As retold for Aaron
Mister Cherry gives the piece of wood to his friend Geppetto, who takes it to make himself a Marionette that will dance, fence, and turn somersaults.
Cherry was still lying on the floor when there was a loud knock at his
door. Had he taken a moment to think about it, Mister Cherry might not
have wanted anyone else to come into his workshop when he was flat on
the floor, thunderstruck by this mystery of what seemed to be a
talking piece of wood. But as he was in no condition to think about two things at once, he automatically called out, "Come in!" He hadn't
an atom's strength left with which to stand and open the door
there, what're you doing on the floor," his visitor replied, entering.
was a not-very-young man of whom the neighborhood boys liked to
make fun. How did the neighborhood boys make fun of Geppetto?
When he passed by they would yell at him, "Poledina!" which is
Italian for cornmeal mush, which is something like grits. Cornmeal
mush is the color of yellow corn, which was exactly the color of Geppetto's
hair, and if you're wondering why it was such an insult to call Geppetto
"Poledina!" then you apparently don't know how vain Geppetto
was about his hair, which was one reason the boys teased and jeered at
him. No one should have dared to call sour Geppetto Poledina, for
Geppetto had a terrible temper, but those that did dare--well, woe to them! Geppetto would become as wild as a beast, and
nothing and no one could soothe him, which sounds like it would be
funny, but it wasn't. There's nothing in the least funny about a
beastly temper if you're its target, and if you're not careful, a
beastly temper can make you its target over just about anything it has a
"Mister Antonio," Geppetto demanded, "what are you doing down there on
the floor? Is that any way to greet a customer?"
am teaching the ants their A B C's," Mister Cherry managed to
luck," Geppetto replied. "I'd ask how you're feeling but I'm
here on business, not to socialize."
brain still numb, but heartened by the appearance of a professing
customer, Mister Cherry said, "What brings you here, friend
legs!" Geppetto laughed at his own little joke, which struck him as
carpenter laughed as well since it is always wise to agree with a
customer. "Yes, of course," he said, raising himself to his
knees. "Now, tell me how I can be at your service."
may flatter you to know, Antonio, that I have come to you to beg a
favor," Geppetto anwered. "This morning, a fine idea came into
my head. Yes, a most
incredible image popped into my mind, appeared out of the clear blue, and with it came the thought that of course I ought to do
something with that image."
"What is that?" Mister Cherry asked.
"What I thought to do is make a beautiful
wooden Marionette. Not just any Marionette. I mean the most wonderful
Marionette that has ever been seen. I intend that it should dance,
fence, perform a little of the Martial Arts, soliloquize, recite Hamlet,
and even turn somersaults."
so?" Mister Cherry said.
bet," Geppetto replied, "you think it's not possible that old
Geppetto could manage to ever perform such a miracle."
on your talent at pulling strings," Mister Cherry remarked.
the beauty of my little creation," Geppetto answered. "There
will be no strings for anyone to see! All my other little puppets have
been fine and good, but this one will be exceptional. I'll hide robotics
in his middle."
"Wonderful idea," Mister Cherry replied.
of course people have seen robots before," Geppetto eagerly went
on, "but if I use a little psychology, and anticipate the desires
of my audience just so, everyone will think my Marionette can think for
himself. He'll be a great little bread winner if he turns out exactly as
the vision I have of him. I'll tour the world and finally make a name
for myself. We'll have a class act, my little Marionette and I. If money will help
ease the aches of old age, then as the much besought golden goose has yet to appear it must be invented. And
everyone likes puppets, you know. Tell me, what do you think?"
I think it's a grand idea, you old pot of dried-up cornmeal mush!"
cried the same tiny voice which Mister Cherry had heard.
hearing himself called an old pot of dried-up cornmeal mush, Geppetto,
turning the color of a fiery red pepper, glanced quickly about for any neighborhood boy to thrash. But there
were no neighborhood boys about, which could mean only one thing.
Glaring down at Mister Cherry, Geppetto shouted, "When did you take up insulting customers?!?!"
me who spoke," Mister Cherry replied weakly.
trying to tell me I'm only imagining things?! Just like I have imagined
an impossibly fantastic Marionette? You believe I don't have the wits to
in all seriousness," Mister Cherry answered, "I didn't call
you an old pot of dried-up cornmeal mush."
