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Part Four Hugh Lofting

IV Wrecked!

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Table Of Contents: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

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"Of course he's alive--and it's my firm belief he always will be. He's over there, about forty miles to the westward."

"What's he doing there?"

"He's sitting on the other half of the Curlew shaving himself-- or he was, when I left him."

"Well, thank Heaven he's alive!" said I--"And Bumpo--and the animals, are they all right?"

"Yes, they're with him. Your ship broke in half in the storm. The Doctor had tied you down when he found you stunned. And the part you were on got separated and floated away. Golly, it was a storm! One has to be a gull or an albatross to stand that sort of weather. I had been watching for the Doctor for three weeks, from a cliff-top; but last night I had to take refuge in a cave to keep my tail-feathers from blowing out. As soon as I found the Doctor, he sent me off with some porpoises to look for you. A Stormy Petrel volunteered to help us in our search. There had been quite a gathering of sea-birds waiting to greet the Doctor; but the rough weather sort of broke up the arrangements that had been made to welcome him properly. It was the petrel that first gave us the tip where you were."

"Well, but how can I get to the Doctor, Miranda?--I haven't any oars."

"Get to him!--Why, you're going to him now. Look behind you."

I turned around. The moon was just rising on the sea's edge. And I now saw that my raft was moving through the water, but so gently that I had not noticed it before.

"What's moving us?" I asked.

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"The porpoises," said Miranda.

I went to the back of the raft and looked down into the water. And just below the surface I could see the dim forms of four big porpoises, their sleek skins glinting in the moonlight, pushing at the raft with their noses.

"They're old friends of the Doctor's," said Miranda. "They'd do anything for John Dolittle. We should see his party soon now. We're pretty near the place I left them--Yes, there they are! See that dark shape?--No, more to the right of where you're looking. Can't you make out the figure of the black man standing against the sky?--Now Chee-Chee spies us--he's waving. Don't you see them?"

I didn't--for my eyes were not as sharp as Miranda's. But presently from somewhere in the murky dusk I heard Bumpo singing his African comic songs with the full force of his enormous voice. And in a little, by peering and peering in the direction of the sound, I at last made out a dim mass of tattered, splintered wreckage--all that remained of the poor Curlew-- floating low down upon the water.

A hulloa came through the night. And I answered it. We kept it up, calling to one another back and forth across the calm night sea. And a few minutes later the two halves of our brave little ruined ship bumped gently together again.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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