Dr. Dolittle in the Fishing Village (20/21)

Then the doctor gently woke the man up. But just as he did, the match went out. The man thought Ben Ali had come back and in the darkness he began to hit the doctor. When the doctor told him who he was and that he had his little nephew on the ship, the man was very happy and said he was sorry for hitting the doctor. Then he gave the doctor some snuff.

The man told how the Barbary Dragon Ben Ali had put him on the rock and left him there because he did not want to become a pirate. He had slept in the cave every night to keep warm. And then he said, “For four days I had nothing to eat or drink. I lived on snuff.”

“Well, what did I tell you?” exclaimed Jip.

When they came out into the passage again, the doctor hurried to the boat to get some soup. As soon as the animals and the boy saw the doctor and Jip with the red-haired man, they began to cheer and dance. The swallows began to whistle loudly to show that they too were happy. The noise that these thousands of swallows made was so loud that sailors far out at sea thought a storm was coming.

And Jip was very proud of himself, but he tried not to look conceited. Dab-Dab said, “Jip, I had no idea you were so clever!” but Jip just shook his head and replied, “Oh, it was nothing special. But it takes a dog to find a man. Birds can’t do that.”

The doctor asked the red-haired fisherman where his house was. And when he told him, the doctor asked the swallows to lead the ship there first. They came to a rocky mountain and the man pointed to the house where he lived.

When they were in the harbor, the mother of the little boy ran to the shore laughing and crying at the same time. She had sat on the shore for twenty days, looking out to sea and waiting for them to return. She gave the doctor so many kisses that he blushed like a schoolboy. She also tried to kiss Jip but he quickly ran away and hid in the ship.

“It’s a silly thing, that kissing,” said Jip. “I want nothing to do with it. Let her kiss Gub-Gub if she has to kiss something.”

The fisherman and his wife asked the doctor to spend a few days with them. So John Dolittle and all his animals stayed for a few days. All the little boys in the fishing village went to the beach and pointed to the big ship that was anchored there, whispering to each other, “Look! That was a pirate ship, belonging to Ben Ali, the most terrible pirate that ever sailed the sea! The old gentleman staying in the village stole the ship from the pirates and turned the pirate into a farmer. Who would have thought it! He seems like such a nice man. Look, the ship has red sails and can sail very fast.”

During the days they stayed in the fishing village, the doctor was invited everywhere and all the ladies sent him boxes of flowers and candy and the village band played tunes under his window every night. Finally the doctor said, “Dear people, I must go home now. You have been so very kind. I shall always remember it. But I must go home because there are things I must do there.”

Just as the doctor was about to leave, the mayor came down the street with a procession and stopped at the house where the doctor was staying. After six boys had blown shiny trumpets to make people stop talking, the mayor spoke: “Doctor Dolittle, it gives me great pleasure to offer a small token of gratitude to the man who freed the sea from the Barbary Dragon.” And the mayor gave the doctor a beautiful watch with real diamonds. Then the mayor pulled out an even bigger package from his pocket and said, “Where is the dog?”

Everyone began to search for Jip. And finally, Dab-Dab found him on the other side of the village in a stable, where all the dogs from the countryside stood around him in speechless admiration and respect. When Jip was brought to the doctor, the mayor opened the larger package. Inside was a gold collar! On the collar were large letters that read: “Jip, the smartest dog in the world.”

Then all the people in the village went to the beach to bid farewell to the doctor and his animals. The red-haired fisherman and his sister and the little boy thanked the doctor and his dog over and over again. Then the big, fast ship with the red sails sailed towards the City-by-the-Pond while the village band played music on the shore.