You did it again!" Geppetto raged, then did something he ought not to have. He slapped Mister Cherry.
are a lot of shoulds that happen in this world, which means there are a
lot of things that happen that shouldn't have, and a number of things
that don't happen that people think should have.
Mister Cherry should have shown
Geppetto the door, but instead Mister Cherry slapped Geppetto back.
Geppetto then hit Mister Cherry, and Mister Cherry hit him back again.
Next moment, the two men (who should have known better) were biting and
scratching and even pulling hair so that when they both collapsed from
sheer exhaustion, Mister Cherry held in his hand a hank of
Geppetto's cornmeal locks, and what do you know if Geppetto didn't seem
to have all of Mister Cherry's hair in his own fist.
"Give me my hair back," Mister Cherry demanded.
give you yours if you give me mine," Geppetto growled.
Cherry handed Geppetto his wig, whereupon Geppetto tossed Mister Cherry
back his own.
again?" Geppetto asked.
two men agreed it was better to be life-long friends than enemies, and
so made up.
to show Geppetto that he bore him no ill will, the carpenter said, "Now,
about this favor you wanted me to do for you. What is it you want?"
yes, I wanted a piece of wood to make the Marionette with," Geppetto
answered. "Will you give it to me? I haven't got any money right now but I promise to pay you back handsomly as soon as my Marionette and I are famous."
"Certainly! Say no more!" Mister Cherry was more than glad to give Geppetto what he desired, and can't you guess why. "You can take this fine piece of wood here," he went on, walking straight over and, a bit timdly, picking up the log that had frightened him so much earlier. "It's
quite a prized piece of wood," he said. "Good you
stopped by when you did because it was well on its way to becoming a
table leg. But what kind of a friend would I be
to let you walk away empty handed?"
With a violent jerk, the
wood was suddenly free of Mister Cherry's hands, and, thwack, if it didn't
strike itself against Geppetto's thin legs!
Geppetto yelled, "OW!"
to make your acquaintance!" the wee little voice cried out. "
Isn't that the way things are done around here? Now it's your turn. Hit me back. Fight! Fight! Then you tickle
me and we'll be friends. Ha, ha!"
in the blazes? Is this the gentle way you make your gifts?"
Geppetto yelled at the carpenter. "You have made me almost lame!"
swear to you I didn't do it!" the carpenter exclaimed.
I did, of course!" Geppetto retorted.
the fault of this piece of wood!" the carpenter answered.
"The wood may have struck me, but you're the one who
threw it at my legs!"
"I didn't do it!" the carpenter pleaded.
you insult my good name and reputaion. Take it back now, or, or..."
what?" Geppetto licked his lips and narrowed his eyes. "Or
what? Will you call me an old dried-up pot of cornmeal mush again?"
Mister Cherry replied, "you old dried-up pot of cornmeal mush!"
mush!" Mister Cherry yelled back.
Geppetto yelled, which I guess he took to be a worse insult than "idiot."
"Cornmeal mush!" Mister Cherry yelled back.
Geppetto yelled, which I guess he took to be a worse insult even than "donkey",
and, his head lost in a rage, promptly threw himself on the carpenter,
whereupon they went at each other with as much vim and vigor as their
bruised bodies could muster.
they were finished, Geppetto, took stock of his injuries. "Look
at this, I come to you in fine condition and now I'm missing two buttons from my coat."
at the two fine scratches you gave my nose," Mister Cherry
"Then, we should consider the account settled? How about
it?" Geppetto held out his hand to shake that of Mister Cherry's.
why not?" Mister Cherry sighed.
thought so," Geppetto smiled, clapping the carpenter on the back. "Fast
and good friends for the rest of our lives, that's us two. Swear it on
the eyes of our mothers, that they may be struck blind if we should
break this oath and betray our friendship to one another."
our mothers are long since dead," the carpenter said.
mere technicality," Geppetto replied. "It's the thought that
Then, thanking Mister Antonio Cherry for such a fine piece of wood,
Geppetto limped away home.
Click on Pinocchio to go to Chapter Three
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