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|The Story of Doctor Dolittle||Hugh Lofting|
|Page 2 of 4||
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 you."
"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 spectacles."
"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 Field."
"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 week."
"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 more."
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