha!" Polynesia chuckled
into my ear. "It's like the Doctor's navigation: he breaks all the
rules; but he gets there. If they'll only let him, he'll give them the
best show for their money they ever saw.") A great argument began. Half
the people seemed to be on Pepito's side and half on the Doctor's side.
At last the Doctor turned to Pepito and made another very grand bow
which burst the last button off his waistcoat.

"Well, of course if the caballero is afraid--" he began with a bland

"Afraid!" screamed Pepito. "I am afraid of nothing on earth. I am the
greatest matador in Spain. With this right hand I have killed nine
hundred and fifty-seven bulls."

"All right then," said the Doctor, "let us see if you can kill five
more. Let the bulls in!" he shouted. "Pepito de Malaga is not afraid."

A dreadful silence hung over the great theatre as the heavy door into
the bull pen was rolled back. Then with a roar the five big bulls
bounded into the ring.

"Look fierce," I heard the Doctor call to them in cattle language.
"Don't scatter. Keep close. Get ready for a rush. Take Pepito, the one
in purple, first. But for Heaven's sake don't kill him. Just chase him
out of the ring--Now then, all together, go for him!"

The bulls put down their heads and all in line, like a squadron of
cavalry, charged across the ring straight for poor Pepito.

For one moment the Spaniard tried his hardest to look brave. But the
sight of the five pairs of horns coming at him at full gallop was too
much. He turned white to the lips, ran for the fence, vaulted it and

"Now the other one," the Doctor hissed. And in two seconds the gallant
assistant was nowhere to be seen. Juan Hagapoco, the fat matador, was
left alone in the ring with five rampaging bulls.

The rest of the show was really well worth seeing. First, all five bulls
went raging round the ring, butting at the fence with their horns,
pawing up the sand, hunting for something to kill. Then each one in turn
would pretend to catch sight of the Doctor for the first time and giving
a bellow of rage, would lower his wicked looking horns and shoot like an
arrow across the ring as though he meant to toss him to the sky.

It was really frightfully exciting. And even I who knew it was all
arranged beforehand, held my breath in terror for the Doctor's life when
I saw how near they came to sticking him. But just at the last moment,
when the horns' points were two inches from the sky-blue waistcoat, the
Doctor would spring nimbly to one side and the great brutes would go
thundering harmlessly by, missing him by no more than a hair.

Then all five of them went for him together, completely surrounding him,
slashing at him with their horns and bellowing with fury. How he escaped
alive I don't know. For several minutes his round figure could hardly be
seen at all in that scrimmage of tossing heads, stamping hoofs and
waving tails.--It was, as Polynesia had prophesied, the greatest
bullfight ever seen.

One woman in the crowd got quite hysterical and screamed up to Don

"Stop the fight! Stop the fight! He is too brave a man to be killed.
This is the most wonderful matador in the world. Let him live! Stop the

But presently the Doctor was seen to break loose from the mob of animals
that surrounded him. Then catching each of them by the horns, one after
another, he would give their heads a sudden twist and throw them down
flat on the sand. The great fellows acted their parts extremely well. I
have never seen trained animals in a circus do better. They lay there
panting on the ground where the Doctor threw them as if they were
exhausted and completely beaten.

Then with a final bow to the ladies John Dolittle took a cigar from his
pocket, lit it and strolled out of the ring.



As soon as the door closed behind the Doctor the most tremendous noise I
have ever heard broke loose. Some of the men appeared to be angry
(friends of Pepito's, I suppose); but the ladies called and called to
have the Doctor come back into the ring.

When at length he did so, the women seemed to go entirely mad over him.
They blew kisses to him. They called him a darling. Then they started
taking off their flowers, their rings, their necklaces, and their
brooches and threw them down at his feet. You never saw anything like
it--a perfect shower of jewelry and roses.

But the Doctor just smiled up at them, bowed once more and backed out.

"Now, Bumpo," said Polynesia, "this is where you go down and gather up
all those trinkets and we'll sell 'em. That's what the big matadors do:
leave the jewelry on the ground and their assistants collect it for
them. We might as well lay in a good supply of money while we've got the
chance--you never know when you may need it when you're traveling with
the Doctor. Never mind the roses--you can leave them--but don't leave
any rings. And when you've finished go and get your three-thousand
pesetas out of Don Ricky-ticky. Tommy and I will meet you outside and
we'll pawn the gew-gaws at that Jew's shop opposite the bed-maker's. Run
along--and not a word to the Doctor, remember."

Outside the bull-ring we found the crowd still in a great state of
excitement. Violent arguments were going on everywhere. Bumpo joined us
with his pockets bulging in all directions; and we made our way slowly
through the dense crowd to that side of the building where the matadors'
dressing-room was. The Doctor was waiting at the door for us.

"Good work, Doctor!" said Polynesia, flying on to his shoulder--"Great
work!--But listen: I smell danger. I think you had better get back to
the ship now as quick and as quietly as you can. Put your overcoat on
over that giddy suit. I don't like the looks of this crowd. More than
half of them are furious because you've won. Don Ricky-ticky must now
stop the bullfighting--and you know how they love it. What I'm afraid of
is that some of these matadors who are just mad with jealousy may start
some dirty work. I think this would be a good time for us to get away."

"I dare say you're right, Polynesia," said the Doctor--"You usually are.
The crowd does seem to be a bit restless. I'll slip down to the ship
alone--so I shan't be so noticeable; and I'll wait for you there. You
come by some different way. But don't be long about it. Hurry!"

As soon as the Doctor had departed Bumpo sought out Don Enrique and

"Honorable Sir, you owe me three-thousand pesetas."

Without a word, but looking cross-eyed with annoyance, Don Enrique paid
his bet.

We next set out to buy the provisions; and on the way we hired a cab and
took it along with us.

Not very far away we found a big grocer's shop which seemed to sell
everything to eat. We went in and bought up the finest lot of food you
ever saw in your life.

As a matter of fact, Polynesia had been right about the danger we were
in. The news of our victory must have spread like lightning through the
whole town. For as we came out of the shop and loaded the cab up with
our stores, we saw various little knots of angry men hunting round the
streets, waving sticks and shouting,

"The Englishmen! Where are those accursed Englishmen who stopped the
bullfighting?--Hang them to a lamp-post!--Throw them in the sea! The
Englishmen!--We want the Englishmen!"

After that we didn't waste any time, you may be sure. Bumpo grabbed the
Spanish cab-driver and explained to him in signs that if he didn't drive
down to the harbor as fast as he knew how and keep his mouth shut the
whole way, he would choke the life out of him. Then we jumped into the
cab on top of the food, slammed the door, pulled down the blinds and
away we went.

"We won't get a chance to pawn the jewelry now," said Polynesia, as we
bumped over the cobbly streets. "But never mind--it may come in handy
later on. And anyway we've got two-thousand five-hundred pesetas left
out of the bet. Don't give the cabby more than two pesetas fifty, Bumpo.
That's the right fare, I know."

Well, we reached the harbor all right and we were mighty glad to find
that the Doctor had sent Chee-Chee back with the row-boat to wait for us
at the landing-wall.

Unfortunately while we were in the middle of loading the supplies from
the cab into the boat, the angry mob arrived upon the wharf and made a
rush for us. Bumpo snatched up a big beam of wood that lay near and
swung it round and round his head, letting out dreadful African
battle-yells the while. This kept the crowd off while Chee-Chee and I
hustled the last of the stores into the boat and clambered in ourselves.
Bumpo threw his beam of wood into the thick of the Spaniards and leapt
in after us. Then we pushed off and rowed like mad for the _Curlew_.

The mob upon the wall howled with rage, shook their fists and hurled
stones and all manner of things after us. Poor old Bumpo got hit on the
head with a bottle. But as he had a very strong head it only raised a
small bump while the bottle smashed into a thousand pieces.

When we reached the ship's side the Doctor had the anchor drawn up and
the sails set and everything in readiness to get away. Looking back we
saw boats coming out from the harbor-wall after us, filled with angry,
shouting men. So we didn't bother to unload our row-boat but just tied
it on to the ship's stern with a rope and jumped aboard.

It only took a moment more to swing the Curlew round into the wind; and
soon we were speeding out of the harbor on our way to Brazil.

"Ha!" sighed Polynesia, as we all flopped down on the deck to take a
rest and get our breath. "That wasn't a bad adventure--quite reminds me
of my old seafaring days when I sailed with the smugglers--Golly, that
was the life!--Never mind your head, Bumpo. It will be all right when
the Doctor puts a little arnica on it. Think what we got out of the
scrap: a boat-load of ship's stores, pockets full of jewelry and
thousands of pesetas. Not bad, you know--not bad."




Miranda, the Purple Bird-of-Paradise had prophesied rightly when she had
foretold a good spell of weather. For three weeks the good ship Curlew
plowed her way through smiling seas before a steady powerful wind.

I suppose most real sailors would have found this part of the voyage
dull. But not I. As we got further South and further West the face of
the sea seemed different every day. And all the little things of a
voyage which an old hand would have hardly bothered to notice were
matters of great interest for my eager eyes.

We did not pass many ships. When we did see one, the Doctor would get
out his telescope and we would all take a look at it. Sometimes he would
signal to it, asking for news, by hauling up little colored flags upon
the mast; and the ship would signal back to us in the same way. The
meaning of all the signals was printed in a book which the Doctor kept
in the cabin. He told me it was the language of the sea and that all
ships could understand it whether they be English, Dutch, or French.

Our greatest happening during those first weeks was passing an iceberg.
When the sun shone on it it burst into a hundred colors, sparkling like
a jeweled palace in a fairy-story. Through the telescope we saw a mother
polar bear with a cub sitting on it, watching us. The Doctor recognized
her as one of the bears who had spoken to him when he was discovering
the North Pole. So he sailed the ship up close and offered to take her
and her baby on to the _Curlew_ if she wished it. But she only shook her
head, thanking him; she said it would be far too hot for the cub on the
deck of our ship, with no ice to keep his feet cool. It had been indeed
a very hot day; but the nearness of that great mountain of ice made us
all turn up our coat-collars and shiver with the cold.

During those quiet peaceful days I improved my reading and writing a
great deal with the Doctor's help. I got on so well that he let me keep
the ship's log. This is a big book kept on every ship, a kind of diary,
in which the number of miles run, the direction of your course and
everything else that happens is written down.

The Doctor too, in what spare time he had, was nearly always writing--in
his note-books. I used to peep into these sometimes, now that I could
read, but I found it hard work to make out the Doctor's handwriting.
Many of these note-books seemed to be about sea things. There were six
thick ones filled full with notes and sketches of different seaweeds;
and there were others on sea birds; others on sea worms; others on
sea-shells. They were all some day to be re-written, printed and bound
like regular books.

One afternoon we saw, floating around us, great quantities of stuff that
looked like dead grass. The Doctor told me this was gulf-weed. A little
further on it became so thick that it covered all the water as far as
the eye could reach; it made the Curlew look as though she were moving
across a meadow instead of sailing the Atlantic.

Crawling about upon this weed, many crabs were to be seen. And the sight
of them reminded the Doctor of his dream of learning the language of the
shellfish. He fished several of these crabs up with a net and put them
in his listening-tank to see if he could understand them. Among the
crabs he also caught a strange-looking, chubby, little fish which he
told me was called a Silver Fidgit.

After he had listened to the crabs for a while with no success, he put
the fidgit into the tank and began to listen to that. I had to leave him
at this moment to go and attend to some duties on the deck. But
presently I heard him below shouting for me to come down again.

[Illustration: "'He talks English!'"]

"Stubbins," he cried as soon as he saw me--"a most extraordinary
thing--Quite unbelievable--I'm not sure whether I'm dreaming--Can't
believe my own senses. I--I--I--"

"Why, Doctor," I said, "what is it?--What's the matter?"

"The fidgit," he whispered, pointing with a trembling finger to the
listening-tank in which the little round fish was still swimming
quietly, "he talks English! And--and--and _he whistles tunes_--English

"Talks English!" I cried--"Whistles!--Why, it's impossible."

"It's a fact," said the Doctor, white in the face with excitement. "It's
only a few words, scattered, with no particular sense to them--all mixed
up with his own language which I can't make out yet. But they're English
words, unless there's something very wrong with my hearing--And the tune
he whistles, it's as plain as anything--always, the same tune. Now you
listen and tell me what you make of it. Tell me everything you hear.
Don't miss a word."

I went to the glass tank upon the table while the Doctor grabbed a
note-book and a pencil. Undoing my collar I stood upon the empty
packing-case he had been using for a stand and put my right ear down
under the water.

For some moments I detected nothing at all--except, with my dry ear, the
heavy breathing of the Doctor as he waited, all stiff and anxious, for
me to say something. At last from within the water, sounding like a
child singing miles and miles away, I heard an unbelievably thin, small

"Ah!" I said.

"What is it?" asked the Doctor in a hoarse, trembly whisper. "What does
he say?"

"I can't quite make it out," I said. "It's mostly in some strange fish
language--Oh, but wait a minute!--Yes, now I get it--'No smoking'....
'My, here's a queer one!' 'Popcorn and picture postcards here.... This
way out.... Don't spit'--What funny things to say, Doctor!--Oh, but
wait!--Now he's whistling the tune."

"What tune is it?" gasped the Doctor.

"John Peel."

"Ah hah," cried the Doctor, "that's what I made it out to be." And he
wrote furiously in his note-book.

I went on listening.

"This is most extraordinary," the Doctor kept muttering to himself as
his pencil went wiggling over the page--"Most extraordinary--but
frightfully thrilling. I wonder where he--"

"Here's some more," I cried--"some more English.... '_The big tank needs
cleaning_'.... That's all. Now he's talking fish-talk again."

"The big tank!" the Doctor murmured frowning in a puzzled kind of way.
"I wonder where on earth he learned--"

Then he bounded up out of his chair.

"I have it," he yelled, "this fish has escaped from an aquarium. Why, of
course! Look at the kind of things he has learned: 'Picture
postcards'--they always sell them in aquariums; 'Don't spit'; 'No
smoking'; 'This way out'--the things the attendants say. And then, 'My,
here's a queer one!' That's the kind of thing that people exclaim when
they look into the tanks. It all fits. There's no doubt about it,
Stubbins: we have here a fish who has escaped from captivity. And it's
quite possible--not certain, by any means, but quite possible--that I
may now, through him, be able to establish communication with the
shellfish. This is a great piece of luck."



Well, now that he was started once more upon his old hobby of the
shellfish languages, there was no stopping the Doctor. He worked right
through the night.

A little after midnight I fell asleep in a chair; about two in the
morning Bumpo fell asleep at the wheel; and for five hours the _Curlew_
was allowed to drift where she liked. But still John Dolittle worked on,
trying his hardest to understand the fidgit's language, struggling to
make the fidgit understand him.

When I woke up it was broad daylight again. The Doctor was still
standing at the listening-tank, looking as tired as an owl and
dreadfully wet. But on his face there was a proud and happy smile.

"Stubbins," he said as soon as he saw me stir, "I've done it. I've got
the key to the fidgit's language. It's a frightfully difficult
language--quite different from anything I ever heard. The only thing it
reminds me of--slightly--is ancient Hebrew. It isn't shellfish; but it's
a big step towards it. Now, the next thing, I want you to take a pencil
and a fresh note-book and write down everything I say. The fidgit has
promised to tell me the story of his life. I will translate it into
English and you put it down in the book. Are you ready?"

Once more the Doctor lowered his ear beneath the level of the water; and
as he began to speak, I started to write. And this is the story that the
fidgit told us.


     "I was born in the Pacific Ocean, close to the coast of
     Chile. I was one of a family of two-thousand
     five-hundred and ten. Soon after our mother and father
     left us, we youngsters got scattered. The family was
     broken up--by a herd of whales who chased us. I and my
     sister, Clippa (she was my favorite sister) had a very
     narrow escape for our lives. As a rule, whales are not
     very hard to get away from if you are good at
     dodging--if you've only got a quick swerve. But this
     one that came after Clippa and myself was a very mean
     whale, Every time he lost us under a stone or something
     he'd come back and hunt and hunt till he routed us out
     into the open again. I never saw such a nasty,
     persevering brute.

     "Well, we shook him at last--though not before he had
     worried us for hundreds of miles northward, up the west
     coast of South America. But luck was against us that
     day. While we were resting and trying to get our
     breath, another family of fidgits came rushing by,
     shouting, 'Come on! Swim for your lives! The dog-fish
     are coming!'

     "Now dog-fish are particularly fond of fidgits. We are,
     you might say, their favorite food--and for that reason
     we always keep away from deep, muddy waters. What's
     more, dog-fish are not easy to escape from; they are
     terribly fast and clever hunters. So up we had to jump
     and on again.

     "After we had gone a few more hundred miles we looked
     back and saw that the dog-fish were gaining on us. So
     we turned into a harbor. It happened to be one on the
     west coast of the United States. Here we guessed, and
     hoped, the dog-fish would not be likely to follow us.
     As it happened, they didn't even see us turn in, but
     dashed on northward and we never saw them again. I hope
     they froze to death in the Arctic Seas.

     "But, as I said, luck was against us that day. While I
     and my sister were cruising gently round the ships
     anchored in the harbor looking for orange-peels, a
     great delicacy with us----_swoop! bang!_--we were
     caught in a net.

     "We struggled for all we were worth; but it was no use.
     The net was small-meshed and strongly made. Kicking and
     flipping we were hauled up the side of the ship and
     dumped down on the deck, high and dry in a blazing
     noonday sun.

     "Here a couple of old men in whiskers and spectacles
     leant over us, making strange sounds. Some codling had
     got caught in the net the same time as we were. These
     the old men threw back into the sea; but us they seemed
     to think very precious. They put us carefully into a
     large jar and after they had taken us on shore they
     went to a big house and changed us from the jar into
     glass boxes full of water. This house was on the edge
     of the harbor; and a small stream of sea-water was made
     to flow through the glass tank so we could breathe
     properly. Of course we had never lived inside glass
     walls before; and at first we kept on trying to swim
     through them and got our noses awfully sore bumping the
     glass at full speed.

     "Then followed weeks and weeks of weary idleness. They
     treated us well, so far as they knew how. The old
     fellows in spectacles came and looked at us proudly
     twice a day and saw that we had the proper food to eat,
     the right amount of light and that the water was not
     too hot or too cold. But oh, the dullness of that life!
     It seemed we were a kind of a show. At a certain hour
     every morning the big doors of the house were thrown
     open and everybody in the city who had nothing special
     to do came in and looked at us. There were other tanks
     filled with different kinds of fishes all round the
     walls of the big room. And the crowds would go from
     tank to tank, looking in at us through the glass--with
     their mouths open, like half-witted flounders. We got
     so sick of it that we used to open our mouths back at
     them; and this they seemed to think highly comical.

     "One day my sister said to me, 'Think you, Brother,
     that these strange creatures who have captured us can

     "'Surely,' said I, 'have you not noticed that some talk
     with the lips only, some with the whole face, and yet
     others discourse with the hands? When they come quite
     close to the glass you can hear them. Listen!'

     "At that moment a female, larger than the rest, pressed
     her nose up against the glass, pointed at me and said
     to her young behind her, 'Oh, look, here's a queer

     "And then we noticed that they nearly always said this
     when they looked in. And for a long time we thought
     that such was the whole extent of the language, this
     being a people of but few ideas. To help pass away the
     weary hours we learned it by heart, 'Oh, look, here's a
     queer one!' But we never got to know what it meant.
     Other phrases, however, we did get the meaning of; and
     we even learned to read a little in man-talk. Many big
     signs there were, set up upon the walls; and when we
     saw that the keepers stopped the people from spitting
     and smoking, pointed to these signs angrily and read
     them out loud, we knew then that these writings
     signified, _No Smoking_ and _Don't Spit_.

     "Then in the evenings, after the crowd had gone, the
     same aged male with one leg of wood, swept up the
     peanut-shells with a broom every night. And while he
     was so doing he always whistled the same tune to
     himself. This melody we rather liked; and we learned
     that too by heart--thinking it was part of the

     "Thus a whole year went by in this dismal place. Some
     days new fishes were brought in to the other tanks; and
     other days old fishes were taken out. At first we had
     hoped we would only be kept here for a while, and that
     after we had been looked at sufficiently we would be
     returned to freedom and the sea. But as month after
     month went by, and we were left undisturbed, our hearts
     grew heavy within our prison-walls of glass and we
     spoke to one another less and less.

