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  Part Four Hugh Lofting

VII Hawk's-Head Mountain

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WE all agreed afterwards that none of us had ever worked so hard in our lives before as we did that day. For my part, I know I was often on the point of dropping exhausted with fatigue; but I just kept on going--like a machine--determined that, whatever happened, I would not be the first to give up.

When we had scrambled to the top of a high peak, almost instantly we saw the strange mountain pictured in the letter. In shape it was the perfect image of a hawk's head, and was, as far as we could see, the second highest summit in the island.

Although we were all out of breath from our climb, the Doctor didn't let us rest a second as soon as he had sighted it. With one look at the sun for direction, down he dashed again, breaking through thickets, splashing over brooks, taking all the short cuts. For a fat man, he was certainly the swiftest cross-country runner I ever saw.

We floundered after him as fast as we could. When I say WE, I mean Bumpo and myself; for the animals, Jip, Chee-Chee and Polynesia, were a long way ahead--even beyond the Doctor--enjoying the hunt like a paper-chase.

At length we arrived at the foot of the mountain we were making for; and we found its sides very steep. Said the Doctor,

"Now we will separate and search for caves. This spot where we now are, will be our meeting-place. If anyone finds anything like a cave or a hole where the earth and rocks have fallen in, he must shout and hulloa to the rest of us. If we find nothing we will all gather here in about an hour's time--Everybody understand?"

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Then we all went off our different ways.

Each of us, you may be sure, was anxious to be the one to make a discovery. And never was a mountain searched so thoroughly. But alas! nothing could we find that looked in the least like a fallen-in cave. There were plenty of places where rocks had tumbled down to the foot of the slopes; but none of these appeared as though caves or passages could possibly lie behind them.

One by one, tired and disappointed, we straggled back to the meeting-place. The Doctor seemed gloomy and impatient but by no means inclined to give up.

"Jip," he said, "couldn't you SMELL anything like an Indian anywhere?"

"No," said Jip. "I sniffed at every crack on the mountainside. But I am afraid my nose will be of no use to you here, Doctor. The trouble is, the whole air is so saturated with the smell of spider-monkeys that it drowns every other scent--And besides, it's too cold and dry for good smelling."

"It is certainly that," said the Doctor--"and getting colder all the time. I'm afraid the island is still drifting to the southward. Let's hope it stops before long, or we won't be able to get even nuts and fruit to eat-- everything in the island will perish--Chee-Chee, what luck did you have?"

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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