THE ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO

第49章

Pinocchio finally ceases to be a Marionette and becomes a boy "My dear Father, we are saved!" cried the Marionette.

"All we have to do now is to get to the shore, and that is easy."Without another word, he swam swiftly away in an effort to reach land as soon as possible.All at once he noticed that Geppetto was shivering and shaking as if with a high fever.

Was he shivering from fear or from cold? Who knows?

Perhaps a little of both.But Pinocchio, thinking his father was frightened, tried to comfort him by saying:

"Courage, Father! In a few moments we shall be safe on land.""But where is that blessed shore?" asked the little old man, more and more worried as he tried to pierce the faraway shadows.

"Here I am searching on all sides and I see nothing but sea and sky.""I see the shore," said the Marionette."Remember, Father, that I am like a cat.I see better at night than by day."Poor Pinocchio pretended to be peaceful and contented, but he was far from that.He was beginning to feel discouraged, his strength was leaving him, and his breathing was becoming more and more labored.He felt he could not go on much longer, and the shore was still far away.

He swam a few more strokes.Then he turned to Geppetto and cried out weakly:

"Help me, Father! Help, for I am dying!"Father and son were really about to drown when they heard a voice like a guitar out of tune call from the sea:

"What is the trouble?"

"It is I and my poor father."

"I know the voice.You are Pinocchio."

"Exactly.And you?"

"I am the Tunny, your companion in the Shark's stomach.""And how did you escape?"

"I imitated your example.You are the one who showed me the way and after you went, I followed.""Tunny, you arrived at the right moment! I implore you, for the love you bear your children, the little Tunnies, to help us, or we are lost!""With great pleasure indeed.Hang onto my tail, both of you, and let me lead you.In a twinkling you will be safe on land."Geppetto and Pinocchio, as you can easily imagine, did not refuse the invitation; indeed, instead of hanging onto the tail, they thought it better to climb on the Tunny's back.

"Are we too heavy?" asked Pinocchio.

"Heavy? Not in the least.You are as light as sea-shells,"answered the Tunny, who was as large as a two-year-old horse.

As soon as they reached the shore, Pinocchio was the first to jump to the ground to help his old father.

Then he turned to the fish and said to him:

"Dear friend, you have saved my father, and I have not enough words with which to thank you! Allow me to embrace you as a sign of my eternal gratitude."The Tunny stuck his nose out of the water and Pinocchio knelt on the sand and kissed him most affectionately on his cheek.At this warm greeting, the poor Tunny, who was not used to such tenderness, wept like a child.

He felt so embarrassed and ashamed that he turned quickly, plunged into the sea, and disappeared.

In the meantime day had dawned.

Pinocchio offered his arm to Geppetto, who was so weak he could hardly stand, and said to him:

"Lean on my arm, dear Father, and let us go.We will walk very, very slowly, and if we feel tired we can rest by the wayside.""And where are we going?" asked Geppetto.

"To look for a house or a hut, where they will be kind enough to give us a bite of bread and a bit of straw to sleep on."They had not taken a hundred steps when they saw two rough-looking individuals sitting on a stone begging for alms.

It was the Fox and the Cat, but one could hardly recognize them, they looked so miserable.The Cat, after pretending to be blind for so many years had really lost the sight of both eyes.And the Fox, old, thin, and almost hairless, had even lost his tail.That sly thief had fallen into deepest poverty, and one day he had been forced to sell his beautiful tail for a bite to eat.

"Oh, Pinocchio," he cried in a tearful voice."Give us some alms, we beg of you! We are old, tired, and sick.""Sick!" repeated the Cat.

"Addio, false friends!" answered the Marionette.

"You cheated me once, but you will never catch me again.""Believe us! Today we are truly poor and starving.""Starving!" repeated the Cat.

"If you are poor; you deserve it! Remember the old proverb which says: `Stolen money never bears fruit.'

Addio, false friends."

"Have mercy on us!"

"On us."

"Addio, false friends.Remember the old proverb which says:

`Bad wheat always makes poor bread!'"

"Do not abandon us."

"Abandon us," repeated the Cat.

"Addio, false friends.Remember the old proverb:

`Whoever steals his neighbor's shirt, usually dies without his own.'"Waving good-by to them, Pinocchio and Geppetto calmly went on their way.After a few more steps, they saw, at the end of a long road near a clump of trees, a tiny cottage built of straw.

"Someone must live in that little hut," said Pinocchio.

"Let us see for ourselves."

They went and knocked at the door.

"Who is it?" said a little voice from within.

"A poor father and a poorer son, without food and with no roof to cover them," answered the Marionette.

"Turn the key and the door will open," said the same little voice.

Pinocchio turned the key and the door opened.As soon as they went in, they looked here and there and everywhere but saw no one.

"Oh--ho, where is the owner of the hut?" cried Pinocchio, very much surprised.

"Here I am, up here!"

Father and son looked up to the ceiling, and there on a beam sat the Talking Cricket.

"Oh, my dear Cricket," said Pinocchio, bowing politely.

"Oh, now you call me your dear Cricket, but do you remember when you threw your hammer at me to kill me?""You are right, dear Cricket.Throw a hammer at me now.

Carlo Collodi

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