     "One day, when the crowd was thickest in the big room,
     a woman with a red face fainted from the heat. I
     watched through the glass and saw that the rest of the
     people got highly excited--though to me it did not seem
     to be a matter of very great importance. They threw
     cold water on her and carried her out into the open

     "This made me think mightily; and presently a great
     idea burst upon me.

     "'Sister,' I said, turning to poor Clippa who was
     sulking at the bottom of our prison trying to hide
     behind a stone from the stupid gaze of the children who
     thronged about our tank, 'supposing that we pretended
     we were sick: do you think they would take us also from
     this stuffy house?'

     "'Brother,' said she wearily, 'that they might do. But
     most likely they would throw us on a rubbish-heap,
     where we would die in the hot sun.'

     "'But,' said I, 'why should they go abroad to seek a
     rubbish-heap, when the harbor is so close? While we
     were being brought here I saw men throwing their
     rubbish into the water. If they would only throw us
     also there, we could quickly reach the sea.'

     "'The Sea!' murmured poor Clippa with a far-away look
     in her eyes (she had fine eyes, had my sister, Clippa).
     'How like a dream it sounds--the Sea! Oh brother, will
     we ever swim in it again, think you? Every night as I
     lie awake on the floor of this evil-smelling dungeon I
     hear its hearty voice ringing in my ears. How I have
     longed for it! Just to feel it once again, the nice,
     big, wholesome homeliness of it all! To jump, just to
     jump from the crest of an Atlantic wave, laughing in
     the trade wind's spindrift, down into the blue-green
     swirling trough! To chase the shrimps on a summer
     evening, when the sky is red and the light's all pink
     within the foam! To lie on the top, in the doldrums'
     noonday calm, and warm your tummy in the tropic sun! To
     wander hand in hand once more through the giant seaweed
     forests of the Indian Ocean, seeking the delicious eggs
     of the pop-pop! To play hide-and-seek among the castles
     of the coral towns with their pearl and jasper windows
     spangling the floor of the Spanish Main! To picnic in
     the anemone-meadows, dim blue and lilac-gray, that lie
     in the lowlands beyond the South Sea Garden! To throw
     somersaults on the springy sponge-beds of the Mexican
     Gulf! To poke about among the dead ships and see what
     wonders and adventures lie inside!--And then, on winter
     nights when the Northeaster whips the water into froth,
     to swoop down and down to get away from the cold, down
     to where the water's warm and dark, down and still
     down, till we spy the twinkle of the fire-eels far
     below where our friends and cousins sit chatting round
     the Council Grotto--chatting, Brother, over the news
     and gossip of _the sea_!... Oh--'

     "And then she broke down completely, sniffling.

     "'Stop it!' I said. 'You make me homesick. Look here:
     let's pretend we're sick--or better still, let's
     pretend we're dead; and see what happens. If they throw
     us on a rubbish-heap and we fry in the sun, we'll not
     be much worse off than we are here in this smelly
     prison. What do you say? Will you risk it?'

     "'I will,' she said--'and gladly.'

     "So next morning two fidgits were found by the keeper
     floating on the top of the water in their tank, stiff
     and dead. We gave a mighty good imitation of dead
     fish--although I say it myself. The keeper ran and got
     the old gentlemen with spectacles and whiskers. They
     threw up their hands in horror when they saw us.
     Lifting us carefully out of the water they laid us on
     wet cloths. That was the hardest part of all. If you're
     a fish and get taken out of the water you have to keep
     opening and shutting your mouth to breathe at all--and
     even that you can't keep up for long. And all this time
     we had to stay stiff as sticks and breathe silently
     through half-closed lips.

     "Well, the old fellows poked us and felt us and pinched
     us till I thought they'd never be done. Then, when
     their backs were turned a moment, a wretched cat got up
     on the table and nearly ate us. Luckily the old men
     turned round in time and shooed her away. You may be
     sure though that we took a couple of good gulps of air
     while they weren't looking; and that was the only thing
     that saved us from choking. I wanted to whisper to
     Clippa to be brave and stick it out. But I couldn't
     even do that; because, as you know, most kinds of
     fish-talk cannot be heard--not even a shout--unless
     you're under water.

     "Then, just as we were about to give it up and let on
     that we were alive, one of the old men shook his head
     sadly, lifted us up and carried us out of the building.

     "'Now for it!' I thought to myself. 'We'll soon know
     our fate: liberty or the garbage-can.'

     "Outside, to our unspeakable horror, he made straight
     for a large ash-barrel which stood against the wall on
     the other side of a yard. Most happily for us, however,
     while he was crossing this yard a very dirty man with a
     wagon and horses drove up and took the ash-barrel away.
     I suppose it was his property.

     "Then the old man looked around for some other place to
     throw us. He seemed about to cast us upon the ground.
     But he evidently thought that this would make the yard
     untidy and he desisted. The suspense was terrible. He
     moved outside the yard-gate and my heart sank once more
     as I saw that he now intended to throw us in the gutter
     of the roadway. But (fortune was indeed with us that
     day), a large man in, blue clothes and silver buttons
     stopped him in the nick of time. Evidently, from the
     way the large man lectured and waved a short thick
     stick, it was against the rules of the town to throw
     dead fish in the streets.

     "At last, to our unutterable joy, the old man turned
     and moved off with us towards the harbor. He walked so
     slowly, muttering to himself all the way and watching
     the man in blue out of the corner of his eye, that I
     wanted to bite his finger to make him hurry up. Both
     Clippa and I were actually at our last gasp.

     "Finally he reached the sea-wall and giving us one last
     sad look he dropped us into the waters of the harbor.

     "Never had we realized anything like the thrill of that
     moment, as we felt the salt wetness close over our
     heads. With one flick of our tails we came to life
     again. The old man was so surprised that he fell right
     into the water, almost on top of us. From this he was
     rescued by a sailor with a boat-hook; and the last we
     saw of him, the man in blue was dragging him away by
     the coat-collar, lecturing him again. Apparently it was
     also against the rules of the town to throw dead fish
     into the harbor.

     "But we?--What time or thought had we for his troubles?
     _We were free!_ In lightning leaps, in curving spurts,
     in crazy zig-zags--whooping, shrieking with delight, we
     sped for home and the open sea!

     "That is all of my story and I will now, as I promised
     last night, try to answer any questions you may ask
     about the sea, on condition that I am set at liberty as
     soon as you have done."

_The Doctor_: "Is there any part of the sea deeper than that known as
the Nero Deep--I mean the one near the Island of Guam?"

_The Fidgit_: "Why, certainly. There's one much deeper than that near
the mouth of the Amazon River. But it's small and hard to find. We call
it 'The Deep Hole.' And there's another in the Antarctic Sea."

_The Doctor_: "Can you talk any shellfish language yourself?"

_The Fidgit_: "No, not a word. We regular fishes don't have anything to
do with the shellfish. We consider them a low class."

_The Doctor_: "But when you're near them, can you hear the sound they
make talking--I mean without necessarily understanding what they say?"

_The Fidgit_: "Only with the very largest ones. Shellfish have such weak
small voices it is almost impossible for any but their own kind to hear
them. But with the bigger ones it is different. They make a sad, booming
noise, rather like an iron pipe being knocked with a stone--only not
nearly so loud of course."

_The Doctor_: "I am most anxious to get down to the bottom of the
sea--to study many things. But we land animals, as you no doubt know,
are unable to breathe under water. Have you any ideas that might help

_The Fidgit_: "I think that for both your difficulties the best thing
for you to do would be to try and get hold of the Great Glass Sea

_The Doctor_: "Er--who, or what, is the Great Glass Sea Snail?"

_The Fidgit_: "He is an enormous salt-water snail, one of the winkle
family, but as large as a big house. He talks quite loudly--when he
speaks, but this is not often. He can go to any part of the ocean, at
all depths because he doesn't have to be afraid of any creature in the
sea. His shell is made of transparent mother-o'-pearl so that you can
see through it; but it's thick and strong. When he is out of his shell
and he carries it empty on his back, there is room in it for a wagon and
a pair of horses. He has been seen carrying his food in it when

_The Doctor_: "I feel that that is just the creature I have been looking
for. He could take me and my assistant inside his shell and we could
explore the deepest depths in safety. Do you think you could get him for

_The Fidgit_: "Alas! no. I would willingly if I could; but he is hardly
ever seen by ordinary fish. He lives at the bottom of the Deep Hole, and
seldom comes out--And into the Deep Hole, the lower waters of which are
muddy, fishes such as we are afraid to go."

_The Doctor_: "Dear me! That's a terrible disappointment. Are there many
of this kind of snail in the sea?"

_The Fidgit_: "Oh no. He is the only one in existence, since his second
wife died long, long ago. He is the last of the Giant Shellfish. He
belongs to past ages when the whales were land-animals and all that.
They say he is over seventy thousand years old."

_The Doctor_: "Good Gracious, what wonderful things he could tell me! I
do wish I could meet him."

_The Fidgit_: "Were there any more questions you wished to ask me? This
water in your tank is getting quite warm and sickly. I'd like to be put
back into the sea as soon as you can spare me."

_The Doctor_: "Just one more thing: when Christopher Columbus crossed
the Atlantic in 1492, he threw overboard two copies of his diary sealed
up in barrels. One of them was never found. It must have sunk. I would
like to get it for my library. Do you happen to know where it is?"

_The Fidgit_: "Yes, I do. That too is in the Deep Hole. When the barrel
sank the currents drifted it northwards down what we call the Orinoco
Slope, till it finally disappeared into the Deep Hole. If it was any
other part of the sea I'd try and get it for you; but not there."

_The Doctor_: "Well, that is all, I think. I hate to put you back into
the sea, because I know that as soon as I do, I'll think of a hundred
other questions I wanted to ask you. But I must keep my promise. Would
you care for anything before you go?--it seems a cold day--some
cracker-crumbs or something?"

_The Fidgit_: "No, I won't stop. All I want just at present is fresh

_The Doctor_: "I cannot thank you enough for all the information you
have given me. You have been very helpful and patient."

_The Fidgit_: "Pray do not mention it. It has been a real pleasure to be
of assistance to the great John Dolittle. You are, as of course you
know, already quite famous among the better class of fishes.
Good-bye!--and good luck to you, to your ship and to all your plans!"

The Doctor carried the listening-tank to a port-hole, opened it and
emptied the tank into the sea. "Good-bye!" he murmured as a faint splash
reached us from without.

I dropped my pencil on the table and leaned back with a sigh. My fingers
were so stiff with writers' cramp that I felt as though I should never
be able to open my hand again. But I, at least, had had a night's sleep.
As for the poor Doctor, he was so weary that he had hardly put the tank
back upon the table and dropped into a chair, when his eyes closed and
he began to snore.

In the passage outside Polynesia scratched angrily at the door. I rose
and let her in.

"A nice state of affairs!" she stormed. "What sort of a ship is this?
There's that colored man upstairs asleep under the wheel; the Doctor
asleep down here; and you making pot-hooks in a copy-book with a pencil!
Expect the ship to steer herself to Brazil? We're just drifting around
the sea like an empty bottle--and a week behind time as it is. What's
happened to you all?"

She was so angry that her voice rose to a scream. But it would have
taken more than that to wake the Doctor.

I put the note-book carefully in a drawer and went on deck to take the



As soon as I had the _Curlew_ swung round upon her course again I
noticed something peculiar: we were not going as fast as we had been.
Our favorable wind had almost entirely disappeared.

This, at first, we did not worry about, thinking that at any moment it
might spring up again. But the whole day went by; then two days; then a
week,--ten days, and the wind grew no stronger. The _Curlew_ just
dawdled along at the speed of a toddling babe.

I now saw that the Doctor was becoming uneasy. He kept getting out his
sextant (an instrument which tells you what part of the ocean you are
in) and making calculations. He was forever looking at his maps and
measuring distances on them. The far edge of the sea, all around us, he
examined with his telescope a hundred times a day.

"But Doctor," I said when I found him one afternoon mumbling to himself
about the misty appearance of the sky, "it wouldn't matter so much would
it, if we did take a little longer over the trip? We've got plenty to
eat on board now; and the Purple Bird-of-Paradise will know that we have
been delayed by something that we couldn't help."

"Yes, I suppose so," he said thoughtfully. "But I hate to keep her
waiting. At this season of the year she generally goes to the Peruvian
mountains--for her health. And besides, the good weather she prophesied
is likely to end any day now and delay us still further. If we could
only keep moving at even a fair speed, I wouldn't mind. It's this
hanging around, almost dead still, that gets me restless--Ah, here comes
a wind--Not very strong--but maybe it'll grow."

A gentle breeze from the Northeast came singing through the ropes; and
we smiled up hopefully at the _Curlew's_ leaning masts.

"We've only got another hundred and fifty miles to make, to sight the
coast of Brazil," said the Doctor. "If that wind would just stay with
us, steady, for a full day we'd see land."

But suddenly the wind changed, swung to the East, then back to the
Northeast--then to the North. It came in fitful gusts, as though it
hadn't made up its mind which way to blow; and I was kept busy at the
wheel, swinging the _Curlew_ this way and that to keep the right side of

Presently we heard Polynesia, who was in the rigging keeping a look-out
for land or passing ships, screech down to us,

"Bad weather coming. That jumpy wind is an ugly sign. And look!--over
there in the East--see that black line, low down? If that isn't a storm
I'm a land-lubber. The gales round here are fierce, when they do
blow--tear your canvas out like paper. You take the wheel, Doctor: it'll
need a strong arm if it's a real storm. I'll go wake Bumpo and
Chee-Chee. This looks bad to me. We'd best get all the sail down right
away, till we see how strong she's going to blow."

Indeed the whole sky was now beginning to take on a very threatening
look. The black line to the eastward grew blacker as it came nearer and
nearer. A low, rumbly, whispering noise went moaning over the sea. The
water which had been so blue and smiling turned to a ruffled ugly gray.
And across the darkening sky, shreds of cloud swept like tattered
witches flying from the storm.

I must confess I was frightened. You see I had only so far seen the sea
in friendly moods: sometimes quiet and lazy; sometimes laughing,
venturesome and reckless; sometimes brooding and poetic, when moonbeams
turned her ripples into silver threads and dreaming snowy night-clouds
piled up fairy-castles in the sky. But as yet I had not known, or even
guessed at, the terrible strength of the Sea's wild anger.

When that storm finally struck us we leaned right over flatly on our
side, as though some invisible giant had slapped the poor Curlew on the

After that things happened so thick and so fast that what with the wind
that stopped your breath, the driving, blinding water, the deafening
noise and the rest, I haven't a very clear idea of how our shipwreck
came about.

I remember seeing the sails, which we were now trying to roll up upon
the deck, torn out of our hands by the wind and go overboard like a
penny balloon--very nearly carrying Chee-Chee with them. And I have a
dim recollection of Polynesia screeching somewhere for one of us to go
downstairs and close the port-holes.

In spite of our masts being bare of sail we were now scudding along to
the southward at a great pace. But every once in a while huge gray-black
waves would arise from under the ship's side like nightmare monsters,
swell and climb, then crash down upon us, pressing us into the sea; and
the poor _Curlew_ would come to a standstill, half under water, like a
gasping, drowning pig.

While I was clambering along towards the wheel to see the Doctor,
clinging like a leech with hands and legs to the rails lest I be blown
overboard, one of these tremendous seas tore loose my hold, filled my
throat with water and swept me like a cork the full length of the deck.
My head struck a door with an awful bang. And then I fainted.



When I awoke I was very hazy in my head. The sky was blue and the sea
was calm. At first I thought that I must have fallen asleep in the sun
on the deck of the _Curlew_. And thinking that I would be late for my
turn at the wheel, I tried to rise to my feet. I found I couldn't; my
arms were tied to something behind me with a piece of rope. By twisting
my neck around I found this to be a mast, broken off short. Then I
realized that I wasn't sitting on a ship at all; I was only sitting on a
piece of one. I began to feel uncomfortably scared. Screwing up my eyes,
I searched the rim of the sea North, East, South and West: no land: no
ships; nothing was in sight. I was alone in the ocean!

At last, little by little, my bruised head began to remember what had
happened: first, the coming of the storm; the sails going overboard;
then the big wave which had banged me against the door. But what had
become of the Doctor and the others? What day was this, to-morrow or the
day after?--And why was I sitting on only part of a ship?

[Illustration: "I was alone in the ocean!"]

Working my hand into my pocket, I found my penknife and cut the rope
that tied me. This reminded me of a shipwreck story which Joe had once
told me, of a captain who had tied his son to a mast in order that he
shouldn't be washed overboard by the gale. So of course it must have
been the Doctor who had done the same to me.

But where was he?

The awful thought came to me that the Doctor and the rest of them must be
drowned, since there was no other wreckage to be seen upon the waters. I
got to my feet and stared around the sea again--Nothing--nothing but water
and sky!

Presently a long way off I saw the small dark shape of a bird skimming
low down over the swell. When it came quite close I saw it was a Stormy
Petrel. I tried to talk to it, to see if it could give me news. But
unluckily I hadn't learned much sea-bird language and I couldn't even
attract its attention, much less make it understand what I wanted.

Twice it circled round my raft, lazily, with hardly a flip of the wing.
And I could not help wondering, in spite of the distress I was in, where
it had spent last night--how it, or any other living thing, had
weathered such a smashing storm. It made me realize the great big
difference between different creatures; and that size and strength are
not everything. To this petrel, a frail little thing of feathers, much
smaller and weaker than I, the Sea could do anything she liked, it
seemed; and his only answer was a lazy, saucy flip of the wing! _He_ was
the one who should be called the _able seaman_. For, come raging gale,
come sunlit calm, this wilderness of water was his home.

After swooping over the sea around me (just looking for food, I
supposed) he went off in the direction from which he had come. And I was
alone once more.

I found I was somewhat hungry--and a little thirsty too. I began to
think all sorts of miserable thoughts, the way one does when he is
lonesome and has missed breakfast. What was going to become of me now,
if the Doctor and the rest were drowned? I would starve to death or die
of thirst. Then the sun went behind some clouds and I felt cold. How
many hundreds or thousands of miles was I from any land? What if another
storm should come and smash up even this poor raft on which I stood?

I went on like this for a while, growing gloomier and gloomier, when
suddenly I thought of Polynesia. "You're always safe with the Doctor,"
she had said. "He gets there. Remember that."

I'm sure I wouldn't have minded so much if he had been here with me. It
was this being all alone that made me want to weep. And yet the petrel
was alone!--What a baby I was, I told myself, to be scared to the verge
of tears just by loneliness! I was quite safe where I was--for the
present anyhow. John Dolittle wouldn't get scared by a little thing like
this. He only got excited when he made a discovery, found a new bug or
something. And if what Polynesia had said was true, he couldn't be
drowned and things would come out all right in the end somehow.

I threw out my chest, buttoned up my collar and began walking up and
down the short raft to keep warm. I would be like John Dolittle. I
wouldn't cry--And I wouldn't get excited.

How long I paced back and forth I don't know. But it was a long
time--for I had nothing else to do.

At last I got tired and lay down to rest. And in spite of all my
troubles, I soon fell fast asleep.

This time when I woke up, stars were staring down at me out of a
cloudless sky. The sea was still calm; and my strange craft was rocking
gently under me on an easy swell. All my fine courage left me as I gazed
up into the big silent night and felt the pains of hunger and thirst set
to work in my stomach harder than ever.

"Are you awake?" said a high silvery voice at my elbow.

I sprang up as though some one had stuck a pin in me. And there, perched
at the very end of my raft, her beautiful golden tail glowing dimly in
the starlight, sat Miranda, the Purple Bird-of-Paradise!

Never have I been so glad to see any one in my life. I almost fell into
the water as I leapt to hug her.

"I didn't want to wake you," said she. "I guessed you must be tired
after all you've been through--Don't squash the life out of me, boy: I'm
not a stuffed duck, you know."

"Oh, Miranda, you dear old thing," said I, "I'm so glad to see you. Tell
me, where is the Doctor? Is he alive?"

"Of course he's alive--and it's my firm belief he always will be. He's
over there, about forty miles to the westward."

"What's he doing there?"

"He's sitting on the other half of the _Curlew_ shaving himself--or he
was, when I left him."

