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|The Story of Doctor Dolittle||Hugh Lofting|
The Barbary Dragon
|Page 1 of 3||
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."
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|The Story of Doctor Dolittle
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