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Part Six Hugh Lofting

II Thoughts Of Home

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Table Of Contents: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

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"Well," asked Polynesia quietly, "how did you find the baby?"

"The baby?" he murmured--his thoughts still seemed to be very far away--"Ah yes. The baby was much better, thank you-- It has cut its second tooth."

Then he was silent again, staring dreamily at the ceiling through a cloud of tobacco-smoke; while we all sat round quite still, waiting.

"We were wondering, Doctor," said I at last,--"just before you came in-- when you would be starting home again. We will have been on this island seven months to-morrow."

The Doctor sat forward in his chair looking rather uncomfortable.

"Well, as a matter of fact," said he after a moment, "I meant to speak to you myself this evening on that very subject. But it's--er--a little hard to make any one exactly understand the situation. I am afraid that it would be impossible for me to leave the work I am now engaged on. . . . You remember, when they first insisted on making me king, I told you it was not easy to shake off responsibilities, once you had taken them up. These people have come to rely on me for a great number of things. We found them ignorant of much that white people enjoy. And we have, one might say, changed the current of their lives considerably. Now it is a very ticklish business, to change the lives of other people. And whether the changes we have made will be, in the end, for good or for bad, is our lookout."

He thought a moment--then went on in a quieter, sadder voice:

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"I would like to continue my voyages and my natural history work; and I would like to go back to Puddleby--as much as any of you. This is March, and the crocuses will be showing in the lawn. . . . But that which I feared has come true: I cannot close my eyes to what might happen if I should leave these people and run away. They would probably go back to their old habits and customs: wars, superstitions, devil-worship and what not; and many of the new things we have taught them might be put to improper use and make their condition, then, worse by far than that in which we found them. . . . They like me; they trust me; they have come to look to me for help in all their problems and troubles. And no man wants to do unfair things to them who trust him. . . . And then again, I like THEM. They are, as it were, my children--I never had any children of my own--and I am terribly interested in how they will grow up. Don't you see what I mean?--How can I possibly run away and leave them in the lurch? . . . No. I have thought it over a good deal and tried to decide what was best. And I am afraid that the work I took up when I assumed the crown I must stick to. I'm afraid-- I've got to stay."

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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