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  Part Two Hugh Lofting

IV Bob

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Table Of Contents: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

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DAB-DAB was terribly upset when she found we were going away again without luncheon; and she made us take some cold pork-pies in our pockets to eat on the way.

When we got to Puddleby Court-house (it was next door to the prison), we found a great crowd gathered around the building.

This was the week of the Assizes--a business which happened every three months, when many pick-pockets and other bad characters were tried by a very grand judge who came all the way from London. And anybody in Puddleby who had nothing special to do used to come to the Court-house to hear the trials.

But to-day it was different. The crowd was not made up of just a few idle people. It was enormous. The news had run through the countryside that Luke the Hermit was to be tried for killing a man and that the great mystery which had hung over him so long was to be cleared up at last. The butcher and the baker had closed their shops and taken a holiday. All the farmers from round about, and all the townsfolk, were there with their Sunday clothes on, trying to get seats in the Court. house or gossipping outside in low whispers. The High Street was so crowded you could hardly move along it. I had never seen the quiet old town in such a state of excitement before. For Puddleby had not had such an Assizes since 1799, when Ferdinand Phipps, the Rector's oldest son, had robbed the bank.

If I hadn't had the Doctor with me I am sure I would never have been able to make my way through the mob packed around the Court-house door. But I just followed behind him, hanging on to his coat-tails; and at last we got safely into the jail.

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"I want to see Luke," said the Doctor to a very grand person in a blue coat with brass buttons standing at the door.

"Ask at the Superintendent's office," said the man. "Third door on the left down the corridor."

"Who is that person you spoke to, Doctor?" I asked as we went along the passage.

"He is a policeman."

"And what are policemen?"

"Policemen? They are to keep people in order. They've just been invented-- by Sir Robert Peel. That's why they are also called 'peelers' sometimes. It is a wonderful age we live in. They're always thinking of something new-- This will be the Superintendent's office, I suppose."

From there another policeman was sent with us to show us the way.

Outside the door of Luke's cell we found Bob, the bulldog, who wagged his tail sadly when he saw us. The man who was guiding us took a large bunch of keys from his pocket and opened the door.

I had never been inside a real prison-cell before; and I felt quite a thrill when the policeman went out and locked the door after him, leaving us shut in the dimly-lighted, little, stone room. Before he went, he said that as soon as we had done talking with our friend we should knock upon the door and he would come and let us out.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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