"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 sugarcane.
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.
THE FIFTEENTH CHAPTER
THE BARBARY DRAGON
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 pork-chops 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 name."
"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 more."
"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 him."
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 canaries."
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 mind."
"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 farmers."
"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."
THE SIXTEENTH CHAPTER
TOO-TOO, THE LISTENER
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."
THE SEVENTEENTH CHAPTER
THE OCEAN GOSSIPS
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 dining-room, 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 duck-language," 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 strange-looking 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 Brazil.
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 not?"
"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.
THE EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER
"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 wheel-barrow 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 eagle-fellows," 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 snuff."
"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 garden-wall; the sweet breath of young cows standing in a mountain-stream; the lead roof of a dove-cote—or perhaps a granary—with the mid-day sun on it; black kid gloves lying in a bureau-drawer 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.
THE NINETEENTH CHAPTER
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 voice,
"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 sea-weed.
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 breath.
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 snuff-box. And it was full of Black Rappee!
THE TWENTIETH CHAPTER
THE FISHERMAN'S TOWN
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 fishing-town 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 return.
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 whispers,
"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 spoke.
"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 Town."
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 village-folk 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 these words: "JIP-THE CLEVEREST DOG IN THE WORLD."
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 village-band played music on the shore.
THE LAST CHAPTER
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 MARVELOUS TWO-HEADED ANIMAL FROM THE JUNGLES OF AFRICA. Admission SIXPENCE."
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 looking.
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 garden.
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 drafty.
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!"