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Part Five Hugh Lofting

IX The Election

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Table Of Contents: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

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"I tell you I'm not going to be crowned," cried the Doctor--"not if I can help it. I'll make them a speech. Perhaps that will satisfy them." He turned back to the Indians at the door.

"My friends," he said, "I am not worthy of this great honor you would do me. Little or no skill have I in the arts of kingcraft. Assuredly among your own brave men you will find many better fitted to lead you. For this compliment, this confidence and trust, I thank you. But, I pray you, do not think of me for such high duties which I could not possibly fulfil."

The old man repeated his words to the people behind him in a louder voice. Stolidly they shook their heads, moving not an inch. The old man turned back to the Doctor.

"You are the chosen one," said he. "They will have none but you."

Into the Doctor's perplexed face suddenly there came a flash of hope.

"I'll go and see Long Arrow," he whispered to me. "Perhaps he will know of some way to get me out of this."

And asking the personages to excuse him a moment, he left them there, standing at his door, and hurried off in the direction of Long Arrow's house. I followed him.

We found our big friend lying on a grass bed outside his home, where he had been moved that he might witness the holiday-making.

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"Long Arrow," said the Doctor speaking quickly in eagle tongue so that the bystanders should not overhear, "in dire peril I come to you for help. These men would make me their king. If such a thing befall me, all the great work I hoped to do must go undone, for who is there unfreer than a king? I pray you speak with them and persuade their kind well-meaning hearts that what they plan to do would be unwise."

Long Arrow raised himself upon his elbow. "Oh Kindly One," said he (this seemed now to have become the usual manner of address when speaking to the Doctor), "sorely it grieves me that the first wish you ask of me I should be unable to grant. Alas! I can do nothing. These people have so set their hearts on keeping you for king that if I tried to interfere they would drive me from their land and likely crown you in the end in any case. A king you must be, if only for a while. We must so arrange the business of governing that you may have time to give to Nature's secrets. Later we may be able to hit upon some plan to relieve you of the burden of the crown. But for now you must be king. These people are a headstrong tribe and they will have their way. There is no other course."

Sadly the Doctor turned away from the bed and faced about. And there behind him stood the old man again, the crown still held in his wrinkled hands and the royal litter waiting at his elbow. With a deep reverence the bearers motioned towards the seat of the chair, inviting the white man to get in.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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