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0105_001E The Story of Doctor Dolittle Hugh Lofting

The Rock

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"All right," said the Doctor; and he sent Dab-Dab to ask the swallows to pull the ship, the same as they had done when the pirates were chasing them.

So the stout little birds came down and once more harnessed themselves to the ship.

And now the boat went bounding through the waves at a terrible speed. It went so fast that the fishes in the sea had to jump for their lives to get out of the way and not be run over.

And all the animals got tremendously excited; and they gave up looking at Jip and turned to watch the sea in front, to spy out any land or islands where the starving man might be.

But hour after hour went by and still the ship went rushing on, over the same flat, flat sea; and no land anywhere came in sight.

And now the animals gave up chattering and sat around silent, anxious and miserable. The little boy again grew sad. And on Jip's face there was a worried look.

At last, late in the afternoon, just as the sun was going down, the owl, Too-Too, who was perched on the tip of the mast, suddenly startled them all by crying out at the top of his voice,

"Jip! Jip! I see a great, great rock in front of us--look--way out there where the sky and the water meet. See the sun shine on it--like gold! Is the smell coming from there?"

And Jip called back,

"Yes. That's it. That is where the man is. --At last, at last!"

And when they got nearer they could see that the rock was very large--as large as a big field. No trees grew on it, no grass--nothing. The great rock was as smooth and as bare as the back of a tortoise.

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Then the Doctor sailed the ship right round the rock. But nowhere on it could a man be seen. All the animals screwed up their eyes and looked as hard as they could; and John Dolittle got a telescope from downstairs.

But not one living thing could they spy-- not even a gull, nor a star-fish, nor a shred of sea-weed.

They all stood still and listened, straining their ears for any sound. But the only noise they heard was the gentle lapping of the little waves against the sides of their ship.

Then they all started calling, "Hulloa, there! --HULLOA!" till their voices were hoarse. But only the echo came back from the rock.

And the little boy burst into tears and said,

"I am afraid I shall never see my uncle any more! What shall I tell them when I get home!"

But Jip called to the Doctor,

"He must be there--he must--HE MUST! The smell goes on no further. He must be there, I tell you! Sail the ship close to the rock and let me jump out on it."

So the Doctor brought the ship as close as he could and let down the anchor. Then he and Jip got out of the ship on to the rock.

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The Story of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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