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| Home | Reading Room The Adventures of Pinocchio

The Adventures of Pinocchio
by C. Collodi
[Pseudonym of Carlo Lorenzini]

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Pinocchio, not having listened to the good advice

of the Talking Cricket, falls into the hands of the Assassins

"Dear, oh, dear! When I come to think of it," said the

Marionette to himself, as he once more set out on his

journey, "we boys are really very unlucky. Everybody

scolds us, everybody gives us advice, everybody warns us.

If we were to allow it, everyone would try to be father

and mother to us; everyone, even the Talking Cricket.

Take me, for example. Just because I would not listen to

that bothersome Cricket, who knows how many misfortunes

may be awaiting me! Assassins indeed! At least

I have never believed in them, nor ever will. To speak

sensibly, I think assassins have been invented by fathers

and mothers to frighten children who want to run away

at night. And then, even if I were to meet them on

the road, what matter? I'll just run up to them, and say,

`Well, signori, what do you want? Remember that you

can't fool with me! Run along and mind your business.'

At such a speech, I can almost see those poor fellows

running like the wind. But in case they don't run away,

I can always run myself. . ."

Pinocchio was not given time to argue any longer, for he thought

he heard a slight rustle among the leaves behind him.

He turned to look and behold, there in the darkness

stood two big black shadows, wrapped from head to foot

in black sacks. The two figures leaped toward him as

softly as if they were ghosts.

"Here they come!" Pinocchio said to himself, and,

not knowing where to hide the gold pieces, he stuck all

four of them under his tongue.

He tried to run away, but hardly had he taken a step,

when he felt his arms grasped and heard two horrible,

deep voices say to him: "Your money or your life!"

On account of the gold pieces in his mouth, Pinocchio

could not say a word, so he tried with head and hands

and body to show, as best he could, that he was only a

poor Marionette without a penny in his pocket.

"Come, come, less nonsense, and out with your money!"

cried the two thieves in threatening voices.

Once more, Pinocchio's head and hands said, "I haven't

a penny."

"Out with that money or you're a dead man," said the

taller of the two Assassins.

"Dead man," repeated the other.

"And after having killed you, we will kill your father also."

"Your father also!"

"No, no, no, not my Father!" cried Pinocchio, wild with terror;

but as he screamed, the gold pieces tinkled together in his mouth.

"Ah, you rascal! So that's the game! You have the

money hidden under your tongue. Out with it!"

But Pinocchio was as stubborn as ever.

"Are you deaf? Wait, young man, we'll get it from

you in a twinkling!"

One of them grabbed the Marionette by the nose and

the other by the chin, and they pulled him unmercifully

from side to side in order to make him open his mouth.

All was of no use. The Marionette's lips might have

been nailed together. They would not open.

In desperation the smaller of the two Assassins pulled

out a long knife from his pocket, and tried to pry Pinocchio's

mouth open with it.

Quick as a flash, the Marionette sank his teeth deep

into the Assassin's hand, bit it off and spat it out. Fancy

his surprise when he saw that it was not a hand, but a

cat's paw.

Encouraged by this first victory, he freed himself from

the claws of his assailers and, leaping over the bushes

along the road, ran swiftly across the fields. His pursuers

were after him at once, like two dogs chasing a hare.

After running seven miles or so, Pinocchio was well-

nigh exhausted. Seeing himself lost, he climbed up a

giant pine tree and sat there to see what he could see.

The Assassins tried to climb also, but they slipped and fell.

Far from giving up the chase, this only spurred them on.

They gathered a bundle of wood, piled it up at the

foot of the pine, and set fire to it. In a twinkling the

tree began to sputter and burn like a candle blown by

the wind. Pinocchio saw the flames climb higher and

higher. Not wishing to end his days as a roasted

Marionette, he jumped quickly to the ground and off he went,

the Assassins close to him, as before.

Dawn was breaking when, without any warning whatsoever,

Pinocchio found his path barred by a deep pool full

of water the color of muddy coffee.

What was there to do? With a "One, two, three!"

he jumped clear across it. The Assassins jumped also,

but not having measured their distance well--splash!!!--

they fell right into the middle of the pool. Pinocchio

who heard the splash and felt it, too, cried out, laughing,

but never stopping in his race:

"A pleasant bath to you, signori!"

He thought they must surely be drowned and turned

his head to see. But there were the two somber figures

still following him, though their black sacks were drenched

and dripping with water.



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