They reached Nyam-Nyam's village about six o'clock in the evening and the old chief prepared a supper for his guests. There was very little to eat at it, however. And the Doctor was again reminded how poor these people were.


But it was of little use to try to get more sleep now. The camp was astir. John Dolittle, bent on the one idea of hearing that story, had already swung himself out of his hammock and was now washing his face noisily in the lake. Cheapside shook his feathers, swore a few words in Cockney and flew off his tree down to the Doctor's side.


"Well, all's well that ends well," said the Doctor. "Take this; you must be nearly starved."


"Because it has never been visited by man since the Flood," said the giant reptile. "You will be the first to see it. We who live in it boast that we bathe daily in the original water of the Flood. For before the Forty Days' Rain came it was not there, they say. But when the Flood passed away this part of the world never dried up. And so it has remained, guarded by these wide mangrove swamps, ever since."


"Fire!" said Speedy. And the Doctor fired.


"It's a shame," said Jip. "And you with such beautiful handwriting tooas well as a drawerful of stamps! Never mind; think of all the animals that are waiting to hear from you."


The excellent postal service continued after he left. The stamps with Koko's face on them were as various and as beautiful as ever. On the occasion of the first annual review of the Fantippo Merchant Fleet a very fine two-shilling stamp was struck in commemoration, showing His Majesty inspecting his new ships through a lollipop quizzing-glass. The King himself became a stamp-collector and his album was as good as a family photo-album, containing as it did so many pictures of himself. The only awkward incident that happened in the record of the post office which the Doctor had done so much to improve was when some ardent stamp-collectors, wishing to make the modern stamps rare, plotted to have the King assassinated in order that the current issues should go out of date. But the plot was happily discovered before any harm was done.


"Then the sailors gathered about the admiral, Christopher Columbus, whom a little before they were going to kill, and cheered and called him the greatest navigator in the worldwhich, in truth, he was.


"Certainly," said the white mouse, setting to work at once. "Why is it so dark? I haven't slept into the night, have I?"


But immediately the Emir had left, the white mouse started out through the rat hole in the corner. And all day and all night he kept busy, coming and going bringing in crumbs of food which he gathered from the houses of the town: bread crumbs, cheese crumbs, yam crumbs, potato crumbs and crumbs of meat which he pulled off bones. All these he stored carefully in the Doctor's hat in the corner of the prison. And by the end of each day he had collected enough crumbs for one good square meal.

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