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Part One Hugh Lofting

X The Private Zoo

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Table Of Contents: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

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The Doctor seemed to have grown terribly serious--almost sad. But suddenly his manner changed again and he took me by the arm with his same old cheerful smile.

"But we haven't seen the butterfly-houses yet--nor the aquariums. Come along. I am very proud of my butterfly-houses."

Off we went again and came presently into a hedged enclosure. Here I saw several big huts made of fine wire netting, like cages. Inside the netting all sorts of beautiful flowers were growing in the sun, with butterflies skimming over them. The Doctor pointed to the end of one of the huts where little boxes with holes in them stood in a row.

"Those are the hatching-boxes," said he. "There I put the different kinds of caterpillars. And as soon as they turn into butterflies and moths they come out into these flower-gardens to feed."

"Do butterflies have a language?" I asked.

"Oh I fancy they have," said the Doctor--"and the beetles too. But so far I haven't succeeded in learning much about insect languages. I have been too busy lately trying to master the shellfish-talk. I mean to take it up though."

At that moment Polynesia joined us and said, "Doctor, there are two guinea-pigs at the back door. They say they have run away from the boy who kept them because they didn't get the right stuff to eat. They want to know if you will take them in."

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"All right," said the Doctor. "Show them the way to the zoo. Give them the house on the left, near the gate--the one the black fox had. Tell them what the rules are and give them a square meal--Now, Stubbins, we will go on to the aquariums. And first of all I must show you my big, glass, sea-water tank where I keep the shellfish."

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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