The Story of Doctor Dolittle

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Now this business of giving life to animals, making them talk and behave like human beings, is an extremely difficult one. Lewis Carroll absolutely conquered the difficulties, but I am not sure that anyone after him until Hugh Lofting has really managed the trick; even in such a masterpiece as "The Wind in the Willows" we are not quite convinced. John Dolittle's friends are convincing because their creator never forces them to desert their own characteristics. Polynesia, for instance, is natural from first to last. She really does care about the Doctor but she cares as a bird would care, having always some place to which she is going when her business with her friends is over. And when Mr. Lofting invents fantastic animals he gives them a kind of credible possibility which is extraordinarily convincing. It will be impossible for anyone who has read this book not to believe in the existence of the pushmi-pullyu, who would be credible enough even were there no drawing of it, but the picture on page 145 settles the matter of his truth once and for all.

In fact this book is a work of genius and, as always with works of genius, it is difficult to analyze the elements that have gone to make it. There is poetry here and fantasy and humor, a little pathos but, above all, a number of creations in whose existence everybody must believe whether they be children of four or old men of ninety or prosperous bankers of forty-five. I don't know how Mr. Lofting has done it; I don't suppose that he knows himself. There it is--the first real children's classic since "Alice." HUGH WALPOLE.

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

I PUDDLEBY II ANIMAL LANGUAGE III MORE MONEY TROUBLES IV A MESSAGE FROM AFRICA V THE GREAT JOURNEY VI POLYNESIA AND THE KING VII THE BRIDGE OF APES VIII THE LEADER OF THE LIONS IX THE MONKEYS COUNCIL X THE RAREST ANIMAL OF ALL XI THE BLACK PRINCE XII MEDICINE AND MAGIC XIII RED SAILS AND BLUE WINGS XIV THE RATS WARNING XV THE BARBARY DRAGON XVI TOO-TOO, THE LISTENER XVII THE OCEAN GOSSIPS XVIII SMELLS XIX THE ROCK XX THE FISHERMAN'S TOWN XXI HOME AGAIN

THE STORY OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE

THE STORY OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE

THE FIRST CHAPTER

PUDDLEBY

ONCE upon a time, many years ago when our grandfathers were little children--there was a doctor; and his name was Dolittle-- John Dolittle, M.D. "M.D." means that he was a proper doctor and knew a whole lot.

He lived in a little town called, Puddleby- on-the-Marsh. All the folks, young and old, knew him well by sight. And whenever he walked down the street in his high hat everyone would say, "There goes the Doctor!--He's a clever man." And the dogs and the children would all run up and follow behind him; and even the crows that lived in the church-tower would caw and nod their heads.

The house he lived in, on the edge of the town, was quite small; but his garden was very large and had a wide lawn and stone seats and weeping-willows hanging over. His sister, Sarah Dolittle, was housekeeper for him; but the Doctor looked after the garden himself.

He was very fond of animals and kept many kinds of pets. Besides the gold-fish in the pond at the bottom of his garden, he had rabbits in the pantry, white mice in his piano, a squirrel in the linen closet and a hedgehog in the cellar. He had a cow with a calf too, and an old lame horse-twenty-five years of age--and chickens, and pigeons, and two lambs, and many other animals. But his favorite pets were Dab-Dab the duck, Jip the dog, Gub-Gub the baby pig, Polynesia the parrot, and the owl Too-Too.

His sister used to grumble about all these animals and said they made the house untidy. And one day when an old lady with rheumatism came to see the Doctor, she sat on the hedgehog who was sleeping on the sofa and never came to see him any more, but drove every Saturday all the way to Oxenthorpe, another town ten miles off, to see a different doctor.

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