Are You a Good Noticer?

Just at that moment Polynesia came into the room and said something to the Doctor in bird language. Of course I did not understand what it was. But the Doctor at once put down his knife and fork and left the room.

“You know it is an awful shame,” said the parrot as soon as the Doctor had closed the door. “Directly he comes back home, all the animals over the whole countryside get to hear of it and every sick cat and mangy rabbit for miles around comes to see him and ask his advice. Now there’s a big fat hare outside at the back door with a squawking baby. Can she see the Doctor, please!—Thinks it’s going to have convulsions. Stupid little thing’s been eating Deadly Nightshade again, I suppose. The animals are so inconsiderate at times—especially the mothers. They come round and call the Doctor away from his meals and wake him out of his bed at all hours of the night. I don’t know how he stands it—really I don’t. Why, the poor man never gets any peace at all! I’ve told him time and again to have special hours for the animals to come. But he is so frightfully kind and considerate. He never refuses to see them if there is anything really wrong with them. He says the urgent cases must be seen at once.”

“Why don’t some of the animals go and see the other doctors?” I asked.

“Oh Good Gracious!” exclaimed the parrot, tossing her head scornfully. “Why, there aren’t any other animal-doctors—not real doctors. Oh of course there are those vet persons, to be sure. But, bless you, they’re no good. You see, they can’t understand the animals’ language; so how can you expect them to be any use? Imagine yourself, or your father, going to see a doctor who could not understand a word you say—nor even tell you in your own language what you must do to get well! Poof!—those vets! They’re that stupid, you’ve no idea!—Put the Doctor’s bacon down by the fire, will you?—to keep hot till he comes back.”

“Do you think I would ever be able to learn the language of the animals?” I asked, laying the plate upon the hearth.