As retold for Aaron
Freed from prison, Pinocchio sets out to return to the Fairy; but on the way he meets a Serpent and later is caught in a trap.
Imagine Pinocchio's happiness on finding himself free! Immediately, he fled the City of Simple Simons and set out on the road that would take him back to the house of the Fairy in the wood, where he hoped beyond hope to find his Father.
It had rained for many days, and the road was so muddy that, as he ran, mud splashed as high as his cap. At times, the mud was so deep that Pinocchio sank down almost to his knees.
But he kept on bravely.
"How unhappy I have been," he said to himself. "But now I know better than to trust Foxes and Cats who say gold grows on vines. Next time anyone invites me to bury my money in a Field of Wonders I'll tell them I'm no fool and they can be on their way. All that time wasted in prison when I could have been with my Father at the house of the pretty Fairy of the Wood, where I could have been eating lump sugar and sleeping in a warm, clean bed instead of on the cold prison floor. I wonder if Father is waiting for me. Will I find him at the Fairy's house? Oh, but I'm hungry!"
As Pinocchio spoke, he stopped suddenly, frozen with terror.
What frightened him so was an immense Serpent lay stretched across the road. It had bright green skin, fiery eyes that glowed and burned, and a pointed tail that smoked like a chimney.
The terrified Marionette ran back wildly for half a mile, and at last settled himself atop a heap of stones on a hill, for where he could watch and for the Serpent to go on his way and leave the road clear for him.
He waited for an hour, two hours, three hours, but the Serpent wouldn't move. Even from afar one could see the flash of his red eyes and the column of smoke which rose from his long, pointed tail.
At lust, mustering all his courage (though not feeling very brave at all), Pinocchio walked straight up to the Serpent, his knees shaking, wooden joints trembling, and called out in the sweetest, soothingest voice he could conjure,
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Serpent, would you be so kind as to step aside to let me pass?"
He might as well have talked to a wall. The Serpent neither moved nor looked at him.
Once more, in the same sweet voice, the puppet spoke.
"You must know, Mr. Serpent, that I am going to see my Father, who I have not seen in a long while, so I have a very good reason to go down this road. Would you mind very much if I passed?"
The Marionette waited for some sign of an answer.
Instead, the green Serpent which had seemed, until then, wide awake and full of life, became suddenly very quiet and still. His eyes closed and his tail stopped smoking.
"Is he dead, I wonder?" said Pinocchio, rubbing his hands together happily. By what cause the serpent might have died, Pinocchio didn't know, but he was glad of it. "Just my luck!" he said and went to step over him.
Without warning, the Serpent shot up like a spring, and the Marionette, who was caught in mid stride clambering over the snake, fell head over heels backward. The next thing Pinocchio knew, his head was stuck in the mud, and there he stood with his legs straight up in the air.
In his fright, Pinocchio kicked and squirmed like a young whirlwind. At the sight of the Marionette with his head in the mud, arms and legs flailing, the Serpent laughed. The more Pinocchio fought the mud, the harder the Serpent laughed. He laughed and laughed until suddenly he collapsed and lay dead still, not uttering a sound. He had laughed so heartily and so long that he'd burst an artery and died on the spot.
Pinocchio freed himself from his awkward position and, fleeing the dead Serpent, once more began to run in order to reach the Fairy's house before dark. By now he was quite hungry, and as he went, the pangs of hunger grew so strong that, unable to withstand them, when he came upon a field full of grape vines, he jumped over the fence and into the field to pick a few of the grapes. They looked so tempting and good to eat.
Woe to poor Pinocchio! No sooner had he reached the grapevine than--crack! went his legs.
The Marionette was caught in a trap set there by a Farmer for some Weasels which came every night to steal his chickens.
Click on Pinocchio to go to Chapter Twenty-one
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