Saturday, October 13, 2007


The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

The Story of Doctor Dolittle
by Hugh Lofting
Story of
There are some of us now reaching
middle age who discover themselves to be
lamenting the past in one respect if in none other,
that there are no books written now for children
comparable with those of thirty years ago. I
say written FOR children because the new
psychological business of writing ABOUT them as though
they were small pills or hatched in some
especially scientific method is extremely popular
today. Writing for children rather than about
them is very difficult as everybody who has tried
it knows. It can only be done, I am convinced,
by somebody having a great deal of the child
in his own outlook and sensibilities. Such was
the author of "The Little Duke" and "The
Dove in the Eagle's Nest," such the author of
"A Flatiron for a Farthing," and "The Story
of a Short Life." Such, above all, the author of
"Alice in Wonderland." Grownups imagine
that they can do the trick by adopting baby
language and talking down to their very critical
audience. There never was a greater mistake.
The imagination of the author must be a child's
imagination and yet maturely consistent, so that
the White Queen in "Alice," for instance, is
seen just as a child would see her, but she
continues always herself through all her distressing
adventures. The supreme touch of the white
rabbit pulling on his white gloves as he hastens
is again absolutely the child's vision, but the
white rabbit as guide and introducer of Alice's
adventures belongs to mature grown insight.
Geniuses are rare and, without being at all
an undue praiser of times past, one can say without
hesitation that until the appearance of Hugh
Lofting, the successor of Miss Yonge, Mrs.
Ewing, Mrs. Gatty and Lewis Carroll had not
appeared. I remember the delight with which
some six months ago I picked up the first
"Dolittle" book in the Hampshire bookshop at
Smith College in Northampton. One of Mr.
Lofting's pictures was quite enough for me.
The picture that I lighted upon when I first
opened the book was the one of the monkeys
making a chain with their arms across the gulf.
Then I looked further and discovered Bumpo
reading fairy stories to himself. And then
looked again and there was a picture of John
Dolittle's house.
But pictures are not enough although most
authors draw so badly that if one of them happens
to have the genius for line that Mr. Lofting
shows there must be, one feels, something in his
writing as well. There is. You cannot read the
first paragraph of the book, which begins in the
right way "Once upon a time" without knowing
that Mr. Lofting believes in his story quite
as much as he expects you to. That is the first
essential for a story teller. Then you discover
as you read on that he has the right eye for the
right detail. What child-inquiring mind could
resist this intriguing sentence to be found on the
second page of the book:
"Besides the gold-fish in the pond at the bottom
of his garden, he had rabbits in the pantry,
white mice in his piano, a squirrel in the linen
closet and a hedgehog in the cellar."
And then when you read a little further you
will discover that the Doctor is not merely a
peg on whom to hang exciting and various
adventures but that he is himself a man of original
and lively character. He is a very kindly,
generous man, and anyone who has ever written
stories will know that it is much more difficult
to make kindly, generous characters interesting
than unkindly and mean ones. But Dolittle is
interesting. It is not only that he is quaint but
that he is wise and knows what he is about. The
reader, however young, who meets him gets very
soon a sense that if he were in trouble, not
necessarily medical, he would go to Dolittle and ask
his advice about it. Dolittle seems to extend
his hand from the page and grasp that of his
reader, and I can see him going down the
centuries a kind of Pied Piper with thousands of
children at his heels. But not only is he a
darling and alive and credible but his creator has
also managed to invest everybody else in the
book with the same kind of life.
Now this business of giving life to animals,
making them talk and behave like human
beings, is an extremely difficult one. Lewis Carroll
absolutely conquered the difficulties, but I
am not sure that anyone after him until Hugh
Lofting has really managed the trick; even in
such a masterpiece as "The Wind in the Willows"
we are not quite convinced. John Dolittle's
friends are convincing because their creator
never forces them to desert their own
characteristics. Polynesia, for instance, is natural
from first to last. She really does care about
the Doctor but she cares as a bird would care,
having always some place to which she is going
when her business with her friends is over. And
when Mr. Lofting invents fantastic animals he
gives them a kind of credible possibility which
is extraordinarily convincing. It will be
impossible for anyone who has read this book not
to believe in the existence of the pushmi-pullyu,
who would be credible enough even were there
no drawing of it, but the picture on page 145
settles the matter of his truth once and for all.
In fact this book is a work of genius and, as
always with works of genius, it is difficult to
analyze the elements that have gone to make
it. There is poetry here and fantasy and humor,
a little pathos but, above all, a number of
creations in whose existence everybody must believe
whether they be children of four or old men of
ninety or prosperous bankers of forty-five. I
don't know how Mr. Lofting has done it; I
don't suppose that he knows himself. There it
is--the first real children's classic since "Alice."
ONCE upon a time, many years ago when our grandfathers were
little children--there was a doctor; and his name was Dolittle--
John Dolittle, M.D. "M.D." means that he was a proper doctor
and knew a whole lot.
He lived in a little town called, Puddlebyon-
the-Marsh. All the folks, young and old,
knew him well by sight. And whenever he
walked down the street in his high hat everyone
would say, "There goes the Doctor!--He's
a clever man." And the dogs and the children
would all run up and follow behind him; and
even the crows that lived in the church-tower
would caw and nod their heads.
The house he lived in, on the edge of the
town, was quite small; but his garden was very
large and had a wide lawn and stone seats and
weeping-willows hanging over. His sister,
Sarah Dolittle, was housekeeper for him; but
the Doctor looked after the garden himself.
He was very fond of animals and kept many
kinds of pets. Besides the gold-fish in the pond
at the bottom of his garden, he had rabbits in
the pantry, white mice in his piano, a squirrel
in the linen closet and a hedgehog in the cellar.
He had a cow with a calf too, and an old lame
horse-twenty-five years of age--and chickens,
and pigeons, and two lambs, and many other
animals. But his favorite pets were Dab-Dab
the duck, Jip the dog, Gub-Gub the baby pig,
Polynesia the parrot, and the owl Too-Too.
His sister used to grumble about all these
animals and said they made the house untidy.
And one day when an old lady with rheumatism
came to see the Doctor, she sat on the hedgehog
who was sleeping on the sofa and never came
to see him any more, but drove every Saturday
all the way to Oxenthorpe, another town ten
miles off, to see a different doctor.
Then his sister, Sarah Dolittle, came to him
and said,
"John, how can you expect sick people to
come and see you when you keep all these animals
in the house? It's a fine doctor would have
his parlor full of hedgehogs and mice! That's
the fourth personage these animals have driven
away. Squire Jenkins and the Parson say they
wouldn't come near your house again--no matter
how sick they are. We are getting poorer
every day. If you go on like this, none of the
best people will have you for a doctor."
"But I like the animals better than the `best
people'," said the Doctor.
"You are ridiculous," said his sister, and
walked out of the room.
So, as time went on, the Doctor got more and
more animals; and the people who came to see
him got less and less. Till at last he had no one
left--except the Cat's-meat-Man, who didn't
mind any kind of animals. But the Cat's-meat
Man wasn't very rich and he only got sick once
a year--at Christmas-time, when he used to give
the Doctor sixpence for a bottle of medicine.
Sixpence a year wasn't enough to live on--
even in those days, long ago; and if the Doctor
hadn't had some money saved up in his moneybox,
no one knows what would have happened.
And he kept on getting still more pets; and of
course it cost a lot to feed them. And the money
he had saved up grew littler and littler.
Then he sold his piano, and let the mice live
in a bureau-drawer. But the money he got for
that too began to go, so he sold the brown suit
he wore on Sundays and went on becoming
poorer and poorer.
And now, when he walked down the street
in his high hat, people would say to one another,
"There goes John Dolittle, M.D.! There was a
time when he was the best known doctor in the
West Country--Look at him now--He hasn't
any money and his stockings are full of holes!"
But the dogs and the cats and the children
still ran up and followed him through the town
--the same as they had done when he was rich.
IT happened one day that the Doctor was sitting in his kitchen talking
with the Cat's-meat-Man who had come to see him with a stomach-ache.
"Why don't you give up being a people's doctor, and be an animal-doctor?"
asked the Cat's-meat-Man.
The parrot, Polynesia, was sitting in the window
looking out at the rain and singing a sailor-song to herself.
She stopped singing and started to listen.
"You see, Doctor," the Cat's-meat-Man went
on, "you know all about animals--much more
than what these here vets do. That book you
wrote--about cats, why, it's wonderful! I can't
read or write myself--or maybe _I_'D write some
books. But my wife, Theodosia, she's a scholar,
she is. And she read your book to me. Well,
it's wonderful--that's all can be said--wonderful.
You might have been a cat yourself. You
know the way they think. And listen: you can
make a lot of money doctoring animals. Do
you know that? You see, I'd send all the old
women who had sick cats or dogs to you. And
if they didn't get sick fast enough, I could put
something in the meat I sell 'em to make 'em
sick, see?"
"Oh, no," said the Doctor quickly. "You
mustn't do that. That wouldn't be right."
"Oh, I didn't mean real sick," answered the
Cat's-meat-Man. "Just a little something to
make them droopy-like was what I had reference
to. But as you say, maybe it ain't quite
fair on the animals. But they'll get sick
anyway, because the old women always give 'em too
much to eat. And look, all the farmers 'round
about who had lame horses and weak lambs--
they'd come. Be an animal-doctor."
When the Cat's-meat-Man had gone the
parrot flew off the window on to the Doctor's table
and said,
"That man's got sense. That's what you
ought to do. Be an animal-doctor. Give the
silly people up--if they haven't brains enough
to see you're the best doctor in the world. Take
care of animals instead--THEY'll soon find it out.
Be an animal-doctor."
"Oh, there are plenty of animal-doctors," said
John Dolittle, putting the flower-pots outside on
the window-sill to get the rain.
"Yes, there ARE plenty," said Polynesia. "But
none of them are any good at all. Now listen,
Doctor, and I'll tell you something. Did you
know that animals can talk?"
"I knew that parrots can talk," said the Doctor.
"Oh, we parrots can talk in two languages--
people's language and bird-language," said
Polynesia proudly. "If I say, `Polly wants a
cracker,' you understand me. But hear this:
Ka-ka oi-ee, fee-fee?"
"Good Gracious!" cried the Doctor. "What
does that mean?"
"That means, `Is the porridge hot yet?'--in
"My! You don't say so!" said the Doctor.
"You never talked that way to me before."
"What would have been the good?" said
Polynesia, dusting some cracker-crumbs off her
left wing. "You wouldn't have understood me
if I had."
"Tell me some more," said the Doctor, all
excited; and he rushed over to the dresser-drawer
and came back with the butcher's book and a
pencil. "Now don't go too fast--and I'll write
it down. This is interesting--very interesting
--something quite new. Give me the Birds'
A.B.C. first--slowly now."
So that was the way the Doctor came to know
that animals had a language of their own and
could talk to one another. And all that afternoon,
while it was raining, Polynesia sat on the
kitchen table giving him bird words to put down
in the book.
At tea-time, when the dog, Jip, came in, the
parrot said to the Doctor, "See, HE'S talking to
"Looks to me as though he were scratching
his ear," said the Doctor.
"But animals don't always speak with their
mouths," said the parrot in a high voice, raising
her eyebrows. "They talk with their ears,
with their feet, with their tails--with everything.
Sometimes they don't WANT to make a
noise. Do you see now the way he's twitching
up one side of his nose?"
"What's that mean?" asked the Doctor.
"That means, `Can't you see that it has
stopped raining?'" Polynesia answered. "He
is asking you a question. Dogs nearly always
use their noses for asking questions."
After a while, with the parrot's help, the
Doctor got to learn the language of the animals
so well that he could talk to them himself and
understand everything they said. Then he gave
up being a people's doctor altogether.
As soon as the Cat's-meat-Man had told every
one that John Dolittle was going to become an
animal-doctor, old ladies began to bring him
their pet pugs and poodles who had eaten too
much cake; and farmers came many miles to
show him sick cows and sheep.
One day a plow-horse was brought to him;
and the poor thing was terribly glad to find a
man who could talk in horse-language.
"You know, Doctor," said the horse, "that
vet over the hill knows nothing at all. He has
been treating me six weeks now--for spavins.
What I need is SPECTACLES. I am going blind
in one eye. There's no reason why horses
shouldn't wear glasses, the same as people. But
that stupid man over the hill never even looked
at my eyes. He kept on giving me big pills.
I tried to tell him; but he couldn't understand
a word of horse-language. What I need is
"Of course--of course," said the Doctor.
"I'll get you some at once."
"I would like a pair like yours," said the
horse--"only green. They'll keep the sun out
of my eyes while I'm plowing the Fifty-Acre
"Certainly," said the Doctor. "Green ones
you shall have."
"You know, the trouble is, Sir," said the
plow-horse as the Doctor opened the front door
to let him out--"the trouble is that ANYBODY
thinks he can doctor animals--just because the
animals don't complain. As a matter of fact
it takes a much cleverer man to be a really good
animal-doctor than it does to be a good people's
doctor. My farmer's boy thinks he knows all
about horses. I wish you could see him--his
face is so fat he looks as though he had no eyes
--and he has got as much brain as a potato-bug.
He tried to put a mustard-plaster on me last
"Where did he put it?" asked the Doctor.
"Oh, he didn't put it anywhere--on me," said
the horse. "He only tried to. I kicked him
into the duck-pond."
"Well, well!" said the Doctor.
"I'm a pretty quiet creature as a rule," said
the horse--"very patient with people--don't
make much fuss. But it was bad enough to
have that vet giving me the wrong medicine.
And when that red-faced booby started to
monkey with me, I just couldn't bear it any
"Did you hurt the boy much?" asked the Doctor.
"Oh, no," said the horse. "I kicked him in
the right place. The vet's looking after him
now. When will my glasses be ready?"
"I'll have them for you next week," said
the Doctor. "Come in again Tuesday--Good
Then John Dolittle got a fine, big pair of
green spectacles; and the plow-horse stopped
going blind in one eye and could see as well as
And soon it became a common sight to see
farm-animals wearing glasses in the country
round Puddleby; and a blind horse was a thing
And so it was with all the other animals that
were brought to him. As soon as they found
that he could talk their language, they told him
where the pain was and how they felt, and of
course it was easy for him to cure them.
Now all these animals went back and told
their brothers and friends that there was a doctor
in the little house with the big garden who
really WAS a doctor. And whenever any creatures
got sick--not only horses and cows and
dogs--but all the little things of the fields, like
harvest-mice and water-voles, badgers and bats,
they came at once to his house on the edge of the
town, so that his big garden was nearly always
crowded with animals trying to get in to see him.
There were so many that came that he had to
have special doors made for the different kinds.
He wrote "HORSES" over the front door,
"COWS" over the side door, and "SHEEP" on
the kitchen door. Each kind of animal had a
separate door--even the mice had a tiny tunnel
made for them into the cellar, where they
waited patiently in rows for the Doctor to come
round to them.
And so, in a few years' time, every living
thing for miles and miles got to know about
John Dolittle, M.D. And the birds who flew
to other countries in the winter told the animals
in foreign lands of the wonderful doctor
of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, who could understand
their talk and help them in their troubles.