"Well, thank Heaven he's alive!" said I--"And Bumpo--and the animals,
are they all right?"

"Yes, they're with him. Your ship broke in half in the storm. The Doctor
had tied you down when he found you stunned. And the part you were on
got separated and floated away. Golly, it _was_ a storm! One has to be a
gull or an albatross to stand that sort of weather. I had been watching
for the Doctor for three weeks, from a cliff-top; but last night I had
to take refuge in a cave to keep my tail-feathers from blowing out. As
soon as I found the Doctor, he sent me off with some porpoises to look
for you. A Stormy Petrel volunteered to help us in our search. There had
been quite a gathering of sea-birds waiting to greet the Doctor; but the
rough weather sort of broke up the arrangements that had been made to
welcome him properly. It was the petrel that first gave us the tip where
you were."

"Well, but how can I get to the Doctor, Miranda?--I haven't any oars."

"Get to him!--Why, you're going to him now. Look behind you."

I turned around. The moon was just rising on the sea's edge. And I now
saw that my raft was moving through the water, but so gently that I had
not noticed it before.

"What's moving us?" I asked.

"The porpoises," said Miranda.

I went to the back of the raft and looked down into the water. And just
below the surface I could see the dim forms of four big porpoises, their
sleek skins glinting in the moonlight, pushing at the raft with their

"They're old friends of the Doctor's," said Miranda. "They'd do anything
for John Dolittle. We should see his party soon now. We're pretty near
the place I left them--Yes, there they are! See that dark shape?--No,
more to the right of where you're looking. Can't you make out the figure
of the black man standing against the sky?--Now Chee-Chee spies us--he's
waving. Don't you see them?"

I didn't--for my eyes were not as sharp as Miranda's. But presently from
somewhere in the murky dusk I heard Bumpo singing his African comic
songs with the full force of his enormous voice. And in a little, by
peering and peering in the direction of the sound, I at last made out a
dim mass of tattered, splintered wreckage--all that remained of the poor
_Curlew_--floating low down upon the water.

A hulloa came through the night. And I answered it. We kept it up,
calling to one another back and forth across the calm night sea. And a
few minutes later the two halves of our brave little ruined ship bumped
gently together again.

Now that I was nearer and the moon was higher I could see more plainly.
Their half of the ship was much bigger than mine.

It lay partly upon its side; and most of them were perched upon the top
munching ship's biscuit.

But close down to the edge of the water, using the sea's calm surface
for a mirror and a piece of broken bottle for a razor, John Dolittle was
shaving his face by the light of the moon.



They all gave me a great greeting as I clambered off my half of the ship
on to theirs. Bumpo brought me a wonderful drink of fresh water which he
drew from a barrel; and Chee-Chee and Polynesia stood around me feeding
me ship's biscuit.

But it was the sight of the Doctor's smiling face--just knowing that I
was with him once again--that cheered me more than anything else. As I
watched him carefully wipe his glass razor and put it away for future
use, I could not help comparing him in my mind with the Stormy Petrel.
Indeed the vast strange knowledge which he had gained from his speech
and friendship with animals had brought him the power to do things which
no other human being would dare to try. Like the petrel, he could
apparently play with the sea in all her moods. It was no wonder that
many of the ignorant savage peoples among whom he passed in his voyages
made statues of him showing him as half a fish, half a bird, and half a
man. And ridiculous though it was, I could quite understand what Miranda
meant when she said she firmly believed that he could never die. Just to
be with him gave you a wonderful feeling of comfort and safety.

Except for his appearance (his clothes were crumpled and damp and his
battered high hat was stained with salt water) that storm which had so
terrified me had disturbed him no more than getting stuck on the
mud-bank in Puddleby River.

Politely thanking Miranda for getting me so quickly, he asked her if she
would now go ahead of us and show us the way to Spidermonkey Island.
Next, he gave orders to the porpoises to leave my old piece of the ship
and push the bigger half wherever the Bird-of-Paradise should lead us.

How much he had lost in the wreck besides his razor I did not
know--everything, most likely, together with all the money he had saved
up to buy the ship with. And still he was smiling as though he wanted
for nothing in the world. The only things he had saved, as far as I
could see--beyond the barrel of water and bag of biscuit--were his
precious note-books. These, I saw when he stood up, he had strapped
around his waist with yards and yards of twine. He was, as old Matthew
Mugg used to say, a great man. He was unbelievable.

And now for three days we continued our journey slowly but

The only inconvenience we suffered from was the cold. This seemed to
increase as we went forward. The Doctor said that the island, disturbed
from its usual paths by the great gale, had evidently drifted further
South than it had ever been before.

On the third night poor Miranda came back to us nearly frozen. She told
the Doctor that in the morning we would find the island quite close to
us, though we couldn't see it now as it was a misty dark night. She said
that she must hurry back at once to a warmer climate; and that she would
visit the Doctor in Puddleby next August as usual.

"Don't forget, Miranda," said John Dolittle, "if you should hear
anything of what happened to Long Arrow, to get word to me."

The Bird-of-Paradise assured him she would. And after the Doctor had
thanked her again and again for all that she had done for us, she wished
us good luck and disappeared into the night.

We were all awake early in the morning, long before it was light,
waiting for our first glimpse of the country we had come so far to see.
And as the rising sun turned the eastern sky to gray, of course it was
old Polynesia who first shouted that she could see palm-trees and
mountain tops.

With the growing light it became plain to all of us: a long island with
high rocky mountains in the middle--and so near to us that you could
almost throw your hat upon the shore.

The porpoises gave us one last push and our strange-looking craft bumped
gently on a low beach. Then, thanking our lucky stars for a chance to
stretch our cramped legs, we all bundled off on to the land--the first
land, even though it was floating land, that we had trodden for six
weeks. What a thrill I felt as I realized that Spidermonkey Island, the
little spot in the atlas which my pencil had touched, lay at last
beneath my feet!

When the light increased still further we noticed that the palms and
grasses of the island seemed withered and almost dead. The Doctor said
that it must be on account of the cold that the island was now suffering
from in its new climate. These trees and grasses, he told us, were the
kind that belonged to warm, tropical weather.

The porpoises asked if we wanted them any further. And the Doctor said
that he didn't think so, not for the present--nor the raft either, he
added; for it was already beginning to fall to pieces and could not
float much longer.

As we were preparing to go inland and explore the island, we suddenly
noticed a whole band of Red Indians watching us with great curiosity
from among the trees. The Doctor went forward to talk to them. But he
could not make them understand. He tried by signs to show them that he
had come on a friendly visit. The Indians didn't seem to like us
however. They had bows and arrows and long hunting spears, with stone
points, in their hands; and they made signs back to the Doctor to tell
him that if he came a step nearer they would kill us all. They evidently
wanted us to leave the island at once. It was a very uncomfortable

At last the Doctor made them understand that he only wanted to see the
island all over and that then he would go away--though how he meant to
do it, with no boat to sail in, was more than I could imagine.

While they were talking among themselves another Indian
arrived--apparently with a message that they were wanted in some other
part of the island. Because presently, shaking their spears
threateningly at us, they went off with the newcomer.

"What discourteous pagans!" said Bumpo. "Did you ever see such
inhospitability?--Never even asked us if we'd had breakfast, the
benighted bounders!"

"Sh! They're going off to their village," said Polynesia. "I'll bet
there's a village on the other side of those mountains. If you take my
advice, Doctor, you'll get away from this beach while their backs are
turned. Let us go up into the higher land for the present--some place
where they won't know where we are. They may grow friendlier when they
see we mean no harm. They have honest, open faces and look like a decent
crowd to me. They're just ignorant--probably never saw white folks

So, feeling a little bit discouraged by our first reception, we moved
off towards the mountains in the centre of the island.



We found the woods at the feet of the hills thick and tangly and
somewhat hard to get through. On Polynesia's advice, we kept away from
all paths and trails, feeling it best to avoid meeting any Indians for
the present.

But she and Chee-Chee were good guides and splendid jungle-hunters; and
the two of them set to work at once looking for food for us. In a very
short space of time they had found quite a number of different fruits
and nuts which made excellent eating, though none of us knew the names
of any of them. We discovered a nice clean stream of good water which
came down from the mountains; so we were supplied with something to
drink as well.

We followed the stream up towards the heights. And presently we came to
parts where the woods were thinner and the ground rocky and steep. Here
we could get glimpses of wonderful views all over the island, with the
blue sea beyond. While we were admiring one of these the Doctor suddenly
said, "Sh!--A Jabizri!--Don't you hear it?"

We listened and heard, somewhere in the air about us, an extraordinarily
musical hum-like a bee, but not just one note. This hum rose and fell,
up and down--almost like some one singing.

"No other insect but the Jabizri beetle hums like that," said the
Doctor. "I wonder where he is--quite near, by the sound--flying among
the trees probably. Oh, if I only had my butterfly-net! Why didn't I
think to strap that around my waist too. Confound the storm: I may miss
the chance of a lifetime now of getting the rarest beetle in the
world--Oh look! There he goes!"

A huge beetle, easily three inches long I should say, suddenly flew by
our noses. The Doctor got frightfully excited. He took off his hat to
use as a net, swooped at the beetle and caught it. He nearly fell down a
precipice on to the rocks below in his wild hurry, but that didn't
bother him in the least. He knelt down, chortling, upon the ground with
the Jabizri safe under his hat. From his pocket he brought out a
glass-topped box, and into this he very skillfully made the beetle walk
from under the rim of the hat. Then he rose up, happy as a child, to
examine his new treasure through the glass lid.

It certainly was a most beautiful insect. It was pale blue underneath;
but its back was glossy black with huge red spots on it.

"There isn't an entomologist in the whole world who wouldn't give all he
has to be in my shoes to-day," said the Doctor--"Hulloa! This Jabizri's
got something on his leg--Doesn't look like mud. I wonder what it is."

He took the beetle carefully out of the box and held it by its back in
his fingers, where it waved its six legs slowly in the air. We all
crowded about him peering at it. Rolled around the middle section of its
right foreleg was something that looked like a thin dried leaf. It was
bound on very neatly with strong spider-web.

It was marvelous to see how John Dolittle with his fat heavy fingers
undid that cobweb cord and unrolled the leaf, whole, without tearing it
or hurting the precious beetle. The Jabizri he put back into the box.
Then he spread the leaf out flat and examined it.

You can imagine our surprise when we found that the inside of the leaf
was covered with signs and pictures, drawn so tiny that you almost
needed a magnifying-glass to tell what they were. Some of the signs we
couldn't make out at all; but nearly all of the pictures were quite
plain, figures of men and mountains mostly. The whole was done in a
curious sort of brown ink.

For several moments there was a dead silence while we all stared at the
leaf, fascinated and mystified.

"I think this is written in blood," said the Doctor at last. "It turns
that color when it's dry. Somebody pricked his finger to make these
pictures. It's an old dodge when you're short of ink--but highly
unsanitary--What an extraordinary thing to find tied to a beetle's leg!
I wish I could talk beetle language, and find out where the Jabizri got
it from."

"But what is it?" I asked--"Rows of little pictures and signs. What do
you make of it, Doctor?"

"It's a letter," he said--"a picture letter. All these little things put
together mean a message--But why give a message to a beetle to
carry--and to a Jabizri, the rarest beetle in the world?--What an
extraordinary thing!"

Then he fell to muttering over the pictures.

"I wonder what it means: men walking up a mountain; men walking into a
hole in a mountain; a mountain falling down--it's a good drawing, that;
men pointing to their open mouths; bars--prison-bars, perhaps; men
praying; men lying down--they look as though they might be sick; and
last of all, just a mountain--a peculiar-shaped mountain."

All of a sudden the Doctor looked up sharply at me, a wonderful smile of
delighted understanding spreading over his face.

"_Long Arrow!_" he cried, "don't you see, Stubbins?--Why, of course!
Only a naturalist would think of doing a thing like this: giving his
letter to a beetle--not to a common beetle, but to the rarest of all,
one that other naturalists would try to catch--Well, well! Long
Arrow!--A picture-letter from Long Arrow. For pictures are the only
writing that he knows."

"Yes, but who is the letter to?" I asked.

"It's to me very likely. Miranda had told him, I know, years ago, that
some day I meant to come here. But if not for me, then it's for any one
who caught the beetle and read it. It's a letter to the world."

"Well, but what does it say? It doesn't seem to me that it's much good
to you now you've got it."

"Yes, it is," he said, "because, look, I can read it now. First picture:
men walking up a mountain--that's Long Arrow and his party; men going
into a hole in a mountain--they enter a cave looking for medicine-plants
or mosses; a mountain falling down--some hanging rocks must have slipped
and trapped them, imprisoned them in the cave. And this was the only
living creature that could carry a message for them to the outside
world--a beetle, who could _burrow_ his way into the open air. Of course
it was only a slim chance that the beetle would be ever caught and the
letter read. But it was a chance; and when men are in great danger they
grab at any straw of hope.... All right. Now look at the next picture:
men pointing to their open mouths--they are hungry; men praying--begging
any one who finds this letter to come to their assistance; men lying
down--they are sick, or starving. This letter, Stubbins, is their last
cry for help."

He sprang to his feet as he ended, snatched out a note-book and put the
letter between the leaves. His hands were trembling with haste and

"Come on!" he cried--"up the mountain--all of you. There's not a moment
to lose. Bumpo, bring the water and nuts with you. Heaven only knows how
long they've been pining underground. Let's hope and pray we're not too

"But where are you going to look?" I asked. "Miranda said the island was
a hundred miles long and the mountains seem to run all the way down the
centre of it."

"Didn't you see the last picture?" he said, grabbing up his hat from the
ground and cramming it on his head. "It was an oddly shaped
mountain--looked like a hawk's head. Well, there's where he is if he's
still alive. First thing for us to do, is to get up on a high peak and
look around the island for a mountain shaped like a hawks' head--just to
think of it! There's a chance of my meeting Long Arrow, the son of
Golden Arrow, after all!--Come on! Hurry! To delay may mean death to the
greatest naturalist ever born!"



We all agreed afterwards that none of us had ever worked so hard in our
lives before as we did that day. For my part, I know I was often on the
point of dropping exhausted with fatigue; but I just kept on going--like
a machine--determined that, whatever happened, I would not be the first
to give up.

When we had scrambled to the top of a high peak, almost instantly we saw
the strange mountain pictured in the letter. In shape it was the perfect
image of a hawk's head, and was, as far as we could see, the second
highest summit in the island.

Although we were all out of breath from our climb, the Doctor didn't let
us rest a second as soon as he had sighted it. With one look at the sun
for direction, down he dashed again, breaking through thickets,
splashing over brooks, taking all the short cuts. For a fat man, he was
certainly the swiftest cross-country runner I ever saw.

We floundered after him as fast as we could. When I say _we_, I mean
Bumpo and myself; for the animals, Jip, Chee-Chee and Polynesia, were a
long way ahead--even beyond the Doctor--enjoying the hunt like a

At length we arrived at the foot of the mountain we were making for; and
we found its sides very steep. Said the Doctor,

"Now we will separate and search for caves. This spot where we now are,
will be our meeting-place. If anyone finds anything like a cave or a
hole where the earth and rocks have fallen in, he must shout and hulloa
to the rest of us. If we find nothing we will all gather here in about
an hour's time--Everybody understand?"

Then we all went off our different ways.

Each of us, you may be sure, was anxious to be the one to make a
discovery. And never was a mountain searched so thoroughly. But alas!
nothing could we find that looked in the least like a fallen-in cave.
There were plenty of places where rocks had tumbled down to the foot of
the slopes; but none of these appeared as though caves or passages could
possibly lie behind them.

One by one, tired and disappointed, we straggled back to the
meeting-place. The Doctor seemed gloomy and impatient but by no means
inclined to give up.

"Jip," he said, "couldn't you _smell_ anything like an Indian anywhere?"

"No," said Jip. "I sniffed at every crack on the mountainside. But I am
afraid my nose will be of no use to you here, Doctor. The trouble is,
the whole air is so saturated with the smell of spider-monkeys that it
drowns every other scent--And besides, it's too cold and dry for good

"It is certainly that," said the Doctor--"and getting colder all the
time. I'm afraid the island is still drifting to the southward. Let's
hope it stops before long, or we won't be able to get even nuts and
fruit to eat--everything in the island will perish--Chee-Chee, what luck
did you have?"

"None, Doctor. I climbed to every peak and pinnacle I could see. I
searched every hollow and cleft. But not one place could I find where
men might be hidden."

"And Polynesia," asked the Doctor, "did you see nothing that might put
us on the right track?"

"Not a thing, Doctor--But I have a plan."

"Oh good!" cried John Dolittle, full of hope renewed. "What is it? Let's
hear it."

"You still have that beetle with you," she asked--"the Biz-biz, or
whatever it is you call the wretched insect?"

"Yes," said the Doctor, producing the glass-topped box from his pocket,
"here it is."

"All right. Now listen," said she. "If what you have supposed is
true--that is, that Long Arrow had been trapped inside the mountain by
falling rock, he probably found that beetle inside the cave--perhaps
many other different beetles too, eh? He wouldn't have been likely to
take the Biz-biz in with him, would he?--He was hunting plants, you say,
not beetles. Isn't that right?"

"Yes," said the Doctor, "that's probably so."

"Very well. It is fair to suppose then that the beetle's home, or his
hole, is in that place--the part of the mountain where Long Arrow and
his party are imprisoned, isn't it?"

"Quite, quite."

"All right. Then the thing to do is to let the beetle go--and watch him;
and sooner or later he'll return to his home in Long Arrow's cave. And
there we will follow him--Or at all events," she added smoothing down
her wing-feathers with a very superior air, "we will follow him till the
miserable bug starts nosing under the earth. But at least he will show
us what part of the mountain Long Arrow is hidden in."

"But he may fly, if I let him out," said the Doctor. "Then we shall just
lose him and be no better off than we were before."

"_Let_ him fly," snorted Polynesia scornfully. "A parrot can wing it as
fast as a Biz-biz, I fancy. If he takes to the air, I'll guarantee not
to let the little devil out of my sight. And if he just crawls along the
ground you can follow him yourself."

"Splendid!" cried the Doctor. "Polynesia, you have a great brain. I'll
set him to work at once and see what happens."

Again we all clustered round the Doctor as he carefully lifted off the
glass lid and let the big beetle climb out upon his finger.

"Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home!" crooned Bumpo. "Your house is on fire
and your chil--"

"Oh, be quiet!" snapped Polynesia crossly. "Stop insulting him! Don't
you suppose he has wits enough to go home without your telling him?"

"I thought perchance he might be of a philandering disposition," said
Bumpo humbly. "It could be that he is tired of his home and needs to be
encouraged. Shall I sing him 'Home Sweet Home,' think you?"

"No. Then he'd never go back. Your voice needs a rest. Don't sing to
him: just watch him--Oh, and Doctor, why not tie another message to the
creature's leg, telling Long Arrow that we're doing our best to reach
him and that he mustn't give up hope?"

"I will," said the Doctor. And in a minute he had pulled a dry leaf from
a bush near by and was covering it with little pictures in pencil.

At last, neatly fixed up with his new mail-bag, Mr. Jabizri crawled off
the Doctor's finger to the ground and looked about him. He stretched his
legs, polished his nose with his front feet and then moved off leisurely
to the westward.

We had expected him to walk _up_ the mountain; instead, he walked
_around_ it. Do you know how long it takes a beetle to walk round a
mountain? Well, I assure you it takes an unbelievably long time. As the
hours dragged by, we hoped and hoped that he would get up and fly the
rest, and let Polynesia carry on the work of following him. But he never
opened his wings once. I had not realized before how hard it is for a
human being to walk slowly enough to keep up with a beetle. It was the
most tedious thing I have ever gone through. And as we dawdled along
behind, watching him like hawks lest we lose him under a leaf or
something, we all got so cross and ill-tempered we were ready to bite
one another's heads off. And when he stopped to look at the scenery or
polish his nose some more, I could hear Polynesia behind me letting out
the most dreadful seafaring swear-words you ever heard.

After he had led us the whole way round the mountain he brought us to
the exact spot where we started from and there he came to a dead stop.

"Well," said Bumpo to Polynesia, "what do you think of the beetle's
sense now? You see he _doesn't_ know enough to go home."

