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Part Five Hugh Lofting

II "The Men Of The Moving, Land"

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We were next escorted to a brand-new grass house, clean and sweet-smelling within, and informed that it was ours. Six strong Indian boys were told off to be our servants.

On our way through the village we noticed a house, larger than the rest, standing at the end of the main street. Long Arrow pointed to it and told us it was the Chief's house, but that it was now empty--no new chief having yet been elected to take the place of the old one who had died.

Inside our new home a feast of fish and fruit had been prepared. Most of the more important men of the tribe were already seating themselves at the long dining-table when we got there. Long Arrow invited us to sit down and eat.

This we were glad enough to do, as we were all hungry. But we were both surprised and disappointed when we found that the fish had not been cooked. The Indians did not seem to think this extraordinary in the least, but went ahead gobbling the fish with much relish the way it was, raw.

With many apologies, the Doctor explained to Long Arrow that if they had no objection we would prefer our fish cooked.

Imagine our astonishment when we found that the great Long Arrow, so learned in the natural sciences, did not know what the word COOKED meant!

Polynesia who was sitting on the bench between John Dolittle and myself pulled the Doctor by the sleeve.

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"I'll tell you what's wrong, Doctor," she whispered as he leant down to listen to her: "THESE PEOPLE HAVE NO FIRES! They don't know how to make a fire. Look outside: It's almost dark, and there isn't a light showing ii the whole village. This is a fireless people."

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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