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Part Three Hugh Lofting

VII The Doctor's Wager

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The Spaniard held out his hand.

"It is a bargain," he said--"I promise. But I must warn you that you are merely throwing your life away, for you will certainly be killed. However, that is no more than you deserve for saying that bullfighting is an unworthy sport. I will meet you here to-morrow morning if you should wish to arrange any particulars. Good day, Sir."

As the Spaniard turned and walked into the shop with the bed-maker, Polynesia, who had been listening as usual, flew up on to my shoulder and whispered in my ear,

"I, have a plan. Get hold of Bumpo and come some place where the Doctor can't hear us. I want to talk to you."

I nudged Bumpo's elbow and we crossed the street and pretended to look into a jeweler's window; while the Doctor sat down upon his bed to lace up his boots, the only part of his clothing he had taken off for the night.

"Listen," said Polynesia, "I've been breaking my head trying to think up some way we can get money to buy those stores with; and at last I've got it."

"The money?" said Bumpo.

"No, stupid. The idea--to make the money with. Listen: the Doctor is simply bound to win this game to-morrow, sure as you're alive. Now all we have to do is to make a side bet with these Spaniards-- they're great on gambling--and the trick's done."

"What's a side bet?" I asked.

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"Oh I know what that is," said Bumpo proudly. "We used to have lots of them at Oxford when boat-racing was on. I go to Don Enrique and say, 'I bet you a hundred pounds the Doctor wins.' Then if he does win, Don Enrique pays me a hundred pounds; and if he doesn't, I have to pay Don Enrique."

"That's the idea," said Polynesia. "Only don't say a hundred pounds: say two-thousand five-hundred pesetas. Now come and find old Don Ricky-ticky and try to look rich."

So we crossed the street again and slipped into the bed-maker's shop while the Doctor was still busy with his boots.

"Don Enrique," said Bumpo, "allow me to introduce myself. I am the Crown Prince of Jolliginki. Would you care to have a small bet with me on to-morrow's bullfight?"

Don Enrique bowed.

"Why certainly," he said, "I shall be delighted. But I must warn you that you are bound to lose. How much?"

"Oh a mere truffle," said Bumpo--"just for the fun of the thing, you know. What do you say to three-thousand pesetas?"

"I agree," said the Spaniard bowing once more. "I will meet you after the bullfight to-morrow."

"So that's all right," said Polynesia as we came out to join the Doctor. "I feel as though quite a load had been taken off my mind."

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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