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Part Six Hugh Lofting

II Thoughts Of Home

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IN the Royal Palace Bumpo and I had a beautiful suite of rooms of our very own--which Polynesia, Jip and Chee-Chee shared with us.

Officially Bumpo was Minister of the Interior; while I was First Lord of the Treasury. Long Arrow also had quarters there; but at present he was absent, traveling abroad.

One night after supper when the Doctor was away in the town somewhere visiting a new-born baby, we were all sitting round the big table in Bumpo's reception-room. This we did every evening, to talk over the plans for the following day and various affairs of state. It was a kind of Cabinet Meeting.

To-night however we were talking about England--and also about things to eat. We had got a little tired of Indian food. You see, none of the natives knew how to cook; and we had the most discouraging time training a chef for the Royal Kitchen. Most of them were champions at spoiling good food. Often we got so hungry that the Doctor would sneak downstairs with us into the palace basement, after all the cooks were safe in bed, and fry pancakes secretly over the dying embers of the fire. The Doctor himself was the finest cook that ever lived. But he used to make a terrible mess of the kitchen; and of course we had to be awfully careful that we didn't get caught.

Well, as I was saying, to-night food was the subject of discussion at the Cabinet Meeting; and I had just been reminding Bumpo of the nice dishes we had had at the bed-maker's house in Monteverde.

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"I tell you what I would like now," said Bumpo: "a large cup of cocoa with whipped cream on the top of it. In Oxford we used to be able to get the most wonderful cocoa. It is really too bad they haven't any cocoa-trees in this island, or cows to give cream."

"When do you suppose," asked Jip, "the Doctor intends to move on from here?"

"I was talking to him about that only yesterday," said Polynesia. "But I couldn't get any satisfactory answer out of him. He didn't seem to want to speak about it."

There was a pause in the conversation.

"Do you know what I believe?" she added presently. "I believe the Doctor has given up even thinking of going home."

"Good Lord!" cried Bumpo. "You don't say!"

"Sh!" said Polynesia. "What's that noise?"

We listened; and away off in the distant corridors of the palace we heard the sentries crying,

"The King!--Make way!--The King!"

"It's he--at last," whispered Polynesia--"late, as usual. Poor man, how he does work!--Chee-Chee, get the pipe and tobacco out of the cupboard and lay the dressing-gown ready on his chair."

When the Doctor came into the room he looked serious and thoughtful. Wearily he took off his crown and hung it on a peg behind the door. Then he exchanged the royal cloak for the dressing-gown, dropped into his chair at the head of the table with a deep sigh and started to fill his pipe.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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