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Part Three Hugh Lofting

V Polynesia Has A Plan

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THEN the Doctor told me to take the wheel while he made a little calculation with his map and worked out what new course we should take.

"I shall have to run for the Capa Blancas after all," he told me when the seaman's back was turned. "Dreadful nuisance! But I'd sooner swim back to Puddleby than have to listen to that fellow's talk all the way to Brazil."

Indeed he was a terrible person, this Ben Butcher. You'd think that any one after being told he wasn't wanted would have had the decency to keep quiet. But not Ben Butcher. He kept going round the deck pointing out all the things we had wrong. According to him there wasn't a thing right on the whole ship. The anchor was hitched up wrong; the hatches weren't fastened down properly; the sails were put on back to front; all our knots were the wrong kind of knots.

At last the Doctor told him to stop talking and go downstairs. He refused--said he wasn't going to be sunk by landlubbers while he was still able to stay on deck.

This made us feel a little uneasy. He was such an enormous man there was no knowing what he might do if he got really obstreperous.

Bumpo and I were talking about this downstairs in the dining-saloon when Polynesia, Jip and Chee-Chee came and joined us. And, as usual, Polynesia had a plan.

"Listen," she said, "I am certain this Ben Butcher is a smuggler and a bad man. I am a very good judge of seamen, remember, and I don't like the cut of this man's jib. I--"

"Do you really think," I interrupted, "that it is safe for the Doctor to cross the Atlantic without any regular seamen on his ship?"

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You see it had upset me quite a good deal to find that all the things we had been doing were wrong; and I was beginning to wonder what might happen if we ran into a storm--particularly as Miranda had only said the weather would be good for a certain time; and we seemed to be having so many delays. But Polynesia merely tossed her head scornfully.

"Oh, bless you, my boy," said she, "you're always safe with John Dolittle. Remember that. Don't take any notice of that stupid old salt. Of course it is perfectly true the Doctor does do everything wrong. But with him it doesn't matter. Mark my words, if you travel with John Dolittle you always get there, as you heard him say. I've been with him lots of times and I know. Sometimes the ship is upside down when you get there, and sometimes it's right way up. But you get there just the same. And then of course there's another thing about the Doctor," she added thoughtfully: "he always has extraordinary good luck. He may have his troubles; but with him things seem to have a habit of turning out all right in the end. I remember once when we were going through the Straits of Magellan the wind was so strong--"

"But what are we going to do about Ben Butcher?" Jip put in. "You had some plan Polynesia, hadn't you?"

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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