In this way he became famous among the animals--
all over the world--better known even
than he had been among the folks of the West
Country. And he was happy and liked his life
very much.
One afternoon when the Doctor was busy
writing in a book, Polynesia sat in the window--
as she nearly always did--looking out at
the leaves blowing about in the garden.
Presently she laughed aloud.
"What is it, Polynesia?" asked the Doctor,
looking up from his book.
"I was just thinking," said the parrot; and
she went on looking at the leaves.
"What were you thinking?"
"I was thinking about people," said Polynesia.
"People make me sick. They think they're so
wonderful. The world has been going on now
for thousands of years, hasn't it? And the only
thing in animal-language that PEOPLE have
learned to understand is that when a dog wags
his tail he means `I'm glad!'--It's funny, isn't
it? You are the very first man to talk like us.
Oh, sometimes people annoy me dreadfully--
such airs they put on--talking about `the dumb
animals.' DUMB!--Huh! Why I knew a
macaw once who could say `Good morning!' in
seven different ways without once opening his
mouth. He could talk every language--and
Greek. An old professor with a gray beard
bought him. But he didn't stay. He said the
old man didn't talk Greek right, and he couldn't
stand listening to him teach the language wrong.
I often wonder what's become of him. That
bird knew more geography than people will ever
know.--PEOPLE, Golly! I suppose if people
ever learn to fly--like any common hedgesparrow--
we shall never hear the end of it!"
"You're a wise old bird," said the Doctor.
"How old are you really? I know that parrots
and elephants sometimes live to be very, very old."
"I can never be quite sure of my age," said
Polynesia. "It's either a hundred and eightythree
or a hundred and eighty-two. But I
know that when I first came here from Africa,
King Charles was still hiding in the oak-tree--
because I saw him. He looked scared to death."
AND soon now the Doctor began to make money
again; and his sister, Sarah, bought a new
dress and was happy. Some of the animals
who came to see him were so sick that they had
to stay at the Doctor's house for a week. And
when they were getting better they used to sit in
chairs on the lawn.
And often even after they got well, they did
not want to go away--they liked the Doctor
and his house so much. And he never had the
heart to refuse them when they asked if they
could stay with him. So in this way he went
on getting more and more pets.
Once when he was sitting on his garden wall,
smoking a pipe in the evening, an Italian organgrinder
came round with a monkey on a string.
The Doctor saw at once that the monkey's collar
was too tight and that he was dirty and
unhappy. So he took the monkey away from the
Italian, gave the man a shilling and told him
to go. The organ-grinder got awfully angry
and said that he wanted to keep the monkey.
But the Doctor told him that if he didn't go
away he would punch him on the nose. John
Dolittle was a strong man, though he wasn't
very tall. So the Italian went away saying rude
things and the monkey stayed with Doctor
Dolittle and had a good home. The other
animals in the house called him "Chee-Chee"--
which is a common word in monkey-language,
meaning "ginger."
And another time, when the circus came to
Puddleby, the crocodile who had a bad toothache
escaped at night and came into the Doctor's
garden. The Doctor talked to him in
crocodile-language and took him into the house
and made his tooth better. But when the crocodile
saw what a nice house it was--with all the
different places for the different kinds of
animals--he too wanted to live with the Doctor.
He asked couldn't he sleep in the fish-pond at
the bottom of the garden, if he promised not
to eat the fish. When the circus-men came to
take him back he got so wild and savage that
he frightened them away. But to every one in
the house he was always as gentle as a kitten.
But now the old ladies grew afraid to send
their lap-dogs to Doctor Dolittle because of the
crocodile; and the farmers wouldn't believe that
he would not eat the lambs and sick calves they
brought to be cured. So the Doctor went to
the crocodile and told him he must go back
to his circus. But he wept such big tears, and
begged so hard to be allowed to stay, that the
Doctor hadn't the heart to turn him out.
So then the Doctor's sister came to him and said,
"John, you must send that creature away.
Now the farmers and the old ladies are afraid
to send their animals to you--just as we were
beginning to be well off again. Now we shall
be ruined entirely. This is the last straw. I
will no longer be housekeeper for you if you
don't send away that alligator."
"It isn't an alligator," said the Doctor--"it's
a crocodile."
"I don't care what you call it," said his sister.
"It's a nasty thing to find under the bed. I
won't have it in the house."
"But he has promised me," the Doctor
answered, "that he will not bite any one. He
doesn't like the circus; and I haven't the money
to send him back to Africa where he comes
from. He minds his own business and on the
whole is very well behaved. Don't be so fussy."
"I tell you I WILL NOT have him around," said
Sarah. "He eats the linoleum. If you don't send
him away this minute I'll--I'll go and get married!"
"All right," said the Doctor, "go and get
married. It can't be helped." And he took
down his hat and went out into the garden.
So Sarah Dolittle packed up her things and
went off; and the Doctor was left all alone with
his animal family.
And very soon he was poorer than he had
ever been before. With all these mouths to fill,
and the house to look after, and no one to do
the mending, and no money coming in to pay
the butcher's bill, things began to look very
difficult. But the Doctor didn't worry at all.
"Money is a nuisance," he used to say.
"We'd all be much better off if it had never
been invented. What does money matter, so
long as we are happy?"
But soon the animals themselves began to get
worried. And one evening when the Doctor
was asleep in his chair before the kitchen-fire
they began talking it over among themselves in
whispers. And the owl, Too-Too, who was
good at arithmetic, figured it out that there was
only money enough left to last another week--
if they each had one meal a day and no more.
Then the parrot said, "I think we all ought
to do the housework ourselves. At least we can
do that much. After all, it is for our sakes that
the old man finds himself so lonely and so poor."
So it was agreed that the monkey, Chee-Chee,
was to do the cooking and mending; the dog
was to sweep the floors; the duck was to dust
and make the beds; the owl, Too-Too, was to
keep the accounts, and the pig was to do the
gardening. They made Polynesia, the parrot,
housekeeper and laundress, because she was the oldest.
Of course at first they all found their new
jobs very hard to do--all except Chee-Chee, who
had hands, and could do things like a man. But
they soon got used to it; and they used to think
it great fun to watch Jip, the dog, sweeping
his tail over the floor with a rag tied onto it for
a broom. After a little they got to do the work
so well that the Doctor said that he had never
had his house kept so tidy or so clean before.
In this way things went along all right for a
while; but without money they found it very hard.
Then the animals made a vegetable and flower
stall outside the garden-gate and sold radishes
and roses to the people that passed by along the road.
But still they didn't seem to make enough
money to pay all the bills--and still the Doctor
wouldn't worry. When the parrot came to
him and told him that the fishmonger wouldn't
give them any more fish, he said,
"Never mind. So long as the hens lay eggs
and the cow gives milk we can have omelettes
and junket. And there are plenty of vegetables
left in the garden. The Winter is still a long
way off. Don't fuss. That was the trouble
with Sarah--she would fuss. I wonder how
Sarah's getting on--an excellent woman--in
some ways--Well, well!"
But the snow came earlier than usual that
year; and although the old lame horse hauled
in plenty of wood from the forest outside the
town, so they could have a big fire in the kitchen,
most of the vegetables in the garden were gone,
and the rest were covered with snow; and many
of the animals were really hungry.
THAT Winter was a very cold one. And one night in December,
when they were all sitting round the warm fire in the
kitchen, and the Doctor was reading aloud to them out of
books he had written himself in animal-language, the owl,
Too-Too, suddenly said, "Sh! What's that noise outside?"
They all listened; and presently they heard
the sound of some one running. Then the door
flew open and the monkey, Chee-Chee, ran in,
badly out of breath.
"Doctor!" he cried, "I've just had a message
from a cousin of mine in Africa. There is a
terrible sickness among the monkeys out there.
They are all catching it--and they are dying
in hundreds. They have heard of you, and beg
you to come to Africa to stop the sickness."
"Who brought the message?" asked the Doctor,
taking off his spectacles and laying down
his book.
"A swallow," said Chee-Chee. "She is
outside on the rain-butt."
"Bring her in by the fire," said the Doctor.
"She must be perished with the cold. The swallows
flew South six weeks ago!"
So the swallow was brought in, all huddled
and shivering; and although she was a little
afraid at first, she soon got warmed up and sat
on the edge of the mantelpiece and began to talk.
When she had finished the Doctor said,
"I would gladly go to Africa--especially in
this bitter weather. But I'm afraid we haven't
money enough to buy the tickets. Get me the
money-box, Chee-Chee."
So the monkey climbed up and got it off the
top shelf of the dresser.
There was nothing in it--not one single penny!
"I felt sure there was twopence left," said the Doctor.
"There WAS," said the owl. "But you spent
it on a rattle for that badger's baby when he
was teething."
"Did I?" said the Doctor--"dear me, dear
me! What a nuisance money is, to be sure!
Well, never mind. Perhaps if I go down to
the seaside I shall be able to borrow a boat that
will take us to Africa. I knew a seaman once
who brought his baby to me with measles.
Maybe he'll lend us his boat--the baby got well."
So early the next morning the Doctor went
down to the seashore. And when he came back
he told the animals it was all right--the sailor
was going to lend them the boat.
Then the crocodile and the monkey and the
parrot were very glad and began to sing,
because they were going back to Africa, their real
home. And the Doctor said,
"I shall only be able to take you three--with
Jip the dog, Dab-Dab the duck, Gub-Gub the
pig and the owl, Too-Too. The rest of the animals,
like the dormice and the water-voles and
the bats, they will have to go back and live in
the fields where they were born till we come
home again. But as most of them sleep through
the Winter, they won't mind that--and besides,
it wouldn't be good for them to go to Africa."
So then the parrot, who had been on long seavoyages
before, began telling the Doctor all the
things he would have to take with him on the ship.
"You must have plenty of pilot-bread," she
said--"`hard tack' they call it. And you must
have beef in cans--and an anchor."
"I expect the ship will have its own anchor,"
said the Doctor.
"Well, make sure," said Polynesia. "Because
it's very important. You can't stop if you
haven't got an anchor. And you'll need a bell."
"What's that for?" asked the Doctor.
"To tell the time by," said the parrot. "You
go and ring it every half-hour and then you
know what time it is. And bring a whole lot of
rope--it always comes in handy on voyages."
Then they began to wonder where they were
going to get the money from to buy all the
things they needed.
"Oh, bother it! Money again," cried the
Doctor. "Goodness! I shall be glad to get to
Africa where we don't have to have any! I'll
go and ask the grocer if he will wait for his
money till I get back--No, I'll send the sailor
to ask him."
So the sailor went to see the grocer. And presently
he came back with all the things they wanted.
Then the animals packed up; and after they
had turned off the water so the pipes wouldn't
freeze, and put up the shutters, they closed the
house and gave the key to the old horse who
lived in the stable. And when they had seen
that there was plenty of hay in the loft to last
the horse through the Winter, they carried all
their luggage down to the seashore and got on
to the boat.
The Cat's-meat-Man was there to see them
off; and he brought a large suet-pudding as a
present for the Doctor because, he said he had
been told, you couldn't get suet-puddings in
foreign parts.
As soon as they were on the ship, Gub-Gub,
the pig, asked where the beds were, for it was
four o'clock in the afternoon and he wanted
his nap. So Polynesia took him downstairs into
the inside of the ship and showed him the beds,
set all on top of one another like book-shelves
against a wall.
"Why, that isn't a bed!" cried Gub-Gub.
"That's a shelf!"
"Beds are always like that on ships," said the
parrot. "It isn't a shelf. Climb up into it and
go to sleep. That's what you call `a bunk.'"
"I don't think I'll go to bed yet," said Gub-
Gub. "I'm too excited. I want to go upstairs
again and see them start."
"Well, this is your first trip," said Polynesia.
"You will get used to the life after a while."
And she went back up the stairs of the ship,
humming this song to herself,
I've seen the Black Sea and the Red Sea;
I rounded the Isle of Wight;
I discovered the Yellow River,
And the Orange too by night.
Now Greenland drops behind again,
And I sail the ocean Blue.
I'm tired of all these colors, Jane,
So I'm coming back to you.
They were just going to start on their journey,
when the Doctor said he would have to go back
and ask the sailor the way to Africa.
But the swallow said she had been to that
country many times and would show them how
to get there.
So the Doctor told Chee-Chee to pull up the
anchor and the voyage began.
NOW for six whole weeks they went sailing on and on, over
the rolling sea, following the swallow who flew before the
ship to show them the way. At night she carried a tiny
lantern, so they should not miss her in the dark;
and the people on the other ships that passed
said that the light must be a shooting star.
As they sailed further and further into the
South, it got warmer and warmer. Polynesia,
Chee-Chee and the crocodile enjoyed the hot
sun no end. They ran about laughing and looking
over the side of the ship to see if they could
see Africa yet.
But the pig and the dog and the owl, Too-
Too, could do nothing in such weather, but
sat at the end of the ship in the shade of a big
barrel, with their tongues hanging out, drinking
Dab-Dab, the duck, used to keep herself cool
by jumping into the sea and swimming behind
the ship. And every once in a while, when
the top of her head got too hot, she would dive
under the ship and come up on the other side.
In this way, too, she used to catch herrings on
Tuesdays and Fridays--when everybody on the
boat ate fish to make the beef last longer.
When they got near to the Equator they saw
some flying-fishes coming towards them. And
the fishes asked the parrot if this was Doctor
Dolittle's ship. When she told them it was, they
said they were glad, because the monkeys in
Africa were getting worried that he would never
come. Polynesia asked them how many miles
they had yet to go; and the flying-fishes said
it was only fifty-five miles now to the coast of
And another time a whole school of porpoises
came dancing through the waves; and they too
asked Polynesia if this was the ship of the famous
doctor. And when they heard that it was,
they asked the parrot if the Doctor wanted
anything for his journey.
And Polynesia said, "Yes. We have run
short of onions."
"There is an island not far from here," said
the porpoises, "where the wild onions grow tall
and strong. Keep straight on--we will get
some and catch up to you."
So the porpoises dashed away through the
sea. And very soon the parrot saw them again,
coming up behind, dragging the onions through
the waves in big nets made of seaweed.
The next evening, as the sun was going down
the Doctor said,
"Get me the telescope, Chee-Chee. Our
journey is nearly ended. Very soon we should
be able to see the shores of Africa."
And about half an hour later, sure enough,
they thought they could see something in front
that might be land. But it began to get darker
and darker and they couldn't be sure.
Then a great storm came up, with thunder
and lightning. The wind howled; the rain
came down in torrents; and the waves got so
high they splashed right over the boat.
Presently there was a big BANG! The ship
stopped and rolled over on its side.
"What's happened?" asked the Doctor,
coming up from downstairs.
"I'm not sure," said the parrot; "but I think
we're ship-wrecked. Tell the duck to get out
and see."
So Dab-Dab dived right down under the
waves. And when she came up she said they
had struck a rock; there was a big hole in the
bottom of the ship; the water was coming in;
and they were sinking fast.
