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Part Three Hugh Lofting

III Our Troubles Begin

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"Good Lord deliver us! Who are these?" cried John Dolittle.

"Two more stowaways, Sir," said Bumpo stepping forward briskly. "I found them in your cabin hiding under the bunk. One woman and one man, Sir. Here are the maps."

"This is too much," said the Doctor feebly. "Who are they? I can't see their faces in this dim light. Strike a match, Bumpo."

You could never guess who it was. It was Luke and his wife. Mrs. Luke appeared to be very miserable and seasick.

They explained to the Doctor that after they had settled down to live together in the little shack out on the fens, so many people came to visit them (having heard about the great trial) that life became impossible; and they had decided to escape from Puddleby in this manner-- for they had no money to leave any other way--and try to find some new place to live where they and their story wouldn't be so well known. But as soon as the ship had begun to roll Mrs. Luke had got most dreadfully unwell.

Poor Luke apologized many times for being such a nuisance and said that the whole thing had been his wife's idea.

The Doctor, after he had sent below for his medicine-bag and had given Mrs. Luke some sal volatile and smelling-salts, said he thought the best thing to do would be for him to lend them some money and put them ashore at Penzance with Matthew. He also wrote a letter for Luke to take with him to a friend the Doctor had in the town of Penzance who, it was hoped, would be able to find Luke work to do there.

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As the Doctor opened his purse and took out some gold coins I heard Polynesia, who was sitting on my shoulder watching the whole affair, mutter beneath her breath,

"There he goes--lending his last blessed penny--three pounds ten-- all the money we had for the whole trip! Now we haven't the price of a postage-stamp aboard if we should lose an anchor or have to buy a pint of tar--Well, let's, pray we don't run out of food-- Why doesn't he give them the ship and walk home?"

Presently with the help of the map the course of the boat was changed and, to Mrs. Luke's great relief, we made for Penzance and dry land.

I was tremendously interested to see how a ship could be steered into a port at night with nothing but light-houses and a compass to guide you. It seemed to me that the Doctor missed all the rocks and sand-bars very cleverly.

We got into that funny little Cornish harbor about eleven o'clock that night. The Doctor took his stowaways on shore in our small row-boat which we kept on the deck of the Curlew and found them rooms at the hotel there. When he got back he told us that Mrs. Luke had gone straight to bed and was feeling much better.

It was now after midnight; so we decided to stay in the harbor and wait till morning before setting out again.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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