As retold for Aaron
Pinocchio runs the danger of being fried in a pan like a fish.
Pinocchio could feel the Mastiff's hot breath on his heels, that's how close the dog was to catching him, when he reached the seashore, made a great leap and fell into the water. The dog tried tried to stop, but as he was running very fast, he couldn't, and he, too, landed far out in the sea.
"Help! Help!" the dog barked, for as it turned out, Alidoro (which was the dog's name) could't swim. He beat the water with his paws to hold himself up, but the harder he tried, the deeper he sank. As he stuck his head out of the ocean once more, the poor fellow's eyes were bulging and he barked out wildly, "I'm drowning!"
"Drown!" answered Pinocchio from afar, happy at his escape.
"Help, Pinocchio," the dog called, its voice full of fear, "I'm drowning! Save me from death!"
At those cries of suffering, the Marionette was moved to compassion. Swimming towards the dog, said, "I will help you, but if I do, will you promise to not pursue me any further?"
"I promise! I promise! Only hurry, for if you wait another second, I'll be dead and gone!"
Pinocchio hesitated a moment, uncertain whether to believe the Mastiff. Then, remembering how his father had once told him that a kind deed is never lost, he took hold of Alidoro's tail and drug the dog to shore.
The poor dog was so weak he couldn't stand, and had swallowed so much salt water that he was swollen like a balloon. Despite the Mastiff looking like it was in no condition to continue the chase, Pinocchio, not wishing to trust the dog too much, threw himself once again into the sea. As he swam away, he called out,
"Good-by, Alidoro, good luck and remember me to the family!"
"Good-by, little Pinocchio," answered the dog. "A thousand thanks for having saved me from death. You did me a good turn, and, in this world, what is given is always returned. If the chance comes, I shall be there."
Pinocchio went on swimming close to shore. At last he thought he had reached a safe place. Glancing up and down the beach, he saw the opening of a cave out of which rose a spiral of smoke.
"In that cave," he said to himself, "there must be a fire. So much the better. I'll dry my clothes and warm myself"
His mind made up, Pinocchio swam to the rocks, but as he started to climb, he felt something under him lifting him up higher and higher. He tried to escape, but he was too late. To his great surprise, he found himself in a huge net amid a crowd of flipping, flopping fish of all kinds and sizes, fighting and struggling desperately to free themselves.
At the same time, he saw a Fisherman come out of the cave, a Fisherman so ugly that Pinocchio thought he was a sea monster. His skin and eyes were green and his hair appeared to be green grass. To Pinocchio, though he was a man, he looked like a giant lizard with arms and legs.
When the Fisherman pulled the net out of the sea, he cried out joyfully:
"Blessed Providence! Once more I'll have a fine meal of fish!"
"Thank Heaven, I'm not a fish!" said Pinocchio to himself, trying with these words to find a little courage.
The Fisherman took the net and the fish into his cave--a dark, gloomy, smokey place, in the middle of which was a fire atop which sizzled a pan full of oil, sending out a repelling odor of tallow that took away one's breath.
"Now, let's see what kind of fish we have caught today," said the Green Fisherman. He put a hand as big as a spade into the net and pulled out a handful of mullets.
"Fine mullets, these!" he said, after looking at them and smelling them with pleasure. After that, he threw them into a large, empty tub.
Many times he repeated this performance. As he pulled each fish out of the net, his mouth watered with the thought of the good dinner coming, and he said:
"Fine fish, these bass!"
"Very tasty, these whitefish!"
"Delicious flounders, these!"
"What splendid crabs!"
"And these dear little anchovies, with their heads still on!"
As you can well imagine, the bass, the flounders, the whitefish, and even the little anchovies all went together into the tub to keep the mullets company. The last to come out of the net was Pinocchio.
As soon as the Fisherman pulled him out, his green eyes opened wide with surprise, and he cried out in fear,
"What kind of fish is this? I don't remember ever eating anything like it."
He looked at Pinocchio closely and after turning him over and over, he observed at last,
"I understand. He must be a crab!"
Pinocchio, mortified at being taken for a crab, said resentfully,
"What nonsense! A crab indeed! I am no such thing. Beware how you deal with me! I am a Marionette, I'll have you know."
"A Marionette?" asked the Fisherman. "I must admit that a Marionette fish is, for me, an entirely new kind of fish. So much the better. I'll eat you with greater relish."
"Eat me? But can't you understand that I'm not a fish? Can't you hear that I speak and think as you do?"
"It's true," answered the Fisherman, "but since I see that you are a fish, well able to talk and think as I do, I'll treat you with all due respect."
"And that is--"
"That, as a sign of my particular esteem, I'll leave to you the choice of the manner in which you are to be cooked. Do you wish to be fried in a pan, or do you prefer to be cooked with tomato sauce?"
"To tell you the truth," answered Pinocchio, "if I must choose, I should much rather go free so I may return home!"
"Are you fooling? Do you think that I want to lose the opportunity to taste such a rare fish? A Marionette fish does not come very often to these seas. Leave it to me then. I'll fry you in the pan with the others. I know you'll like it. It's always a comfort to find oneself in good company."
The unlucky Marionette, hearing this, began to cry and wail and beg. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he said,
"How much better it would have been for me to go to school! But I listened instead to my playmates and now I am paying for it! Oh! Oh! Oh!"
And as he struggled and squirmed like an eel to escape, the Green Fisherman took a stout cord and tying the puppet hand and foot he threw him into the bottom of the tub with the others.
Then the Green Fisherman pulled a wooden bowl full of flour out of a cupboard and started, one by one, to roll the fish into it. When they were all white with the flour, he threw them into the pan. The first to dance in the hot oil were the mullets, the bass followed, then the whitefish, the flounders, and the anchovies. Pinocchio's turn came last. Seeing himself near to death (and such a horrible death!) he began to tremble so with fright that he had no voice left with which to beg for his life.
The poor boy beseeched only with his eyes. But the Green Fisherman, not even noticing, turned him over and over in the flour until he looked like a Marionette made of chalk.
Then he took him by the head and--
Click on Pinocchio to go to Chapter Twenty-nine
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