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Part Six Hugh Lofting

VII The Doctor's Decision

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Table Of Contents: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

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"Now see here, my friends," said she speaking low: "you know how much John Dolittle has done for the animals--given his whole life up to them, one might say. Well, here is your chance to do something for him. Listen: he got made king of this island against his will, see? And now that he has taken the job on, he feels that he can't leave it-- thinks the Indians won't be able to get along without him and all that-- which is nonsense, as you and I very well know. All right. Then here's the point: if this snail were only willing to take him and us-- and a little baggage--not very much, thirty or forty pieces, say--inside his shell and carry us to England, we feel sure that the Doctor would go; because he's just crazy to mess about on the floor of the ocean. What's more this would be his one and only chance of escape from the island. Now it is highly important that the Doctor return to his own country to carry on his proper work which means such a lot to the animals of the world. So what we want you to do is to tell the sea-urchin to tell the starfish to tell the snail to take us in his shell and carry us to Puddleby River. Is that plain?"

"Quite, quite," said the porpoises. "And we will willingly do our very best to persuade him--for it is, as you say, a perfect shame for the great man to be wasting his time here when he is so much needed by the animals."

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"And don't let the Doctor know what you're about," said Polynesia as they started to move off. "He might balk if he thought we had any hand in it. Get the snail to offer on his own account to take us. See?"

John Dolittle, unaware of anything save the work he was engaged on, was standing knee-deep in the shallow water, helping the snail try out his mended tail to see if it were well enough to travel on. Bumpo and Long Arrow, with Chee-Chee and Jip, were lolling at the foot of a palm a little way up the beach. Polynesia and I now went and joined them. Half an hour passed.

What success the porpoises had met with, we did not know, till suddenly the Doctor left the snail's side and came splashing out to us. quite breathless.

"What do you think?" he cried, "while I was talking to the snail just now he offered, of his own accord, to take us all back to England inside his shell. He says he has got to go on a voyage of discovery anyway, to hunt up a new home, now that the Deep Hole is closed. Said it wouldn't be much out of his way to drop us at Puddleby River, if we cared to come along--Goodness, what a chance! I'd love to go. To examine the floor of the ocean all the way from Brazil to Europe! No man ever did it before. What a glorious trip!-- Oh that I had never allowed myself to be made king! Now I must see the chance of a lifetime slip by."

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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