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|The Story of Doctor Dolittle||Hugh Lofting|
A Message From Africa
|Page 2 of 2||
"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;
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.
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