THE MONKEYS' COUNCIL
CHEE-CHEE stood outside the Doctor's door, keeping everybody away till he woke up. Then John Dolittle told the monkeys that he must now go back to Puddleby.
They were very surprised at this; for they had thought that he was going to stay with them forever. And that night all the monkeys got together in the jungle to talk it over.
And the Chief Chimpanzee rose up and said,
"Why is it the good man is going away? Is he not happy here with us?"
But none of them could answer him.
Then the Grand Gorilla got up and said,
"I think we all should go to him and ask him to stay. Perhaps if we make him a new house and a bigger bed, and promise him plenty of monkey-servants to work for him and to make life pleasant for him—perhaps then he will not wish to go."
Then Chee-Chee got up; and all the others whispered, "Sh! Look! Chee-Chee, the great Traveler, is about to speak!"
And Chee-Chee said to the other monkeys,
"My friends, I am afraid it is useless to ask the Doctor to stay. He owes money in Puddleby; and he says he must go back and pay it."
And the monkeys asked him, "What is MONEY?"
Then Chee-Chee told them that in the Land of the White Men you could get nothing without money; you could DO nothing without money—that it was almost impossible to LIVE without money.
And some of them asked, "But can you not even eat and drink without paying?"
But Chee-Chee shook his head. And then he told them that even he, when he was with the organ-grinder, had been made to ask the children for money.
And the Chief Chimpanzee turned to the Oldest Orangoutang and said, "Cousin, surely these Men be strange creatures! Who would wish to live in such a land? My gracious, how paltry!"
Then Chee-Chee said,
"When we were coming to you we had no boat to cross the sea in and no money to buy food to eat on our journey. So a man lent us some biscuits; and we said we would pay him when we came back. And we borrowed a boat from a sailor; but it was broken on the rocks when we reached the shores of Africa. Now the Doctor says he must go back and get the sailor another boat—because the man was poor and his ship was all he had."
And the monkeys were all silent for a while, sitting quite still upon the ground and thinking hard.
At last the Biggest Baboon got up and said,
"I do not think we ought to let this good man leave our land till we have given him a fine present to take with him, so that he may know we are grateful for all that he has done for us."
And a little, tiny red monkey who was sitting up in a tree shouted down,
"I think that too!"
And then they all cried out, making a great noise, "Yes, yes. Let us give him the finest present a White Man ever had!"
Now they began to wonder and ask one another what would be the best thing to give him. And one said, "Fifty bags of cocoanuts!" And another—"A hundred bunches of bananas!— At least he shall not have to buy his fruit in the Land Where You Pay to Eat!"
But Chee-Chee told them that all these things would be too heavy to carry so far and would go bad before half was eaten.
"If you want to please him," he said, "give him an animal. You may be sure he will be kind to it. Give him some rare animal they have not got in the menageries."
And the monkeys asked him, "What are MENAGERIES?"
Then Chee-Chee explained to them that menageries were places in the Land of the White Men, where animals were put in cages for people to come and look at. And the monkeys were very shocked and said to one another,
"These Men are like thoughtless young ones—stupid and easily amused. Sh! It is a prison he means."
So then they asked Chee-Chee what rare animal it could be that they should give the Doctor—one the White Men had not seen before. And the Major of the Marmosettes asked,
"Have they an iguana over there?"
But Chee-Chee said, "Yes, there is one in the London Zoo."
And another asked, "Have they an okapi?"
But Chee-Chee said, "Yes. In Belgium, where my organ-grinder took me five years ago, they had an okapi in a big city they call Antwerp."
And another asked, "Have they a pushmi-pullyu?"
Then Chee-Chee said, "No. No White Man has ever seen a pushmi-pullyu. Let us give him that."