As retold for Aaron
Pinocchio returns to the Fairy's house and she promises him that, on the morrow, he will cease to be a Marionette and become a boy. A wonderful party of coffee-and-milk to celebrate the great event.
All hope of being saved gone, Pinocchio closed his eyes and waited for the final moment.
Suddenly, a large Dog, attracted by the odor of the boiling oil, came running into the cave.
"Get out!" the Fisherman yelled at the Dog, still holding onto the Marionette, who was all covered with flour.
The Dog, whining and wagging his tail, barked, "Please, I'm hungry and your fish smell so good! Give me a bite and I'll go in peace."
The Fisherman wouldn't hear of it. "Get out," he again yelled and drew back his foot to give the Dog a kick.
The Dog, being really hungry and taking no refusal, turned in a rage on the Fisherman with terrible, bared fangs. He was about to make a grab for one of the fish in the pan when he heard a pitiful voice cry out, "Save me, Alidoro! If you don't, I'll fry!"
What was this? Great was the dog's surprise to find the voice came from the little flour-covered bundle that the Fisherman held in his hand. With one great leap, he grasped the squirming bundle in his mouth and, holding it lightly between his teeth, ran through the door and disappeared like a flash!
The Fisherman, angry at seeing his meal snatched from under his nose, ran after the Dog, but a bad fit of coughing made him stop and turn back.
Meanwhile, Alidoro, as soon as he had found the road which led to the village, stopped and dropped Pinocchio softly to the ground.
"Thank you! Oh, thank you," said the Marionette. "If not for you, I would by now be splinters and toothpicks between that monster's teeth!"
"Your thanks isn't necessary," answered the Dog. "You saved me once, and what is given is always returned. We are in this world to help one another."
Alidoro held out his paw to the Marionette, who shook it heartily, feeling that now he and the Dog were good friends. Then they bid each other good-by and the Dog went home.
Pinocchio, left alone, walked toward a little hut near by, where an old man sat at the door sunning himself. Wondering if there was any news about his friend who had been hurt, the Marionette inquired, "Tell me, good man, have you heard anything of a poor boy whose head was wounded on the beach earlier today?"
"Yes, indeed," the fisherman replied. "He was brought to this very hut, and has already returned home, alive and well. But the wound could have been very serious, even mortal. It was caused by a heavy book being thrown at his head by a schoolmate of his. A mischief-maker by the name of Pinocchio."
"Lies, all lies," the Marionette protested, outraged.
"What makes you say that? Do you know this Pinocchio?"
"I know him ery well," answered the Marionette.
"And what do you think of him?" asked the old man.
"I think he's a very good boy, fond of study, obedient, kind to his Father, and to his whole family--"
As Pinocchio spoke he felt his nose growing. "No, don't listen to me," he cried out, frightened. "All the wonderful things I have said aren't true at all. I know Pinocchio well and he is indeed a very wicked fellow, lazy and disobedient, who instead of going to school, runs away with his playmates to have a good time."
At this speech, the puppet's promptly returned to its natural size.
"Why are you so pale?" the old man asked.
"I rubbed myself against a newly painted wall," the puppet lied, ashamed to say that he had been floured for the frying pan.
"And what have you done with your clothes?"
"I met thieves and they robbed me."
"Tell me, my good man, have you not, perhaps, a little suit to give me, so that I may get on my way home?"
The old man looked around, then said, "My boy, I have only a bag in which I keep hops. If you want it, take it. There it is."
Pinocchio took the empty bag, and after cutting a big hole at the top and two at the sides, he slipped into it as if it were a shirt. Lightly clad as he was, he started out toward the village.
Along the way he felt very uneasy. In fact he was so unhappy that he went along taking two steps forward and one back, and as he went he said to himself,
"How shall I ever face my good little Fairy? What will she say when she sees me? Will she forgive me? I am sure she won't. Oh, no, she won't. And I deserve it, as usual! For I am a rascal, fine on promises which I never keep!"
When Pinocchio finally came to the village it was night, so dark he could see nothing, and had begun raining pitchforks besides.
At the door to the Fairy's house at last, Pinocchio found he couldn't knock on it. Indeed, he retreated a few steps into the street and stood staring at his feet.
