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"Oh, quite," said the Doctor, "thank you. But why did you swim under water?"

"They have various other dodges, more or less underhanded and deceitful, for getting game. But the one invented by the Badamoshi ostrich hunters was perhaps the meanest of them all. Briefly, this was it: Ostriches, you know, usually go about in small herds, like cattle. And they're rather stupid. You've heard the story about their sticking their heads in the sand when a man comes along, thinking that because they can't see the man, the man can't see them. That doesn't speak very well for their intelligence, does it? No. Very well then. Now, in the Badamoshi country there wasn't much sand for the ostriches to stick their heads inwhich in a way was a good thing for them. Because there, when a man came along, they ran away insteadI suppose to look for sand. Anyhow, the running away saved their lives. So the hunters of Badamoshi had to think out some dodge of coming near enough to the ostriches to get among the herd and kill them. And the way they thought out was quite clever. As a matter of fact, I by chance came upon a group of these hunters in the woods one day, practising their new trick. They had the skin of an ostrich and were taking it in turns, putting it over their heads and trying to walk and look like a real ostrich, holding up the long neck with a stick. Keeping myself concealed, I watched them and saw at once what their game was. They meant to disguise themselves as ostriches and walk among the herd and kill them with axes which they kept hidden inside the skin.

CHAPTER II

For many folks it would have seemed a creepy, nightmary sort of country, this land of the mangrove swamps. But to the Doctor, for whom any kind of animal life was always companionable and good intentioned, it was a most delightful new field of exploration.

"No," said the Doctor. "It's only about noon, I should say. But we're locked up. That stupid old Emir of Ellebubu made war on Nyam-Nyam and threw me into jail. Bother it, I always seem to be getting into prison! The worst of it was, he wouldn't let Jip or Dab-Dab come with me. I'm particularly annoyed that I haven't got Dab-Dab. I wish I knew some way I could get a message to her."

It was Speedy himself who woke the Doctor at dawn the next day. And while breakfast was being eaten he explained to John Dolittle the arrangements that had been made.

"'Tuffie!' says the mother, puzzled. 'Why, the cat's asleep in the parlor in front of the firebeen there all evening.'

While he was doing this, however, Dab-Dab sneaked in under the table, unseen by anyone. And suddenly she bit the pearl fisherman in the leg with her powerful beak.

"But parcels would be too heavy for the birds to carry, Gub-Gub," said the Doctor"except perhaps the small parcels by the bigger birds."

"We didn't want the natives to see us," said the strange beast. "They think we are dragonsand we let them go on thinking it. Because then they don't come near the island and we have our country to ourselves."

After some persuasion the Doctor consented to this proposal feeling that perhaps he could do some good. Little did he realize what great labors and strange adventures he was taking upon himself as he got into the canoe with the King, Begwe and Zuzana to be paddled to the town of Fantippo.

"Aye, aye, sir," said the sailor, removing the handcuffs from the Doctor's wrists and turning to go.