As retold for Aaron
Fire Eater gives Pinocchio five gold pieces for Geppetto, but the Marionette meets a Fox and a Cat and follows them.
When Fire Eater called Pinocchio to him the next day, the little Marionette was a bit nervous, but Fire Eater was pleasant as could be.
"What is your father's trade?" he asked Pinocchio.
"My father, Geppetto, is a great wood carver," Pinocchio told Fire Eater.
"He's a great wood carver, is he? I hear he earns so much that he never has a penny in his pockets, and that in order to buy you an A-B-C book for school, he sold the only coat he owned, which was full of darns and patches. Furthermore, I hear that you sold the book in order to buy a ticket into our little Marionette show."
"It's true," Pinocchio answered. "Geppetto earns so much he never has a penny in his pockets."
"Poor fellow," Fire Eater said, producing five gold pieces. "I feel sorry for him. Here, take this money and give it to him along with my kindest regards."
Five whole gold pieces! Pinocchio had never seen gold and didn't know its value. But he did believe it was pretty, the way that it shone in the light.
"Now, you make sure you go straight home and give those to Geppetto," Fire Eater told Pinocchio. "There's no telling what kind of trouble a little Marionette like you might get into with five gold pieces jangling in his pocket. Five gold pieces is quite a lot of money!"
Pinocchio thanked Fire Eater a thousand times. After that, he kissed all the Marionettes, bidding them farewell, then, beside himself with joy, he set out for home.
The little Marionette had gone barely half a mile when he met with a very peculiar sight on the road. Walking along like they were the best of friends, a lame fox was leaning on the arm of a blind cat. Pinocchio considerately went to the side of the road to walk around them, but the fox called out to him.
"Good morning, Pinocchio," said the Fox, greeting Pinocchio courteously.
"How do you know my name?" asked the Marionette.
"I know your father very well," the Fox said.
"You do? Have you seen him?" Pinocchio asked excitedly.
"Why yes, oh, yes. I saw him standing at the door of his house."
"What was he doing?"
"He was in his shirt sleeves trembling with cold."
"Poor Father!" Pinocchio exclaimed, then brightening, he said, "But, after today, he will suffer no longer. He'll be able to buy the nicest coat in town!"
"Really? Tell us how poor Geppetto, who never has a penny in his pocket, will be able to afford the nicest coat in town? Has he come into an inheritance, old as he is?"
"Because I'm rich," Pinocchio answered proudly.
"Do tell!" The Fox laughed out loud. The Cat began to laugh also, but tried to hide it by stroking his long whiskers. "You know, little boys shouldn't lie," the Fox told Pinocchio.
"But I'm not lying. Sorry to make your mouths water, but here's the proof," Pinocchio replied angrily, and to prove that he was telling the truth, he pulled out the five new gold pieces Fire Eater had given him.
Depending upon who's hearing it, gold has either a very cheerful or sorrowful tinkle to it. To the Cat's ears it was a wonderfully cheerful sound that opened wide his two eyes so they glowed with the fire of live coals. The Fox promptly kicked the Cat with his lame foot. "Five gold pieces," the Fox licked his lips. "What do you plan to do with those five gold pieces, Pinocchio?"
"I've got it all planned out," Pinocchio answered. "First, I'll buy a fine new coat for my father, one that is made out of gold and silver and has diamond buttons. Then, I'll buy an A-B-C book for myself so that I can go to school and study hard."
"Oh, my, my, my," the Fox shook his head sadly. "You see my blind friend here? Do you know how he lost his sight?"
"Studying. It ruined his eyes. Me? I became lame when a teacher trod upon my foot."
"And besides," the Fox went on, "five gold pieces may seem a lot to you, with as little experience as you have with money, but I know for a fact you don't have near enough to buy your father a gold and silver coat with diamond buttons and purchase an A-B-C book as well. It's a pity you know so little about finances, because even that little bit of gold you have would be sufficent seed to earn you a fortune overnight, that is if you knew where to plant it."
At that moment, a Blackbird, perched on the fence
along the road, called out sharp and clear, "Pinocchio, those five gold pieces are going to earn you a lot of trouble if you don't heed my words! You'll be sorry!"
Poor little Blackbird! If he had only kept his words
to himself! For no sooner were they past his beak, when the Cat leaped on him and ate him, feathers and all.
"Poor Blackbird!" said Pinocchio to the Cat. "Why did you eat him?"
"To teach him a lesson, of course," the Cat replied, cleaning his whiskers. "He talks too much. Next time, he'll keep his words to himself."
Pinocchio stared uncertainly at his five gold pieces. They had only moments before seemed to him immeasurable wealth, but wealth is an elusive thing if you are a bit dim about values. It seemed to Pinocchio he would never have enough if the world was such an expensive place in which to live.
The Fox seemed to know exactly what Pinocchio was thinking. "Of course, you can always get Geppetto a second-hand coat."
"Oh no," said Pinocchio. "It must be new."
"There's only one way then. Wealth likes to multiply in secret, but its increase likes to show off. You must plant your gold pieces, let them multiply, and then harvest the increase when it comes out to show off how nice it looks."
"What do you mean?" Pinocchio asked.
"I thought I was being quite clear," the Fox answered. "Maybe a little wooden head isn't intelligent enough to grasp how easy it is to multiply five miserable gold pieces into one hundred, a thousand, even two thousand."
Pinocchio didn't know anything about multiplying.
"But never mind," the Fox went on. "I'm sure if you go home with your five paltry gold pieces, Geppetto will be happy with them because his little Pinocchio brought them to him. Heed my words..."
"Heed my words," the Cat hiccuped.
"He will be just as happy with your five tiny gold pieces as he would be ten thousand."
"You think so?"
"Go ahead, turn your back on Dame Fortune."
"Dame Fortune," the Cat hiccupped again.
"Since you're not interested, there's no reason for me to let you in on the secret of the blessed Field of Wonders, outside the City of Simple Simons, where you may dig a hole to bury a gold piece, cover it up with earth, water it, sprinkle some salt on it, go to bed, and during the night your gold will sprout, grow and blossom so that in the morning you will find a tree that is loaded with gold pieces."
"So that if I were to bury my five gold pieces," cried Pinocchio with growing wonder, "next morning I should find--how many?"
"Granted that each piece gives you five hundred, multiply five hundred by five, you can figure it out on your fingers. You should have twenty-five hundred new sparkling gold pieces by tomorrow morning, if you were interested, but as you're not interested..."
"Oh no," Pinocchio said, his mind as good as made up. "You must tell me where I can find this Field of Wonders where I can plant my gold pieces so they can multiply like you said!"
"We're in a bit of a hurry, but if you come along with us we'll show you. We just happen to be going that way," the Fox answered.
"Please, take me with you" cried Pinocchio. "And as soon as I have the twenty-five hundred gold pieces, I will keep two thousand for myself and Geppetto, and the other five hundred I'll give to you two."
"A gift for us?" cried the Fox, feigning insult. "Why, of course not! We don't work for gain. We work only to enrich others."
"To enrich others!" hiccuped the Cat.
"What good people," thought Pinocchio, permitting the Fox to link arms with his as they continued on down the road.
Click on Pinocchio to go to Chapter Thirteen
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