"Oh, be still, you Hottentot!" snapped Polynesia. "Wouldn't _you_ want
to stretch your legs for exercise if you'd been shut up in a box all
day. Probably his home is near here, and that's why he's come back."

"But why," I asked, "did he go the whole way round the mountain first?"

Then the three of us got into a violent argument. But in the middle of
it all the Doctor suddenly called out,

"Look, look!"

We turned and found that he was pointing to the Jabizri, who was now
walking _up_ the mountain at a much faster and more business-like gait.

"Well," said Bumpo sitting down wearily; "if he is going to walk _over_
the mountain and back, for more exercise, I'll wait for him here.
Chee-Chee and Polynesia can follow him."

Indeed it would have taken a monkey or a bird to climb the place which
the beetle was now walking up. It was a smooth, flat part of the
mountain's side, steep as a wall.

But presently, when the Jabizri was no more than ten feet above our
heads, we all cried out together. For, even while we watched him, he had
disappeared into the face of the rock like a raindrop soaking into sand.

"He's gone," cried Polynesia. "There must be a hole up there." And in a
twinkling she had fluttered up the rock and was clinging to the face of
it with her claws.

"Yes," she shouted down, "we've run him to earth at last. His hole is
right here, behind a patch of lichen--big enough to get two fingers in."

"Ah," cried the Doctor, "this great slab of rock then must have slid
down from the summit and shut off the mouth of the cave like a door.
Poor fellows! What a dreadful time they must have spent in there!--Oh,
if we only had some picks and shovels now!"

"Picks and shovels wouldn't do much good," said Polynesia. "Look at the
size of the slab: a hundred feet high and as many broad. You would need
an army for a week to make any impression on it."

"I wonder how thick it is," said the Doctor; and he picked up a big
stone and banged it with all his might against the face of the rock. It
made a hollow booming sound, like a giant drum. We all stood still
listening while the echo of it died slowly away.

And then a cold shiver ran down my spine. For, from within the mountain,
back came three answering knocks: _Boom!... Boom!... Boom!_

Wide-eyed we looked at one another as though the earth itself had
spoken. And the solemn little silence that followed was broken by the

"Thank Heaven," he said in a hushed reverent voice, "some of them at
least are alive!"




The next part of our problem was the hardest of all: how to roll aside,
pull down or break open, that gigantic slab. As we gazed up at it
towering above our heads, it looked indeed a hopeless task for our tiny

But the sounds of life from inside the mountain had put new heart in us.
And in a moment we were all scrambling around trying to find any opening
or crevice which would give us something to work on. Chee-Chee scaled up
the sheer wall of the slab and examined the top of it where it leaned
against the mountain's side; I uprooted bushes and stripped off hanging
creepers that might conceal a weak place; the Doctor got more leaves and
composed new picture-letters for the Jabizri to take in if he should
turn up again; whilst Polynesia carried up a handful of nuts and pushed
them into the beetle's hole, one by one, for the prisoners inside to

"Nuts are so nourishing," she said.

But Jip it was who, scratching at the foot of the slab like a good
ratter, made the discovery which led to our final success.

"Doctor," he cried, running up to John Dolittle with his nose all
covered with black mud, "this slab is resting on nothing but a bed of
soft earth. You never saw such easy digging. I guess the cave behind
must be just too high up for the Indians to reach the earth with their
hands, or they could have scraped a way out long ago. If we can only
scratch the earth-bed away from under, the slab might drop a little.
Then maybe the Indians can climb out over the top."

The Doctor hurried to examine the place where Jip had dug.

"Why, yes," he said, "if we can get the earth away from under this front
edge, the slab is standing up so straight, we might even make it fall
right down in this direction. It's well worth trying. Let's get at it,

We had no tools but the sticks and slivers of stone which we could find
around. A strange sight we must have looked, the whole crew of us
squatting down on our heels, scratching and burrowing at the foot of the
mountain, like six badgers in a row.

After about an hour, during which in spite of the cold the sweat fell
from our foreheads in all directions, the Doctor said,

"Be ready to jump from under, clear out of the way, if she shows signs
of moving. If this slab falls on anybody, it will squash him flatter
than a pancake."

Presently there was a grating, grinding sound.

"Look out!" yelled John Dolittle, "here she comes!--Scatter!"

We ran for our lives, outwards, toward the sides. The big rock slid
gently down, about a foot, into the trough which we had made beneath it.
For a moment I was disappointed, for like that, it was as hopeless as
before--no signs of a cave-mouth showing above it. But as I looked
upward, I saw the top coming very slowly away from the mountainside. We
had unbalanced it below. As it moved apart from the face of the
mountain, sounds of human voices, crying gladly in a strange tongue,
issued from behind. Faster and faster the top swung forward, downward.
Then, with a roaring crash which shook the whole mountain-range beneath
our feet, it struck the earth and cracked in halves.

How can I describe to any one that first meeting between the two
greatest naturalists the world ever knew, Long Arrow, the son of Golden
Arrow and John Dolittle, M.D., of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh? The scene rises
before me now, plain and clear in every detail, though it took place so
many, many years ago. But when I come to write of it, words seem such
poor things with which to tell you of that great occasion.

I know that the Doctor, whose life was surely full enough of big
happenings, always counted the setting free of the Indian scientist as
the greatest thing he ever did. For my part, knowing how much this
meeting must mean to him, I was on pins and needles of expectation and
curiosity as the great stone finally thundered down at our feet and we
gazed across it to see what lay behind.

The gloomy black mouth of a tunnel, full twenty feet high, was revealed.
In the centre of this opening stood an enormous red Indian, seven feet
tall, handsome, muscular, slim and naked--but for a beaded cloth about
his middle and an eagle's feather in his hair. He held one hand across
his face to shield his eyes from the blinding sun which he had not seen
in many days.

"It is he!" I heard the Doctor whisper at my elbow. "I know him by his
great height and the scar upon his chin."

And he stepped forward slowly across the fallen stone with his hand
outstretched to the red man.

Presently the Indian uncovered his eyes. And I saw that they had a
curious piercing gleam in them--like the eyes of an eagle, but kinder
and more gentle. He slowly raised his right arm, the rest of him still
and motionless like a statue, and took the Doctor's hand in his. It was
a great moment. Polynesia nodded to me in a knowing, satisfied kind of
way. And I heard old Bumpo sniffle sentimentally.

[Illustration: "It was a great moment"]

Then the Doctor tried to speak to Long Arrow. But the Indian knew no
English of course, and the Doctor knew no Indian. Presently, to my
surprise, I heard the Doctor trying him in different animal languages.

"How do you do?" he said in dog-talk; "I am glad to see you," in
horse-signs; "How long have you been buried?" in deer-language. Still
the Indian made no move but stood there, straight and stiff,
understanding not a word.

The Doctor tried again, in several other animal dialects. But with no

Till at last he came to the language of eagles.

"Great Red-Skin," he said in the fierce screams and short grunts that
the big birds use, "never have I been so glad in all my life as I am
to-day to find you still alive."

In a flash Long Arrow's stony face lit up with a smile of understanding;
and back came the answer in eagle-tongue,

"Mighty White Man, I owe my life to you. For the remainder of my days I
am your servant to command."

Afterwards Long Arrow told us that this was the only bird or animal
language that he had ever been able to learn. But that he had not spoken
it in a long time, for no eagles ever came to this island.

Then the Doctor signaled to Bumpo who came forward with the nuts and
water. But Long Arrow neither ate nor drank. Taking the supplies with a
nod of thanks, he turned and carried them into the inner dimness of the
cave. We followed him.

Inside we found nine other Indians, men, women and boys, lying on the
rock floor in a dreadful state of thinness and exhaustion.

Some had their eyes closed, as if dead. Quickly the Doctor went round
them all and listened to their hearts. They were all alive; but one
woman was too weak even to stand upon her feet.

At a word from the Doctor, Chee-Chee and Polynesia sped off into the
jungles after more fruit and water.

While Long Arrow was handing round what food we had to his starving
friends, we suddenly heard a sound outside the cave. Turning about we
saw, clustered at the entrance, the band of Indians who had met us so
inhospitably at the beach.

They peered into the dark cave cautiously at first. But as soon as they
saw Long Arrow and the other Indians with us, they came rushing in,
laughing, clapping their hands with joy and jabbering away at a
tremendous rate.

Long Arrow explained to the Doctor that the nine Indians we had found in
the cave with him were two families who had accompanied him into the
mountains to help him gather medicine-plants. And while they had been
searching for a kind of moss--good for indigestion--which grows only
inside of damp caves, the great rock slab had slid down and shut them
in. Then for two weeks they had lived on the medicine-moss and such
fresh water as could be found dripping from the damp walls of the cave.
The other Indians on the island had given them up for lost and mourned
them as dead; and they were now very surprised and happy to find their
relatives alive.

When Long Arrow turned to the newcomers and told them in their own
language that it was the white man who had found and freed their
relatives, they gathered round John Dolittle, all talking at once and
beating their breasts.

Long Arrow said they were apologizing and trying to tell the Doctor how
sorry they were that they had seemed unfriendly to him at the beach.
They had never seen a white man before and had really been afraid of
him--especially when they saw him conversing with the porpoises. They
had thought he was the Devil, they said.

Then they went outside and looked at the great stone we had thrown down,
big as a meadow; and they walked round and round it, pointing to the
break running through the middle and wondering how the trick of felling
it was done.

Travelers who have since visited Spidermonkey Island tell me that that
huge stone slab is now one of the regular sights of the island. And that
the Indian guides, when showing it to visitors, always tell _their_
story of how it came there. They say that when the Doctor found that the
rocks had entrapped his friend, Long Arrow, he was so angry that he
ripped the mountain in halves with his bare hands and let him out.



From that time on the Indians' treatment of us was very different. We
were invited to their village for a feast to celebrate the recovery of
the lost families. And after we had made a litter from saplings to carry
the sick woman in, we all started off down the mountain.

On the way the Indians told Long Arrow something which appeared to be
sad news, for on hearing it, his face grew very grave. The Doctor asked
him what was wrong. And Long Arrow said he had just been informed that
the chief of the tribe, an old man of eighty, had died early that

"That," Polynesia whispered in my ear, "must have been what they went
back to the village for, when the messenger fetched them from the

"What did he die of?" asked the Doctor.

"He died of cold," said Long Arrow.

Indeed, now that the sun was setting, we were all shivering ourselves.

"This is a serious thing," said the Doctor to me. "The island is still
in the grip of that wretched current flowing southward. We will have to
look into this to-morrow. If nothing can be done about it, the Indians
had better take to canoes and leave the island. The chance of being
wrecked will be better than getting frozen to death in the ice-floes of
the Antarctic."

Presently we came over a saddle in the hills, and looking downward on
the far side of the island, we saw the village--a large cluster of grass
huts and gaily colored totem-poles close by the edge of the sea.

"How artistic!" said the Doctor--"Delightfully situated. What is the
name of the village?"

"Popsipetel," said Long Arrow. "That is the name also of the tribe. The
word signifies in Indian tongue, _The Men of The Moving Land_. There are
two tribes of Indians on the island: the Popsipetels at this end and the
Bag-jagderags at the other."

"Which is the larger of the two peoples?"

"The Bag-jagderags, by far. Their city covers two square leagues. But,"
added Long Arrow a slight frown darkening his handsome face, "for me, I
would rather have one Popsipetel than a hundred Bag-jagderags."

The news of the rescue we had made had evidently gone ahead of us. For
as we drew nearer to the village we saw crowds of Indians streaming out
to greet the friends and relatives whom they had never thought to see

These good people, when they too were told how the rescue had been the
work of the strange white visitor to their shores, all gathered round
the Doctor, shook him by the hands, patted him and hugged him. Then they
lifted him up upon their strong shoulders and carried him down the hill
into the village.

There the welcome we received was even more wonderful. In spite of the
cold air of the coming night, the villagers, who had all been shivering
within their houses, threw open their doors and came out in hundreds. I
had no idea that the little village could hold so many. They thronged
about us, smiling and nodding and waving their hands; and as the details
of what we had done were recited by Long Arrow they kept shouting
strange singing noises, which we supposed were words of gratitude or

We were next escorted to a brand-new grass house, clean and
sweet-smelling within, and informed that it was ours. Six strong Indian
boys were told off to be our servants.

On our way through the village we noticed a house, larger than the rest,
standing at the end of the main street. Long Arrow pointed to it and
told us it was the Chief's house, but that it was now empty--no new
chief having yet been elected to take the place of the old one who had

Inside our new home a feast of fish and fruit had been prepared. Most of
the more important men of the tribe were already seating themselves at
the long dining-table when we got there. Long Arrow invited us to sit
down and eat.

This we were glad enough to do, as we were all hungry. But we were both
surprised and disappointed when we found that the fish had not been
cooked. The Indians did not seem to think this extraordinary in the
least, but went ahead gobbling the fish with much relish the way it was,

With many apologies, the Doctor explained to Long Arrow that if they had
no objection we would prefer our fish cooked.

Imagine our astonishment when we found that the great Long Arrow, so
learned in the natural sciences, did not know what the word _cooked_

Polynesia who was sitting on the bench between John Dolittle and myself
pulled the Doctor by the sleeve.

"I'll tell you what's wrong, Doctor," she whispered as he leant down to
listen to her: "_these people have no fires!_ They don't know how to
make a fire. Look outside: It's almost dark, and there isn't a light
showing ii the whole village. This is a fireless people."



Then the Doctor asked Long Arrow if he knew what fire was, explaining it
to him by pictures drawn on the buckskin table-cloth. Long Arrow said he
had seen such a thing--coming out of the tops of volcanoes; but that
neither he nor any of the Popsipetels knew how it was made.

"Poor perishing heathens!" muttered Bumpo. "No wonder the old chief died
of cold!"

At that moment we heard a crying sound at the door. And turning round,
we saw a weeping Indian mother with a baby in her arms. She said
something to the Indians which we could not understand; and Long Arrow
told us the baby was sick and she wanted the white doctor to try and
cure it.

"Oh Lord!" groaned Polynesia in my ear--"Just like Puddleby: patients
arriving in the middle of dinner. Well, one thing: the food's raw, so
nothing can get cold anyway."

The Doctor examined the baby and found at once that it was thoroughly

"Fire--_fire!_ That's what it needs," he said turning to Long
Arrow--"That's what you all need. This child will have pneumonia if it
isn't kept warm."

"Aye, truly. But how to make a fire," said Long Arrow--"where to get it:
that is the difficulty. All the volcanoes in this land are dead."

Then we fell to hunting through our pockets to see if any matches had
survived the shipwreck. The best we could muster were two whole ones and
a half--all with the heads soaked off them by salt water.

"Hark, Long Arrow," said the Doctor: "divers ways there be of making
fire without the aid of matches. One: with a strong glass and the rays
of the sun. That however, since the sun has set, we cannot now employ.
Another is by grinding a hard stick into a soft log--Is the daylight
gone without?--Alas yes. Then I fear we must await the morrow; for
besides the different woods, we need an old squirrel's nest for
fuel--And that without lamps you could not find in your forests at this

"Great are your cunning and your skill, oh White Man," Long Arrow
replied. "But in this you do us an injustice. Know you not that all
fireless peoples can see in the dark? Having no lamps we are forced to
train ourselves to travel through the blackest night, lightless. I will
despatch a messenger and you shall have your squirrel's nest within the

He gave an order to two of our boy-servants who promptly disappeared
running. And sure enough, in a very short space of time a squirrel's
nest, together with hard and soft woods, was brought to our door.

The moon had not yet risen and within the house it was practically
pitch-black. I could feel and hear, however, that the Indians were
moving about comfortably as though it were daylight. The task of making
fire the Doctor had to perform almost entirely by the sense of touch,
asking Long Arrow and the Indians to hand him his tools when he mislaid
them in the dark. And then I made a curious discovery: now that I had
to, I found that I was beginning to see a little in the dark myself. And
for the first time I realized that of course there is no such thing as
pitch-dark, so long as you have a door open or a sky above you.

Calling for the loan of a bow, the Doctor loosened the string, put the
hard stick into a loop and began grinding this stick into the soft wood
of the log. Soon I smelt that the log was smoking. Then he kept feeding
the part that was smoking with the inside lining of the squirrel's nest,
and he asked me to blow upon it with my breath. He made the stick drill
faster and faster. More smoke filled the room. And at last the darkness
about us was suddenly lit up. The squirrel's nest had burst into flame.

The Indians murmured and grunted with astonishment. At first they were
all for falling on their knees and worshiping the fire. Then they wanted
to pick it up with their bare hands and play with it. We had to teach
them how it was to be used; and they were quite fascinated when we laid
our fish across it on sticks and cooked it. They sniffed the air with
relish as, for the first time in history, the smell of fried fish passed
through the village of Popsipetel.

Then we got them to bring us piles and stacks of dry wood; and we made
an enormous bonfire in the middle of the main street. Round this, when
they felt its warmth, the whole tribe gathered and smiled and wondered.
It was a striking sight, one of the pictures from our voyages that I
most frequently remember: that roaring jolly blaze beneath the black
night sky, and all about it a vast ring of Indians, the firelight
gleaming on bronze cheeks, white teeth and flashing eyes--a whole town
trying to get warm, giggling and pushing like school-children.

In a little, when we had got them more used to the handling of fire, the
Doctor showed them how it could be taken into their houses if a hole
were only made in the roof to let the smoke out. And before we turned in
after that long, long, tiring day, we had fires going in every hut in
the village.

The poor people were so glad to get really warm again that we thought
they'd never go to bed. Well on into the early hours of the morning the
little town fairly buzzed with a great low murmur: the Popsipetels
sitting up talking of their wonderful pale-faced visitor and this
strange good thing he had brought with him--_fire!_



Very early in our experience of Popsipetel kindness we saw that if we
were to get anything done at all, we would almost always have to do it
secretly. The Doctor was so popular and loved by all that as soon as he
showed his face at his door in the morning crowds of admirers, waiting
patiently outside, flocked about him and followed him wherever he went.
After his fire-making feat, this childlike people expected him, I think,
to be continually doing magic; and they were determined not to miss a

It was only with great difficulty that we escaped from the crowd the
first morning and set out with Long Arrow to explore the island at our

In the interior we found that not only the plants and trees were
suffering from the cold: the animal life was in even worse straits.
Everywhere shivering birds were to be seen, their feathers all fluffed
out, gathering together for flight to summer lands. And many lay dead
upon the ground. Going down to the shore, we watched land-crabs in large
numbers taking to the sea to find some better home. While away to the
Southeast we could see many icebergs floating--a sign that we were now
not far from the terrible region of the Antarctic.

As we were looking out to sea, we noticed our friends the porpoises
jumping through the waves. The Doctor hailed them and they came inshore.

He asked them how far we were from the South Polar Continent.

About a hundred miles, they told him. And then they asked why he wanted
to know.

"Because this floating island we are on," said he, "is drifting
southward all the time in a current. It's an island that ordinarily
belongs somewhere in the tropic zone--real sultry weather, sunstrokes
and all that. If it doesn't stop going southward pretty soon everything
on it is going to perish."

"Well," said the porpoises, "then the thing to do is to get it back into
a warmer climate, isn't it?"

"Yes, but how?" said the Doctor. "We can't _row_ it back."

"No," said they, "but whales could push it--if you only got enough of

"What a splendid idea!--Whales, the very thing!" said the Doctor. "Do
you think you could get me some?"

"Why, certainly," said the porpoises, "we passed one herd of them out
there, sporting about among the icebergs. We'll ask them to come over.
And if they aren't enough, we'll try and hunt up some more. Better have

"Thank you," said the Doctor. "You are very kind--By the way, do you
happen to know how this island came to be a floating island? At least
half of it, I notice, is made of stone. It is very odd that it floats at
all, isn't it?"

"It is unusual," they said. "But the explanation is quite simple. It
used to be a mountainous part of South America--an overhanging
part--sort of an awkward corner, you might say. Way back in the glacial
days, thousands of years ago, it broke off from the mainland; and by
some curious accident the inside of it, which is hollow, got filled with
air as it fell into the ocean. You can only see less than half of the
island: the bigger half is under water. And in the middle of it,
underneath, is a huge rock air-chamber, running right up inside the
mountains. And that's what keeps it floating."

"What a pecurious phenometer!" said Bumpo.

"It is indeed," said the Doctor. "I must make a note of that." And out
came the everlasting note-book.

