Read Books Online, for Free
|The Story of Doctor Dolittle||Hugh Lofting|
A Message From Africa
|Page 1 of 2||
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 sea-voyages 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."
|Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
|The Story of Doctor Dolittle
Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004