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  Part Five Hugh Lofting

VI General Polynesia

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BUT alas! even the Three, mighty though they were, could not last forever against an army which seemed to have no end. In one of the hottest scrimmages, when the enemy had broken a particularly wide hole through the fence, I saw Long Arrow's great figure topple and come down with a spear sticking in his broad chest.

For another half-hour Bumpo and the Doctor fought on side by side. How their strength held out so long I cannot tell, for never a second were they given to get their breath or rest their arms.

The Doctor--the quiet, kindly, peaceable, little Doctor!--well, you wouldn't have known him if you had seen him that day dealing out whacks you could hear a mile off, walloping and swatting in all directions.

As for Bumpo, with staring eye-balls and grim set teeth, he was a veritable demon. None dared come within yards of that wicked, wide-circling door-post. But a stone, skilfully thrown, struck him at last in the centre of the forehead. And down went the second of the Three. John Dolittle, the last of the Terribles, was left fighting alone.

Jip and I rushed to his side and tried to take the places of the fallen ones. But, far too light and too small, we made but a poor exchange. Another length of the fence crashed down, and through the widened gap the Bag-jagderags poured in on us like a flood.

"To the canoes!--To the sea!" shouted the Popsipetels. "Fly for your lives!-- All is over!--The war is lost!"

But the Doctor and I never got a chance to fly for our lives. We were swept off our feet and knocked down flat by the sheer weight of the mob. And once down, we were unable to get up again. I thought we would surely be trampled to death.

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But at that moment, above the din and racket of the battle, we heard the most terrifying noise that ever assaulted human ears: the sound of millions and millions of parrots all screeching with fury together.

The army, which in the nick of time Polynesia had brought to our rescue, darkened the whole sky to the westward. I asked her afterwards, how many birds there were; and she said she didn't know exactly but that they certainly numbered somewhere between sixty and seventy millions. In that extraordinarily short space of time she had brought them from the mainland of South America.

If you have ever heard a parrot screech with anger you will know that it makes a truly frightful sound; and if you have ever been bitten by one, you will know that its bite can be a nasty and a painful thing.

The Black Parrots (coal-black all over, they were--except for a scarlet beak and a streak of red in wing and tail) on the word of command from Polynesia set to work upon the Bag-jagderags who were now pouring through the village looking for plunder.

And the Black Parrots' method of fighting was peculiar. This is what they did: on the head of each Bag-jagderag three or four parrots settled and took a good foot-hold in his hair with their claws; then they leant down over the sides of his head and began clipping snips out of his ears, for all the world as though they were punching tickets. That is all they did. They never bit them anywhere else except the ears. But it won the war for us.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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