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HOME > Short Stories > The Story of Doctor Dolittle > THE EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER SMELLS
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 Y OUR uncle must now be found,” said the Doctor—“that is the next thing—now that we know he wasn’t thrown into the sea.”
Then Dab-Dab came up to him again and whispered,
“Ask the eagles to look for the man. No living creature can see better than an eagle. When they are miles high in the air they can count the ants crawling on the ground. Ask the eagles.”
So the Doctor sent one of the swallows off to get some eagles.
And in about an hour the little bird came back with six different kinds of eagles: a Black Eagle, a Bald Eagle, a Fish Eagle, a Golden Eagle, an Eagle-Vulture, and a White-tailed Sea Eagle. Twice as high as the boy they were,[150] each one of them. And they stood on the rail of the ship, like round-shouldered soldiers all in a row, stern and still and stiff; while their great, gleaming, black eyes shot darting glances here and there and everywhere.
Gub-Gub was scared of them and got behind a barrel. He said he felt as though those terrible eyes were looking right inside of him to see what he had stolen for lunch.
And the Doctor said to the eagles,
“A man has been lost—a fisherman with red hair and an anchor marked on his arm. Would you be so kind as to see if you can find him for us? This boy is the man’s nephew.”
Eagles do not talk very much. And all they answered in their husky voices was,
“You may be sure that we will do our best—for John Dolittle.”
Then they flew off—and Gub-Gub came out from behind his barrel to see them go. Up and up and up they went—higher and higher and higher still. Then, when the Doctor could only just see them, they parted company and started going off all different ways—North, East, South[151] and West, looking like tiny grains of black sand creeping across the wide, blue sky.
“My gracious!” said Gub-Gub in a hushed voice. “What a height! I wonder they don’t scorch their feathers—so near the sun!”
They were gone a long time. And when they came back it was almost night.
And the eagles said to the Doctor,
“We have searched all the seas and all the countries and all the islands and all the cities and all the villages in this half of the world. But we have failed. In the main street of Gibraltar we saw three red hairs lying on a wheelbarrow before a baker’s door. But they were not the hairs of a man—they were the hairs out of a fur-coat. Nowhere, on land or water, could we see any sign of this boy’s uncle. And if we could not see him, then he is not to be seen.... For John Dolittle—we have done our best.”
Then the six great birds flapped their big wings and flew back to their homes in the mountains and the rocks.
“Well,” said Dab-Dab, after they had gone, “what are we going to do now? The boy’s[152] uncle must be found—there’s no two ways about that. The lad isn’t old enough to be knocking around the world by himself. Boys aren’t like ducklings—they have to be taken care of till they’re quite old.... I wish Chee-Chee were here. He would soon find the man. Good old Chee-Chee! I wonder how he’s getting on!”
“If we only had Polynesia with us,” said the white mouse. “She would soon think of some way. Do you remember how she got us all out of prison—the second time? My, but she was a clever one!”
“I don’t think so much of those eagle-fellows,” said Jip. “They’re just conceited. They may have very good eyesight and all that; but when you ask them to find a man for you, they can’t do it—and they have the cheek to come back and say that nobody else could do it. They’re just conceited—like that collie in Puddleby. And I don’t think a whole lot of those gossipy old porpoises either. All they could tell us was that the man isn’t in the sea. We don’t want to know where he isn’t—we want to know where he is.”
“Oh, don’t talk so much,” said Gub-Gub. “It’s easy to talk; but it isn’t so easy to find a man when you have got the whole world to hunt him in. Maybe the fisherman’s hair has turned white, worrying about the boy; and that was why the eagles didn’t find him. You don’t know everything. You’re just talking. You are not doing anything to help. You couldn’t find the boy’s uncle any more than the eagles could—you couldn’t do as well.”
animals on deck
“‘You stupid piece of warm bacon!’”
“Couldn’t I?” said the dog. “That’s all you know, you stupid piece of warm bacon! I[154] haven’t begun to try yet, have I? You wait and see!”
Then Jip went to the Doctor and said,
“Ask the boy if he has anything in his pockets that belonged to his uncle, will you, please?”
So the Doctor asked him. And the boy sh............
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