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Part Three Hugh Lofting

III Our Troubles Begin

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JUST before supper-time Bumpo appeared from downstairs and went to the Doctor at the wheel.

"A stowaway in the hold, Sir," said he in a very business-like seafaring voice. "I just discovered him, behind the flour-bags."

"Dear me!" said the Doctor. "What a nuisance! Stubbins, go down with Bumpo and bring the man up. I can't leave the wheel just now."

So Bumpo and I went down into the hold; and there, behind the flour-bags, plastered in flour from head to foot, we found a man. After we had swept most of the flour off him with a broom, we discovered that it was Matthew Mugg. We hauled him upstairs sneezing and took him before the Doctor.

"Why Matthew!" said John Dolittle. "What on earth are you doing here?"

"The temptation was too much for me, Doctor," said the cat's-meat-man. "You know I've often asked you to take me on voyages with you and you never would. Well, this time, knowing that you needed an extra man, I thought if I stayed hid till the ship was well at sea you would find I came in handy like and keep me. But I had to lie so doubled up, for hours, behind them flour-bags, that my rheumatism came on something awful. I just had to change my position; and of course just as I stretched out my legs along comes this here African cook of yours and sees my feet sticking out--Don't this ship roll something awful! How long has this storm been going on? I reckon this damp sea air wouldn't be very good for my rheumatics."

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"No, Matthew it really isn't. You ought not to have come. You are not in any way suited to this kind of a life. I'm sure you wouldn't enjoy a long voyage a bit. We'll stop in at Penzance and put you ashore. Bumpo, please go downstairs to my bunk; and listen: in the pocket of my dressing-gown you'll find some maps. Bring me the small one--with blue pencil-marks at the top. I know Penzance is over here on our left somewhere. But I must find out what light-houses there are before I change the ship's course and sail inshore."

"Very good, Sir," said Bumpo, turning round smartly and making for the stairway.

"Now Matthew," said the Doctor, "you can take the coach from Penzance to Bristol. And from there it is not very far to Puddleby, as you know. Don't forget to take the usual provisions to the house every Thursday, and be particularly careful to remember the extra supply of herrings for the baby minks."

While we were waiting for the maps Chee-Chee and I set about lighting the lamps: a green one on the right side of the ship, a red one on the left and a white one on the mast.

At last we heard some one trundling on the stairs again and the Doctor said,

"Ah, here's Bumpo with the maps at last!"

But to our great astonishment it was not Bumpo alone that appeared but THREE people.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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