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Part Two Hugh Lofting

VII The End Of The Mystery

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THE trial went swiftly forward after that. Mr. Jenkyns told the Doctor to ask Bob what he saw on the "night of the 29th;" and when Bob had told all he knew and the Doctor had turned it into English for the judge and the jury, this was what he had to say:

"On the night of the 29th of November, 1824, I was with my master, Luke Fitzjohn (otherwise known as Luke the Hermit) and his two partners, Manuel Mendoza and William Boggs (otherwise known as Bluebeard Bill) on their gold-mine in Mexico. For a long time these three men had been hunting for gold; and they had dug a deep hole in the ground. On the morning of the 29th gold was discovered, lots of it, at the bottom of this hole. And all three, my master and his two partners, were very happy about it because now they would be rich. But Manuel Mendoza asked Bluebeard Bill to go for a walk with him. These two men I had always suspected of being bad. So when I noticed that they left my master behind, I followed them secretly to see what they were up to. And in a deep cave in the mountains I heard them arrange together to kill Luke the Hermit so that they should get all the gold and he have none."

At this point the judge asked, "Where is the witness Mendoza? Constable, see that he does not leave the court."

But the wicked little man with the watery eyes had already sneaked out when no one was looking and he was never seen in Puddleby again.

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"Then," Bob's statement went on, "I went to my master and tried very hard to make him understand that his partners were dangerous men. But it was no use. He did not understand dog language. So I did the next best thing: I never let him out of my sight but stayed with him every moment of the day and night.

"Now the hole that they had made was so deep that to get down and up it you had to go in a big bucket tied on the end of a rope; and the three men used to haul one another up and let one another down the mine in this way. That was how the gold was brought up too--in the bucket. Well, about seven o'clock in the evening my master was standing at the top of the mine, hauling up Bluebeard Bill who was in the bucket. Just as he had got Bill halfway up I saw Mendoza come out of the hut where we all lived. Mendoza thought that Bill was away buying groceries. But he wasn't: he was in the bucket. And when Mendoza saw Luke hauling and straining on the rope he thought he was pulling up a bucket-ful of gold. So he drew a pistol from his pocket and came sneaking up behind Luke to shoot him.

"I barked and barked to warn my master of the danger he was in; but he was so busy hauling up Bill (who was a heavy fat man) that he took no notice of me. I saw that if I didn't do something quick he would surely be shot. So I did a thing I've never done before: suddenly and savagely I bit my master in the leg from behind. Luke was so hurt and startled that he did just what I wanted him to do: he let go the rope with both hands at once and turned round. And then, CRASH! down went Bill in his bucket to the bottom of the mine and he was killed.

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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