The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

by Hugh Lofting

Part 5, Chapter 7: The Peace of the Parrots

Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1922
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: England
  • Source: Lofting, H. (1922). The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle. London, England: Lippincott Publishing.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 4.2
  • Word Count: 817
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Keywords: 20th century literature, british literature, children's literature
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The next day we set out for the far end of the island, and reaching it in canoes (for we went by sea) after a journey of twenty-five hours, we remained no longer than was necessary in the City of Bag-jagderag.

When he threw himself into that fight at Popsipetel, I saw the Doctor really angry for the first time in my life. But his anger, once aroused, was slow to die. All the way down the coast of the island he never ceased to rail against this cowardly people who had attacked his friends, the Popsipetels, for no other reason but to rob them of their corn, because they were too idle to till the land themselves. And he was still angry when he reached the City of Bag-jagderag.

Long Arrow had not come with us for he was as yet too weak from his wound. But the Doctor—always clever at languages—was already getting familiar with the Indian tongue. Besides, among the half-dozen Popsipetels who accompanied us to paddle the canoes, was one boy to whom we had taught a little English. He and the Doctor between them managed to make themselves understood to the Bag-jagderags. This people, with the terrible parrots still blackening the hills about their stone town, waiting for the word to descend and attack, were, we found, in a very humble mood.

Leaving our canoes we passed up the main street to the palace of the chief. Bumpo and I couldn't help smiling with satisfaction as we saw how the waiting crowds which lined the roadway bowed their heads to the ground, as the little, round, angry figure of the Doctor strutted ahead of us with his chin in the air.

At the foot of the palace-steps the chief and all the more important personages of the tribe were waiting to meet him, smiling humbly and holding out their hands in friendliness. The Doctor took not the slightest notice. He marched right by them, up the steps to the door of the palace. There he turned around and at once began to address the people in a firm voice.

I never heard such a speech in my life—and I am quite sure that they never did either. First he called them a long string of names: cowards, loafers, thieves, vagabonds, good-for-nothings, bullies and what not. Then he said he was still seriously thinking of allowing the parrots to drive them on into the sea, in order that this pleasant land might be rid, once for all, of their worthless carcases. At this a great cry for mercy went up, and the chief and all of them fell on their knees, calling out that they would submit to any conditions of peace he wished.

Then the Doctor called for one of their scribes—that is, a man who did picture-writing. And on the stone walls of the palace of Bag-jagderag he bade him write down the terms of the peace as he dictated it. This peace is known as The Peace of The Parrots, and—unlike most peaces—was, and is, strictly kept—even to this day.

It was quite long in words. The half of the palace-front was covered with picture-writing, and fifty pots of paint were used, before the weary scribe had done. But the main part of it all was that there should be no more fighting; and that the two tribes should give solemn promise to help one another whenever there was corn-famine or other distress in the lands belonging to either.

This greatly surprised the Bag-jagderags. They had expected from the Doctor's angry face that he would at least chop a couple of hundred heads off—and probably make the rest of them slaves for life.

But when they saw that he only meant kindly by them, their great fear of him changed to a tremendous admiration. And as he ended his long speech and walked briskly down the steps again on his way back to the canoes, the group of chieftains threw themselves at his feet and cried, "Do but stay with us. Great Lord, and all the riches of Bag-jagderag shall be poured into your lap. Gold-mines we know of in the mountains and pearl-beds beneath the sea. Only stay with us, that your all-powerful wisdom may lead our Council and our people in prosperity and peace." The Doctor held up his hand for silence.

"No man," said he, "would wish to be the guest of the Bag-jagderags till they had proved by their deeds that they are an honest race. Be true to the terms of the Peace and from yourselves shall come good government and prosperity—Farewell!"

Then he turned and followed by Bumpo, the Popsipetels and myself, walked rapidly down to the canoes.