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The Marionettes welcome Pinocchio with loud cheers, but the Director, Fire Eater, does not.

The Marionettes welcome Pinocchio with loud
cheers, but the Director, Fire Eater, does not.


Chapter Ten

As retold for Aaron

The Marionettes welcome Pinocchio with loud cheers, but the Director, Fire Eater, does not.

With the money that he got from selling his beloved A-B-C book, Pinocchio purchased his ticket and disappeared into the darkened Marionette Theater.
The curtain was up on the small, lit stage. The performance had already begun.
Harlequin and Pulcinella, two Marionettes who were very popular for the time and area, were reciting their lines on stage, and, as usual, they were threatening each other with sticks and blows. The room was filled with people enjoying the spectacle, laughing until they cried at the antics of the two puppets.
If you have ever wanted anything in the world so badly that you believed it was fate's desire that filled you and not your own, then perhaps you will understand why Pinocchio sold his beloved book in order to purchase a ticket into the Marionette theater, when only moments before he had been dreaming of how with his education he would get a gold and silver coat for Geppetto. Eager to at last see what a Marionette was, Pinocchio pushed through the crowd toward the front and stood as near the stage as he could. If this was a Marionette Theater, were these two quarrelers on the stage Marionettes? He wondered why their limbs had string running up from them which disappeared into the area above the stage. He didn't have string attached to his limbs.
The play had continued on for a few minutes, when, suddenly, Harlequin stopped. Turning toward the audience, he pointed toward Pinocchio and wildly yelled, "Look, look! Am I asleep or awake? Or do I really see one of our brothers out there?!"
"Indeed, look at that. If it isn't one of our brothers, standing out there in the audience with regular folks as bold as you please," said Pulcinella.
"Yes, look! It is! It is!" shrieked Signora Rosaura, peeking in from the side of the stage.
"What is your name?" Harlequin called out.
"Pinocchio," answered the little puppet.

35




"Pinocchio, Pinocchio!" Pulcinella cried in glee, clapping her wooden hands. "Brothers and sisters, come and greet Pinocchio!"
Several more Marionettes danced out from the wings onto the stage, all yelling gaily, "Hurray! Hurray for our brother! Come up and join us, Pinocchio! Come up to the arms of your wooden brothers!"
"Yes!" Harlequin echoed the call, "Come up to the arms of your wooden brothers!"
At such a loving invitation, Pinoccho leaped into the front rows, from the front rows to the top of the astonished orchestra leader's head, and from there onto the stage.
It's impossible to describe the shrieks of joy, the warm embraces, the knocks, and the friendly greetings with which the company of dramatic actors and actresses received Pinocchio. But the audience was less than agreeable with the heart-warming spectacle. Seeing that the play had stopped, became angry and began to yell, "The play, the play, we want the play!"
The Marionettes, paying no attention, made twice as much racket as before. Harlequin and Pulcinella even lifted Pinocchio up on their shoulders and carried him around the stage.
Suddenly, all fell silent; even the audience. For there stood on the stage a man whose aspect was so frightful, one glance at him would fill you with horror. His beard was black as the blackest pitch, and so long that it reached from his chin down to his feet. His mouth was wide as an oven. His teeth were bright yellow fangs. And his, eyes, well, his eyes were two glowing red coals. In his huge, hairy hands he held a long whip made of green snakes and black cats' tails all twisted together, which swished through the air in a dangerous way.
At the unexpected apparition of the Director, no one dared even to breathe. The buzz of a fly that went by sounded like a buzzsaw and seemed glaringly careless. The poor Marionettes, one and all, trembled like leaves in a storm.
"What is the cause of all this excitement;" the huge fellow yelled. If you have ever heard the voice of an ogre, then you know exactly how he sounded--almost. Except his voice sounded like an ogre with a bad cold.
"Believe me, your Honor, the fault was not mine," Pinocchio spoke up, and was promptly pinched by Pulchinella.
"Enough! Be quiet! I'll take care of you later," the Director shouted. "Now, on with the show for which these good people paid, and I beg your pardon for this unseemly interruption," he added, turning to the audience and bowing low.

36




As soon as the play was over, the Director went to the kitchen, where a fine big lamb was slowly turning on the spit. Calling to Harlequin and Pulcinella, he said to them: "Bring that Marionette to me! He looks as if he were made of well-seasoned wood. He'll make a nice fire for this spit."
What fine friends of Pinocchio, Harlequin and Pulcinella turned out to be. With scarcely a second's hesitation, frightened by a look from their Master, they left the kitchen with no other thought but to obey. A few minutes later they returned with poor Pinocchio, who must have suspected they were up to no good, or else he wouldn't have been wriggling and squiggling like an eel. "Father, save me! I don't want to die!" he cried out in his loudest voice, which is exactly how all Marionettes feel when they see no spare firewood lying around to feed a weakening fire over which a half-roasted lamb slowly turns on its spit.

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Rewritten by J. Kearns (in some places considerably, in other places not so considerably, and in others not much at all) from the translation by Carol Della Chiesa of C. Collodi's original story
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