"We must have run into Africa," said the
Doctor. "Dear me, dear me!--Well--we must
all swim to land."
But Chee-Chee and Gub-Gub did not know
how to swim.
"Get the rope!" said Polynesia. "I told you
it would come in handy. Where's that duck?
Come here, Dab-Dab. Take this end of the
rope, fly to the shore and tie it on to a palmtree;
and we'll hold the other end on the ship
here. Then those that can't swim must climb
along the rope till they reach the land. That's
what you call a `life-line.'"
So they all got safely to the shore--some
swimming, some flying; and those that climbed
along the rope brought the Doctor's trunk and
handbag with them.
But the ship was no good any more--with the
big hole in the bottom; and presently the rough
sea beat it to pieces on the rocks and the timbers
floated away.
Then they all took shelter in a nice dry cave
they found, high up in the cliffs, till the storm
was over.
When the sun came out next morning they
went down to the sandy beach to dry themselves.
"Dear old Africa!" sighed Polynesia. "It's
good to get back. Just think--it'll be a
hundred and sixty-nine years to-morrow since I was
here! And it hasn't changed a bit! Same old
palm-trees; same old red earth; same old black
ants! There's no place like home!"
And the others noticed she had tears in her eyes--
she was so pleased to see her country once again.
Then the Doctor missed his high hat; for it
had been blown into the sea during the storm.
So Dab-Dab went out to look for it. And presently
she saw it, a long way off, floating on the
water like a toy-boat.
When she flew down to get it, she found one
of the white mice, very frightened, sitting
inside it.
"What are you doing here?" asked the duck.
"You were told to stay behind in Puddleby."
"I didn't want to be left behind," said the
mouse. "I wanted to see what Africa was like
--I have relatives there. So I hid in the baggage
and was brought on to the ship with the
hard-tack. When the ship sank I was terribly
frightened--because I cannot swim far. I
swam as long as I could, but I soon got all
exhausted and thought I was going to sink. And
then, just at that moment, the old man's hat came
floating by; and I got into it because I did not
want to be drowned."
So the duck took up the hat with the mouse in
it and brought it to the Doctor on the shore.
And they all gathered round to have a look.
"That's what you call a `stowaway,'" said the parrot.
Presently, when they were looking for a place
in the trunk where the white mouse could travel
comfortably, the monkey, Chee-Chee, suddenly said,
"Sh! I hear footsteps in the jungle!"
They all stopped talking and listened. And
soon a black man came down out of the woods
and asked them what they were doing there.
"My name is John Dolittle--M. D.," said the
Doctor. "I have been asked to come to Africa
to cure the monkeys who are sick."
"You must all come before the King," said
the black man.
"What king?" asked the Doctor, who didn't
want to waste any time.
"The King of the Jolliginki," the man
answered. "All these lands belong to him; and all
strangers must be brought before him. Follow me."
So they gathered up their baggage and went
off, following the man through the jungle.
WHEN they had gone a little way through
the thick forest they came to a wide, clear
space; and they saw the King's palace which
was made of mud.
This was where the King lived with his
Queen, Ermintrude, and their son, Prince
Bumpo. The Prince was away fishing for salmon
in the river. But the King and Queen
were sitting under an umbrella before the palace
door. And Queen Ermintrude was asleep.
When the Doctor had come up to the palace
the King asked him his business; and the Doctor
told him why he had come to Africa.
"You may not travel through my lands," said
the King. "Many years ago a white man came
to these shores; and I was very kind to him.
But after he had dug holes in the ground to get
the gold, and killed all the elephants to get their
ivory tusks, he went away secretly in his ship--
without so much as saying `Thank you.' Never
again shall a white man travel through the lands
of Jolliginki."
Then the King turned to some of the black
men who were standing near and said, "Take
away this medicine-man--with all his animals,
and lock them up in my strongest prison."
So six of the black men led the Doctor and
all his pets away and shut them up in a stone
dungeon. The dungeon had only one little window,
high up in the wall, with bars in it; and
the door was strong and thick.
Then they all grew very sad; and Gub-Gub,
the pig, began to cry. But Chee-Chee said he
would spank him if he didn't stop that horrible
noise; and he kept quiet.
"Are we all here?" asked the Doctor, after
he had got used to the dim light.
"Yes, I think so," said the duck and started
to count them.
"Where's Polynesia?" asked the crocodile.
"She isn't here."
"Are you sure?" said the Doctor. "Look again.
Polynesia! Polynesia! Where are you?"
"I suppose she escaped," grumbled the crocodile.
"Well, that's just like her!--Sneaked off into
the jungle as soon as her friends got into trouble."
"I'm not that kind of a bird," said the parrot,
climbing out of the pocket in the tail of the
Doctor's coat. "You see, I'm small enough to
get through the bars of that window; and I was
afraid they would put me in a cage instead.
So while the King was busy talking, I hid in
the Doctor's pocket--and here I am! That's
what you call a `ruse,'" she said, smoothing
down her feathers with her beak.
"Good Gracious!" cried the Doctor.
"You're lucky I didn't sit on you."
"Now listen," said Polynesia, "to-night, as
soon as it gets dark, I am going to creep through
the bars of that window and fly over to the
palace. And then--you'll see--I'll soon find
a way to make the King let us all out of prison."
"Oh, what can YOU do?" said Gub-Gub,
turning up his nose and beginning to cry again.
"You're only a bird!"
"Quite true," said the parrot. "But do not
forget that although I am only a bird, I CAN TALK
LIKE A MAN--and I know these people."
So that night, when the moon was shining
through the palm-trees and all the King's men
were asleep, the parrot slipped out through the
bars of the prison and flew across to the palace.
The pantry window had been broken by a tennis
ball the week before; and Polynesia popped
in through the hole in the glass.
She heard Prince Bumpo snoring in his bedroom
at the back of the palace. Then she tiptoed
up the stairs till she came to the King's
bedroom. She opened the door gently and
peeped in.
The Queen was away at a dance that night
at her cousin's; but the King was in bed fast
Polynesia crept in, very softly, and got under
the bed.
Then she coughed--just the way Doctor
Dolittle used to cough. Polynesia could mimic
any one.
The King opened his eyes and said sleepily:
"Is that you, Ermintrude?" (He thought it
was the Queen come back from the dance.)
Then the parrot coughed again--loud, like a
man. And the King sat up, wide awake, and
said, "Who's that?"
"I am Doctor Dolittle," said the parrot--just
the way the Doctor would have said it.
"What are you doing in my bedroom?" cried
the King. "How dare you get out of prison!
Where are you?--I don't see you."
But the parrot just laughed--a long, deep
jolly laugh, like the Doctor's.
"Stop laughing and come here at once, so I
can see you," said the King.
"Foolish King!" answered Polynesia. "Have
you forgotten that you are talking to John
Dolittle, M.D.--the most wonderful man on earth?
Of course you cannot see me. I have made myself
invisible. There is nothing I cannot do.
Now listen: I have come here to-night to warn
you. If you don't let me and my animals travel
through your kingdom, I will make you and all
your people sick like the monkeys. For I can
make people well: and I can make people ill--
just by raising my little finger. Send your
soldiers at once to open the dungeon door, or you
shall have mumps before the morning sun has
risen on the hills of Jolliginki."
Then the King began to tremble and was
very much afraid.
"Doctor," he cried, "it shall be as you say.
Do not raise your little finger, please!" And he
jumped out of bed and ran to tell the soldiers
to open the prison door.
As soon as he was gone, Polynesia crept
downstairs and left the palace by the pantry window.
But the Queen, who was just letting herself
in at the backdoor with a latch-key, saw the parrot
getting out through the broken glass. And
when the King came back to bed she told him
what she had seen.
Then the King understood that he had been
tricked, and he was dreadfully angry. He hurried
back to the prison at once
But he was too late. The door stood open.
The dungeon was empty. The Doctor and all
his animals were gone.
QUEEN ERMINTRUDE had never in her life seen her husband
so terrible as he got that night. He gnashed his teeth
with rage. He called everybody a fool. He threw his
tooth-brush at the palace cat. He rushed round
in his night-shirt and woke up all his army and
sent them into the jungle to catch the Doctor.
Then he made all his servants go too--his cooks
and his gardeners and his barber and Prince
Bumpo's tutor--even the Queen, who was tired
from dancing in a pair of tight shoes, was packed
off to help the soldiers in their search.
All this time the Doctor and his animals were
running through the forest towards the Land of
the Monkeys as fast as they could go.
Gub-Gub, with his short legs, soon got tired;
and the Doctor had to carry him--which made
it pretty hard when they had the trunk and the
hand-bag with them as well.
The King of the Jolliginki thought it would
be easy for his army to find them, because the
Doctor was in a strange land and would not
know his way. But he was wrong; because the
monkey, Chee-Chee, knew all the paths through
the jungle--better even than the King's men
did. And he led the Doctor and his pets to the
very thickest part of the forest--a place where
no man had ever been before--and hid them all
in a big hollow tree between high rocks.
"We had better wait here," said Chee-Chee,
"till the soldiers have gone back to bed. Then
we can go on into the Land of the Monkeys."
So there they stayed the whole night through.
They often heard the King's men searching
and talking in the jungle round about. But
they were quite safe, for no one knew of that
hiding-place but Chee-Chee--not even the
other monkeys.
At last, when daylight began to come through
the thick leaves overhead, they heard Queen
Ermintrude saying in a very tired voice that it
was no use looking any more--that they might
as well go back and get some sleep.
As soon as the soldiers had all gone home,
Chee-Chee brought the Doctor and his animals
out of the hiding-place and they set off for the
Land of the Monkeys.
It was a long, long way; and they often got
very tired--especially Gub-Gub. But when he
cried they gave him milk out of the cocoanuts
which he was very fond of.
They always had plenty to eat and drink;
because Chee-Chee and Polynesia knew all the
different kinds of fruits and vegetables that grow
in the jungle, and where to find them--like
dates and figs and ground-nuts and ginger and
yams. They used to make their lemonade out of
the juice of wild oranges, sweetened with honey
which they got from the bees' nests in hollow
trees. No matter what it was they asked for,
Chee-Chee and Polynesia always seemed to be
able to get it for them--or something like it.
They even got the Doctor some tobacco one day,
when he had finished what he had brought with
him and wanted to smoke.
At night they slept in tents made of palmleaves,
on thick, soft beds of dried grass. And
after a while they got used to walking such a lot
and did not get so tired and enjoyed the life of
travel very much.
But they were always glad when the night
came and they stopped for their resting-time.
Then the Doctor used to make a little fire of
sticks; and after they had had their supper, they
would sit round it in a ring, listening to
Polynesia singing songs about the sea, or to Chee-
Chee telling stories of the jungle.
And many of the tales that Chee-Chee told
were very interesting. Because although the
monkeys had no history-books of their own
before Doctor Dolittle came to write them for
them, they remember everything that happens by
telling stories to their children. And Chee-Chee
spoke of many things his grandmother had told
him--tales of long, long, long ago, before Noah
and the Flood--of the days when men dressed
in bear-skins and lived in holes in the rock and
ate their mutton raw, because they did not know
what cooking was--having never seen a fire.
And he told them of the Great Mammoths and
Lizards, as long as a train, that wandered over
the mountains in those times, nibbling from the
tree-tops. And often they got so interested
listening, that when he had finished they found
their fire had gone right out; and they had to
scurry round to get more sticks and build a new
Now when the King's army had gone back
and told the King that they couldn't find the
Doctor, the King sent them out again and told
them they must stay in the jungle till they caught
him. So all this time, while the Doctor and his
animals were going along towards the Land of
the Monkeys, thinking themselves quite safe,
they were still being followed by the King's men.
If Chee-Chee had known this, he would most
likely have hidden them again. But he didn't
know it.
One day Chee-Chee climbed up a high rock
and looked out over the tree-tops. And when
he came down he said they were now quite close
to the Land of the Monkeys and would soon
be there.
And that same evening, sure enough, they saw
Chee-Chee's cousin and a lot of other monkeys,
who had not yet got sick, sitting in the trees by
the edge of a swamp, looking and waiting for
them. And when they saw the famous doctor
really come, these monkeys made a tremendous
noise, cheering and waving leaves and swinging
out of the branches to greet him.
They wanted to carry his bag and his trunk
and everything he had--and one of the bigger
ones even carried Gub-Gub who had got tired
again. Then two of them rushed on in front to
tell the sick monkeys that the great doctor had
come at last.
But the King's men, who were still following,
had heard the noise of the monkeys cheering;
and they at last knew where the Doctor was,
and hastened on to catch him.
The big monkey carrying Gub-Gub was coming
along behind slowly, and he saw the Captain
of the army sneaking through the trees.
So he hurried after the Doctor and told him to
Then they all ran harder than they had ever
run in their lives; and the King's men, coming
after them, began to run too; and the Captain
ran hardest of all.
Then the Doctor tripped over his medicinebag
and fell down in the mud, and the Captain
thought he would surely catch him this time.
But the Captain had very long ears--though
his hair was very short. And as he sprang forward
to take hold of the Doctor, one of his ears
caught fast in a tree; and the rest of the army
had to stop and help him.
By this time the Doctor had picked himself
up, and on they went again, running and running.
And Chee-Chee shouted,
"It's all right! We haven't far to go now!"
But before they could get into the Land of
the Monkeys, they came to a steep cliff with a
river flowing below. This was the end of the
Kingdom of Jolliginki; and the Land of the
Monkeys was on the other side--across the
And Jip, the dog, looked down over the edge
of the steep, steep cliff and said,
"Golly! How are we ever going to get across?"
"Oh, dear!" said Gub-Gub. "The King's
men are quite close now--Look at them! I am
afraid we are going to be taken back to prison
again." And he began to weep.
But the big monkey who was carrying the
pig dropped him on the ground and cried out
to the other monkeys.
"Boys--a bridge! Quick!--Make a bridge!
We've only a minute to do it. They've got the
Captain loose, and he's coming on like a deer.
Get lively! A bridge! A bridge!"
The Doctor began to wonder what they were going
to make a bridge out of, and he gazed around
to see if they had any boards hidden any place.
But when he looked back at the cliff, there,
hanging across the river, was a bridge all ready
for him--made of living monkeys! For while
his back was turned, the monkeys--quick as a
flash--had made themselves into a bridge, just
by holding hands and feet.
And the big one shouted to the Doctor, "Walk
over! Walk over--all of you--hurry!"
Gub-Gub was a bit scared, walking on such
a narrow bridge at that dizzy height above the
river. But he got over all right; and so did all
of them.
John Dolittle was the last to cross. And just
as he was getting to the other side, the King's
men came rushing up to the edge of the cliff.
Then they shook their fists and yelled with
rage. For they saw they were too late. The
Doctor and all his animals were safe in the Land
of the Monkeys and the bridge was pulled across
to the other side.
Then Chee-Chee turned to the Doctor and
"Many great explorers and gray-bearded
naturalists have lain long weeks hidden in the
jungle waiting to see the monkeys do that trick.
But we never let a white man get a glimpse of it
before. You are the first to see the famous
`Bridge of Apes.'"
