The Fidgit’s Story

Well, now that he was started once more upon his old hobby of the shellfish languages, there was no stopping the Doctor. He worked right through the night.

A little after midnight I fell asleep in a chair; about two in the morning Bumpo fell asleep at the wheel; and for five hours the Curlew was allowed to drift where she liked. But still John Dolittle worked on, trying his hardest to understand the fidgit’s language, struggling to make the fidgit understand him.

When I woke up it was broad daylight again. The Doctor was still standing at the listening-tank, looking as tired as an owl and dreadfully wet. But on his face there was a proud and happy smile.

“Stubbins,” he said as soon as he saw me stir, “I’ve done it. I’ve got the key to the fidgit’s language. It’s a frightfully difficult language—quite different from anything I ever heard. The only thing it reminds me of—slightly—is ancient Hebrew. It isn’t shellfish; but it’s a big step towards it. Now, the next thing, I want you to take a pencil and a fresh notebook and write down everything I say. The fidgit has promised to tell me the story of his life. I will translate it into English and you put it down in the book. Are you ready?”

Once more the Doctor lowered his ear beneath the level of the water; and as he began to speak, I started to write. And this is the story that the fidgit told us.

Thirteen Months in an Aquarium

“I was born in the Pacific Ocean, close to the coast of Chile. I was one of a family of two-thousand five-hundred and ten. Soon after our mother and father left us, we youngsters got scattered. The family was broken up—by a herd of whales who chased us.