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Part Five Hugh Lofting

IX The Election

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WE were awakened by music. The glaring noonday sunlight was streaming in at our door, outside of which some kind of a band appeared to be playing.

We got up and looked out. Our house was surrounded by the whole population of Popsipetel. We were used to having quite a number of curious and admiring Indians waiting at our door at all hours; but this was quite different. The vast crowd was dressed in its best clothes. Bright beads, gawdy feathers and gay blankets gave cheerful color to the scene. Every one seemed in very good humor, singing or playing on musical instruments--mostly painted wooden whistles or drums made from skins.

We found Polynesia--who while we slept had arrived back from Bag-jagderag--sitting on our door-post watching the show. We asked her what all the holiday-making was about.

"The result of the election has just been announced," said she. "The name of the new chief was given out at noon."

"And who is the new chief?" asked the Doctor.

"You are," said Polynesia quietly.

"I!" gasped the Doctor--"Well, of all things!"

"Yes," said she. "You're the one--And what's more, they've changed your surname for you. They didn't think that Dolittle was a proper or respectful name for a man who had done so much. So you are now to be known as Jong Thinkalot. How do you like it?"

"But I don't WANT to be a chief," said the Doctor in an irritable voice.

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"I'm afraid you'll have hard work to get out of it now," said she--"unless you're willing to put to sea again in one of their rickety canoes. You see you've been elected not merely the Chief of the Popsipetels; you're to be a king--the King of the whole of Spidermonkey Island. The Bag-jagderags, who were so anxious to have you govern them, sent spies and messengers ahead of you; and when they found that you had been elected Chief of the Popsipetels overnight they were bitterly disappointed. However, rather than lose you altogether, the Bag-jagderags were willing to give up their independence, and insisted that they and their lands be united to the Popsipetels in order that you could be made king of both. So now you're in for it."

"Oh Lord!" groaned the Doctor, "I do wish they wouldn't be so enthusiastic! Bother it, I don't WANT to be a king!"

"I should think, Doctor," said I, "you'd feel rather proud and glad. I wish I had a chance to be a king."

"Oh I know it sounds grand, said he, pulling on his boots miserably. "But the trouble is, you can t take up responsibilities and then just drop them again when you feel like it. I have my own work to do. Scarcely one moment have I had to give to natural history since I landed on this island. I've been doing some one else's business all the time. And now they want me to go on doing it! Why, once I'm made King of the Popsipetels, that's the end of me as a useful naturalist. I'd be too busy for anything. All I'd be then is just a er-- er just a king."

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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