And the Doctor felt very pleased.
JOHN DOLITTLE now became dreadfully, awfully busy.
He found hundreds and thousands of monkeys sick--gorillas,
orangoutangs, chimpanzees, dog-faced baboons, marmosettes,
gray monkeys, red ones--all kinds. And many had died.
The first thing he did was to separate the
sick ones from the well ones. Then he got
Chee-Chee and his cousin to build him a little
house of grass. The next thing: he made all
the monkeys who were still well come and be
And for three days and three nights the
monkeys kept coming from the jungles and the
valleys and the hills to the little house of grass,
where the Doctor sat all day and all night,
vaccinating and vaccinating.
Then he had another house made--a big one,
with a lot of beds in it; and he put all the sick
ones in this house.
But so many were sick, there were not enough
well ones to do the nursing. So he sent
messages to the other animals, like the lions and the
leopards and the antelopes, to come and help
with the nursing.
But the Leader of the Lions was a very proud
creature. And when he came to the Doctor's
big house full of beds he seemed angry and
"Do you dare to ask me, Sir?" he said, glaring
at the Doctor. "Do you dare to ask me--ME,
THE KING OF BEASTS, to wait on a lot of dirty
monkeys? Why, I wouldn't even eat them
between meals!"
Although the lion looked very terrible, the
Doctor tried hard not to seem afraid of him.
"I didn't ask you to eat them," he said quietly.
"And besides, they're not dirty. They've all
had a bath this morning. YOUR coat looks as
though it needed brushing--badly. Now
listen, and I'll tell you something: the day may
come when the lions get sick. And if you don't
help the other animals now, the lions may
find themselves left all alone when THEY are
in trouble. That often happens to proud people."
"The lions are never IN trouble--they only
MAKE trouble," said the Leader, turning up his
nose. And he stalked away into the jungle, feeling
he had been rather smart and clever.
Then the leopards got proud too and said
they wouldn't help. And then of course the
antelopes--although they were too shy and timid
to be rude to the Doctor like the lion--THEY
pawed the ground, and smiled foolishly, and said
they had never been nurses before.
And now the poor Doctor was worried frantic,
wondering where he could get help enough
to take care of all these thousands of monkeys
in bed.
But the Leader of the Lions, when he got
back to his den, saw his wife, the Queen Lioness,
come running out to meet him with her hair
"One of the cubs won't eat," she said. "I
don't know WHAT to do with him. He hasn't
taken a thing since last night."
And she began to cry and shake with nervousness--
for she was a good mother, even though
she was a lioness.
So the Leader went into his den and looked
at his children--two very cunning little cubs,
lying on the floor. And one of them seemed
quite poorly.
Then the lion told his wife, quite proudly,
just what he had said to the Doctor. And she got
so angry she nearly drove him out of the den.
"You never DID have a grain of sense!" she
screamed. "All the animals from here to the
Indian Ocean are talking about this wonderful
man, and how he can cure any kind of sickness,
and how kind he is--the only man in the whole
world who can talk the language of the animals!
And now, NOW--when we have a sick baby on
our hands, you must go and offend him! You
great booby! Nobody but a fool is ever rude
to a GOOD doctor. You--," and she started pulling
her husband's hair.
"Go back to that white man at once," she
yelled, "and tell him you're sorry. And take
all the other empty-headed lions with you--
and those stupid leopards and antelopes. Then
do everything the Doctor tells you. Work
hard! And perhaps he will be kind enough
to come and see the cub later. Now be off!--
HURRY, I tell you! You're not fit to be a father!"
And she went into the den next door, where another
mother-lion lived, and told her all about it.
So the Leader of the Lions went back to the
Doctor and said, "I happened to be passing this
way and thought I'd look in. Got any help yet?"
"No," said the Doctor. "I haven't.
And I'm dreadfully worried."
"Help's pretty hard to get these days," said
the lion. "Animals don't seem to want to work
any more. You can't blame them--in a way.
...Well, seeing you're in difficulties, I don't
mind doing what I can--just to oblige you--
so long as I don't have to wash the creatures.
And I have told all the other hunting animals
to come and do their share. The leopards
should be here any minute now.... Oh, and
by the way, we've got a sick cub at home. I
don't think there's much the matter with him
myself. But the wife is anxious. If you are
around that way this evening, you might take
a look at him, will you?"
Then the Doctor was very happy; for all the
lions and the leopards and the antelopes and
the giraffes and the zebras--all the animals of
the forests and the mountains and the plains
--came to help him in his work. There were
so many of them that he had to send some away,
and only kept the cleverest.
And now very soon the monkeys began to
get better. At the end of a week the big house
full of beds was half empty. And at the end
of the second week the last monkey had got well.
Then the Doctor's work was done; and he
was so tired he went to bed and slept for three
days without even turning over.
CHEE-CHEE stood outside the Doctor's door, keeping everybody
away till he woke up. Then John Dolittle told the
monkeys that he must now go back to Puddleby.
They were very surprised at this; for they
had thought that he was going to stay with them
forever. And that night all the monkeys got
together in the jungle to talk it over.
And the Chief Chimpanzee rose up and said,
"Why is it the good man is going away? Is
he not happy here with us?"
But none of them could answer him.
Then the Grand Gorilla got up and said,
"I think we all should go to him and ask him
to stay. Perhaps if we make him a new house
and a bigger bed, and promise him plenty of
monkey-servants to work for him and to make
life pleasant for him--perhaps then he will
not wish to go."
Then Chee-Chee got up; and all the others
whispered, "Sh! Look! Chee-Chee, the great
Traveler, is about to speak!"
And Chee-Chee said to the other monkeys,
"My friends, I am afraid it is useless to ask
the Doctor to stay. He owes money in Puddleby;
and he says he must go back and pay it."
And the monkeys asked him, "What is MONEY?"
Then Chee-Chee told them that in the Land of the
White Men you could get nothing without money;
you could DO nothing without money--that it was
almost impossible to LIVE without money.
And some of them asked, "But can you not
even eat and drink without paying?"
But Chee-Chee shook his head. And then he
told them that even he, when he was with the
organ-grinder, had been made to ask the
children for money.
And the Chief Chimpanzee turned to the Oldest
Orangoutang and said, "Cousin, surely these Men
be strange creatures! Who would wish to live
in such a land? My gracious, how paltry!"
Then Chee-Chee said,
"When we were coming to you we had no
boat to cross the sea in and no money to buy
food to eat on our journey. So a man lent us
some biscuits; and we said we would pay him
when we came back. And we borrowed a boat
from a sailor; but it was broken on the rocks
when we reached the shores of Africa. Now
the Doctor says he must go back and get the
sailor another boat--because the man was poor
and his ship was all he had."
And the monkeys were all silent for a while,
sitting quite still upon the ground and thinking
At last the Biggest Baboon got up and said,
"I do not think we ought to let this good man
leave our land till we have given him a fine
present to take with him, so that he may know
we are grateful for all that he has done for us."
And a little, tiny red monkey who was
sitting up in a tree shouted down,
"I think that too!"
And then they all cried out, making a great
noise, "Yes, yes. Let us give him the finest
present a White Man ever had!"
Now they began to wonder and ask one another
what would be the best thing to give him.
And one said, "Fifty bags of cocoanuts!"
And another--"A hundred bunches of bananas!--
At least he shall not have to buy his fruit in the
Land Where You Pay to Eat!"
But Chee-Chee told them that all these
things would be too heavy to carry so far and
would go bad before half was eaten.
"If you want to please him," he said, "give
him an animal. You may be sure he will be
kind to it. Give him some rare animal they
have not got in the menageries."
And the monkeys asked him, "What are
Then Chee-Chee explained to them that
menageries were places in the Land of the
White Men, where animals were put in cages
for people to come and look at. And the
monkeys were very shocked and said to one
"These Men are like thoughtless young ones--stupid
and easily amused. Sh! It is a prison he means."
So then they asked Chee-Chee what rare
animal it could be that they should give the
Doctor--one the White Men had not seen before.
And the Major of the Marmosettes asked,
"Have they an iguana over there?"
But Chee-Chee said, "Yes, there is one in the
London Zoo."
And another asked, "Have they an okapi?"
But Chee-Chee said, "Yes. In Belgium,
where my organ-grinder took me five years ago,
they had an okapi in a big city they call Antwerp."
And another asked, "Have they a pushmi-pullyu?"
Then Chee-Chee said, "No. No White Man
has ever seen a pushmi-pullyu. Let us
give him that."
PUSHMI-PULLYUS are now extinct. That means, there aren't
any more. But long ago, when Doctor Dolittle was alive,
there were some of them still left in the deepest jungles
of Africa; and even then they were very, very scarce.
They had no tail, *but a head at each end,
and sharp horns on each head. They were very
shy and terribly hard to catch. The black men
get most of their animals by sneaking up behind
them while they are not looking. But you could
not do this with the pushmi-pullyu--because,
no matter which way you came towards him, he
was always facing you. And besides, only one
half of him slept at a time. The other head
was always awake--and watching. This was
why they were never caught and never seen in
Zoos. Though many of the greatest huntsmen
and the cleverest menagerie-keepers spent years
of their lives searching through the jungles
in all weathers for pushmi-pullyus, not a single
one had ever been caught. Even then, years
ago, he was the only animal in the world with
two heads.
Well, the monkeys set out hunting for this
animal through the forest. And after they had
gone a good many miles, one of them found
peculiar footprints near the edge of a river;
and they knew that a pushmi-pullyu must be
very near that spot.
Then they went along the bank of the river
a little way and they saw a place where the
grass was high and thick; and they guessed that
he was in there.
So they all joined hands and made a great
circle round the high grass. The pushmipullyu
heard them coming; and he tried hard
to break through the ring of monkeys. But he
couldn't do it. When he saw that it was no
use trying to escape, he sat down and waited to
see what they wanted.
They asked him if he would go with Doctor Dolittle
and be put on show in the Land of the White Men.
But he shook both his heads hard and said,
"Certainly not!"
They explained to him that he would not be
shut up in a menagerie but would just be looked
at. They told him that the Doctor was a very
kind man but hadn't any money; and people
would pay to see a two-headed animal and the
Doctor would get rich and could pay for the
boat he had borrowed to come to Africa in.
But he answered, "No. You know how shy
I am--I hate being stared at." And he almost
began to cry.
Then for three days they tried to persuade
And at the end of the third day he said he
would come with them and see what kind of a
man the Doctor was, first.
So the monkeys traveled back with the
pushmi-pullyu. And when they came to where
the Doctor's little house of grass was, they
knocked on the door.
The duck, who was packing the trunk, said,
"Come in!"
And Chee-Chee very proudly took the animal
inside and showed him to the Doctor.
"What in the world is it?" asked John
Dolittle, gazing at the strange creature.
"Lord save us!" cried the duck. "How does
it make up its mind?"
"It doesn't look to me as though it had any,"
said Jip, the dog.
"This, Doctor," said Chee-Chee, "is the
pushmi-pullyu--the rarest animal of the African
jungles, the only two-headed beast in the
world! Take him home with you and your
fortune's made. People will pay any money to
see him."
"But I don't want any money," said the Doctor.
"Yes, you do," said Dab-Dab, the duck.
"Don't you remember how we had to pinch
and scrape to pay the butcher's bill in
Puddleby? And how are you going to get the
sailor the new boat you spoke of--unless we
have the money to buy it?"
"I was going to make him one," said the Doctor.
"Oh, do be sensible!" cried Dab-Dab.
"Where would you get all the wood and the
nails to make one with?--And besides, what are
we going to live on? We shall be poorer than
ever when we get back. Chee-Chee's perfectly
right: take the funny-looking thing along, do!"
"Well, perhaps there is something in what you say,"
murmured the Doctor. "It certainly would make
a nice new kind of pet. But does the er--
what-do-you-call-it really want to go abroad?"
"Yes, I'll go," said the pushmi-pullyu who
saw at once, from the Doctor's face, that he was
a man to be trusted. "You have been so kind
to the animals here--and the monkeys tell me
that I am the only one who will do. But you
must promise me that if I do not like it in the
Land of the White Men you will send me
"Why, certainly--of course, of course," said
the Doctor. "Excuse me, surely you are
related to the Deer Family, are you not?"
"Yes," said the pushmi-pullyu--"to the
Abyssinian Gazelles and the Asiatic Chamois
--on my mother's side. My father's greatgrandfather
was the last of the Unicorns."
"Most interesting!" murmured the Doctor;
and he took a book out of the trunk which Dab-
Dab was packing and began turning the pages.
"Let us see if Buffon says anything--"
"I notice," said the duck, "that you only talk
with one of your mouths. Can't the other head
talk as well?"
"Oh, yes," said the pushmi-pullyu. "But I
keep the other mouth for eating--mostly. In
that way I can talk while I am eating without
being rude. Our people have always been very
When the packing was finished and everything
was ready to start, the monkeys gave a
grand party for the Doctor, and all the animals
of the jungle came. And they had pineapples
and mangoes and honey and all sorts of good
things to eat and drink.
After they had all finished eating, the Doctor
got up and said,
"My friends: I am not clever at speaking
long words after dinner, like some men; and I
have just eaten many fruits and much honey.
But I wish to tell you that I am very sad at
leaving your beautiful country. Because I have
things to do in the Land of the White Men, I
must go. After I have gone, remember never
to let the flies settle on your food before you
eat it; and do not sleep on the ground when the
rains are coming. I--er--er--I hope you will
all live happily ever after."
When the Doctor stopped speaking and sat
down, all the monkeys clapped their hands a
long time and said to one another, "Let it be
remembered always among our people that he
sat and ate with us, here, under the trees.
For surely he is the Greatest of Men!"
And the Grand Gorilla, who had the strength
of seven horses in his hairy arms, rolled a great
rock up to the head of the table and said,
"This stone for all time shall mark the spot."
And even to this day, in the heart of the
Jungle, that stone still is there. And monkeymothers,
passing through the forest with their
families, still point down at it from the branches
and whisper to their children, "Sh! There it is--
look--where the Good White Man sat and ate food
with us in the Year of the Great Sickness!"
Then, when the party was over, the Doctor
and his pets started out to go back to the seashore.
And all the monkeys went with him as
far as the edge of their country, carrying his
trunk and bags, to see him off.
BY the edge of the river they stopped and said farewell.
This took a long time, because all those thousands
of monkeys wanted to shake John Dolittle by the hand.
Afterwards, when the Doctor and his pets
were going on alone, Polynesia said,
"We must tread softly and talk low as we
go through the land of the Jolliginki. If the
King should hear us, he will send his soldiers
to catch us again; for I am sure he is still very
angry over the trick I played on him."
"What I am wondering," said the Doctor,
"is where we are going to get another boat to
go home in.... Oh well, perhaps we'll find
one lying about on the beach that nobody is
using. `Never lift your foot till you come to
the stile.'"
One day, while they were passing through
a very thick part of the forest, Chee-Chee went
ahead of them to look for cocoanuts. And
while he was away, the Doctor and the rest of
the animals, who did not know the jungle-paths
so well, got lost in the deep woods. They wandered
around and around but could not find
their way down to the seashore.