The porpoises went bounding off towards the icebergs. And not long
after, we saw the sea heaving and frothing as a big herd of whales came
towards us at full speed.

They certainly were enormous creatures; and there must have been a good
two hundred of them.

"Here they are," said the porpoises, poking their heads out of the

"Good!" said the Doctor. "Now just explain to them, will you please?
that this is a very serious matter for all the living creatures in this
land. And ask them if they will be so good as to go down to the far end
of the island, put their noses against it and push it back near the
coast of Southern Brazil."

The porpoises evidently succeeded in persuading the whales to do as the
Doctor asked; for presently we saw them thrashing through the seas,
going off towards the south end of the island.

Then we lay down upon the beach and waited.

After about an hour the Doctor got up and threw a stick into the water.
For a while this floated motionless. But soon we saw it begin to move
gently down the coast.

"Ah!" said the Doctor, "see that?--The island is going North at last.
Thank goodness!"

Faster and faster we left the stick behind; and smaller and dimmer grew
the icebergs on the skyline.

The Doctor took out his watch, threw more sticks into the water and made
a rapid calculation.

"Humph!--Fourteen and a half knots an hour," he murmured--"A very nice
speed. It should take us about five days to get back near Brazil. Well,
that's that--Quite a load off my mind. I declare I feel warmer already.
Let's go and get something to eat."



On our way back to the village the Doctor began discussing natural
history with Long Arrow. But their most interesting talk, mainly about
plants, had hardly begun when an Indian runner came dashing up to us
with a message.

Long Arrow listened gravely to the breathless, babbled words, then
turned to the Doctor and said in eagle tongue,

"Great White Man, an evil thing has befallen the Popsipetels. Our
neighbors to the southward, the thievish Bag-jagderags, who for so long
have cast envious eyes on our stores of ripe corn, have gone upon the
war-path; and even now are advancing to attack us."

"Evil news indeed," said the Doctor. "Yet let us not judge harshly.
Perhaps it is that they are desperate for food, having their own crops
frost-killed before harvest. For are they not even nearer the cold South
than you?"

"Make no excuses for any man of the tribe of the Bag-jagderags," said
Long Arrow shaking his head. "They are an idle shiftless race. They do
but see a chance to get corn without the labor of husbandry. If it were
not that they are a much bigger tribe and hope to defeat their neighbor
by sheer force of numbers, they would not have dared to make open war
upon the brave Popsipetels."

When we reached the village we found it in a great state of excitement.
Everywhere men were seen putting their bows in order, sharpening spears,
grinding battle-axes and making arrows by the hundred. Women were
raising a high fence of bamboo poles all round the village. Scouts and
messengers kept coming and going, bringing news of the movements of the
enemy. While high up in the trees and hills about the village we could
see look-outs watching the mountains to the southward.

Long Arrow brought another Indian, short but enormously broad, and
introduced him to the Doctor as Big Teeth, the chief warrior of the

The Doctor volunteered to go and see the enemy and try to argue the
matter out peacefully with them instead of fighting; for war, he said,
was at best a stupid wasteful business. But the two shook their heads.
Such a plan was hopeless, they said. In the last war when they had sent
a messenger to do peaceful arguing, the enemy had merely hit him with an

While the Doctor was asking Big Teeth how he meant to defend the village
against attack, a cry of alarm was raised by the look-outs.

"They're coming!--The Bag-jagderags--swarming down the mountains in

"Well," said the Doctor, "it's all in the day's work, I suppose. I don't
believe in war; but if the village is attacked we must help defend it."

And he picked up a club from the ground and tried the heft of it against
a stone.

"This," he said, "seems like a pretty good tool to me." And he walked to
the bamboo fence and took his place among the other waiting fighters.

Then we all got hold of some kind of weapon with which to help our
friends, the gallant Popsipetels: I borrowed a bow and a quiver full of
arrows; Jip was content to rely upon his old, but still strong teeth;
Chee-Chee took a bag of rocks and climbed a palm where he could throw
them down upon the enemies' heads; and Bumpo marched after the Doctor to
the fence armed with a young tree in one hand and a door-post in the

When the enemy drew near enough to be seen from where we stood we all
gasped with astonishment. The hillsides were actually covered with
them--thousands upon thousands. They made our small army within the
village look like a mere handful.

"Saints alive!" muttered Polynesia, "our little lot will stand no chance
against that swarm. This will never do. I'm going off to get some help."
Where she was going and what kind of help she meant to get, I had no
idea. She just disappeared from my side. But Jip, who had heard her,
poked his nose between the bamboo bars of the fence to get a better view
of the enemy and said,

"Likely enough she's gone after the Black Parrots. Let's hope she finds
them in time. Just look at those ugly ruffians climbing down the
rocks--millions of 'em! This fight's going to keep us all hopping."

And Jip was right. Before a quarter of an hour had gone by our village
was completely surrounded by one huge mob of yelling, raging

I now come again to a part in the story of our voyages where things
happened so quickly, one upon the other, that looking backwards I see
the picture only in a confused kind of way. I know that if it had not
been for the Terrible Three--as they came afterwards to be fondly called
in Popsipetel history--Long Arrow, Bumpo and the Doctor, the war would
have been soon over and the whole island would have belonged to the
worthless Bag-jagderags. But the Englishman, the African and the Indian
were a regiment in themselves; and between them they made that village a
dangerous place for any man to try to enter.

[Illustration: The Terrible Three _From an Indian rock-engraving found
on Hawk's-Head Mountain, Spidermonkey Island_]

The bamboo fencing which had been hastily set up around the town was not
a very strong affair; and right from the start it gave way in one place
after another as the enemy thronged and crowded against it. Then the
Doctor, Long Arrow and Bumpo would hurry to the weak spot, a terrific
hand-to-hand fight would take place and the enemy be thrown out. But
almost instantly a cry of alarm would come from some other part of the
village-wall; and the Three would have to rush off and do the same thing
all over again.

The Popsipetels were themselves no mean fighters; but the strength and
weight of those three men of different lands and colors, standing close
together, swinging their enormous war-clubs, was really a sight for the
wonder and admiration of any one,

Many weeks later when I was passing an Indian camp-fire at night I heard
this song being sung. It has since become one of the traditional
folksongs of the Popsipetels.


      Oh hear ye the Song of the Terrible Three
    And the fight that they fought by the edge of the sea.
      Down from the mountains, the rocks and the crags,
    Swarming like wasps, came the Bag-jagderags.

      Surrounding our village, our walls they broke down.
    Oh, sad was the plight of our men and our town!
      But Heaven determined our land to set free
    And sent us the help of the Terrible Three.
      One was a Black--he was dark as the night;
    One was a Red-skin, a mountain of height;
      But the chief was a White Man, round like a bee;
    And all in a row stood the Terrible Three.

      Shoulder to shoulder, they hammered and hit.
    Like demons of fury they kicked and they bit.
      Like a wall of destruction they stood in a row,
    Flattening enemies, six at a blow.

      Oh, strong was the Red-skin fierce was the Black.
    Bag-jagderags trembled and tried to turn back.
      But 'twas of the White Man they shouted, "Beware!
    He throws men in handfuls, straight up in the air!"

      Long shall they frighten bad children at night
    With tales of the Red and the Black and the White.
      And long shall we sing of the Terrible Three
    And the fight that they fought by the edge of the sea.



But alas! even the Three, mighty though they were, could not last
forever against an army which seemed to have no end. In one of the
hottest scrimmages, when the enemy had broken a particularly wide hole
through the fence, I saw Long Arrow's great figure topple and come down
with a spear sticking in his broad chest.

For another half-hour Bumpo and the Doctor fought on side by side. How
their strength held out so long I cannot tell, for never a second were
they given to get their breath or rest their arms.

The Doctor--the quiet, kindly, peaceable, little Doctor!--well, you
wouldn't have known him if you had seen him that day dealing out whacks
you could hear a mile off, walloping and swatting in all directions.

As for Bumpo, with staring eye-balls and grim set teeth, he was a
veritable demon. None dared come within yards of that wicked,
wide-circling door-post. But a stone, skilfully thrown, struck him at
last in the centre of the forehead. And down went the second of the
Three. John Dolittle, the last of the Terribles, was left fighting

Jip and I rushed to his side and tried to take the places of the fallen
ones. But, far too light and too small, we made but a poor exchange.
Another length of the fence crashed down, and through the widened gap
the Bag-jagderags poured in on us like a flood.

"To the canoes!--To the sea!" shouted the Popsipetels. "Fly for your
lives!--All is over!--The war is lost!"

But the Doctor and I never got a chance to fly for our lives. We were
swept off our feet and knocked down flat by the sheer weight of the mob.
And once down, we were unable to get up again. I thought we would surely
be trampled to death.

But at that moment, above the din and racket of the battle, we heard the
most terrifying noise that ever assaulted human ears: the sound of
millions and millions of parrots all screeching with fury together.

The army, which in the nick of time Polynesia had brought to our rescue,
darkened the whole sky to the westward. I asked her afterwards, how many
birds there were; and she said she didn't know exactly but that they
certainly numbered somewhere between sixty and seventy millions. In that
extraordinarily short space of time she had brought them from the
mainland of South America.

If you have ever heard a parrot screech with anger you will know that it
makes a truly frightful sound; and if you have ever been bitten by one,
you will know that its bite can be a nasty and a painful thing.

The Black Parrots (coal-black all over, they were--except for a scarlet
beak and a streak of red in wing and tail) on the word of command from
Polynesia set to work upon the Bag-jagderags who were now pouring
through the village looking for plunder.

And the Black Parrots' method of fighting was peculiar. This is what
they did: on the head of each Bag-jagderag three or four parrots settled
and took a good foot-hold in his hair with their claws; then they leant
down over the sides of his head and began clipping snips out of his
ears, for all the world as though they were punching tickets. That is
all they did. They never bit them anywhere else except the ears. But it
won the war for us.

With howls pitiful to hear, the Bag-jagderags fell over one another in
their haste to get out of that accursed village. It was no use their
trying to pull the parrots off their heads; because for each head there
were always four more parrots waiting impatiently to get on.

Some of the enemy were lucky; and with only a snip or two managed to get
outside the fence--where the parrots immediately left them alone. But
with most, before the black birds had done with them, the ears presented
a very singular appearance--like the edge of a postage-stamp. This
treatment, very painful at the time, did not however do them any
permanent harm beyond the change in looks. And it later got to be the
tribal mark of the Bag-jagderags. No really smart young lady of this
tribe would be seen walking with a man who did not have scalloped
ears--for such was a proof that he had been in the Great War. And that
(though it is not generally known to scientists) is how this people came
to be called by the other Indian nations, the _Ragged-Eared

As soon as the village was cleared of the enemy the Doctor turned his
attention to the wounded.

In spite of the length and fierceness of the struggle, there were
surprisingly few serious injuries. Poor Long Arrow was the worst off.
However, after the Doctor had washed his wound and got him to bed, he
opened his eyes and said he already felt better. Bumpo was only badly

With this part of the business over, the Doctor called to Polynesia to
have the Black Parrots drive the enemy right back into their own country
and to wait there, guarding them all night.

Polynesia gave the short word of command; and like one bird those
millions of parrots opened their red beaks and let out once more their
terrifying battle-scream.

The Bag-jagderags didn't wait to be bitten a second time, but fled
helter-skelter over the mountains from which they had come; whilst
Polynesia and her victorious army followed watchfully behind like a
great, threatening, black cloud.

The Doctor picked up his high hat which had been knocked off in the
fight, dusted it carefully and put it on.

"To-morrow," he said, shaking his fist towards the hills, "we will
arrange the terms of peace--and we will arrange them--in the City of

His words were greeted with cheers of triumph from the admiring
Popsipetels. The war was over.



The next day we set out for the far end of the island, and reaching it
in canoes (for we went by sea) after a journey of twenty-five hours, we
remained no longer than was necessary in the City of Bag-jagderag.

When he threw himself into that fight at Popsipetel, I saw the Doctor
really angry for the first time in my life. But his anger, once aroused,
was slow to die. All the way down the coast of the island he never
ceased to rail against this cowardly people who had attacked his
friends, the Popsipetels, for no other reason but to rob them of their
corn, because they were too idle to till the land themselves. And he was
still angry when he reached the City of Bag-jagderag.

Long Arrow had not come with us for he was as yet too weak from his
wound. But the Doctor--always clever at languages--was already getting
familiar with the Indian tongue. Besides, among the half-dozen
Popsipetels who accompanied us to paddle the canoes, was one boy to whom
we had taught a little English. He and the Doctor between them managed
to make themselves understood to the Bag-jagderags. This people, with
the terrible parrots still blackening the hills about their stone town,
waiting for the word to descend and attack, were, we found, in a very
humble mood.

Leaving our canoes we passed up the main street to the palace of the
chief. Bumpo and I couldn't help smiling with satisfaction as we saw how
the waiting crowds which lined the roadway bowed their heads to the
ground, as the little, round, angry figure of the Doctor strutted ahead
of us with his chin in the air.

At the foot of the palace-steps the chief and all the more important
personages of the tribe were waiting to meet him, smiling humbly and
holding out their hands in friendliness. The Doctor took not the
slightest notice. He marched right by them, up the steps to the door of
the palace. There he turned around and at once began to address the
people in a firm voice.

I never heard such a speech in my life--and I am quite sure that they
never did either. First he called them a long string of names: cowards,
loafers, thieves, vagabonds, good-for-nothings, bullies and what not.
Then he said he was still seriously thinking of allowing the parrots to
drive them on into the sea, in order that this pleasant land might be
rid, once for all, of their worthless carcases. At this a great cry for
mercy went up, and the chief and all of them fell on their knees,
calling out that they would submit to any conditions of peace he wished.

Then the Doctor called for one of their scribes--that is, a man who did
picture-writing. And on the stone walls of the palace of Bag-jagderag he
bade him write down the terms of the peace as he dictated it. This peace
is known as _The Peace of The Parrots_, and--unlike most peaces--was,
and is, strictly kept--even to this day.

It was quite long in words. The half of the palace-front was covered
with picture-writing, and fifty pots of paint were used, before the
weary scribe had done. But the main part of it all was that there should
be no more fighting; and that the two tribes should give solemn promise
to help one another whenever there was corn-famine or other distress in
the lands belonging to either.

This greatly surprised the Bag-jagderags. They had expected from the
Doctor's angry face that he would at least chop a couple of hundred
heads off--and probably make the rest of them slaves for life.

But when they saw that he only meant kindly by them, their great fear of
him changed to a tremendous admiration. And as he ended his long speech
and walked briskly down the steps again on his way back to the canoes,
the group of chieftains threw themselves at his feet and cried, "Do but
stay with us. Great Lord, and all the riches of Bag-jagderag shall be
poured into your lap. Gold-mines we know of in the mountains and
pearl-beds beneath the sea. Only stay with us, that your all-powerful
wisdom may lead our Council and our people in prosperity and peace." The
Doctor held up his hand for silence.

"No man," said he, "would wish to be the guest of the Bag-jagderags till
they had proved by their deeds that they are an honest race. Be true to
the terms of the Peace and from yourselves shall come good government
and prosperity--Farewell!"

Then he turned and followed by Bumpo, the Popsipetels and myself, walked
rapidly down to the canoes.



But the change of heart in the Bag-jagderags was really sincere. The
Doctor had made a great impression on them--a deeper one than even he
himself realized at the time. In fact I sometimes think that that speech
of his from the palace-steps had more effect upon the Indians of
Spidermonkey Island than had any of his great deeds which, great though
they were, were always magnified and exaggerated when the news of them
was passed from mouth to mouth.

A sick girl was brought to him as he reached the place where the boats
lay. She turned out to have some quite simple ailment which he quickly
gave the remedy for. But this increased his popularity still more. And
when he stepped into his canoe, the people all around us actually burst
into tears. It seems (I learned this afterwards) that they thought he
was going away across the sea, for good, to the mysterious foreign lands
from which he had come.

Some of the chieftains spoke to the Popsipetels as we pushed off. What
they said I did not understand; but we noticed that several canoes
filled with Bag-jagderags followed us at a respectful distance all the
way back to Popsipetel.

The Doctor had determined to return by the other shore, so that we
should be thus able to make a complete trip round the island's shores.

Shortly after we started, while still off the lower end of the island,
we sighted a steep point on the coast where the sea was in a great state
of turmoil, white with soapy froth. On going nearer, we found that this
was caused by our friendly whales who were still faithfully working away
with their noses against the end of the island, driving us northward. We
had been kept so busy with the war that we had forgotten all about them.
But as we paused and watched their mighty tails lashing and churning the
sea, we suddenly realized that we had not felt cold in quite along
while. Speeding up our boat lest the island be carried away from us
altogether, we passed on up the coast; and here and there we noticed
that the trees on the shore already looked greener and more healthy.
Spidermonkey Island was getting back into her home climates.

About halfway to Popsipetel we went ashore and spent two or three days
exploring the central part of the island. Our Indian paddlers took us up
into the mountains, very steep and high in this region, overhanging the
sea. And they showed us what they called the Whispering Rocks.

[Illustration: "Working away with their noses against the end of the

This was a very peculiar and striking piece of scenery. It was like a
great vast basin, or circus, in the mountains, and out of the centre of
it there rose a table of rock with an ivory chair upon it. All around
this the mountains went up like stairs, or theatre-seats, to a great
height--except at one narrow end which was open to a view of the sea.
You could imagine it a council-place or concert-hall for giants, and the
rock table in the centre the stage for performers or the stand for the

We asked our guides why it was called the Whispering Rocks; and they
said, "Go down into it and we will show you."

The great bowl was miles deep and miles wide. We scrambled down the
rocks and they showed us how, even when you stood far, far apart from
one another, you merely had to whisper in that great place and every one
in the theatre could hear you. This was, the Doctor said, on account of
the echoes which played backwards and forwards between the high walls of

Our guides told us that it was here, in days long gone by when the
Popsipetels owned the whole of Spidermonkey Island, that the kings were
crowned. The ivory chair upon the table was the throne in which they
sat. And so great was the big theatre that all the Indians in the island
were able to get seats in it to see the ceremony.

[Illustration: "The Whispering Rocks"]

They showed us also an enormous hanging stone perched on the edge of a
volcano's crater--the highest summit in the whole island. Although it
was very far below us, we could see it quite plainly, and it looked
wobbly enough to be pushed off its perch with the hand. There was a
legend among the people, they said, that when the greatest of all
Popsipetel kings should be crowned in the ivory chair, this hanging
stone would tumble into the volcano's mouth and go straight down to the
centre of the earth.

The Doctor said he would like to go and examine it closer.

And when we were come to the lip of the volcano (it took us half a day
to get up to it) we found the stone was unbelievably large--big as a
cathedral. Underneath it we could look right down into a black hole
which seemed to have no bottom. The Doctor explained to us that
volcanoes sometimes spurted up fire from these holes in their tops; but
that those on floating islands were always cold and dead.

"Stubbins," he said, looking up at the great stone towering above us,
"do you know what would most likely happen if that boulder should fall

"No," said I, "what?"

"You remember the air-chamber which the porpoises told us lies under the
centre of the island?"


"Well, this stone is heavy enough, if it fell into the volcano, to break
through into that air-chamber from above. And once it did, the air would
escape and the floating island would float no more. It would sink."

"But then everybody on it would be drowned, wouldn't they?" said Bumpo.

"Oh no, not necessarily. That would depend on the depth of the sea where
the sinking took place. The island might touch bottom when it had only
gone down, say, a hundred feet. But there would be lots of it still
sticking up above the water then, wouldn't there?"

"Yes," said Bumpo, "I suppose there would. Well, let us hope that the
ponderous fragment does not lose its equilibriosity, for I don't believe
it would stop at the centre of the earth--more likely it would fall
right through the world and come out the other side."

Many other wonders there were which these men showed us in the central
regions of their island. But I have not time or space to tell you of
them now.

Descending towards the shore again, we noticed that we were still being
watched, even here among the highlands, by the Bag-jagderags who had
followed us. And when we put to sea once more a boat-load of them
proceeded to go ahead of us in the direction of Popsipetel. Having
lighter canoes, they traveled faster than our party; and we judged that
they should reach the village--if that was where they were going--many
hours before we could.

The Doctor was now becoming anxious to see how Long Arrow was getting
on, so we all took turns at the paddles and went on traveling by
moonlight through the whole night.

