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Part Two Hugh Lofting

X Long Arrow, The Son Of Golden Arrow

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WELL, Miranda," said the Doctor. "I'm terribly sorry this has happened. But you mustn't mind Cheapside; he doesn't know any better. He's a city bird; and all his life he has had to squabble for a living. You must make allowances. He doesn't know any better."

Miranda stretched her gorgeous wings wearily. Now that I saw her awake and moving I noticed what a superior, well-bred manner she had. There were tears in her eyes and her beak was trembling.

"I wouldn't have minded so much," she said in a high silvery voice, "if I hadn't been so dreadfully worn out--That and something else," she added beneath her breath.

"Did you have a hard time getting here?" asked the Doctor.

"The worst passage I ever made," said Miranda. "The weather--Well there. What's the use? I'm here anyway."

"Tell me," said the Doctor as though he had been impatiently waiting to say something for a long time: "what did Long Arrow say when you gave him my message?"

The Purple Bird-of-Paradise hung her head.

"That's the worst part of it," she said. "I might almost as well have not come at all. I wasn't able to deliver your message. I couldn't find him. LONG ARROW, THE SON OF GOLDEN ARROW, HAS DISAPPEARED!"

"Disappeared!" cried the Doctor. "Why, what's become of him?"

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"Nobody knows," Miranda answered. "He had often disappeared before, as I have told you--so that the Indians didn't know where he was. But it's a mighty hard thing to hide away from the birds. I had always been able to find some owl or martin who could tell me where he was--if I wanted to know. But not this time. That's why I'm nearly a fortnight late in coming to you: I kept hunting and hunting, asking everywhere. I went over the whole length and breadth of South America. But there wasn't a living thing could tell me where he was."

There was a sad silence in the room after she had finished; the Doctor was frowning in a peculiar sort of way and Polynesia scratched her head.

"Did you ask the black parrots?" asked Polynesia. "They usually know everything."

"Certainly I did," said Miranda. "And I was so upset at not being able to find out anything, that I forgot all about observing the weather-signs before I started my flight here. I didn't even bother to break my journey at the Azores, but cut right across, making for the Straits of Gibraltar-- as though it were June or July. And of course I ran into a perfectly frightful storm in mid-Atlantic. I really thought I'd never come through it. Luckily I found a piece of a wrecked vessel floating in the sea after the storm had partly died down; and I roosted on it and took some sleep. If I hadn't been able to take that rest I wouldn't be here to tell the tale."

"Poor Miranda! What a time you must have had!" said the Doctor. "But tell me, were you able to find out whereabouts Long Arrow was last seen?"

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The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
Hugh Lofting

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