Chee-Chee, when he could not see them
anywhere, was terribly upset. He climbed high
trees and looked out from the top branches to
try and see the Doctor's high hat; he waved and
shouted; he called to all the animals by name.
But it was no use. They seemed to have
disappeared altogether.
Indeed they had lost their way very badly.
They had strayed a long way off the path, and
the jungle was so thick with bushes and
creepers and vines that sometimes they could hardly
move at all, and the Doctor had to take out
his pocket-knife and cut his way along. They
stumbled into wet, boggy places; they got all
tangled up in thick convolvulus-runners; they
scratched themselves on thorns, and twice they
nearly lost the medicine-bag in the under-brush.
There seemed no end to their troubles; and
nowhere could they come upon a path.
At last, after blundering about like this for
many days, getting their clothes torn and their
faces covered with mud, they walked right into
the King's back-garden by mistake. The King's
men came running up at once and caught them.
But Polynesia flew into a tree in the garden,
without anybody seeing her, and hid herself.
The Doctor and the rest were taken before the King.
"Ha, ha!" cried the King. "So you are
caught again! This time you shall not escape.
Take them all back to prison and put double
locks on the door. This White Man shall scrub
my kitchen-floor for the rest of his life!"
So the Doctor and his pets were led back to
prison and locked up. And the Doctor was told
that in the morning he must begin scrubbing the
They were all very unhappy.
"This is a great nuisance," said the Doctor.
"I really must get back to Puddleby. That
poor sailor will think I've stolen his ship if I
don't get home soon.... I wonder if those
hinges are loose."
But the door was very strong and firmly
locked. There seemed no chance of getting out.
Then Gub-Gub began to cry again.
All this time Polynesia was still sitting in the
tree in the palace-garden. She was saying nothing
and blinking her eyes.
This was always a very bad sign with
Polynesia. Whenever she said nothing and blinked
her eyes, it meant that somebody had been making
trouble, and she was thinking out some way
to put things right. People who made trouble
for Polynesia or her friends were nearly always
sorry for it afterwards.
Presently she spied Chee-Chee swinging
through the trees still looking for the Doctor.
When Chee-Chee saw her, he came into her
tree and asked her what had become of him.
"The Doctor and all the animals have been
caught by the King's men and locked up again,"
whispered Polynesia. "We lost our way in the
jungle and blundered into the palace-garden by
"But couldn't you guide them?" asked Chee-
Chee; and he began to scold the parrot for
letting them get lost while he was away looking
for the cocoanuts.
"It was all that stupid pig's fault," said
Polynesia. "He would keep running off the
path hunting for ginger-roots. And I was kept
so busy catching him and bringing him back,
that I turned to the left, instead of the right,
when we reached the swamp.--Sh!--Look!
There's Prince Bumpo coming into the garden!
He must not see us.--Don't move, whatever you do!"
And there, sure enough, was Prince Bumpo,
the King's son, opening the garden-gate. He
carried a book of fairy-tales under his arm. He
came strolling down the gravel-walk, humming
a sad song, till he reached a stone seat right
under the tree where the parrot and the monkey
were hiding. Then he lay down on the seat
and began reading the fairy-stories to himself.
Chee-Chee and Polynesia watched him,
keeping very quiet and still.
After a while the King's son laid the book
down and sighed a weary sigh.
"If I were only a WHITE prince!" said he, with
a dreamy, far-away look in his eyes.
Then the parrot, talking in a small, high
voice like a little girl, said aloud,
"Bumpo, some one might turn thee into a
white prince perchance."
The King's son started up off the seat and
looked all around.
"What is this I hear?" he cried. "Methought
the sweet music of a fairy's silver voice rang
from yonder bower! Strange!"
"Worthy Prince," said Polynesia, keeping
very still so Bumpo couldn't see her, "thou sayest
winged words of truth. For 'tis I, Tripsitinka,
the Queen of the Fairies, that speak to
thee. I am hiding in a rose-bud."
"Oh tell me, Fairy-Queen," cried Bumpo,
clasping his hands in joy, "who is it can turn
me white?"
"In thy father's prison," said the parrot,
"there lies a famous wizard, John Dolittle by
name. Many things he knows of medicine and
magic, and mighty deeds has he performed.
Yet thy kingly father leaves him languishing
long and lingering hours. Go to him, brave
Bumpo, secretly, when the sun has set; and
behold, thou shalt be made the whitest prince that
ever won fair lady! I have said enough. I
must now go back to Fairyland. Farewell!"
"Farewell!" cried the Prince. "A thousand thanks,
good Tripsitinka!"
And he sat down on the seat again with a
smile upon his face, waiting for the sun to set.
VERY, very quietly, making sure that no one should see
her, Polynesia then slipped out at the back of the tree
and flew across to the prison.
She found Gub-Gub poking his nose through
the bars of the window, trying to sniff the
cooking-smells that came from the palacekitchen.
She told the pig to bring the Doctor
to the window because she wanted to speak to
him. So Gub-Gub went and woke the Doctor
who was taking a nap.
"Listen," whispered the parrot, when John
Dolittle's face appeared: "Prince Bumpo is
coming here to-night to see you. And you've
got to find some way to turn him white. But
be sure to make him promise you first that he
will open the prison-door and find a ship for
you to cross the sea in."
"This is all very well," said the Doctor.
"But it isn't so easy to turn a black man white.
You speak as though he were a dress to be redyed.
It's not so simple. `Shall the leopard
change his spots, or the Ethiopian his skin,' you
"I don't know anything about that," said
Polynesia impatiently. "But you MUST turn this
man white. Think of a way--think hard.
You've got plenty of medicines left in the bag.
He'll do anything for you if you change his
color. It is your only chance to get out of
"Well, I suppose it MIGHT be possible," said
the Doctor. "Let me see--," and he went over
to his medicine-bag, murmuring something
about "liberated chlorine on animal-pigment--
perhaps zinc-ointment, as a temporary measure,
spread thick--"
Well, that night Prince Bumpo came secretly
to the Doctor in prison and said to him,
"White Man, I am an unhappy prince.
Years ago I went in search of The Sleeping
Beauty, whom I had read of in a book. And
having traveled through the world many days,
I at last found her and kissed the lady very
gently to awaken her--as the book said I should.
'Tis true indeed that she awoke. But when
she saw my face she cried out, `Oh, he's black!'
And she ran away and wouldn't marry me--but
went to sleep again somewhere else. So I came
back, full of sadness, to my father's kingdom.
Now I hear that you are a wonderful magician
and have many powerful potions. So I come to
you for help. If you will turn me white, so
that I may go back to The Sleeping Beauty, I
will give you half my kingdom and anything
besides you ask."
"Prince Bumpo," said the Doctor, looking
thoughtfully at the bottles in his medicine-bag,
"supposing I made your hair a nice blonde
color--would not that do instead to make you
"No," said Bumpo. "Nothing else will
satisfy me. I must be a white prince."
"You know it is very hard to change the color
of a prince," said the Doctor--"one of the hardest
things a magician can do. You only want
your face white, do you not?"
"Yes, that is all," said Bumpo. "Because I
shall wear shining armor and gauntlets of steel,
like the other white princes, and ride on a
"Must your face be white all over?" asked the Doctor.
"Yes, all over," said Bumpo--"and I would
like my eyes blue too, but I suppose that would
be very hard to do."
"Yes, it would," said the Doctor quickly.
"Well, I will do what I can for you. You will
have to be very patient though--you know with
some medicines you can never be very sure. I
might have to try two or three times. You have
a strong skin--yes? Well that's all right.
Now come over here by the light--Oh, but before
I do anything, you must first go down to
the beach and get a ship ready, with food in it,
to take me across the sea. Do not speak a word
of this to any one. And when I have done as
you ask, you must let me and all my animals
out of prison. Promise--by the crown of Jolliginki!"
So the Prince promised and went away to get
a ship ready at the seashore.
When he came back and said that it was done,
the Doctor asked Dab-Dab to bring a basin.
Then he mixed a lot of medicines in the basin
and told Bumpo to dip his face in it.
The Prince leaned down and put his face in
--right up to the ears.
He held it there a long time--so long that
the Doctor seemed to get dreadfully anxious
and fidgety, standing first on one leg and then
on the other, looking at all the bottles he had
used for the mixture, and reading the labels on
them again and again. A strong smell filled
the prison, like the smell of brown paper
At last the Prince lifted his face up out of the
basin, breathing very hard. And all the animals
cried out in surprise.
For the Prince's face had turned as white as
snow, and his eyes, which had been mud-colored,
were a manly gray!
When John Dolittle lent him a little lookingglass
to see himself in, he sang for joy and
began dancing around the prison. But the
Doctor asked him not to make so much noise
about it; and when he had closed his medicine-bag
in a hurry he told him to open the prison-door.
Bumpo begged that he might keep the lookingglass,
as it was the only one in the Kingdom
of Jolliginki, and he wanted to look at himself
all day long. But the Doctor said he needed
it to shave with.
Then the Prince, taking a bunch of copper
keys from his pocket, undid the great double
locks. And the Doctor with all his animals ran
as fast as they could down to the seashore; while
Bumpo leaned against the wall of the empty
dungeon, smiling after them happily, his big
face shining like polished ivory in the light of
the moon.
When they came to the beach they saw
Polynesia and Chee-Chee waiting for them on the
rocks near the ship.
"I feel sorry about Bumpo," said the Doctor.
"I am afraid that medicine I used will never
last. Most likely he will be as black as ever
when he wakes up in the morning--that's one
reason why I didn't like to leave the mirror with
him. But then again, he MIGHT stay white--I
had never used that mixture before. To tell the
truth, I was surprised, myself, that it worked
so well. But I had to do something, didn't I?
--I couldn't possibly scrub the King's kitchen
for the rest of my life. It was such a dirty
kitchen!--I could see it from the prisonwindow.--
Well, well!--Poor Bumpo!"
"Oh, of course he will know we were just
joking with him," said the parrot.
"They had no business to lock us up," said Dab-Dab,
waggling her tail angrily. "We never did them any harm.
Serve him right, if he does turn black again! I hope it's
a dark black."
"But HE didn't have anything to do with it,"
said the Doctor. "It was the King, his father,
who had us locked up--it wasn't Bumpo's fault.
...I wonder if I ought to go back and apologize--
Oh, well--I'll send him some candy
when I get to Puddleby. And who knows?--
he may stay white after all."
"The Sleeping Beauty would never have him,
even if he did," said Dab-Dab. "He looked
better the way he was, I thought. But he'd
never be anything but ugly, no matter what
color he was made."
"Still, he had a good heart," said the Doctor
--"romantic, of course--but a good heart.
After all, `handsome is as handsome does.'"
"I don't believe the poor booby found The
Sleeping Beauty at all," said Jip, the dog.
"Most likely he kissed some farmer's fat wife
who was taking a snooze under an apple-tree.
Can't blame her for getting scared! I wonder
who he'll go and kiss this time. Silly business!"
Then the pushmi-pullyu, the white mouse,
Gub-Gub, Dab-Dab, Jip and the owl, Too-Too,
went on to the ship with the Doctor. But Chee-
Chee, Polynesia and the crocodile stayed behind,
because Africa was their proper home, the land
where they were born.
And when the Doctor stood upon the boat, he
looked over the side across the water. And then
he remembered that they had no one with them
to guide them back to Puddleby.
The wide, wide sea looked terribly big and
lonesome in the moonlight; and he began to
wonder if they would lose their way when they
passed out of sight of land.
But even while he was wondering, they heard
a strange whispering noise, high in the air,
coming through the night. And the animals all
stopped saying Good-by and listened.
The noise grew louder and bigger. It seemed
to be coming nearer to them--a sound like the
Autumn wind blowing through the leaves of a
poplar-tree, or a great, great rain beating down
upon a roof.
And Jip, with his nose pointing and his tail
quite straight, said,
"Birds!--millions of them--flying fast--that's it!"
And then they all looked up. And there,
streaming across the face of the moon, like a
huge swarm of tiny ants, they could see thousands
and thousands of little birds. Soon the
whole sky seemed full of them, and still more
kept coming--more and more. There were so
many that for a little they covered the whole
moon so it could not shine, and the sea grew
dark and black--like when a storm-cloud passes
over the sun.
And presently all these birds came down close,
skimming over the water and the land; and the
night-sky was left clear above, and the moon
shone as before. Still never a call nor a cry
nor a song they made--no sound but this great
rustling of feathers which grew greater now
than ever. When they began to settle on the
sands, along the ropes of the ship--anywhere
and everywhere except the trees--the Doctor
could see that they had blue wings and white
breasts and very short, feathered legs. As soon
as they had all found a place to sit, suddenly,
there was no noise left anywhere--all was quiet;
all was still.
And in the silent moonlight John Dolittle
"I had no idea that we had been in Africa
so long. It will be nearly Summer when we
get home. For these are the swallows going
back. Swallows, I thank you for waiting for
us. It is very thoughtful of you. Now we need
not be afraid that we will lose our way upon the
sea.... Pull up the anchor and set the sail!"
When the ship moved out upon the water,
those who stayed behind, Chee-Chee, Polynesia
and the crocodile, grew terribly sad. For never
in their lives had they known any one they liked
so well as Doctor John Dolittle of Puddleby-onthe-
And after they had called Good-by to him
again and again and again, they still stood there
upon the rocks, crying bitterly and waving till
the ship was out of sight.
SAILING homeward, the Doctor's ship had to pass the coast
of Barbary. This coast is the seashore of the Great Desert.
It is a wild, lonely place--all sand and stones. And it was
here that the Barbary pirates lived.
These pirates, a bad lot of men, used to wait
for sailors to be shipwrecked on their shores.
And often, if they saw a boat passing, they would
come out in their fast sailing-ships and chase it.
When they caught a boat like this at sea, they
would steal everything on it; and after they had
taken the people off they would sink the ship
and sail back to Barbary singing songs and feeling
proud of the mischief they had done. Then
they used to make the people they had caught
write home to their friends for money. And if
the friends sent no money, the pirates often
threw the people into the sea.
Now one sunshiny day the Doctor and Dab-
Dab were walking up and down on the ship
for exercise; a nice fresh wind was blowing the
boat along, and everybody was happy. Presently
Dab-Dab saw the sail of another ship a
long way behind them on the edge of the sea.
It was a red sail.
"I don't like the look of that sail," said Dab-
Dab. "I have a feeling it isn't a friendly ship.
I am afraid there is more trouble coming to us."
Jip, who was lying near taking a nap in the
sun, began to growl and talk in his sleep.
"I smell roast beef cooking," he mumbled--
"underdone roast beef--with brown gravy over it."
"Good gracious!" cried the Doctor. "What's
the matter with the dog? Is he SMELLING in his
sleep--as well as talking?"
"I suppose he is," said Dab-Dab. "All dogs
can smell in their sleep."
"But what is he smelling?" asked the Doctor.
"There is no roast beef cooking on our ship."
