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  Part Three Hugh Lofting

VIII The Great Bullfight

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THE next day was a great day in Monteverde. All the streets were hung with flags; and everywhere gaily dressed crowds were to be seen flocking towards the bull-ring, as the big circus was called where the fights took place.

The news of the Doctor's challenge had gone round the town and, it seemed, had caused much amusement to the islanders. The very idea of a mere foreigner daring to match himself against the great Pepito de Malaga!--Serve him right if he got killed!

The Doctor had borrowed a bullfighter's suit from Don Enrique; and very gay and wonderful he looked in it, though Bumpo and I had hard work getting the waistcoat to close in front and even then the buttons kept bursting off it in all directions.

When we set out from the harbor to walk to the bull-ring, crowds of small boys ran after us making fun of the Doctor's fatness, calling out, "Juan Hagapoco, el grueso matador!" which is the Spanish for, "John Dolittle, the fat bullfighter." As soon as we arrived the Doctor said he would like to take a look at the bulls before the fight began; and we were at once led to the bull pen where, behind a high railing, six enormous black bulls were tramping around wildly.

In a few hurried words and signs the Doctor told the bulls what he was going to do and gave them careful instructions for their part of the show. The poor creatures were tremendously glad when they heard that there was a chance of bullfighting being stopped; and they promised to do exactly as they were told.

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Of course the man who took us in there didn't understand what we were doing. He merely thought the fat Englishman was crazy when he saw the Doctor making signs and talking in ox tongue.

From there the Doctor went to the matadors' dressing-rooms while Bumpo and I with Polynesia made our way into the bull-ring and took our seats in the great open-air theatre.

It was a very gay sight. Thousands of ladies and gentlemen were there, all dressed in their smartest clothes; and everybody seemed very happy and cheerful.

Right at the beginning Don Enrique got up and explained to the people that the first item on the program was to be a match between the English Doctor and Pepito de Malaga. He told them what he had promised if the Doctor should win. But the people did not seem to think there was much chance of that. A roar of laughter went up at the very mention of such a thing.

When Pepito came into the ring everybody cheered, the ladies blew kisses and the men clapped and waved their hats.

Presently a large door on the other side of the ring was rolled back and in galloped one of the bulls; then the door was closed again. At once the matador became very much on the alert. He waved his red cloak and the bull rushed at him. Pepito stepped nimbly aside and the people cheered again.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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