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For some time after the turtle finished no one spoke. Even the irreverent Cheapside was silent. Little bits of stars, dimmed by the light of a half-full moon, twinkled like tiny eyes in the dim blue dome that arched across the lake. Away off somewhere among the tangled mangroves an owl hooted from the swamp and Too-Too turned his head quickly to listen. Dab-Dab, the economical housekeeper, seeing the Doctor close his notebook and put away his pencil, blew out the candle.

"I'm afraid I can't," said the spoonbill. "To tell you the truth, I got those oysters from a pile which some other bird had left on the rock here. He had eaten his fill, I suppose, and gone away. There are a good many left still. Let's go over to the pile and crack a few. Maybe they've all got pearls in them."

On the third day of travel this river bed led them into an entirely new and different kind of country. If you have never been in a mangrove swamp, it is difficult to imagine what it looks like. It was mournful scenery. Flat bog land, full of pools and streamlets, dotted with tufts of grass and weed, tangled with gnarled roots and brambling bushes, spread out for miles and miles in every direction. It reminded the Doctor of some huge shrubbery that had been flooded by heavy rains. No large trees were here, such as they had seen in the jungle lower down. Seven or eight feet above their heads was as high as the mangroves grew and from their thin boughs long streamers of moss hung like gray, fluttering rags.

"I had admired their spirit greatly in punishing a boy so much bigger than they were. And when they wandered off by themselves, again out of curiosity, I followed them. Well, they traveled quite a distance for such small folk. And presently the sun set and darkness began to creep over the woods.

Reaching the mouth of the river at the southern end of the lake they paused a moment before entering the mangrove swamps and looked back. And there in the distance they could just see the shape of the old turtle standing on his new island, watching them. They waved to him and pushed on.

"'Any food there was here I've eaten,' he went on sadly, 'and I dare not go out for more because the owls are waiting on the roof. They'd see my dark body against the snow and I'd stand no chance of escape. I am nearly starved.' And he swayed weakly on his old feet. 'But now you've come, it's different. Some good fairy must have sent you to me. I've been sitting here for days and nights on end, hoping a white mouse might come along. With your white fur, you understand, the owls can't see you so well against the snow. That's what's called protective coloration. I know all about natural historyI'm very old, you see. That is why you managed to get in here without being caught. Go out now, for pity's sake, and bring me the first food of any kind that you can find. The owls by night and the cats by day have kept me shut in here since the snow came without a bite to eat. You are only just in time to save my life.'

"A sanitarium," said the Doctor, "is a sort of mixture between a hospital and a hotelwhere people stay who are invalids.... Well, I agreed to this idea. Then I and my young friendhis name was Phipps, Dr. Cornelius Q. Phippstook a beautiful place way off in the country, and we furnished it with wheel chairs and hot-water bottles and ear trumpets and the things that invalids like. And very soon patients came to us in hundreds and our sanitarium was quite full up and my new thermometer was kept very busy. Of course, we made a lot of money, because all these people paid us well. And Phipps was very happy.

And the seagull spread his wings and flew away toward the land, calling the same cry as the Doctor had heard through the post office window.

"But that takes a long time, doesn't it?" asked the Doctor.

"And where might No-Man's-Land be?" said John Dolittle.

"Great heavens!" cried the Doctor. "What a start you gave me! Come in, come in, and make yourself at home."

The birds, who at first followed the Doctor in droves around the main island wherever he went, presently returned to their ordinary doings when the newness of his arrival had worn off. And after Dab-Dab had come back from her hunt and told him the spoonbill lived on one of the smaller islands, he got back into his canoe and paddled over to the rock she pointed out.

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2023-05-31 01:53:23 [茂名市网友]

"We married her off," said the great creature, nibbling idly at a lily stalk. "We couldn't stand her here, any more than the King could. You never heard anybody talk so in all your life. Yes, we carried her one dark night by sea far down the coast of Africa and left her at the palace door of a deaf king, who ruled over a small country south of the Congo River. He married her. Of course, being deaf, he didn't mind her everlasting chatter in the least."

2023-05-31 01:53:23 [兰州市网友]


2023-05-31 01:53:23 [益阳市网友]

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2023-05-31 01:53:23 [安阳市网友]

"And he led me over to the trough, where I lay down and kept perfectly still while he painted me into the picture. That picture now hangs in the National Gallery. It's called Evening on the Farm. Hundreds of people go to see it every year. But none of them know that the smart-looking dog sleeping beneath the watering trough is none other than myselfexcept the Doctor, whom I took in to see it one day when we were up in London, shopping.

2023-05-31 01:53:23 [达州市网友]

"I'll attend to that," said the Doctor. "I'll see the King about it this afternoon."

2023-05-31 01:53:23 [通辽市网友]

"Anything new in London?" asked the white mouse who was also city bred.

2023-05-31 01:53:23 [澳门网友]

"I'll see what I can do for you, Doc," said the Sparrow, "after I've taken a look around this 'eathen town of yours. But first I want a bath. I'm all heat up from flying under a broiling sun. Ain't you got no puddles round here for a bird to take a bath in?"

2023-05-31 01:53:23 [沧州市网友]

"There doesn't seem to be anything very hopeful there," said the Doctor.