"No," said Dab-Dab. "The roast beef must
be on that other ship over there."
"But that's ten miles away," said the Doctor.
"He couldn't smell that far surely!"
"Oh, yes, he could," said Dab-Dab. "You ask him."
Then Jip, still fast asleep, began to growl
again and his lip curled up angrily, showing
his clean, white teeth.
"I smell bad men," he growled--"the worst
men I ever smelt. I smell trouble. I smell a
fight--six bad scoundrels fighting against one
brave man. I want to help him. Woof--oo--WOOF!"
Then he barked, loud, and woke himself up with
a surprised look on his face.
"See!" cried Dab-Dab. "That boat is nearer now.
You can count its three big sails--all red.
Whoever it is, they are coming after us....
I wonder who they are."
"They are bad sailors," said Jip; "and their
ship is very swift. They are surely the pirates
of Barbary."
"Well, we must put up more sails on our
boat," said the Doctor, "so we can go faster and
get away from them. Run downstairs, Jip, and
fetch me all the sails you see."
The dog hurried downstairs and dragged up
every sail he could find.
But even when all these were put up on the
masts to catch the wind, the boat did not go
nearly as fast as the pirates'--which kept coming
on behind, closer and closer.
"This is a poor ship the Prince gave us," said
Gub-Gub, the pig--"the slowest he could find,
I should think. Might as well try to win a race
in a soup-tureen as hope to get away from them
in this old barge. Look how near they are now!
--You can see the mustaches on the faces of the
men--six of them. What are we going to do?"
Then the Doctor asked Dab-Dab to fly up and
tell the swallows that pirates were coming after
them in a swift ship, and what should he do
about it.
When the swallows heard this, they all came
down on to the Doctor's ship; and they told him
to unravel some pieces of long rope and make
them into a lot of thin strings as quickly as he
could. Then the ends of these strings were tied
on to the front of the ship; and the swallows
took hold of the strings with their feet and flew
off, pulling the boat along.
And although swallows are not very strong
when only one or two are by themselves, it is
different when there are a great lot of them
together. And there, tied to the Doctor's ship,
were a thousand strings; and two thousand
swallows were pulling on each string--all terribly
swift fliers.
And in a moment the Doctor found himself
traveling so fast he had to hold his hat on with
both hands; for he felt as though the ship itself
were flying through waves that frothed and
boiled with speed.
And all the animals on the ship began to
laugh and dance about in the rushing air, for
when they looked back at the pirates' ship, they
could see that it was growing smaller now,
instead of bigger. The red sails were being left
far, far behind.
DRAGGING a ship through the sea is hard work. And after
two or three hours the swallows began to get tired in the
wings and short of breath. Then they sent a message
down to the Doctor to say that they would have
to take a rest soon; and that they would pull the
boat over to an island not far off, and hide it in
a deep bay till they had got breath enough to go on.
And presently the Doctor saw the island they
had spoken of. It had a very beautiful, high,
green mountain in the middle of it.
When the ship had sailed safely into the bay
where it could not be seen from the open sea,
the Doctor said he would get off on to the island
to look for water--because there was none left
to drink on his ship. And he told all the animals
to get out too and romp on the grass to
stretch their legs.
Now as they were getting off, the Doctor
noticed that a whole lot of rats were coming up
from downstairs and leaving the ship as well.
Jip started to run after them, because chasing
rats had always been his favorite game. But
the Doctor told him to stop.
And one big black rat, who seemed to want
to say something to the Doctor, now crept forward
timidly along the rail, watching the dog
out of the corner of his eye. And after he had
coughed nervously two or three times, and
cleaned his whiskers and wiped his mouth, he
"Ahem--er--you know of course that all
ships have rats in them, Doctor, do you not?"
And the Doctor said, "Yes."
"And you have heard that rats always leave
a sinking ship?"
"Yes," said the Doctor--"so I've been told."
"People," said the rat, "always speak of it
with a sneer--as though it were something disgraceful.
But you can't blame us, can you?
After all, who WOULD stay on a sinking ship, if
he could get off it?"
"It's very natural," said the Doctor--"very
natural. I quite understand.... Was there--
Was there anything else you wished to say?"
"Yes," said the rat. "I've come to tell you
that we are leaving this one. But we wanted to
warn you before we go. This is a bad ship
you have here. It isn't safe. The sides aren't
strong enough. Its boards are rotten. Before
to-morrow night it will sink to the bottom of
the sea."
"But how do you know?" asked the Doctor.
"We always know," answered the rat. "The
tips of our tails get that tingly feeling--like
when your foot's asleep. This morning, at six
o'clock, while I was getting breakfast, my tail
suddenly began to tingle. At first I thought it
was my rheumatism coming back. So I went
and asked my aunt how she felt--you remember
her?--the long, piebald rat, rather skinny, who
came to see you in Puddleby last Spring with
jaundice? Well--and she said HER tail was
tingling like everything! Then we knew, for
sure, that this boat was going to sink in less than
two days; and we all made up our minds to
leave it as soon as we got near enough to any
land. It's a bad ship, Doctor. Don't sail in
it any more, or you'll be surely drowned....
Good-by! We are now going to look for a good
place to live on this island."
"Good-by!" said the Doctor. "And thank
you very much for coming to tell me. Very
considerate of you--very! Give my regards to
your aunt. I remember her perfectly....
Leave that rat alone, Jip! Come here! Lie down!"
So then the Doctor and all his animals went
off, carrying pails and saucepans, to look for
water on the island, while the swallows took
their rest.
"I wonder what is the name of this island,"
said the Doctor, as he was climbing up the
mountainside. "It seems a pleasant place.
What a lot of birds there are!"
"Why, these are the Canary Islands," said
Dab-Dab. "Don't you hear the canaries singing?"
The Doctor stopped and listened.
"Why, to be sure--of course!" he said.
"How stupid of me! I wonder if they can tell
us where to find water."
And presently the canaries, who had heard all
about Doctor Dolittle from birds of passage,
came and led him to a beautiful spring of cool,
clear water where the canaries used to take their
bath; and they showed him lovely meadows
where the bird-seed grew and all the other
sights of their island.
And the pushmi-pullyu was glad they had
come; because he liked the green grass so much
better than the dried apples he had been eating
on the ship. And Gub-Gub squeaked for joy
when he found a whole valley full of wild
A little later, when they had all had plenty
to eat and drink, and were lying on their backs
while the canaries sang for them, two of the swallows
came hurrying up, very flustered and excited.
"Doctor!" they cried, "the pirates have come
into the bay; and they've all got on to your ship.
They are downstairs looking for things to steal.
They have left their own ship with nobody on
it. If you hurry and come down to the shore,
you can get on to their ship--which is very fast
--and escape. But you'll have to hurry."
"That's a good idea," said the Doctor--"splendid!"
And he called his animals together at once,
said Good-by to the canaries and ran down to the beach.
When they reached the shore they saw the
pirate-ship, with the three red sails, standing in
the water; and--just as the swallows had said
--there was nobody on it; all the pirates were
downstairs in the Doctor's ship, looking for
things to steal.
So John Dolittle told his animals to walk very
softly and they all crept on to the pirate-ship.
EVERYTHING would have gone all right if the pig had not caught
a cold in his head while eating the damp sugar-cane on the
island. This is what happened:
After they had pulled up the anchor without a sound,
and were moving the ship very, very carefully out of the bay,
Gub-Gub suddenly sneezed so loud that the pirates
on the other ship came rushing upstairs to see
what the noise was.
As soon as they saw that the Doctor was
escaping, they sailed the other boat right across
the entrance to the bay so that the Doctor could
not get out into the open sea.
Then the leader of these bad men (who called
himself "Ben Ali, The Dragon") shook his fist
at the Doctor and shouted across the water,
"Ha! Ha! You are caught, my fine friend!
You were going to run off in my ship, eh? But
you are not a good enough sailor to beat Ben
Ali, the Barbary Dragon. I want that duck
you've got--and the pig too. We'll have porkchops
and roast duck for supper to-night. And
before I let you go home, you must make your
friends send me a trunk-full of gold."
Poor Gub-Gub began to weep; and Dab-Dab
made ready to fly to save her life. But the owl,
Too-Too, whispered to the Doctor,
"Keep him talking, Doctor. Be pleasant to
him. Our old ship is bound to sink soon--the
rats said it would be at the bottom of the sea
before to-morrow night--and the rats are never
wrong. Be pleasant, till the ship sinks under
him. Keep him talking."
"What, until to-morrow night!" said the Doctor.
"Well, I'll do my best.... Let me see--
What shall I talk about?"
"Oh, let them come on," said Jip. "We can
fight the dirty rascals. There are only six of
them. Let them come on. I'd love to tell that
collie next door, when we get home, that I had bitten
a real pirate. Let 'em come. We can fight them."
"But they have pistols and swords," said the
Doctor. "No, that would never do. I must
talk to him.... Look here, Ben Ali--"
But before the Doctor could say any more,
the pirates began to sail the ship nearer, laughing
with glee, and saying one to another, "Who
shall be the first to catch the pig?"
Poor Gub-Gub was dreadfully frightened;
and the pushmi-pullyu began to sharpen his
horns for a fight by rubbing them on the mast
of the ship; while Jip kept springing into the
air and barking and calling Ben Ali bad names
in dog-language.
But presently something seemed to go wrong
with the pirates; they stopped laughing and
cracking jokes; they looked puzzled; something
was making them uneasy.
Then Ben Ali, staring down at his feet,
suddenly bellowed out,
"Thunder and Lightning!--Men, THE BOAT'S LEAKING!"
And then the other pirates peered over the
side and they saw that the boat was indeed getting
lower and lower in the water. And one
of them said to Ben Ali,
"But surely if this old boat were sinking we
should see the rats leaving it."
And Jip shouted across from the other ship,
"You great duffers, there are no rats there
to leave! They left two hours ago! `Ha, ha,'
to you, `my fine friends!'"
But of course the men did not understand him.
Soon the front end of the ship began to go
down and down, faster and faster--till the boat
looked almost as though it were standing on its
head; and the pirates had to cling to the rails
and the masts and the ropes and anything to
keep from sliding off. Then the sea rushed
roaring in and through all the windows and the
doors. And at last the ship plunged right down
to the bottom of the sea, making a dreadful
gurgling sound; and the six bad men were left
bobbing about in the deep water of the bay.
Some of them started to swim for the shores
of the island; while others came and tried to get
on to the boat where the Doctor was. But Jip
kept snapping at their noses, so they were afraid
to climb up the side of the ship.
Then suddenly they all cried out in great fear,
"THE SHARKS! The sharks are coming! Let us
get on to the ship before they eat us! Help,
help!--The sharks! The sharks!"
And now the Doctor could see, all over the
bay, the backs of big fishes swimming swiftly
through the water.
And one great shark came near to the ship,
and poking his nose out of the water he said to
the Doctor,
"Are you John Dolittle, the famous animal- doctor?"
"Yes," said Doctor Dolittle. "That is my
"Well," said the shark, "we know these
pirates to be a bad lot--especially Ben Ali. If they
are annoying you, we will gladly eat them up
for you--and then you won't be troubled any
"Thank you," said the Doctor. "This is
really most attentive. But I don't think it will
be necessary to eat them. Don't let any of them
reach the shore until I tell you--just keep them
swimming about, will you? And please make
Ben Ali swim over here that I may talk to
So the shark went off and chased Ben Ali over
to the Doctor.
"Listen, Ben Ali," said John Dolittle,
leaning over the side. "You have been a very bad
man; and I understand that you have killed
many people. These good sharks here have just
offered to eat you up for me--and 'twould
indeed be a good thing if the seas were rid of you.
But if you will promise to do as I tell you, I
well let you go in safety."
"What must I do?" asked the pirate, looking
down sideways at the big shark who was smelling
his leg under the water.
"You must kill no more people," said the
Doctor; "you must stop stealing; you must
never sink another ship; you must give up being
a pirate altogether."
"But what shall I do then?" asked Ben Ali.
"How shall I live?"
"You and all your men must go on to this
island and be bird-seed-farmers," the Doctor
answered. "You must grow bird-seed for the
The Barbary Dragon turned pale with anger.
"GROW BIRD-SEED!" he groaned in disgust.
"Can't I be a sailor?"
"No," said the Doctor, "you cannot. You
have been a sailor long enough--and sent many
stout ships and good men to the bottom of the
sea. For the rest of your life you must be la
peaceful farmer. The shark is waiting. Do
not waste any more of his time. Make up your
"Thunder and Lightning!" Ben Ali
muttered--"BIRD-SEED!" Then he looked down
into the water again and saw the great fish
smelling his other leg.
"Very well," he said sadly. "We'll be
"And remember," said the Doctor, "that if
you do not keep your promise--if you start
killing and stealing again, I shall hear of it,
because the canaries will come and tell me.
And be very sure that I will find a way to punish
you. For though I may not be able to sail
a ship as well as you, so long as the birds and
the beasts and the fishes are my friends, I do not
have to be afraid of a pirate chief--even though
he call himself `The Dragon of Barbary.' Now
go and be a good farmer and live in peace."
Then the Doctor turned to the big shark, and
waving his hand he said,
"All right. Let them swim safely to the land."
HAVING thanked the sharks again for their kindness,
the Doctor and his pets set off once more on their
journey home in the swift ship with the three red sails.
As they moved out into the open sea, the
animals all went downstairs to see what their new
boat was like inside; while the Doctor leant on
the rail at the back of the ship with a pipe in his
mouth, watching the Canary Islands fade away
in the blue dusk of the evening.
While he was standing there, wondering how
the monkeys were getting on--and what his
garden would look like when he got back to
Puddleby, Dab-Dab came tumbling up the
stairs, all smiles and full of news.
"Doctor!" she cried. "This ship of the pirates
is simply beautiful--absolutely. The beds
downstairs are made of primrose silk--with
hundreds of big pillows and cushions; there are
thick, soft carpets on the floors; the dishes are
made of silver; and there are all sorts of good
things to eat and drink--special things; the
larder--well, it's just like a shop, that's all.
You never saw anything like it in your life--
Just think--they kept five different kinds of
sardines, those men! Come and look.... Oh,
and we found a little room down there with the
door locked; and we are all crazy to get in and
see what's inside. Jip says it must be where the
pirates kept their treasure. But we can't open
the door. Come down and see if you can let
us in."
So the Doctor went downstairs and he saw
that it was indeed a beautiful ship. He found
the animals gathered round a little door, all
talking at once, trying to guess what was inside.
The Doctor turned the handle but it wouldn't
open. Then they all started to hunt for the key.
They looked under the mat; they looked under
all the carpets; they looked in all the cupboards
and drawers and lockers--in the big chests in the
ship's dining-room; they looked everywhere.
While they were doing this they discovered
a lot of new and wonderful things that the
pirates must have stolen from other ships: Kashmir
shawls as thin as a cobweb, embroidered
with flowers of gold; jars of fine tobacco from
Jamaica; carved ivory boxes full of Russian
tea; an old violin with a string broken and a
picture on the back; a set of big chess-men,
carved out of coral and amber; a walking-stick
which had a sword inside it when you pulled
the handle; six wine-glasses with turquoise
and silver round the rims; and a lovely great
sugar-bowl, made of mother o' pearl. But
nowhere in the whole boat could they find a key to
fit that lock.
