The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
VI. The Bed-Maker of Monteverde
We remained three days in the Capa Blanca Islands.
There were two reasons why we stayed there so long when we were really in such a hurry to get away. One was the shortage in our provisions caused by the able seaman's enormous appetite. When we came to go over the stores and make a list, we found that he had eaten a whole lot of other things besides the beef. And having no money, we were sorely puzzled how to buy more. The Doctor went through his trunk to see if there was anything he could sell. But the only thing he could find was an old watch with the hands broken and the back dented in; and we decided this would not bring us in enough money to buy much more than a pound of tea. Bumpo suggested that he sing comic songs in the streets which he had learned in Jolliginki. But the Doctor said he did not think that the islanders would care for African music.
The other thing that kept us was the bullfight. In these islands, which belonged to Spain, they had bullfights every Sunday. It was on a Friday that we arrived there; and after we had got rid of the able seaman we took a walk through the town.
It was a very funny little town, quite different from any that I had ever seen. The streets were all twisty and winding and so narrow that a wagon could only just pass along them. The houses overhung at the top and came so close together that people in the attics could lean out of the windows and shake hands with their neighbors on the opposite side of the street. The Doctor told us the town was very, very old. It was called Monteverde.
As we had no money of course we did not go to a hotel or anything like that. But on the second evening when we were passing by a bed-maker's shop we noticed several beds, which the man had made, standing on the pavement outside. The Doctor started chatting in Spanish to the bed-maker who was sitting at his door whistling to a parrot in a cage. The Doctor and the bed-maker got very friendly talking about birds and things. And as it grew near to supper-time the man asked us to stop and sup with him.
This of course we were very glad to do. And after the meal was over (very nice dishes they were, mostly cooked in olive-oil--I particularly liked the fried bananas) we sat outside on the pavement again and went on talking far into the night.
At last when we got up, to go back to our ship, this very nice shopkeeper wouldn't hear of our going away on any account. He said the streets down by the harbor were very badly lighted and there was no moon. We would surely get lost. He invited us to spend the night with him and go back to our ship in the morning.
Well, we finally agreed; and as our good friend had no spare bedrooms, the three of us, the Doctor, Bumpo and I, slept on the beds set out for sale on the pavement before the shop. The night was so hot we needed no coverings. It was great fun to fall asleep out of doors like this, watching the people walking to and fro and the gay life of the streets. It seemed to me that Spanish people never went to bed at all. Late as it was, all the little restaurants and cafes around us were wide open, with customers drinking coffee and chatting merrily at the small tables outside. The sound of a guitar strumming softly in the distance mingled with the clatter of chinaware and the babble of voices.
Somehow it made me think of my mother and father far away in Puddleby, with their regular habits, the evening practise on the flute and the rest--doing the same thing every day. I felt sort of sorry for them in a way, because they missed the fun of this traveling life, where we were doing something new all the time--even sleeping dif-ferently. But I suppose if they had been invited to go to bed on a pavement in front of a shop they wouldn't have cared for the idea at all. It is funny how some people are.