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The Inn of the Red Lobster.

The Inn of the Red Lobster.


Chapter Thirteen

As retold for Aaron

The Inn of the Red Lobster.

Pinocchio, The Fox and the Cat walked and walked, and at last, toward evening, came to the Inn of the Red Lobster.
"Let us stop here a while," said the Fox. "We can have a bite to eat and rest for a few hours. But at midnight we will have to start out again, for at dawn tomorrow we must be at the Field of Wonders."
The three travelers went in and sat down at the same table. However, not one of them was very hungry.
"I feel so weak that I fear I'll scarcely be able to eat a bite," the Cat said, and sure enough he was barely able to eat thirty-five orders of fish with tomato sauce, and four helpings of bread and cheese.
With a little coaxing from the Cat, the Fox, who said he was also too exhausted to chew, managed to satisfy his small stomach with a small hare dressed with a dozen young and tender spring chickens, some partridges, a few pheasants, a couple of rabbits, and a dozen frogs and lizards. But that was all he could manage before complaining he felt ill and didn't dare have any dessert, except for a little chocolate mousse. He thought he might be able to tolerate that.
Pinocchio ordered some bread and nuts, but his mind was on the wonderful Field of Wonders and he hardly touched his meal.
"Now, give us two good rooms," the Fox told the innkeeper when their supper was over, "one for Mr. Pinocchio here, and the other for me and my friend. We must only rest for a little while though. We would like you to rouse us at midnight sharp, for we must continue on our journey."
As soon as Pinocchio was in bed, he fell fast asleep and began to dream. In his dream, he was in the middle of a field full of vines heavy with beautiful grapes. When he looked at them more closely, he saw that the grapes were gold coins. How merrily they tinkled against each other as they swayed in the gentle breeze. "Let him who wants us take us," he heard the coins say, but just as the little Marionette reached out his hand to gather a handful, he was awakened by three loud knocks at the door. It was the Innkeeper come to inform him it was midnight.

45




"Midnight, already?" Pinocchio yawned. "Are my friends up yet?"
"Ah, that reminds me!" The innkeeper pulled a slip of paper from his pocket. "I've a message for you."
"A message? From who? Would you be kind enough to read it to me?" Pinocchio asked, a little embarrassed that he was unable to read it himself.
"Let's see." The innkeeper slipped on a pair of glasses. "It's from your two friends who left around two hours ago."
"Two hours ago?"
"Yes. It seems the Cat, who was recently made a proud father, received notice that his first-born was suffering from, uhm, well, the pitiful child was on the point of death with a very serious case of chilblains, for which cause he had to hurry on immediately. But as the situation is expected to be resolved shortly, he and the Fox ask that you go on ahead to the Field of Wonders, and there they shall rendez-vous with you."
Pinocchio had no idea what chilblains were, but nodded his head vigorously as if he well understood. "I am very sorry to hear of the Cat's sad news," he said. "But if they still plan to meet me, I better hurry on so I don't keep them waiting."
The innkeeper cleared his throat loudly. "First, there's the matter of your bill."
"Of course. How much do I owe you for my bed and supper?" Pinoccho asked.
"Including the beds and suppers of your traveling companions, the bill adds up to..."
"The Fox and the Cat didn't pay for their beds and suppers?" Pinocchio interrupted the innkeeper.
"Oh no! Being people of great refinement, they didn't want to offend you so deeply as not to allow you the honor of paying the bill."
Pinocchio could only stare at the bill as he could not read it. At length, he took out of his pocket his five gold pieces. "Have I enough here to cover the cost?" he asked.
"This will be just enough," the innkeeper said, and smiling broadly he took a whole gold piece from Pinocchio's hand.
Pinocchio asked the innkeeper if he knew where the secret Field of Wonders was that was outside the City of Simple Simons.

46




"Certainly. Continue on down the road in the direction you've been going and you'll find it soon enough."
Even had it not been night, it would have been very dark on the road which, leading Pinocchio away from the Inn of the Red Lobster, took him deeper and deeper into the forest. The trees, crowding in on him, were thick as the air, but there was so little light he couldn't even see them. Not a leaf stirred, as if the forest was frozen still, then every so often a bat's wing would skim his nose and the Marionette would leap in fright. Otherwise, it seemed to Pinocchio the forest had not been bothered with visitors for ages upon ages, except for him. Once or twice, when he imagined he heard something, he shouted, "Who's there?!" but was answered only by far-away hills echoing back to him his own words, "Who's there? Who's there? Who's there?"
Through the thick dark, Pinocchio suddenly saw a glimmer of light, a glowing that was soft and subtle as tissue. Approaching the strange illumination, the little Marionette saw that the source of the light was a tiny insect on the trunk of a tree.
"Hello, Pinocchio," said the little being in a faint voice that sounded as if it came from a far-away world.
"What are you?" Pinocchio asked.
The insect chirped, "Cri-cri-cri," and the little Marionette recognized it was the Talking Cricket.
"You should return home," the Talking Cricket's ghost said. "Take the four gold pieces left in your possession, and return to your old father who is weeping over you."
"Why's he crying?" Pinocchio asked.
"Because he doesn't know where you are; whether you are lost, hurt or if you have run away."
"If he's sad now, he will be jumping for joy tomorrow," Pinocchio exclaimed. "I am on my way to turn these four gold pieces into two thousand."
"It is far too late for an inexperienced little marionette to be out on his own."
"Then there's no reason to worry about me!" Pinocchio said. "For one, I am not inexperienced; I am getting more experience by the hour. Two, there is no one else out here, I know, because I've called and have had no answer but my own echo. And, three, I'm not going to be all alone for long, because I'm going to be meeting with two friends."
"Tsk, tsk," the Talking Cricket chirped. "The night is dark and this is a dangerous road that you are on. Go home, Pinocchio."

47




"But I want to go on!" Pinocchio insisted. "In one night alone I made five gold pieces, when Geppetto has never had a penny. When he sees me coming home with whole bags of gold thrown over my shoulders, he will be the happiest father there ever was, and ever so proud of me! He will know I am a great success and never scold me again!"
"Swindlers who promise wealth overnight are able to show their words as true because of the Fools who believe in them. Go home before you come to further grief."
Pinocchio became a little fed up with trying to convince the Talking Cricket, who was every bit as disagreeable as he was at their first meeting.
"Have faith. You ought to trust more and not be so hard-headed," Pinocchio told the Talking Cricket.
"My sentiments exactly," the Talking Cricket replied a little gruffly.
"Goodbye, Cricket!"
"Goodbye, Pinocchio. Though you will do as you please, should you encounter Assassins you will remember my warning."
There was silence for a minute and then light of the Talking Cricket disappeared suddenly, just as if someone had snuffed it out. Once again the road was plunged in darkness.

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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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