So they all came back to the door, and Jip
peered through the key-hole. But something
had been stood against the wall on the inside
and he could see nothing.
While they were standing around, wondering
what they should do, the owl, Too-Too,
suddenly said,
"Sh!--Listen!--I do believe there's some
one in there!"
They all kept still a moment. Then the
Doctor said,
"You must be mistaken, Too-Too. I don't
hear anything."
"I'm sure of it," said the owl. "Sh!--There
it is again--Don't you hear that?"
"No, I do not," said the Doctor. "What
kind of a sound is it?"
"I hear the noise of some one putting his
hand in his pocket," said the owl.
"But that makes hardly any sound at all," said
the Doctor. "You couldn't hear that out here."
"Pardon me, but I can," said Too-Too. "I
tell you there is some one on the other side of
that door putting his hand in his pocket. Almost
everything makes SOME noise--if your ears
are only sharp enough to catch it. Bats can hear
a mole walking in his tunnel under the earth
--and they think they're good hearers. But we
owls can tell you, using only one ear, the color
of a kitten from the way it winks in the dark."
"Well, well!" said the Doctor. "You
surprise me. That's very interesting.... Listen
again and tell me what he's doing now."
"I'm not sure yet," said Too-Too, "if it's a
man at all. Maybe it's a woman. Lift me up
and let me listen at the key-hole and I'll soon
tell you."
So the Doctor lifted the owl up and held him
close to the lock of the door.
After a moment Too-Too said,
"Now he's rubbing his face with his left
hand. It is a small hand and a small face.
It MIGHT be a woman--No. Now he pushes his
hair back off his forehead--It's a man all right."
"Women sometimes do that," said the Doctor.
"True," said the owl. "But when they do,
their long hair makes quite a different sound.
... Sh! Make that fidgety pig keep still.
Now all hold your breath a moment so I can
listen well. This is very difficult, what I'm
doing now--and the pesky door is so thick! Sh!
Everybody quite still--shut your eyes and don't breathe."
Too-Too leaned down and listened again
very hard and long.
At last he looked up into the Doctor's face
and said,
"The man in there is unhappy. He weeps.
He has taken care not to blubber or sniffle, lest
we should find out that he is crying. But I
heard--quite distinctly--the sound of a tear
falling on his sleeve."
"How do you know it wasn't a drop of water
falling off the ceiling on him?" asked Gub-Gub.
"Pshaw!--Such ignorance!" sniffed Too-
Too. "A drop of water falling off the ceiling
would have made ten times as much noise!"
"Well," said the Doctor, "if the poor
fellow's unhappy, we've got to get in and see
what's the matter with him. Find me an axe,
and I'll chop the door down."
RIGHT away an axe was found. And the Doctor soon chopped a
hole in the door big enough to clamber through.
At first he could see nothing at all, it was so dark inside.
So he struck a match.
The room was quite small; no window; the
ceiling, low. For furniture there was only one
little stool. All round the room big barrels
stood against the walls, fastened at the bottom
so they wouldn't tumble with the rolling of the
ship; and above the barrels, pewter jugs of all
sizes hung from wooden pegs. There was a
strong, winey smell. And in the middle of the
floor sat a little boy, about eight years old,
crying bitterly.
"I declare, it is the pirates' rum-room!"
said Jip in a whisper.
"Yes. Very rum!" said Gub-Gub.
"The smell makes me giddy."
The little boy seemed rather frightened to
find a man standing there before him and all
those animals staring in through the hole in the
broken door. But as soon as he saw John
Dolittle's face by the light of the match, he stopped
crying and got up.
"You aren't one of the pirates, are you?" he asked.
And when the Doctor threw back his head
and laughed long and loud, the little boy smiled
too and came and took his hand.
"You laugh like a friend," he said--"not
like a pirate. Could you tell me where my
uncle is?"
"I am afraid I can't," said the Doctor.
"When did you see him last?"
"It was the day before yesterday," said the
boy. "I and my uncle were out fishing in our
little boat, when the pirates came and caught
us. They sunk our fishing-boat and brought us
both on to this ship. They told my uncle that
they wanted him to be a pirate like them--for
he was clever at sailing a ship in all weathers.
But he said he didn't want to be a pirate,
because killing people and stealing was no work
for a good fisherman to do. Then the leader,
Ben Ali, got very angry and gnashed his teeth,
and said they would throw my uncle into the
sea if he didn't do as they said. They sent me
downstairs; and I heard the noise of a fight
going on above. And when they let me come up
again next day, my uncle was nowhere to be
seen. I asked the pirates where he was; but
they wouldn't tell me. I am very much afraid
they threw him into the sea and drowned him."
And the little boy began to cry again.
"Well now--wait a minute," said the Doctor.
"Don't cry. Let's go and have tea in the diningroom,
and we'll talk it over. Maybe your
uncle is quite safe all the time. You don't KNOW
that he was drowned, do you? And that's
something. Perhaps we can find him for you. First
we'll go and have tea--with strawberry-jam;
and then we will see what can be done."
All the animals had been standing around
listening with great curiosity. And when they
had gone into the ship's dining-room and were
having tea, Dab-Dab came up behind the
Doctor's chair and whispered.
"Ask the porpoises if the boy's uncle was
drowned--they'll know."
"All right," said the Doctor, taking a second
piece of bread-and-jam.
"What are those funny, clicking noises you
are making with your tongue?" asked the boy.
"Oh, I just said a couple of words in ducklanguage,"
the Doctor answered. "This is
Dab-Dab, one of my pets."
"I didn't even know that ducks had a
language," said the boy. "Are all these other
animals your pets, too? What is that strangelooking
thing with two heads?"
"Sh!" the Doctor whispered. "That is the
pushmi-pullyu. Don't let him see we're talking
about him--he gets so dreadfully embarrassed....
Tell me, how did you come to be
locked up in that little room?"
"The pirates shut me in there when they
were going off to steal things from another ship.
When I heard some one chopping on the door,
I didn't know who it could be. I was very
glad to find it was you. Do you think you will
be able to find my uncle for me?"
"Well, we are going to try very hard," said
the Doctor. "Now what was your uncle like to
look at?"
"He had red hair," the boy answered--"very
red hair, and the picture of an anchor tattooed
on his arm. He was a strong man, a kind uncle
and the best sailor in the South Atlantic. His
fishing-boat was called The Saucy Sally--a
cutter-rigged sloop."
"What's `cutterigsloop'?" whispered Gub-
Gub, turning to Jip.
"Sh!--That's the kind of a ship the man had,"
said Jip. "Keep still, can't you?"
"Oh," said the pig, "is that all? I thought
it was something to drink."
So the Doctor left the boy to play with the
animals in the dining-room, and went upstairs
to look for passing porpoises.
And soon a whole school came dancing and
jumping through the water, on their way to
When they saw the Doctor leaning on the
rail of his ship, they came over to see how he
was getting on.
And the Doctor asked them if they had seen
anything of a man with red hair and an anchor
tattooed on his arm.
"Do you mean the master of The Saucy Sally?"
asked the porpoises.
"Yes," said the Doctor. "That's the man.
Has he been drowned?"
"His fishing-sloop was sunk," said the
porpoises--"for we saw it lying on the bottom of
the sea. But there was nobody inside it, because
we went and looked."
"His little nephew is on the ship with me
here," said the Doctor. "And he is terribly
afraid that the pirates threw his uncle into the
sea. Would you be so good as to find out for
me, for sure, whether he has been drowned or
"Oh, he isn't drowned," said the porpoises.
"If he were, we would be sure to have heard of
it from the deep-sea Decapods. We hear all
the salt-water news. The shell-fish call us `The
Ocean Gossips.' No--tell the little boy we are
sorry we do not know where his uncle is; but
we are quite certain he hasn't been drowned in
the sea."
So the Doctor ran downstairs with the news
and told the nephew, who clapped his hands
with happiness. And the pushmi-pullyu took the
little boy on his back and gave him a ride round
the dining-room table; while all the other animals
followed behind, beating the dish-covers
with spoons, pretending it was a parade.
YOUR uncle must now be FOUND," said the Doctor--"that is the
next thing--now that we know he wasn't thrown into the sea."
Then Dab-Dab came up to him again and whispered,
"Ask the eagles to look for the man. No living
creature can see better than an eagle. When they
are miles high in the air they can count the ants
crawling on the ground. Ask the eagles."
So the Doctor sent one of the swallows off
to get some eagles.
And in about an hour the little bird came
back with six different kinds of eagles: a Black
Eagle, a Bald Eagle, a Fish Eagle, a Golden
Eagle, an Eagle-Vulture, and a White-tailed
Sea Eagle. Twice as high as the boy they were,
each one of them. And they stood on the rail
of the ship, like round-shouldered soldiers all
in a row, stern and still and stiff; while their
great, gleaming, black eyes shot darting glances
here and there and everywhere.
Gub-Gub was scared of them and got
behind a barrel. He said he felt as though those
terrible eyes were looking right inside of him
to see what he had stolen for lunch.
And the Doctor said to the eagles,
"A man has been lost--a fisherman with red
hair and an anchor marked on his arm. Would
you be so kind as to see if you can find him for
us? This boy is the man's nephew."
Eagles do not talk very much. And all they
answered in their husky voices was,
"You may be sure that we will do our best
--for John Dolittle."
Then they flew off--and Gub-Gub came out
from behind his barrel to see them go. Up and
up and up they went--higher and higher and
higher still. Then, when the Doctor could only
just see them, they parted company and started
going off all different ways--North, East,
South and West, looking like tiny grains of
black sand creeping across the wide, blue sky.
"My gracious!" said Gub-Gub in a hushed
voice. "What a height! I wonder they don't
scorch their feathers--so near the sun!"
They were gone a long time. And when
they came back it was almost night.
And the eagles said to the Doctor,
"We have searched all the seas and all the
countries and all the islands and all the cities
and all the villages in this half of the world.
But we have failed. In the main street of
Gibraltar we saw three red hairs lying on a wheelbarrow
before a baker's door. But they were
not the hairs of a man--they were the hairs out
of a fur-coat. Nowhere, on land or water, could
we see any sign of this boy's uncle. And if WE
could not see him, then he is not to be seen....
For John Dolittle--we have done our best."
Then the six great birds flapped their big
wings and flew back to their homes in the
mountains and the rocks.
"Well," said Dab-Dab, after they had gone,
"what are we going to do now? The boy's
uncle MUST be found--there's no two ways about
that. The lad isn't old enough to be knocking
around the world by himself. Boys aren't like
ducklings--they have to be taken care of till
they're quite old.... I wish Chee-Chee were
here. He would soon find the man. Good old
Chee-Chee! I wonder how he's getting on!"
"If we only had Polynesia with us," said the
white mouse. "SHE would soon think of some
way. Do you remember how she got us all
out of prison--the second time? My, but she
was a clever one!"
"I don't think so much of those eaglefellows,"
said Jip. "They're just conceited. They
may have very good eyesight and all that; but
when you ask them to find a man for you, they
can't do it--and they have the cheek to come
back and say that nobody else could do it.
They're just conceited--like that collie in
Puddleby. And I don't think a whole lot of those
gossipy old porpoises either. All they could tell
us was that the man isn't in the sea. We don't
want to know where he ISN'T--we want to know
where he IS."
"Oh, don't talk so much," said Gub-Gub.
"It's easy to talk; but it isn't so easy to find a
man when you have got the whole world to hunt
him in. Maybe the fisherman's hair has turned
white, worrying about the boy; and that was
why the eagles didn't find him. You don't
know everything. You're just talking. You
are not doing anything to help. You couldn't
find the boy's uncle any more than the eagles
could--you couldn't do as well."
"Couldn't I?" said the dog. "That's all you
know, you stupid piece of warm bacon! I haven't
begun to try yet, have I? You wait and see!"
Then Jip went to the Doctor and said,
"Ask the boy if he has anything in his pockets
that belonged to his uncle, will you, please?"
So the Doctor asked him. And the boy
showed them a gold ring which he wore on a
piece of string around his neck because it was
too big for his finger. He said his uncle gave
it to him when they saw the pirates coming.
Jip smelt the ring and said,
"That's no good. Ask him if he has
anything else that belonged to his uncle."
Then the boy took from his pocket a great,
big red handkerchief and said, "This was my
uncle's too."
As soon as the boy pulled it out, Jip shouted,
"SNUFF, by Jingo!--Black Rappee snuff.
Don't you smell it? His uncle took snuff--
Ask him, Doctor."
The Doctor questioned the boy again;
and he said, "Yes. My uncle took a lot of
"Fine!" said Jip. "The man's as good as
found. 'Twill be as easy as stealing milk from
a kitten. Tell the boy I'll find his uncle for
him in less than a week. Let us go upstairs
and see which way the wind is blowing."
"But it is dark now," said the Doctor. "You
can't find him in the dark!"
"I don't need any light to look for a man who
smells of Black Rappee snuff," said Jip as he
climbed the stairs. "If the man had a hard
smell, like string, now--or hot water, it would
be different. But SNUFF!--Tut, tut!"
"Does hot water have a smell?" asked the Doctor.
"Certainly it has," said Jip. "Hot water
smells quite different from cold water. It is
warm water--or ice--that has the really difficult
smell. Why, I once followed a man for
ten miles on a dark night by the smell of the
hot water he had used to shave with--for the
poor fellow had no soap.... Now then, let
us see which way the wind is blowing. Wind is
very important in long-distance smelling. It
mustn't be too fierce a wind--and of course it
must blow the right way. A nice, steady, damp
breeze is the best of all.... Ha!--This wind
is from the North."
Then Jip went up to the front of the ship
and smelt the wind; and he started muttering
to himself,
"Tar; Spanish onions; kerosene oil; wet
raincoats; crushed laurel-leaves; rubber burning;
lace-curtains being washed--No, my mistake,
lace-curtains hanging out to dry; and foxes--
hundreds of 'em--cubs; and--"
"Can you really smell all those different
things in this one wind?" asked the Doctor.
"Why, of course!" said Jip. "And those are
only a few of the easy smells--the strong ones.
Any mongrel could smell those with a cold in
the head. Wait now, and I'll tell you some of
the harder scents that are coming on this wind
--a few of the dainty ones."
Then the dog shut his eyes tight, poked his
nose straight up in the air and sniffed hard with
his mouth half-open.
For a long time he said nothing. He kept as
still as a stone. He hardly seemed to be breathing
at all. When at last he began to speak, it
sounded almost as though he were singing, sadly,
in a dream.
"Bricks," he whispered, very low--"old
yellow bricks, crumbling with age in a gardenwall;
the sweet breath of young cows standing
in a mountain-stream; the lead roof of a dovecote--
or perhaps a granary--with the mid-day
sun on it; black kid gloves lying in a bureaudrawer
of walnut-wood; a dusty road with a
horses' drinking-trough beneath the sycamores;
little mushrooms bursting through the rotting
leaves; and--and--and--"
"Any parsnips?" asked Gub-Gub.
