From that time on of course my position in the town was very different. I was no longer a poor cobbler’s son. I carried my nose in the air as I went down the High Street with Jip in his gold collar at my side; and snobbish little boys who had despised me before because I was not rich enough to go to school now pointed me out to their friends and whispered, “You see him? He’s a doctor’s assistant—and only ten years old!”
But their eyes would have opened still wider with wonder if they had but known that I and the dog that was with me could talk to one another.
Two days after the Doctor had been to our house to dinner he told me very sadly that he was afraid that he would have to give up trying to learn the language of the shellfish—at all events for the present.
“I’m very discouraged, Stubbins, very. I’ve tried the mussels and the clams, the oysters and the whelks, cockles and scallops; seven different kinds of crabs and all the lobster family. I think I’ll leave it for the present and go at it again later on.”
“What will you turn to now?” I asked.
“Well, I rather thought of going on a voyage, Stubbins. It’s quite a time now since I’ve been away. And there is a great deal of work waiting for me abroad.”
“When shall we start?” I asked.