We reached Popsipetel just as the dawn was breaking.

To our great surprise we found that not only we, but the whole village
also, had been up all night. A great crowd was gathered about the dead
chief's house. And as we landed our canoes upon the beach we saw a large
number of old men, the seniors of the tribe, coming out at the main

We inquired what was the meaning of all this; and were told that the
election of a new chief had been going on all through the whole night.
Bumpo asked the name of the new chief; but this, it seemed, had not yet
been given out. It would be announced at mid-day.

As soon as the Doctor had paid a visit to Long Arrow and seen that he
was doing nicely, we proceeded to our own house at the far end of the
village. Here we ate some breakfast and then lay down to take a good

Rest, indeed, we needed; for life had been strenuous and busy for us
ever since we had landed on the island. And it wasn't many minutes after
our weary heads struck the pillows that the whole crew of us were sound



We were awakened by music. The glaring noonday sunlight was streaming in
at our door, outside of which some kind of a band appeared to be

We got up and looked out. Our house was surrounded by the whole
population of Popsipetel. We were used to having quite a number of
curious and admiring Indians waiting at our door at all hours; but this
was quite different. The vast crowd was dressed in its best clothes.
Bright beads, gawdy feathers and gay blankets gave cheerful color to the
scene. Every one seemed in very good humor, singing or playing on
musical instruments--mostly painted wooden whistles or drums made from

We found Polynesia--who while we slept had arrived back from
Bag-jagderag--sitting on our door-post watching the show. We asked her
what all the holiday-making was about.

"The result of the election has just been announced," said she. "The
name of the new chief was given out at noon."

"And who is the new chief?" asked the Doctor.

"You are," said Polynesia quietly.

"_I!_" gasped the Doctor--"Well, of all things!"

"Yes," said she. "You're the one--And what's more, they've changed your
surname for you. They didn't think that Dolittle was a proper or
respectful name for a man who had done so much. So you are now to be
known as Jong Thinkalot. How do you like it?"

"But I don't _want_ to be a chief," said the Doctor in an irritable

"I'm afraid you'll have hard work to get out of it now," said
she--"unless you're willing to put to sea again in one of their rickety
canoes. You see you've been elected not merely the Chief of the
Popsipetels; you're to be a king--the King of the whole of Spidermonkey
Island. The Bag-jagderags, who were so anxious to have you govern them,
sent spies and messengers ahead of you; and when they found that you had
been elected Chief of the Popsipetels overnight they were bitterly
disappointed. However, rather than lose you altogether, the
Bag-jagderags were willing to give up their independence, and insisted
that they and their lands be united to the Popsipetels in order that you
could be made king of both. So now you're in for it."

"Oh Lord!" groaned the Doctor, "I do wish they wouldn't be so
enthusiastic! Bother it, I don't _want_ to be a king!"

"I should think, Doctor," said I, "you'd feel rather proud and glad. I
wish I had a chance to be a king."

"Oh I know it sounds grand," said he, pulling on his boots miserably.
"But the trouble is, you can't take up responsibilities and then just
drop them again when you feel like it. I have my own work to do.
Scarcely one moment have I had to give to natural history since I landed
on this island. I've been doing some one else's business all the time.
And now they want me to go on doing it! Why, once I'm made King of the
Popsipetels, that's the end of me as a useful naturalist. I'd be too
busy for anything. All I'd be then is just a er--er just a king."

"Well, that's something!" said Bumpo. "My father is a king and has a
hundred and twenty wives."

"That would make it worse," said the Doctor--"a hundred and twenty times
worse. I have my work to do. I don't want to be a king."

"Look," said Polynesia, "here come the head men to announce your
election. Hurry up and get your boots laced."

The throng before our door had suddenly parted asunder, making a long
lane; and down this we now saw a group of personages coming towards us.
The man in front, a handsome old Indian with a wrinkled face, carried in
his hands a wooden crown--a truly beautiful and gorgeous crown, even
though of wood. Wonderfully carved and painted, it had two lovely blue
feathers springing from the front of it. Behind the old man came eight
strong Indians bearing a litter, a sort of chair with long handles
underneath to carry it by.

Kneeling down on one knee, bending his head almost to the ground, the
old man addressed the Doctor who now stood in the doorway putting on his
collar and tie.

"Oh, Mighty One," said he, "we bring you word from the Popsipetel
people. Great are your deeds beyond belief, kind is your heart and your
wisdom, deeper than the sea. Our chief is dead. The people clamor for a
worthy leader. Our old enemies, the Bag-jagderags are become, through
you, our brothers and good friends. They too desire to bask beneath the
sunshine of your smile. Behold then, I bring to you the Sacred Crown of
Popsipetel which, since ancient days when this island and its peoples
were one, beneath one monarch, has rested on no kingly brow. Oh Kindly
One, we are bidden by the united voices of the peoples of this land to
carry you to the Whispering Rocks, that there, with all respect and
majesty, you may be crowned our king--King of all the Moving Land."

The good Indians did not seem to have even considered the possibility of
John Dolittle's refusing. As for the poor Doctor, I never saw him so
upset by anything. It was in fact the only time I have known him to get
thoroughly fussed.

"Oh dear!" I heard him murmur, looking around wildly for some escape.
"What _shall_ I do?--Did any of you see where I laid that stud of
mine?--How on earth can I get this collar on without a stud? What a day
this is, to be sure I--Maybe it rolled under the bed, Bumpo--I do think
they might have given me a day or so to think it over in. Who ever heard
of waking a man right out of his sleep, and telling him he's got to be a
king, before he has even washed his face? Can't any of you find it?
Maybe you're standing on it, Bumpo. Move your feet."

"Oh don't bother about your stud," said Polynesia. "You will have to be
crowned without a collar. They won't know the difference."

"I tell you I'm not going to be crowned," cried the Doctor--"not if I
can help it. I'll make them a speech. Perhaps that will satisfy them."
He turned back to the Indians at the door.

"My friends," he said, "I am not worthy of this great honor you would do
me. Little or no skill have I in the arts of kingcraft. Assuredly among
your own brave men you will find many better fitted to lead you. For
this compliment, this confidence and trust, I thank you. But, I pray
you, do not think of me for such high duties which I could not possibly

The old man repeated his words to the people behind him in a louder
voice. Stolidly they shook their heads, moving not an inch. The old man
turned back to the Doctor.

"You are the chosen one," said he. "They will have none but you."

Into the Doctor's perplexed face suddenly there came a flash of hope.

"I'll go and see Long Arrow," he whispered to me. "Perhaps he will know
of some way to get me out of this."

And asking the personages to excuse him a moment, he left them there,
standing at his door, and hurried off in the direction of Long Arrow's
house. I followed him.

We found our big friend lying on a grass bed outside his home, where he
had been moved that he might witness the holiday-making.

"Long Arrow," said the Doctor speaking quickly in eagle tongue so that
the bystanders should not overhear, "in dire peril I come to you for
help. These men would make me their king. If such a thing befall me, all
the great work I hoped to do must go undone, for who is there unfreer
than a king? I pray you speak with them and persuade their kind
well-meaning hearts that what they plan to do would be unwise."

Long Arrow raised himself upon his elbow. "Oh Kindly One," said he (this
seemed now to have become the usual manner of address when speaking to
the Doctor), "sorely it grieves me that the first wish you ask of me I
should be unable to grant. Alas! I can do nothing. These people have so
set their hearts on keeping you for king that if I tried to interfere
they would drive me from their land and likely crown you in the end in
any case. A king you must be, if only for a while. We must so arrange
the business of governing that you may have time to give to Nature's
secrets. Later we may be able to hit upon some plan to relieve you of
the burden of the crown. But for now you must be king. These people are
a headstrong tribe and they will have their way. There is no other

Sadly the Doctor turned away from the bed and faced about. And there
behind him stood the old man again, the crown still held in his wrinkled
hands and the royal litter waiting at his elbow. With a deep reverence
the bearers motioned towards the seat of the chair, inviting the white
man to get in.

Once more the poor Doctor looked wildly, hopelessly about him for some
means of escape. For a moment I thought he was going to take to his
heels and run for it. But the crowd around us was far too thick and
densely packed for anyone to break through it. A band of whistles and
drums near by suddenly started the music of a solemn processional march.
He turned back pleadingly again to Long Arrow in a last appeal for help.
But the big Indian merely shook his head and pointed, like the bearers,
to the waiting chair.

At last, almost in tears, John Dolittle stepped slowly into the litter
and sat down. As he was hoisted on to the broad shoulders of the bearers
I heard him still feebly muttering beneath his breath,

"Botheration take it!--I don't _want_ to be a king!"

"Farewell!" called Long Arrow from his bed, "and may good fortune ever
stand within the shadow of your throne!"

"He comes!--He comes!" murmured the crowd. "Away! Away!--To the
Whispering Rocks!"

And as the procession formed up to leave the village, the crowd about us
began hurrying off in the direction of the mountains to make sure of
good seats in the giant theatre where the crowning ceremony would take



In my long lifetime I have seen many grand and inspiring things, but
never anything that impressed me half as much as the sight of the
Whispering Rocks as they looked on the day King Jong was crowned. As
Bumpo, Chee-Chee, Polynesia, Jip and I finally reached the dizzy edge of
the great bowl and looked down inside it, it was like gazing over a
never-ending ocean of copper-colored faces; for every seat in the
theatre was filled, every man, woman and child in the island--including
Long Arrow who had been carried up on his sick bed--was there to see the

Yet not a sound, not a pin-drop, disturbed the solemn silence of the
Whispering Rocks. It was quite creepy and sent chills running up and
down your spine. Bumpo told me afterwards that it took his breath away
too much for him to speak, but that he hadn't known before that there
were that many people in the world.

Away down by the Table of the Throne stood a brand-new, brightly colored
totem-pole. All the Indian families had totem-poles and kept them set up
before the doors of their houses. The idea of a totem-pole is something
like a door-plate or a visiting card. It represents in its carvings the
deeds and qualities of the family to which it belongs. This one,
beautifully decorated and much higher than any other, was the Dolittle
or, as it was to be henceforth called, the Royal Thinkalot totem. It had
nothing but animals on it, to signify the Doctor's great knowledge of
creatures. And the animals chosen to be shown were those which to the
Indians were supposed to represent good qualities of character, such as,
the deer for speed; the ox for perseverance; the fish for discretion,
and so on. But at the top of the totem is always placed the sign or
animal by which the family is most proud to be known. This, on the
Thinkalot pole, was an enormous parrot, in memory of the famous Peace of
the Parrots.

The Ivory Throne had been all polished with scented oil and it glistened
whitely in the strong sunlight. At the foot of it there had been strewn
great quantities of branches of flowering trees, which with the new
warmth of milder climates were now blossoming in the valleys of the

Soon we saw the royal litter, with the Doctor seated in it, slowly
ascending the winding steps of the Table. Reaching the flat top at last,
it halted and the Doctor stepped out upon the flowery carpet. So still
and perfect was the silence that even at that distance above I
distinctly heard a twig snap beneath his tread.

Walking to the throne accompanied by the old man, the Doctor got up upon
the stand and sat down. How tiny his little round figure looked when
seen from that tremendous height! The throne had been made for
longer-legged kings; and when he was seated, his feet did not reach the
ground but dangled six inches from the top step.

Then the old man turned round and looking up at the people began to
speak in a quiet even voice; but every word he said was easily heard in
the furthest corner of the Whispering Rocks.

First he recited the names of all the great Popsipetel kings who in days
long ago had been crowned in this ivory chair. He spoke of the greatness
of the Popsipetel people, of their triumphs, of their hardships. Then
waving his hand towards the Doctor he began recounting the things which
this king-to-be had done. And I am bound to say that they easily
outmatched the deeds of those who had gone before him.

As soon as he started to speak of what the Doctor had achieved for the
tribe, the people, still strictly silent, all began waving their right
hands towards the throne. This gave to the vast theatre a very singular
appearance: acres and acres of something moving--with never a sound.

At last the old man finished his speech and stepping up to the chair,
very respectfully removed the Doctor's battered high hat. He was about
to put it upon the ground; but the Doctor took it from him hastily and
kept it on his lap. Then taking up the Sacred Crown he placed it upon
John Dolittle's head. It did not fit very well (for it had been made for
smaller-headed kings), and when the wind blew in freshly from the sunlit
sea the Doctor had some difficulty in keeping it on. But it looked very

Turning once more to the people, the old man said,

"Men of Popsipetel, behold your elected king!--Are you content?"

And then at last the voice of the people broke loose.

"JONG! JONG!" they shouted, "LONG LIVE KING JONG!"

The sound burst upon the solemn silence with the crash of a hundred
cannon. There, where even a whisper carried miles, the shock of it was
like a blow in the face. Back and forth the mountains threw it to one
another. I thought the echoes of it would never die away as it passed
rumbling through the whole island, jangling among the lower valleys,
booming in the distant sea-caves.

Suddenly I saw the old man point upward, to the highest mountain in the
island; and looking over my shoulder, I was just in time to see the
Hanging Stone topple slowly out of sight--down into the heart of the

"See ye, Men of the Moving Land!" the old man cried: "The stone has
fallen and our legend has come true: the King of Kings is crowned this

The Doctor too had seen the stone fall and he was now standing up
looking at the sea expectantly.

"He's thinking of the air-chamber," said Bumpo in my ear. "Let us hope
that the sea isn't very deep in these parts."

After a full minute (so long did it take the stone to fall that depth)
we heard a muffled, distant, crunching thud--and then immediately after,
a great hissing of escaping air. The Doctor, his face tense with
anxiety, sat down in the throne again still watching the blue water of
the ocean with staring eyes.

Soon we felt the island slowly sinking beneath us. We saw the sea creep
inland over the beaches as the shores went down--one foot, three feet,
ten feet, twenty, fifty, a hundred. And then, thank goodness, gently as
a butterfly alighting on a rose, it stopped! Spidermonkey Island had
come to rest on the sandy bottom of the Atlantic, and earth was joined
to earth once more.

Of course many of the houses near the shores were now under water.
Popsipetel Village itself had entirely disappeared. But it didn't
matter. No one was drowned; for every soul in the island was high up in
the hills watching the coronation of King Jong.

The Indians themselves did not realize at the time what was taking
place, though of course they had felt the land sinking beneath them. The
Doctor told us afterwards that it must have been the shock of that
tremendous shout, coming from a million throats at once, which had
toppled the Hanging Stone off its perch. But in Popsipetel history the
story was handed down (and it is firmly believed to this day) that when
King Jong sat upon the throne, so great was his mighty weight, that the
very island itself sank down to do him honor and never moved again.




Jong Thinkalot had not ruled over his new kingdom for more than a couple
of days before my notions about kings and the kind of lives they led
changed very considerably. I had thought that all that kings had to do
was to sit on a throne and have people bow down before them several
times a day. I now saw that a king can be the hardest-working man in the
world--if he attends properly to his business.

From the moment that he got up, early in the morning, till the time he
went to bed, late at night--seven days in the week--John Dolittle was
busy, busy, busy. First of all there was the new town to be built. The
village of Popsipetel had disappeared: the City of New Popsipetel must
be made. With great care a place was chosen for it--and a very beautiful
position it was, at the mouth of a large river. The shores of the island
at this point formed a lovely wide bay where canoes--and ships too, if
they should ever come--could lie peacefully at anchor without danger
from storms.

In building this town the Doctor gave the Indians a lot of new ideas. He
showed them what town-sewers were, and how garbage should be collected
each day and burnt. High up in the hills he made a large lake by damming
a stream. This was the water-supply for the town. None of these things
had the Indians ever seen; and many of the sicknesses which they had
suffered from before were now entirely prevented by proper drainage and
pure drinking-water.

Peoples who don't use fire do not of course have metals either; because
without fire it is almost impossible to shape iron and steel. One of the
first things that John Dolittle did was to search the mountains till he
found iron and copper mines. Then he set to work to teach the Indians
how these metals could be melted and made into knives and plows and
water-pipes and all manner of things.

In his kingdom the Doctor tried his hardest to do away with most of the
old-fashioned pomp and grandeur of a royal court. As he said to Bumpo
and me, if he must be a king he meant to be a thoroughly democratic one,
that is a king who is chummy and friendly with his subjects and doesn't
put on airs. And when he drew up the plans for the City of New
Popsipetel he had no palace shown of any kind. A little cottage in a
back street was all that he had provided for himself.

But this the Indians would not permit on any account. They had been used
to having their kings rule in a truly grand and kingly manner; and they
insisted that he have built for himself the most magnificent palace ever
seen. In all else they let him have his own way absolutely; but they
wouldn't allow him to wriggle out of any of the ceremony or show that
goes with being a king. A thousand servants he had to keep in his
palace, night and day, to wait on him. The Royal Canoe had to be kept
up--a gorgeous, polished mahogany boat, seventy feet long, inlaid with
mother-o'-pearl and paddled by the hundred strongest men in the island.
The palace-gardens covered a square mile and employed a hundred and
sixty gardeners.

Even in his dress the poor man was compelled always to be grand and
elegant and uncomfortable. The beloved and battered high hat was put
away in a closet and only looked at secretly. State robes had to be worn
on all occasions. And when the Doctor did once in a while manage to
sneak off for a short, natural-history expedition he never dared to wear
his old clothes, but had to chase his butterflies with a crown upon his
head and a scarlet cloak flying behind him in the wind.

[Illustration: "Had to chase his butterflies with a crown upon his

There was no end to the kinds of duties the Doctor had to perform and
the questions he had to decide upon--everything, from settling disputes
about lands and boundaries, to making peace between husband and wife who
had been throwing shoes at one another. In the east wing of the Royal
Palace was the Hall of Justice. And here King Jong sat every morning
from nine to eleven passing judgment on all cases that were brought
before him.

Then in the afternoon he taught school. The sort of things he taught
were not always those you find in ordinary schools. Grown-ups as well as
children came to learn. You see, these Indians were ignorant of many of
the things that quite small white children know--though it is also true
that they knew a lot that white grown-ups never dreamed of.

Bumpo and I helped with the teaching as far as we could--simple
arithmetic, and easy things like that. But the classes in astronomy,
farming science, the proper care of babies, with a host of other
subjects, the Doctor had to teach himself. The Indians were tremendously
keen about the schooling and they came in droves and crowds; so that
even with the open-air classes (a school-house was impossible of course)
the Doctor had to take them in relays and batches of five or six
thousand at a time and used a big megaphone or trumpet to make himself

The rest of his day was more than filled with road-making, building
water-mills, attending the sick and a million other things.

In spite of his being so unwilling to become a king, John Dolittle made
a very good one--once he got started. He may not have been as dignified
as many kings in history who were always running off to war and getting
themselves into romantic situations; but since I have grown up and seen
something of foreign lands and governments I have often thought that
Popsipetel under the reign of Jong Thinkalot was perhaps the best ruled
state in the history of the world.

The Doctor's birthday came round after we had been on the island six
months and a half. The people made a great public holiday of it and
there was much feasting, dancing, fireworks, speech-making and

Towards the close of the day the chief men of the two tribes formed a
procession and passed through the streets of the town, carrying a very
gorgeously painted tablet of ebony wood, ten feet high. This was a
picture-history, such as they preserved for each of the ancient kings of
Popsipetel to record their deeds.

With great and solemn ceremony it was set up over the door of the new
palace: and everybody then clustered round to look at it. It had six
pictures on it commemorating the six great events in the life of King
Jong and beneath were written the verses that explained them. They were
composed by the Court Poet; and this is a translation:


    (_His Landing on The Island_)
    In his dolphin-drawn canoe
    From worlds unknown
    He landed on our shores.
    The very palms
    Bowed down their heads
    In welcome to the coming King.


    (_His Meeting With The Beetle_)
    By moonlight in the mountains
    He communed with beasts.
    The shy Jabizri brings him picture-words
    Of great distress.


    (_He liberates The Lost Families_)
    Big was his heart with pity;
    Big were his hands with strength.
    See how he tears the mountain like a yam!
    See how the lost ones
    Dance forth to greet the day!


    (_He Makes Fire_)
    Our land was cold and dying.
    He waved his hand and lo!
    Lightning leapt from cloudless skies;
    The sun leant down;
    And Fire was born!
    Then while we crowded round
    The grateful glow, pushed he
    Our wayward, floating land
    Back to peaceful anchorage
    In sunny seas.


