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Part Three Hugh Lofting

IV Our Troubles Continue

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THE next morning when we were eating a very excellent breakfast of kidneys and bacon, prepared by our good cook Bumpo, the Doctor said to me,

"I was just wondering, Stubbins, whether I should stop at the Capa Blanca Islands or run right across for the coast of Brazil. Miranda said we could expect a spell of excellent weather now--for four and a half weeks at least."

"Well," I said, spooning out the sugar at the bottom of my cocoa-cup, "I should think it would be best to make straight across while we are sure of good weather. And besides the Purple Bird-of-Paradise is going to keep a lookout for us, isn't she? She'll be wondering what's happened to us if we don't get there in about a month."

"True, quite true, Stubbins. On the other hand, the Capa Blancas make a very convenient stopping place on our way across. If we should need supplies or repairs it would be very handy to put in there."

"How long will it take us from here to the Capa Blancas?" I asked.

"About six days," said the Doctor--"Well, we can decide later. For the next two days at any rate our direction would be the same practically in either case. If you have finished breakfast let's go and get under way."

Upstairs I found our vessel surrounded by white and gray seagulls who flashed and circled about in the sunny morning air, looking for food-scraps thrown out by the ships into the harbor.

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By about half past seven we had the anchor up and the sails set to a nice steady breeze; and this time we got out into the open sea without bumping into a single thing. We met the Penzance fishing fleet coming in from the night's fishing, and very trim and neat they looked, in a line like soldiers, with their red-brown sails all leaning over the same way and the white water dancing before their bows.

For the next three or four days everything went smoothly and nothing unusual happened. During this time we all got settled down into our regular jobs; and in spare moments the Doctor showed each of us how to take our turns at the wheel, the proper manner of keeping a ship on her right course, and what to do if the wind changed suddenly. We divided the twenty-four hours of the day into three spells; and we took it in turns to sleep our eight hours and be awake sixteen. So the ship was well looked after, with two of us always on duty.

Besides that, Polynesia, who was an older sailor than any of us, and really knew a lot about running ships, seemed to be always awake-- except when she took her couple of winks in the sun, standing on one leg beside the wheel. You may be sure that no one ever got a chance to stay abed more than his eight hours while Polynesia was around. She used to watch the ship's clock; and if you overslept a half-minute, she would come down to the cabin and peck you gently on the nose till you got up.

I very soon grew to be quite fond of our funny black friend Bumpo, with his grand way of speaking and his enormous feet which some one was always stepping on or falling over. Although he was much older than I was and had been to college, he never tried to lord it over me. He seemed to be forever smiling and kept all of us in good humor. It wasn't long before I began to see the Doctor's good sense in bringing him--in spite of the fact that he knew nothing whatever about sailing or travel.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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