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Part One Hugh Lofting

XII My Great Idea

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Table Of Contents: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

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"The Purple Bird-of-Paradise," said the Doctor--" she told me all about him. She says he is a perfectly marvelous naturalist. I got her to take a message to him for me last time she was here. I am expecting her back any day now. I can hardly wait to see what answer she has brought from him. It is already almost the last week of August. I do hope nothing has happened to her on the way."

"But why do the animals and birds come to you when they are sick?" I said--"Why don't they go to him, if he is so very wonderful?"

"It seems that my methods are more up to date," said the Doctor. "But from what the Purple Bird-of-Paradise tells me, Long Arrow's knowledge of natural history must be positively tremendous. His specialty is botany--plants and all that sort of thing. But he knows a lot about birds and animals too. He's very good on bees and beetles--But now tell me, Stubbins, are you quite sure that you really want to be a naturalist?"

"Yes," said I, "my mind is made up."

"Well you know, it isn't a very good profession for making money. Not at all, it isn't. Most of the good naturalists don't make any money whatever. All they do is SPEND money, buying butterfly-nets and cases for birds' eggs and things. It is only now, after I have been a naturalist for many years, that I am beginning to make a little money from the books I write."

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"I don't care about money," I said. "I want to be a naturalist. Won't you please come and have dinner with my mother and father next Thursday--I told them I was going to ask you--and then you can talk to them about it. You see, there's another thing: if I'm living with you, and sort of belong to your house and business, I shall be able to come with you next time you go on a voyage."

"Oh, I see," said he, smiling. "So you want to come on a voyage with me, do you?--Ah hah!"

"I want to go on all your voyages with you. It would be much easier for you if you had someone to carry the butterfly-nets and note-books. Wouldn't it now?"

For a long time the Doctor sat thinking, drumming on the desk with his fingers, while I waited, terribly impatiently, to see what he was going to say.

At last he shrugged his shoulders and stood up.

"Well, Stubbins," said he, "I'll come and talk it over with you and your parents next Thursday. And--well, we'll see. We'll see. Give your mother and father my compliments and thank them for their invitation, will you?"

Then I tore home like the wind to tell my mother that the Doctor had promised to come.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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