    (_He Leads The People To Victory in War_)
    Once only
    Was his kindly countenance
    Darkened by a deadly frown.
    Woe to the wicked enemy
    That dares attack
    The tribe with Thinkalot for Chief!


    (_He Is Crowned King_) The birds of the air rejoiced;
    The Sea laughed and gambolled with her shores;
    All Red-skins wept for joy
    The day we crowned him King.
    He is the Builder, the Healer, the Teacher and the Prince;
    He is the greatest of them all.
    May he live a thousand thousand years,
    Happy in his heart,
    To bless our land with Peace.



In the Royal Palace Bumpo and I had a beautiful suite of rooms of our
very own--which Polynesia, Jip and Chee-Chee shared with us.

Officially Bumpo was Minister of the Interior; while I was First Lord of
the Treasury. Long Arrow also had quarters there; but at present he was
absent, traveling abroad.

One night after supper when the Doctor was away in the town somewhere
visiting a new-born baby, we were all sitting round the big table in
Bumpo's reception-room. This we did every evening, to talk over the
plans for the following day and various affairs of state. It was a kind
of Cabinet Meeting.

To-night however we were talking about England--and also about things to
eat. We had got a little tired of Indian food. You see, none of the
natives knew how to cook; and we had the most discouraging time training
a chef for the Royal Kitchen. Most of them were champions at spoiling
good food. Often we got so hungry that the Doctor would sneak downstairs
with us into the palace basement, after all the cooks were safe in bed,
and fry pancakes secretly over the dying embers of the fire. The Doctor
himself was the finest cook that ever lived. But he used to make a
terrible mess of the kitchen; and of course we had to be awfully careful
that we didn't get caught.

Well, as I was saying, to-night food was the subject of discussion at
the Cabinet Meeting; and I had just been reminding Bumpo of the nice
dishes we had had at the bed-maker's house in Monteverde.

"I tell you what I would like now," said Bumpo: "a large cup of cocoa
with whipped cream on the top of it. In Oxford we used to be able to get
the most wonderful cocoa. It is really too bad they haven't any
cocoa-trees in this island, or cows to give cream."

"When do you suppose," asked Jip, "the Doctor intends to move on from

"I was talking to him about that only yesterday," said Polynesia. "But I
couldn't get any satisfactory answer out of him. He didn't seem to want
to speak about it."

There was a pause in the conversation.

"Do you know what I believe?" she added presently. "I believe the Doctor
has given up even thinking of going home."

"Good Lord!" cried Bumpo. "You don't say!"

"Sh!" said Polynesia. "What's that noise?"

We listened; and away off in the distant corridors of the palace we
heard the sentries crying,

"The King!--Make way!--The King!"

"It's he--at last," whispered Polynesia--"late, as usual. Poor man, how
he does work!--Chee-Chee, get the pipe and tobacco out of the cupboard
and lay the dressing-gown ready on his chair."

When the Doctor came into the room he looked serious and thoughtful.
Wearily he took off his crown and hung it on a peg behind the door. Then
he exchanged the royal cloak for the dressing-gown, dropped into his
chair at the head of the table with a deep sigh and started to fill his

"Well," asked Polynesia quietly, "how did you find the baby?"

"The baby?" he murmured--his thoughts still seemed to be very far
away--"Ah yes. The baby was much better, thank you--It has cut its
second tooth."

Then he was silent again, staring dreamily at the ceiling through a
cloud of tobacco-smoke; while we all sat round quite still, waiting.

"We were wondering, Doctor," said I at last,--"just before you came
in--when you would be starting home again. We will have been on this
island seven months to-morrow."

The Doctor sat forward in his chair looking rather uncomfortable.

"Well, as a matter of fact," said he after a moment, "I meant to speak
to you myself this evening on that very subject. But it's--er--a little
hard to make any one exactly understand the situation. I am afraid that
it would be impossible for me to leave the work I am now engaged on....
You remember, when they first insisted on making me king, I told you it
was not easy to shake off responsibilities, once you had taken them up.
These people have come to rely on me for a great number of things. We
found them ignorant of much that white people enjoy. And we have, one
might say, changed the current of their lives considerably. Now it is a
very ticklish business, to change the lives of other people. And whether
the changes we have made will be, in the end, for good or for bad, is
our look-out."

He thought a moment--then went on in a quieter, sadder voice:

"I would like to continue my voyages and my natural history work; and I
would like to go back to Puddleby--as much as any of you. This is March,
and the crocuses will be showing in the lawn.... But that which I feared
has come true: I cannot close my eyes to what might happen if I should
leave these people and run away. They would probably go back to their
old habits and customs: wars, superstitions, devil-worship and what not;
and many of the new things we have taught them might be put to improper
use and make their condition, then, worse by far than that in which we
found them.... They like me; they trust me; they have come to look to me
for help in all their problems and troubles. And no man wants to do
unfair things to them who trust him.... And then again, I like _them_.
They are, as it were, my children--I never had any children of my
own--and I am terribly interested in how they will grow up. Don't you
see what I mean?--How can I possibly run away and leave them in the
lurch?... No. I have thought it over a good deal and tried to decide
what was best. And I am afraid that the work I took up when I assumed
the crown I must stick to. I'm afraid--I've got to stay."

"For good--for your whole life?" asked Bumpo in a low voice.

For some moments the Doctor, frowning, made no answer.

"I don't know," he said at last--"Anyhow for the present there is
certainly no hope of my leaving. It wouldn't be right."

The sad silence that followed was broken finally by a knock upon the

With a patient sigh the Doctor got up and put on his crown and cloak

"Come in," he called, sitting down in his chair once more.

The door opened and a footman--one of the hundred and forty-three who
were always on night duty--stood bowing in the entrance.

"Oh, Kindly One," said he, "there is a traveler at the palace-gate who
would have speech with Your Majesty."

"Another baby's been born, I'll bet a shilling," muttered Polynesia.

"Did you ask the traveler's name?" enquired the Doctor.

"Yes, Your Majesty," said the footman. "It is Long Arrow, the son of
Golden Arrow."



"Long Arrow!" cried the Doctor. "How splendid! Show him in--show him in
at once."

"I'm so glad," he continued, turning to us as soon as the footman had
gone. "I've missed Long Arrow terribly. He's an awfully good man to have
around--even if he doesn't talk much. Let me see: it's five months now
since he went off to Brazil. I'm so glad he's back safe. He does take
such tremendous chances with that canoe of his--clever as he is. It's no
joke, crossing a hundred miles of open sea in a twelve-foot canoe. I
wouldn't care to try it."

Another knock; and when the door swung open in answer to the Doctor's
call, there stood our big friend on the threshold, a smile upon his
strong, bronzed face. Behind him appeared two porters carrying loads
done up in Indian palm-matting. These, when the first salutations were
over, Long Arrow ordered to lay their burdens down.

"Behold, oh Kindly One," said he, "I bring you, as I promised, my
collection of plants which I had hidden in a cave in the Andes. These
treasures represent the labors of my life."

The packages were opened; and inside were many smaller packages and
bundles. Carefully they were laid out in rows upon the table.

It appeared at first a large but disappointing display. There were
plants, flowers, fruits, leaves, roots, nuts, beans, honeys, gums, bark,
seeds, bees and a few kinds of insects.

The study of plants--or botany, as it is called--was a kind of natural
history which had never interested me very much. I had considered it,
compared with the study of animals, a dull science. But as Long Arrow
began taking up the various things in his collection and explaining
their qualities to us, I became more and more fascinated. And before he
had done I was completely absorbed by the wonders of the Vegetable
Kingdom which he had brought so far.

"These," said he, taking up a little packet of big seeds, "are what I
have called 'laughing-beans.'"

"What are they for?" asked Bumpo.

"To cause mirth," said the Indian.

Bumpo, while Long Arrow's back was turned, took three of the beans and
swallowed them.

"Alas!" said the Indian when he discovered what Bumpo had done. "If he
wished to try the powers of these seeds he should have eaten no more
than a quarter of a one. Let us hope that he does not die of laughter."

The beans' effect upon Bumpo was most extraordinary. First he broke into
a broad smile; then he began to giggle; finally he burst into such
prolonged roars of hearty laughter that we had to carry him into the
next room and put him to bed. The Doctor said afterwards that he
probably would have died laughing if he had not had such a strong
constitution. All through the night he gurgled happily in his sleep. And
even when we woke him up the next morning he rolled out of bed still

Returning to the Reception Room, we were shown some red roots which Long
Arrow told us had the property, when made into a soup with sugar and
salt, of causing people to dance with extraordinary speed and endurance.
He asked us to try them; but we refused, thanking him. After Bumpo's
exhibition we were a little afraid of any more experiments for the

There was no end to the curious and useful things that Long Arrow had
collected: an oil from a vine which would make hair grow in one night;
an orange as big as a pumpkin which he had raised in his own
mountain-garden in Peru; a black honey (he had brought the bees that
made it too and the seeds of the flowers they fed on) which would put
you to sleep, just with a teaspoonful, and make you wake up fresh in the
morning; a nut that made the voice beautiful for singing; a water-weed
that stopped cuts from bleeding; a moss that cured snake-bite; a lichen
that prevented sea-sickness.

The Doctor of course was tremendously interested. Well into the early
hours of the morning he was busy going over the articles on the table
one by one, listing their names and writing their properties and
descriptions into a note-book as Long Arrow dictated.

"There are things here, Stubbins," he said as he ended, "which in the
hands of skilled druggists will make a vast difference to the medicine
and chemistry of the world. I suspect that this sleeping-honey by itself
will take the place of half the bad drugs we have had to use so far.
Long Arrow has discovered a pharmacopeia of his own. Miranda was right:
he is a great naturalist. His name deserves to be placed beside
Linnaeus. Some day I must get all these things to England--But when," he
added sadly--"Yes, that's the problem: when?"



For a long time after that Cabinet Meeting of which I have just told you
we did not ask the Doctor anything further about going home. Life in
Spidermonkey Island went forward, month in month out, busily and
pleasantly. The Winter, with Christmas celebrations, came and went, and
Summer was with us once again before we knew it.

As time passed the Doctor became more and more taken up with the care of
his big family; and the hours he could spare for his natural history
work grew fewer and fewer. I knew that he often still thought of his
house and garden in Puddleby and of his old plans and ambitions; because
once in a while we would notice his face grow thoughtful and a little
sad, when something reminded him of England or his old life. But he
never spoke of these things. And I truly believe he would have spent the
remainder of his days on Spidermonkey Island if it hadn't been for an
accident--and for Polynesia.

The old parrot had grown very tired of the Indians and she made no
secret of it.

"The very idea," she said to me one day as we were walking on the
seashore--"the idea of the famous John Dolittle spending his valuable
life waiting on these greasy natives!--Why, it's preposterous!"

All that morning we had been watching the Doctor superintend the
building of the new theatre in Popsipetel--there was already an
opera-house and a concert-hall; and finally she had got so grouchy and
annoyed at the sight that I had suggested her taking a walk with me.

"Do you really think," I asked as we sat down on the sands, "that he
will never go back to Puddleby again?"

"I don't know," said she. "At one time I felt sure that the thought of
the pets he had left behind at the house would take him home soon. But
since Miranda brought him word last August that everything was all right
there, that hope's gone. For months and months I've been racking my
brains to think up a plan. If we could only hit upon something that
would turn his thoughts back to natural history again--I mean something
big enough to get him really excited--we might manage it. But how?"--she
shrugged her shoulders in disgust--"How?--when all he thinks of now is
paving streets and teaching papooses that twice one are two!"

It was a perfect Popsipetel day, bright and hot, blue and yellow.
Drowsily I looked out to sea thinking of my mother and father. I
wondered if they were getting anxious over my long absence. Beside me
old Polynesia went on grumbling away in low steady tones; and her words
began to mingle and mix with the gentle lapping of the waves upon the
shore. It may have been the even murmur of her voice, helped by the soft
and balmy air, that lulled me to sleep. I don't know. Anyhow I presently
dreamed that the island had moved again--not floatingly as before, but
suddenly, jerkily, as though something enormously powerful had heaved it
up from its bed just once and let it down.

How long I slept after that I have no idea. I was awakened by a gentle
pecking on the nose.

"Tommy!--Tommy!" (it was Polynesia's voice) "Wake up!--Gosh, what a boy,
to sleep through an earthquake and never notice it!--Tommy, listen:
here's our chance now. Wake up, for goodness' sake!"

"What's the matter?" I asked sitting up with a yawn.

"Sh!--Look!" whispered Polynesia pointing out to sea.

Still only half awake, I stared before me with bleary, sleep-laden eyes.
And in the shallow water, not more than thirty yards from shore I saw an
enormous pale pink shell. Dome-shaped, it towered up in a graceful
rainbow curve to a tremendous height; and round its base the surf broke
gently in little waves of white. It could have belonged to the wildest

"What in the world is it?" I asked.

"That," whispered Polynesia, "is what sailors for hundreds of years have
called the Sea-serpent. I've seen it myself more than once from the
decks of ships, at long range, curving in and out of the water. But now
that I see it close and still, I very strongly suspect that the
Sea-serpent of history is no other than the Great Glass Sea-snail that
the fidgit told us of. If that isn't the only fish of its kind in the
seven seas, call me a carrion-crow--Tommy, we're in luck. Our job is to
get the Doctor down here to look at that prize specimen before it moves
off to the Deep Hole. If we can, then trust me, we may leave this
blessed island yet. You stay here and keep an eye on it while I go after
the Doctor. Don't move or speak--don't even breathe heavy: he might get
scared--awful timid things, snails. Just watch him; and I'll be back in
two shakes."

Stealthily creeping up the sands till she could get behind the cover of
some bushes before she took to her wings, Polynesia went off in the
direction of the town; while I remained alone upon the shore
fascinatedly watching this unbelievable monster wallowing in the shallow

It moved very little. From time to time it lifted its head out of the
water showing its enormously long neck and horns. Occasionally it would
try and draw itself up, the way a snail does when he goes to move, but
almost at once it would sink down again as if exhausted. It seemed to me
to act as though it were hurt underneath; but the lower part of it,
which was below the level of the water, I could not see.

I was still absorbed in watching the great beast when Polynesia returned
with the Doctor. They approached so silently and so cautiously that I
neither saw nor heard them coming till I found them crouching beside me
on the sand.

One sight of the snail changed the Doctor completely. His eyes just
sparkled with delight. I had not seen him so thrilled and happy since
the time we caught the Jabizri beetle when we first landed on the

"It is he!" he whispered--"the Great Glass Sea-snail himself--not a
doubt of it. Polynesia, go down the shore a way and see if you can find
any of the porpoises for me. Perhaps they can tell us what the snail is
doing here--It's very unusual for him to be in shallow water like this.
And Stubbins, you go over to the harbor and bring me a small canoe. But
be most careful how you paddle it round into this bay. If the snail
should take fright and go out into the deeper water, we may never get a
chance to see him again."

"And don't tell any of the Indians," Polynesia added in a whisper as I
moved to go. "We must keep this a secret or we'll have a crowd of
sightseers round here in five minutes. It's mighty lucky we found the
snail in a quiet bay."

Reaching the harbor, I picked out a small light canoe from among the
number that were lying there and without telling any one what I wanted
it for, got in and started off to paddle it down the shore.

I was mortally afraid that the snail might have left before I got back.
And you can imagine how delighted I was, when I rounded a rocky cape and
came in sight of the bay, to find he was still there.

Polynesia, I saw, had got her errand done and returned ahead of me,
bringing with her a pair of porpoises. These were already conversing in
low tones with John Dolittle. I beached the canoe and went up to listen.

"What I want to know," the Doctor was saying, "is how the snail comes to
be here. I was given to understand that he usually stayed in the Deep
Hole; and that when he did come to the surface it was always in

"Oh, didn't you know?--Haven't you heard?" the porpoises replied: "you
covered up the Deep Hole when you sank the island. Why yes: you let it
down right on top of the mouth of the Hole--sort of put the lid on, as
it were. The fishes that were in it at the time have been trying to get
out ever since. The Great Snail had the worst luck of all: the island
nipped him by the tail just as he was leaving the Hole for a quiet
evening stroll. And he was held there for six months trying to wriggle
himself free. Finally he had to heave the whole island up at one end to
get his tail loose. Didn't you feel a sort of an earthquake shock about
an hour ago?"

"Yes I did," said the Doctor, "it shook down part of the theatre I was

"Well, that was the snail heaving up the island to get out of the Hole,"
they said. "All the other fishes saw their chance and escaped when he
raised the lid. It was lucky for them he's so big and strong. But the
strain of that terrific heave told on him: he sprained a muscle in his
tail and it started swelling rather badly. He wanted some quiet place to
rest up; and seeing this soft beach handy he crawled in here."

"Dear me!" said the Doctor. "I'm terribly sorry. I suppose I should have
given some sort of notice that the island was going to be let down. But,
to tell the truth, we didn't know it ourselves; it happened by a kind of
an accident. Do you imagine the poor fellow is hurt very badly?"

"We're not sure," said the porpoises; "because none of us can speak his
language. But we swam right around him on our way in here, and he did
not seem to be really seriously injured."

"Can't any of your people speak shellfish?" the Doctor asked.

"Not a word," said they. "It's a most frightfully difficult language."

"Do you think that you might be able to find me some kind of a fish that

"We don't know," said the porpoises. "We might try."

"I should be extremely grateful to you if you would," said the Doctor.
"There are many important questions I want to ask this snail--And
besides, I would like to do my best to cure his tail for him. It's the
least I can do. After all, it was my fault, indirectly, that he got

"Well, if you wait here," said the porpoises, "we'll see what can be



So Doctor Dolittle with a crown on his head sat down upon the shore like
King Knut, and waited. And for a whole hour the porpoises kept going and
coming, bringing up different kinds of sea-beasts from the deep to see
if they could help him.

Many and curious were the creatures they produced. It would seem however
that there were very few things that spoke shellfish except the
shellfish themselves. Still, the porpoises grew a little more hopeful
when they discovered a very old sea-urchin (a funny, ball-like, little
fellow with long whiskers all over him) who said he could not speak pure
shellfish, but he used to understand starfish--enough to get along--when
he was young. This was coming nearer, even if it wasn't anything to go
crazy about. Leaving the urchin with us, the porpoises went off once
more to hunt up a starfish.

They were not long getting one, for they were quite common in those
parts. Then, using the sea-urchin as an interpreter, they questioned the
starfish. He was a rather stupid sort of creature; but he tried his best
to be helpful. And after a little patient examination we found to our
delight that he could speak shellfish moderately well.

Feeling quite encouraged, the Doctor and I now got into the canoe; and,
with the porpoises, the urchin and the starfish swimming alongside, we
paddled very gently out till we were close under the towering shell of
the Great Snail.

And then began the most curious conversation I have ever witnessed.
First the starfish would ask the snail something; and whatever answer
the snail gave, the starfish would tell it to the sea-urchin, the urchin
would tell it to the porpoises and the porpoises would tell it to the

In this way we obtained considerable information, mostly about the very
ancient history of the Animal Kingdom; but we missed a good many of the
finer points in the snail's longer speeches on account of the stupidity
of the starfish and all this translating from one language to another.

While the snail was speaking, the Doctor and I put our ears against the
wall of his shell and found that we could in this way hear the sound of
his voice quite plainly. It was, as the fidgit had described, deep and
bell-like. But of course we could not understand a single word he said.
However the Doctor was by this time terrifically excited about getting
near to learning the language he had sought so long. And presently by
making the other fishes repeat over and over again short phrases which
the snail used, he began to put words together for himself. You see, he
was already familiar with one or two fish languages; and that helped him
quite a little. After he had practised for a while like this he leant
over the side of the canoe and putting his face below the water, tried
speaking to the snail direct.

It was hard and difficult work; and hours went by before he got any
results. But presently I could tell by the happy look on his face, that
little by little he was succeeding.

The sun was low in the West and the cool evening breeze was beginning to
rustle softly through the bamboo-groves when the Doctor finally turned
from his work and said to me,

"Stubbins, I have persuaded the snail to come in on to the dry part of
the beach and let me examine his tail. Will you please go back to the
town and tell the workmen to stop working on the theatre for to-day?
Then go on to the palace and get my medicine-bag. I think I left it
under the throne in the Audience Chamber."