A second time he approached the door, and again he lost courage and ran back. A third time he repeated his performance. But the fourth time, before he had time to lose his courage, he grasped the knocker and made a faint sound with it.
The little Marionette waited and waited. Finally, after a full half hour, a top-floor window (the house had four stories) opened and Pinocchio saw a large Snail look out. A tiny light glowed on top of her head. "Who knocks at this late hour?" she called.
"Is the Fairy home?" asked the Marionette.
"The Fairy is asleep and does not wish to be disturbed. Who are you?"
"It is I," replied Pinocchio.
"Who is Pinocchio?"
"The Marionette; the one who lives in the Fairy's house."
"Oh, I understand," said the Snail. "Wait for me there. I'll come down to open the door for you."
"Hurry, I beg of you, for I am dying of cold."
"My boy, I am a snail and snails are never in a hurry."
An hour passed, two hours; and the door was still closed. Pinocchio, who was trembling with fear and shivering from the cold rain on his back, knocked again, this time louder than before and without much fear.
A window on the third floor opened and the same Snail looked out.
"Dear little Snail," cried Pinocchio from the street. "I have been waiting two hours for you! And two hours on a dreadful night like this are as long as two years. Hurry, please!"
"My boy," answered the Snail in a calm, peaceful voice, "my dear boy, I am a snail and snails are never in a hurry." And the window closed.
A few minutes later midnight struck; then one o'clock, then two o'clock. And the door still remained closed!
Then Pinocchio, losing all patience, grabbed the knocker with both hands, fully determined to awaken the whole house and street with it. As soon as he touched the knocker, however, it became an eel and wiggled away into the darkness.
"Is that how it is!?" exclaimed Pinocchio, blind with rage. "If the knocker is gone, I can still use my feet."
He stepped back and gave the door a vigorous kick. He kicked so hard that his foot went straight through the door, his leg following almost to the knee. No matter how he pulled and tugged, he could not get it out. There he stayed as if nailed to the door.
Poor Pinocchio! The rest of the night he had to spend with one foot through the door and the other one in the air.
As dawn was breaking, the door finally opened. That brave little animal, the Snail, had taken exactly nine hours to go from the fourth floor to the street. How she must have raced!
"What are you doing with your foot through the door?" she asked the Marionette, laughing.
"It was a misfortune. Won't you try, pretty little Snail, to free me from this terrible torture?"
"My boy, we need a carpenter here and I have never been one."
"Ask the Fairy to help me!"
"The Fairy is asleep and does not want to be disturbed."
Pinocchio, in utter frustration, wailed, "But what do you want me to do, nailed to the door like this?"
"Enjoy yourself counting the ants which are passing by."
"Well, at least bring me something to eat for I am faint with hunger."
"Immediately!" the Snail replied, which elicited a pained groan from the puppet.
After three and a half hours, the Snail returned with a silver tray on her head. On the tray there was bread, roast chicken, and fruit. A fine meal. "Courtesy of the good Fairy," the Snail said.
At the sight of all the good things, the Marionette felt much better.
What was his disgust, however, when on tasting the food, he found the bread to be made of chalk, the chicken of cardboard, and the brilliant fruit of colored alabaster!
Pinocchio wanted to cry, he wanted to give himself up to despair, he wanted to throw away the tray and all that was on it.
Instead, either from pain or weakness, he fell to the floor in a dead faint.
When he regained his senses, the Marionette found himself stretched out on a sofa, the Fairy seated near him.
"I forgive you," the Fairy said before Pinocchio had a chance to speak, "but be careful not to get into mischief again."
Pinocchio promised to study and to behave himself. And he kept his word for the remainder of the year. At the end of it, he passed first in all his examinations, and his report was so good that the Fairy said to him happily,
"Tomorrow your wish will come true."
"What wish is that?"
"Tomorrow you will cease to be a Marionette and will become a real boy."
Pinocchio was beside himself with joy. He declared all his friends and schoolmates must be invited to celebrate the great event, and the Fairy promised to prepare two hundred cups of coffee-and-milk and four hundred slices of toast buttered on both sides.
The day promised to be a very gay and happy one, but--unluckily, in a Marionette's life there's always a BUT which is apt to spoil everything.
Click on Pinocchio to go to Chapter Thirty
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