"No," said Jip. "You always think of things
to eat. No parsnips whatever. And no snuff--
plenty of pipes and cigarettes, and a few cigars.
But no snuff. We must wait till the wind
changes to the South."
"Yes, it's a poor wind, that," said Gub-Gub.
"I think you're a fake, Jip. Who ever heard of
finding a man in the middle of the ocean just by
smell! I told you you couldn't do it."
"Look here," said Jip, getting really angry.
"You're going to get a bite on the nose in a minute!
You needn't think that just because the
Doctor won't let us give you what you deserve,
that you can be as cheeky as you like!"
"Stop quarreling!" said the Doctor--"Stop
it! Life's too short. Tell me, Jip, where do
you think those smells are coming from?"
"From Devon and Wales--most of them,"
said Jip--"The wind is coming that way."
"Well, well!" said the Doctor. "You know
that's really quite remarkable--quite. I must
make a note of that for my new book. I wonder
if you could train me to smell as well as that....
But no--perhaps I'm better off the way I am.
`Enough is as good as a feast,' they say.
Let's go down to supper. I'm quite hungry."
"So am I," said Gub-Gub.
UP they got, early next morning, out of the silken beds;
and they saw that the sun was shining brightly and that
the wind was blowing from the South.
Jip smelt the South wind for half an hour. Then he came
to the Doctor, shaking his head.
"I smell no snuff as yet," he said. "We must wait
till the wind changes to the East."
But even when the East wind came, at three o'clock
that afternoon, the dog could not catch the smell of snuff.
The little boy was terribly disappointed and
began to cry again, saying that no one seemed
to be able to find his uncle for him. But all Jip
said to the Doctor was,
"Tell him that when the wind changes to
the West, I'll find his uncle even though he be
in China--so long as he is still taking Black
Rappee snuff."
Three days they had to wait before the West
wind came. This was on a Friday morning,
early--just as it was getting light. A fine rainy
mist lay on the sea like a thin fog. And the
wind was soft and warm and wet.
As soon as Jip awoke he ran upstairs and
poked his nose in the air. Then he got most
frightfully excited and rushed down again to
wake the Doctor up.
"Doctor!" he cried. "I've got it! Doctor!
Doctor! Wake up! Listen! I've got it!
The wind's from the West and it smells of nothing
but snuff. Come upstairs and start the ship--quick!"
So the Doctor tumbled out of bed and went
to the rudder to steer the ship.
"Now I'll go up to the front," said Jip; "and
you watch my nose--whichever way I point it,
you turn the ship the same way. The man cannot
be far off--with the smell as strong as
this. And the wind's all lovely and wet. Now
watch me!"
So all that morning Jip stood in the front
part of the ship, sniffing the wind and pointing
the way for the Doctor to steer; while all the
animals and the little boy stood round with their
eyes wide open, watching the dog in wonder.
About lunch-time Jip asked Dab-Dab to tell
the Doctor that he was getting worried and
wanted to speak to him. So Dab-Dab went and
fetched the Doctor from the other end of the
ship and Jip said to him,
"The boy's uncle is starving. We must make
the ship go as fast as we can."
"How do you know he is starving?" asked the Doctor.
"Because there is no other smell in the West
wind but snuff," said Jip. "If the man were
cooking or eating food of any kind, I would
be bound to smell it too. But he hasn't even
fresh water to drink. All he is taking is snuff
--in large pinches. We are getting nearer to
him all the time, because the smell grows
stronger every minute. But make the ship go
as fast as you can, for I am certain that the
man is starving."
"All right," said the Doctor; and he sent
Dab-Dab to ask the swallows to pull the ship,
the same as they had done when the pirates were
chasing them.
So the stout little birds came down and once
more harnessed themselves to the ship.
And now the boat went bounding through the
waves at a terrible speed. It went so fast that
the fishes in the sea had to jump for their lives
to get out of the way and not be run over.
And all the animals got tremendously excited;
and they gave up looking at Jip and turned to
watch the sea in front, to spy out any land or
islands where the starving man might be.
But hour after hour went by and still the ship
went rushing on, over the same flat, flat sea; and
no land anywhere came in sight.
And now the animals gave up chattering and
sat around silent, anxious and miserable. The
little boy again grew sad. And on Jip's face
there was a worried look.
At last, late in the afternoon, just as the sun
was going down, the owl, Too-Too, who
was perched on the tip of the mast, suddenly
startled them all by crying out at the top of his
"Jip! Jip! I see a great, great rock in front
of us--look--way out there where the sky and
the water meet. See the sun shine on it--like
gold! Is the smell coming from there?"
And Jip called back,
"Yes. That's it. That is where the man is.
--At last, at last!"
And when they got nearer they could see that
the rock was very large--as large as a big field.
No trees grew on it, no grass--nothing. The
great rock was as smooth and as bare as the back
of a tortoise.
Then the Doctor sailed the ship right round
the rock. But nowhere on it could a man be
seen. All the animals screwed up their eyes
and looked as hard as they could; and John
Dolittle got a telescope from downstairs.
But not one living thing could they spy--
not even a gull, nor a star-fish, nor a shred of
They all stood still and listened, straining
their ears for any sound. But the only noise
they heard was the gentle lapping of the little
waves against the sides of their ship.
Then they all started calling, "Hulloa, there!
--HULLOA!" till their voices were hoarse.
But only the echo came back from the rock.
And the little boy burst into tears and said,
"I am afraid I shall never see my uncle any
more! What shall I tell them when I get home!"
But Jip called to the Doctor,
"He must be there--he must--HE MUST!
The smell goes on no further. He must be
there, I tell you! Sail the ship close to the rock
and let me jump out on it."
So the Doctor brought the ship as close as
he could and let down the anchor. Then he
and Jip got out of the ship on to the rock.
Jip at once put his nose down close to the
ground and began to run all over the place. Up
and down he went, back and forth--zig-zagging,
twisting, doubling and turning. And
everywhere he went, the Doctor ran behind him,
close at his heels--till he was terribly out of
At last Jip let out a great bark and sat down.
And when the Doctor came running up to him,
he found the dog staring into a big, deep hole in
the middle of the rock.
"The boy's uncle is down there," said Jip
quietly. "No wonder those silly eagles couldn't
see him!--It takes a dog to find a man."
So the Doctor got down into the hole, which
seemed to be a kind of cave, or tunnel, running
a long way under the ground. Then he struck
a match and started to make his way along the
dark passage with Jip following behind.
The Doctor's match soon went out; and he
had to strike another and another and another.
At last the passage came to an end; and the
Doctor found himself in a kind of tiny room
with walls of rock.
And there, in the middle of the room, his
head resting on his arms, lay a man with very
red hair--fast asleep!
Jip went up and sniffed at something lying
on the ground beside him. The Doctor stooped
and picked it up. It was an enormous snuffbox.
And it was full of Black Rappee!
GENTLY then--very gently, the Doctor woke the man up.
But just at that moment the match went out again.
And the man thought it was Ben Ali coming back,
and he began to punch the Doctor in the dark.
But when John Dolittle told him who it was,
and that he had his little nephew safe on his
ship, the man was tremendously glad, and said
he was sorry he had fought the Doctor. He
had not hurt him much though--because it was
too dark to punch properly. Then he gave the
Doctor a pinch of snuff.
And the man told how the Barbary Dragon
had put him on to this rock and left him there,
when he wouldn't promise to become a pirate;
and how he used to sleep down in this hole
because there was no house on the rock to keep
him warm.
And then he said,
"For four days I have had nothing to eat or
drink. I have lived on snuff."
"There you are!" said Jip. "What did I tell you?"
So they struck some more matches and made
their way out through the passage into the daylight;
and the Doctor hurried the man down to
the boat to get some soup.
When the animals and the little boy saw the
Doctor and Jip coming back to the ship with
a red-headed man, they began to cheer and yell
and dance about the boat. And the swallows
up above started whistling at the top of their
voices--thousands and millions of them--to
show that they too were glad that the boy's brave
uncle had been found. The noise they made
was so great that sailors far out at sea thought
that a terrible storm was coming. "Hark to
that gale howling in the East!" they said.
And Jip was awfully proud of himself--
though he tried hard not to look conceited.
When Dab-Dab came to him and said, "Jip, I
had no idea you were so clever!" he just tossed
his head and answered,
"Oh, that's nothing special. But it takes a
dog to find a man, you know. Birds are no good
for a game like that."
Then the Doctor asked the red-haired fisherman
where his home was. And when he had
told him, the Doctor asked the swallows to guide
the ship there first.
And when they had come to the land which
the man had spoken of, they saw a little fishingtown
at the foot of a rocky mountain; and the
man pointed out the house where he lived.
And while they were letting down the anchor,
the little boy's mother (who was also the man's
sister) came running down to the shore to meet
them, laughing and crying at the same time.
She had been sitting on a hill for twenty days,
watching the sea and waiting for them to
And she kissed the Doctor many times, so that
he giggled and blushed like a school-girl. And
she tried to kiss Jip too; but he ran away and
hid inside the ship.
"It's a silly business, this kissing," he said.
"I don't hold by it. Let her go and kiss Gub-
Gub--if she MUST kiss something."
The fisherman and his sister didn't want the
Doctor to go away again in a hurry. They
begged him to spend a few days with them. So
John Dolittle and his animals had to stay at
their house a whole Saturday and Sunday and
half of Monday.
And all the little boys of the fishing-village
went down to the beach and pointed at the great
ship anchored there, and said to one another in
"Look! That was a pirate-ship--Ben Ali's
--the most terrible pirate that ever sailed the
Seven Seas! That old gentleman with the high
hat, who's staying up at Mrs. Trevelyan's, HE
took the ship away from The Barbary Dragon
--and made him into a farmer. Who'd have
thought it of him--him so gentle--like and all!
... Look at the great red sails! Ain't she the
wicked-looking ship--and fast?--My!"
All those two days and a half that the Doctor
stayed at the little fishing-town the people kept
asking him out to teas and luncheons and dinners
and parties; all the ladies sent him boxes
of flowers and candies; and the village-band
played tunes under his window every night.
At last the Doctor said,
"Good people, I must go home now. You
have really been most kind. I shall always
remember it. But I must go home--for I have
things to do."
Then, just as the Doctor was about to leave,
the Mayor of the town came down the street
and a lot of other people in grand clothes with
him. And the Mayor stopped before the house
where the Doctor was living; and everybody in
the village gathered round to see what was going
to happen.
After six page-boys had blown on shining
trumpets to make the people stop talking, the
Doctor came out on to the steps and the Mayor
"Doctor John Dolittle," said he: "It is a
great pleasure for me to present to the man who
rid the seas of the Dragon of Barbary this little
token from the grateful people of our worthy
And the Mayor took from his pocket a little
tissue-paper packet, and opening it, he handed
to the Doctor a perfectly beautiful watch with
real diamonds in the back.
Then the Mayor pulled out of his pocket a
still larger parcel and said,
"Where is the dog?"
Then everybody started to hunt for Jip. And
at last Dab-Dab found him on the other side
of the village in a stable-yard, where all the
dogs of the country-side were standing round
him speechless with admiration and respect.
When Jip was brought to the Doctor's side,
the Mayor opened the larger parcel; and inside
was a dog-collar made of solid gold! And a
great murmur of wonder went up from the villagefolk
as the Mayor bent down and fastened
it round the dog's neck with his own hands.
For written on the collar in big letters were
Then the whole crowd moved down to the
beach to see them off. And after the red-haired
fisherman and his sister and the little boy had
thanked the Doctor and his dog over and over
and over again, the great, swift ship with the
red sails was turned once more towards Puddleby
and they sailed out to sea, while the villageband
played music on the shore.
MARCH winds had come and gone; April's showers were
over; May's buds had opened into flower; and the June sun
was shining on the pleasant fields, when John Dolittle at
last got back to his own country.
But he did not yet go home to Puddleby.
First he went traveling through the land with
the pushmi-pullyu in a gipsy-wagon, stopping at
all the country-fairs. And there, with the acrobats
on one side of them and the Punch-and-
Judy show on the other, they would hang out
a big sign which read, "COME AND SEE THE
And the pushmi-pullyu would stay inside the
wagon, while the other animals would lie about
underneath. The Doctor sat in a chair in front
taking the sixpences and smiling on the people
as they went in; and Dab-Dab was kept busy
all the time scolding him because he would
let the children in for nothing when she wasn't
And menagerie-keepers and circus-men came
and asked the Doctor to sell them the strange
creature, saying they would pay a tremendous
lot of money for him. But the Doctor always
shook his head and said.
"No. The pushmi-pullyu shall never be shut
up in a cage. He shall be free always to come
and go, like you and me."
Many curious sights and happenings they saw
in this wandering life; but they all seemed quite
ordinary after the great things they had seen
and done in foreign lands. It was very interesting
at first, being sort of part of a circus;
but after a few weeks they all got dreadfully
tired of it and the Doctor and all of them were
longing to go home.
But so many people came flocking to the
little wagon and paid the sixpence to go inside and
see the pushmi-pullyu that very soon the Doctor
was able to give up being a showman.
And one fine day, when the hollyhocks were
in full bloom, he came back to Puddleby a rich
man, to live in the little house with the big
And the old lame horse in the stable was glad
to see him; and so were the swallows who had
already built their nests under the eaves of his
roof and had young ones. And Dab-Dab was
glad, too, to get back to the house she knew so
well--although there was a terrible lot of dusting
to be done, with cobwebs everywhere.
And after Jip had gone and shown his golden
collar to the conceited collie next-door, he came
back and began running round the garden like
a crazy thing, looking for the bones he had
buried long ago, and chasing the rats out of the
tool-shed; while Gub-Gub dug up the horseradish
which had grown three feet high in the
corner by the garden-wall.
And the Doctor went and saw the sailor who
had lent him the boat, and he bought two new
ships for him and a rubber-doll for his baby;
and he paid the grocer for the food he had lent
him for the journey to Africa. And he bought
another piano and put the white mice back in
it--because they said the bureau-drawer was
Even when the Doctor had filled the old
money-box on the dresser-shelf, he still had a
lot of money left; and he had to get three more
money-boxes, just as big, to put the rest in.
"Money," he said, "is a terrible nuisance.
But it's nice not to have to worry."
"Yes," said Dab-Dab, who was toasting
muffins for his tea, "it is indeed!"
And when the Winter came again, and the
snow flew against the kitchen-window, the Doctor
and his animals would sit round the big,
warm fire after supper; and he would read aloud
to them out of his books.
But far away in Africa, where the monkeys
chattered in the palm-trees before they went to
bed under the big yellow moon, they would say
to one another,
"I wonder what The Good Man's doing now
--over there, in the Land of the White Men!
Do you think he ever will come back?"
And Polynesia would squeak out from the vines,
"I think he will--I guess he will--I hope he will!"
And then the crocodile would grunt up at
them from the black mud of the river,
"I'm SURE he will--Go to sleep!"

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