"And remember," Polynesia whispered as I turned away, "not a word to a
soul. If you get asked questions, keep your mouth shut. Pretend you have
a toothache or something."

This time when I got back to the shore--with the medicine-bag--I found
the snail high and dry on the beach. Seeing him in his full length like
this, it was easy to understand how old-time, superstitious sailors had
called him the Sea-serpent. He certainly was a most gigantic, and in his
way, a graceful, beautiful creature. John Dolittle was examining a
swelling on his tail.

From the bag which I had brought the Doctor took a large bottle of
embrocation and began rubbing the sprain. Next he took all the bandages
he had in the bag and fastened them end to end. But even like that, they
were not long enough to go more than halfway round the enormous tail.
The Doctor insisted that he must get the swelling strapped tight
somehow. So he sent me off to the palace once more to get all the sheets
from the Royal Linen-closet. These Polynesia and I tore into bandages
for him. And at last, after terrific exertions, we got the sprain
strapped to his satisfaction.

The snail really seemed to be quite pleased with the attention he had
received; and he stretched himself in lazy comfort when the Doctor was
done. In this position, when the shell on his back was empty, you could
look right through it and see the palm-trees on the other side.

"I think one of us had better sit up with him all night," said the
Doctor. "We might put Bumpo on that duty; he's been napping all day, I
know--in the summer-house. It's a pretty bad sprain, that; and if the
snail shouldn't be able to sleep, he'll be happier with some one with
him for company. He'll get all right though--in a few days I should
judge. If I wasn't so confoundedly busy I'd sit up with him myself. I
wish I could, because I still have a lot of things to talk over with

"But Doctor," said Polynesia as we prepared to go back to the town, "you
ought to take a holiday. All Kings take holidays once in the
while--every one of them. King Charles, for instance--of course Charles
was before your time--but he!--why, he was _always_ holiday-making. Not
that he was ever what you would call a model king. But just the same, he
was frightfully popular. Everybody liked him--even the golden-carp in
the fish-pond at Hampton Court. As a king, the only thing I had against
him was his inventing those stupid, little, snappy dogs they call King
Charles Spaniels. There are lots of stories told about poor Charles; but
that, in my opinion, is the worst thing he did. However, all this is
beside the point. As I was saying, kings have to take holidays the same
as anybody else. And you haven't taken one since you were crowned, have
you now?"

"No," said the Doctor, "I suppose that's true."

"Well now I tell you what you do," said she: "as soon as you get back to
the palace you publish a royal proclamation that you are going away for
a week into the country for your health. And you're going _without any
servants_, you understand--just like a plain person. It's called
traveling incognito, when kings go off like that. They all do it--It's
the only way they can ever have a good time. Then the week you're away
you can spend lolling on the beach back there with the snail. How's

"I'd like to," said the Doctor. "It sounds most attractive. But there's
that new theatre to be built; none of our carpenters would know how to
get those rafters on without me to show them--And then there are the
babies: these native mothers are so frightfully ignorant."

"Oh bother the theatre--and the babies too," snapped Polynesia. "The
theatre can wait a week. And as for babies, they never have anything
more than colic. How do you suppose babies got along before you came
here, for heaven's sake?--Take a holiday.... You need it."



From the way Polynesia talked, I guessed that this idea of a holiday was
part of her plan.

The Doctor made no reply; and we walked on silently towards the town. I
could see, nevertheless that her words had made an impression on him.

After supper he disappeared from the palace without saying where he was
going--a thing he had never done before. Of course we all knew where he
had gone: back to the beach to sit up with the snail. We were sure of it
because he had said nothing to Bumpo about attending to the matter.

As soon as the doors were closed upon the Cabinet Meeting that night,
Polynesia addressed the Ministry:

"Look here, you fellows," said she: "we've simply got to get the Doctor
to take this holiday somehow--unless we're willing to stay in this
blessed island for the rest of our lives."

"But what difference," Bumpo asked, "is his taking a holiday going to

Impatiently Polynesia turned upon the Minister of the Interior.

"Don't you see? If he has a clear week to get thoroughly interested in
his natural history again--marine stuff, his dream of seeing the floor
of the ocean and all that--there may be some chance of his consenting to
leave this pesky place. But while he is here on duty as king he never
gets a moment to think of anything outside of the business of

"Yes, that's true. He's far too consententious Bumpo agreed.

"And besides," Polynesia went on, "his only hope of ever getting away
from here would be to escape secretly. He's got to leave while he is
holiday-making, incognito--when no one knows where he is or what he's
doing, but us. If he built a ship big enough to cross the sea in, all
the Indians would see it, and hear it, being built; and they'd ask what
it was for. They would interfere. They'd sooner have anything happen
than lose the Doctor. Why, I believe if they thought he had any idea of
escaping they would put chains on him."

"Yes, I really think they would," I agreed. "Yet without a ship of some
kind I don't see how the Doctor is going to get away, even secretly."

"Well, I'll tell you," said Polynesia. "If we do succeed in making him
take this holiday, our next step will be to get the sea-snail to promise
to take us all in his shell and carry us to the mouth of Puddleby River.
If we can once get the snail willing, the temptation will be too much
for John Dolittle and he'll come, I know--especially as he'll be able to
take those new plants and drugs of Long Arrow's to the English doctors,
as well as see the floor of the ocean on the way."

"How thrilling!" I cried. "Do you mean the snail could take us under the
sea all the way back to Puddleby?"

"Certainly," said Polynesia, "a little trip like that is nothing to him.
He would crawl along the floor of the ocean and the Doctor could see all
the sights. Perfectly simple. Oh, John Dolittle will come all right, if
we can only get him to take that holiday--_and_ if the snail will
consent to give us the ride."

"Golly, I hope he does!" sighed Jip. "I'm sick of these beastly
tropics--they make you feel so lazy and good-for-nothing. And there are
no rats or anything here--not that a fellow would have the energy to
chase 'em even if there were. My, wouldn't I be glad to see old Puddleby
and the garden again! And won't Dab-Dab be glad to have us back!"

"By the end of next month," said I, "it will be two whole years since we
left England--since we pulled up the anchor at Kingsbridge and bumped
our way out into the river."

"And got stuck on the mud-bank," added Chee-Chee in a dreamy, far-away

"Do you remember how all the people waved to us from the river-wall?" I

"Yes. And I suppose they've often talked about us in the town since,"
said Jip--"wondering whether we're dead or alive."

"Cease," said Bumpo, "I feel I am about to weep from sediment."



Well, you can guess how glad we were when next morning the Doctor, after
his all-night conversation with the snail, told us that he had made up
his mind to take the holiday. A proclamation was published right away by
the Town Crier that His Majesty was going into the country for a
seven-day rest, but that during his absence the palace and the
government offices would be kept open as usual.

Polynesia was immensely pleased. She at once set quietly to work making
arrangements for our departure--taking good care the while that no one
should get an inkling of where we were going, what we were taking with
us, the hour of our leaving or which of the palace-gates we would go out

Cunning old schemer that she was, she forgot nothing. And not even we,
who were of the Doctor's party, could imagine what reasons she had for
some of her preparations. She took me inside and told me that the one
thing I must remember to bring with me was _all_ of the Doctor's
note-books. Long Arrow, who was the only Indian let into the secret of
our destination, said he would like to come with us as far as the beach
to see the Great Snail; and him Polynesia told to be sure and bring his
collection of plants. Bumpo she ordered to carry the Doctor's high
hat--carefully hidden under his coat. She sent off nearly all the
footmen who were on night duty to do errands in the town, so that there
should be as few servants as possible to see us leave. And midnight, the
hour when most of the towns-people would be asleep, she finally chose
for our departure.

We had to take a week's food-supply with us for the royal holiday. So,
with our other packages, we were heavy laden when on the stroke of
twelve we opened the west door of the palace and stepped cautiously and
quietly into the moonlit garden.

"Tiptoe incognito," whispered Bumpo as we gently closed the heavy doors
behind us.

No one had seen us leave.

At the foot of the stone steps leading from the Peacock Terrace to the
Sunken Rosary, something made me pause and look back at the magnificent
palace which we had built in this strange, far-off land where no white
men but ourselves had ever come. Somehow I felt it in my bones that we
were leaving it to-night never to return again. And I wondered what
other kings and ministers would dwell in its splendid halls when we were
gone. The air was hot; and everything was deadly still but for the
gentle splashing of the tame flamingos paddling in the lily-pond.
Suddenly the twinkling lantern of a night watchman appeared round the
corner of a cypress hedge. Polynesia plucked at my stocking and, in an
impatient whisper, bade me hurry before our flight be discovered.

On our arrival at the beach we found the snail already feeling much
better and now able to move his tail without pain.

The porpoises (who are by nature inquisitive creatures) were still
hanging about in the offing to see if anything of interest was going to
happen. Polynesia, the plotter, while the Doctor was occupied with his
new patient, signaled to them and drew them aside for a little private

[Illustration: "'Tiptoe incognito,' whispered Bumpo"]

"Now see here, my friends," said she speaking low: "you know how much
John Dolittle has done for the animals--given his whole life up to them,
one might say. Well, here is your chance to do something for him.
Listen: he got made king of this island against his will, see? And now
that he has taken the job on, he feels that he can't leave it--thinks
the Indians won't be able to get along without him and all that--which
is nonsense, as you and I very well know. All right. Then here's the
point: if this snail were only willing to take him and us--and a little
baggage--not very much, thirty or forty pieces, say--inside his shell
and carry us to England, we feel sure that the Doctor would go; because
he's just crazy to mess about on the floor of the ocean. What's more
this would be his one and only chance of escape from the island. Now it
is highly important that the Doctor return to his own country to carry
on his proper work which means such a lot to the animals of the world.
So what we want you to do is to tell the sea-urchin to tell the starfish
to tell the snail to take us in his shell and carry us to Puddleby
River. Is that plain?"

"Quite, quite," said the porpoises. "And we will willingly do our very
best to persuade him--for it is, as you say, a perfect shame for the
great man to be wasting his time here when he is so much needed by the

"And don't let the Doctor know what you're about," said Polynesia as
they started to move off. "He might balk if he thought we had any hand
in it. Get the snail to offer on his own account to take us. See?"

John Dolittle, unaware of anything save the work he was engaged on, was
standing knee-deep in the shallow water, helping the snail try out his
mended tail to see if it were well enough to travel on. Bumpo and Long
Arrow, with Chee-Chee and Jip, were lolling at the foot of a palm a
little way up the beach. Polynesia and I now went and joined them. Half
an hour passed.

What success the porpoises had met with, we did not know, till suddenly
the Doctor left the snail's side and came splashing out to us, quite

"What _do_ you think?" he cried, "while I was talking to the snail just
now he offered, of his own accord, to take us all back to England inside
his shell. He says he has got to go on a voyage of discovery anyway, to
hunt up a new home, now that the Deep Hole is closed. Said it wouldn't
be much out of his way to drop us at Puddleby River, if we cared to come
along--Goodness, what a chance! I'd love to go. To examine the floor of
the ocean all the way from Brazil to Europe! No man ever did it before.
What a glorious trip!--Oh that I had never allowed myself to be made
king! Now I must see the chance of a lifetime slip by."

He turned from us and moved down the sands again to the middle beach,
gazing wistfully, longingly out at the snail. There was something
peculiarly sad and forlorn about him as he stood there on the lonely,
moonlit shore, the crown upon his head, his figure showing sharply black
against the glittering sea behind.

Out of the darkness at my elbow Polynesia rose and quietly moved down to
his side.

"Now Doctor," said she in a soft persuasive voice as though she were
talking to a wayward child, "you know this king business is not your
real work in life. These natives will be able to get along without
you--not so well as they do with you of course--but they'll manage--the
same as they did before you came. Nobody can say you haven't done your
duty by them. It was their fault: they made you king. Why not accept the
snail's offer; and just drop everything now, and go? The work you'll do,
the information you'll carry home, will be of far more value than what
you're doing here."

"Good friend," said the Doctor turning to her sadly, "I cannot. They
would go back to their old unsanitary ways: bad water, uncooked fish, no
drainage, enteric fever and the rest.... No. I must think of their
health, their welfare. I began life as a people's doctor: I seem to have
come back to it in the end. I cannot desert them. Later perhaps
something will turn up. But I cannot leave them now."

"That's where you're wrong, Doctor," said she. "Now is when you should
go. Nothing will 'turn up.' The longer you stay, the harder it will be
to leave--Go now. Go to-night."

"What, steal away without even saying good-bye to them! Why, Polynesia,
what a thing to suggest!"

"A fat chance they would give you to say good-bye!" snorted Polynesia
growing impatient at last. "I tell you, Doctor, if you go back to that
palace to-night, for good-byes or anything else, you will stay there.
Now--this moment--is the time for you to go."

The truth of the old parrot's words seemed to be striking home; for the
Doctor stood silent a minute, thinking.

"But there are the note-books," he said presently: "I would have to go
back to fetch them."

"I have them here, Doctor," said I, speaking up--"all of them."

Again he pondered.

"And Long Arrow's collection," he said. "I would have to take that also
with me."

"It is here, Oh Kindly One," came the Indian's deep voice from the
shadow beneath the palm.

"But what about provisions," asked the Doctor--"food for the journey?"

"We have a week's supply with us, for our holiday," said
Polynesia--"that's more than we will need."

For a third time the Doctor was silent and thoughtful.

"And then there's my hat," he said fretfully at last. "That settles it:
I'll _have_ to go back to the palace. I can't leave without my hat. How
could I appear in Puddleby with this crown on my head?"

"Here it is, Doctor," said Bumpo producing the hat, old, battered and
beloved, from under his coat. Polynesia had indeed thought of

Yet even now we could see the Doctor was still trying to think up
further excuses.

"Oh Kindly One," said Long Arrow, "why tempt ill fortune? Your way is
clear. Your future and your work beckon you back to your foreign home
beyond the sea. With you will go also what lore I too have gathered for
mankind--to lands where it will be of wider use than it can ever here. I
see the glimmerings of dawn in the eastern heaven. Day is at hand. Go
before your subjects are abroad. Go before your project is discovered.
For truly I believe that if you go not now you will linger the remainder
of your days a captive king in Popsipetel."

Great decisions often take no more than a moment in the making. Against
the now paling sky I saw the Doctor's figure suddenly stiffen. Slowly he
lifted the Sacred Crown from off his head and laid it on the sands.

And when he spoke his voice was choked with tears.

"They will find it here," he murmured, "when they come to search for me.
And they will know that I have gone.... My children, my poor
children!--I wonder will they ever understand why it was I left them....
I wonder will they ever understand--and forgive."

He took his old hat from Bumpo; then facing Long Arrow, gripped his
outstretched hand in silence.

"You decide aright, oh Kindly One," said the Indian--"though none will
miss and mourn you more than Long Arrow, the son of Golden
Arrow--Farewell, and may good fortune ever lead you by the hand!"

It was the first and only time I ever saw the Doctor weep. Without a
word to any of us, he turned and moved down the beach into the shallow
water of the sea.

The snail humped up its back and made an opening between its shoulders
and the edge of its shell. The Doctor clambered up and passed within. We
followed him, after handing up the baggage. The opening shut tight with
a whistling suction noise.

Then turning in the direction of the East, the great creature began
moving smoothly forward, down the slope into the deeper waters.

Just as the swirling dark green surf was closing in above our heads, the
big morning sun popped his rim up over the edge of the ocean. And
through our transparent walls of pearl we saw the watery world about us
suddenly light up with that most wondrously colorful of visions, a
daybreak beneath the sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rest of the story of our homeward voyage is soon told.

Our new quarters we found very satisfactory. Inside the spacious shell,
the snail's wide back was extremely comfortable to sit and lounge
on--better than a sofa, when you once got accustomed to the damp and
clammy feeling of it. He asked us, shortly after we started, if we
wouldn't mind taking off our boots, as the hobnails in them hurt his
back as we ran excitedly from one side to another to see the different

The motion was not unpleasant, very smooth and even; in fact, but for
the landscape passing outside, you would not know, on the level going,
that you were moving at all.

I had always thought for some reason or other that the bottom of the sea
was flat. I found that it was just as irregular and changeful as the
surface of the dry land. We climbed over great mountain-ranges, with
peaks towering above peaks. We threaded our way through dense forests of
tall sea-plants. We crossed wide empty stretches of sandy mud, like
deserts--so vast that you went on for a whole day with nothing ahead of
you but a dim horizon. Sometimes the scene was moss-covered, rolling
country, green and restful to the eye like rich pastures; so that you
almost looked to see sheep cropping on these underwater downs. And
sometimes the snail would roll us forward inside him like peas, when he
suddenly dipped downward to descend into some deep secluded valley with
steeply sloping sides.

In these lower levels we often came upon the shadowy shapes of dead
ships, wrecked and sunk Heaven only knows how many years ago; and
passing them we would speak in hushed whispers like children seeing
monuments in churches.

Here too, in the deeper, darker waters, monstrous fishes, feeding
quietly in caves and hollows would suddenly spring up, alarmed at our
approach, and flash away into the gloom with the speed of an arrow.
While other bolder ones, all sorts of unearthly shapes and colors, would
come right up and peer in at us through the shell.

"I suppose they think we are a sort of sanaquarium," said Bumpo--"I'd
hate to be a fish."

It was a thrilling and ever-changing show. The Doctor wrote or sketched
incessantly. Before long we had filled all the blank note-books we had
left. Then we searched our pockets for any odd scraps of paper on which
to jot down still more observations. We even went through the used books
a second time, writing in between the lines, scribbling all over the
covers, back and front.

Our greatest difficulty was getting enough light to see by. In the lower
waters it was very dim. On the third day we passed a band of fire-eels,
a sort of large, marine glow-worm; and the Doctor asked the snail to get
them to come with us for a way. This they did, swimming alongside; and
their light was very helpful, though not brilliant.

How our giant shellfish found his way across that vast and gloomy world
was a great puzzle to us. John Dolittle asked him by what means he
navigated--how he knew he was on the right road to Puddleby River. And
what the snail said in reply got the Doctor so excited, that having no
paper left, he tore out the lining of his precious hat and covered it
with notes.

By night of course it was impossible to see anything; and during the
hours of darkness the snail used to swim instead of crawl. When he did
so he could travel at a terrific speed, just by waggling that long tail
of his. This was the reason why we completed the trip in so short a time
five and a half days.

The air of our chamber, not having a change in the whole voyage, got
very close and stuffy; and for the first two days we all had headaches.
But after that we got used to it and didn't mind it in the least.

Early in the afternoon of the sixth day, we noticed we were climbing a
long gentle slope. As we went upward it grew lighter. Finally we saw
that the snail had crawled right out of the water altogether and had now
come to a dead stop on a long strip of gray sand.

Behind us we saw the surface of the sea rippled by the wind. On our left
was the mouth of a river with the tide running out. While in front, the
low flat land stretched away into the mist--which prevented one from
seeing very far in any direction. A pair of wild ducks with craning
necks and whirring wings passed over us and disappeared like shadows,

As a landscape, it was a great change from the hot brilliant sunshine of

With the same whistling suction sound, the snail made the opening for us
to crawl out by. As we stepped down upon the marshy land we noticed that
a fine, drizzling autumn rain was falling.

"Can this be Merrie England?" asked Bumpo, peering into the
fog--"doesn't look like any place in particular. Maybe the snail hasn't
brought us right after all."

"Yes," sighed Polynesia, shaking the rain oft her feathers, "this is
England all right--You can tell it by the beastly climate."

"Oh, but fellows," cried Jip, as he sniffed up the air in great gulps,
"it has a _smell_--a good and glorious smell!--Excuse me a minute: I see
a water-rat."

"Sh!--Listen!" said Chee-Chee through teeth that chattered with the
cold. "There's Puddleby church-clock striking four. Why don't we divide
up the baggage and get moving. We've got a long way to foot it home
across the marshes."

"Let's hope," I put in, "that Dab-Dab has a nice fire burning in the

"I'm sure she will," said the Doctor as he picked out his old handbag
from among the bundles--"With this wind from the East she'll need it to
keep the animals in the house warm. Come on. Let's hug the river-bank so
we don't miss our way in the fog. You know, there's something rather
attractive in the bad weather of England--when you've got a kitchen-fire
to look forward to.... Four o'clock! Come along--we'll just be in nice
time for tea."

[Illustration: ]


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