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|The Story of Doctor Dolittle||Hugh Lofting|
The Rarest Animal Of All
|Page 1 of 3||
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 pushmi-pullyu 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 him.
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."
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