How it happened that Mastro Cherry, carpenter, found a piece of wood
that wept and laughed like a child.
Centuries ago there lived--
"A king!" my little readers will say immediately.
No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of
wood. It was not an expensive piece of wood. Far from it. Just a common
block of firewood, one of those thick, solid logs that are put on the
fire in winter to make cold rooms cozy and warm.
I do not know how this really happened, yet the fact remains that
one fine day this piece of wood found itself in the shop of an old
carpenter. His real name was Mastro Antonio, but everyone called him
Mastro Cherry, for the tip of his nose was so round and red and shiny
that it looked like a ripe cherry.
As soon as he saw that piece of wood, Mastro Cherry was filled with joy.
Rubbing his hands together happily, he mumbled half to himself:
"This has come in the nick of time. I shall use it to make the leg of a
He grasped the hatchet quickly to peel off the bark and shape the wood.
But as he was about to give it the first blow, he stood still with arm
uplifted, for he had heard a wee, little voice say in a beseeching tone:
"Please be careful! Do not hit me so hard!"
What a look of surprise shone on Mastro Cherry's face! His funny face
became still funnier.
He turned frightened eyes about the room to find out where that wee,
little voice had come from and he saw no one! He looked under the
bench--no one! He peeped inside the closet--no one! He searched among
the shavings--no one! He opened the door to look up and down the
street--and still no one!
"Oh, I see!" he then said, laughing and scratching his Wig. "It can
easily be seen that I only thought I heard the tiny voice say the words!
Well, well--to work once more."
He struck a most solemn blow upon the piece of wood.
"Oh, oh! You hurt!" cried the same far-away little voice.
Mastro Cherry grew dumb, his eyes popped out of his head, his mouth
opened wide, and his tongue hung down on his chin.
As soon as he regained the use of his senses, he said, trembling and
stuttering from fright:
"Where did that voice come from, when there is no one around? Might it
be that this piece of wood has learned to weep and cry like a child? I
can hardly believe it. Here it is--a piece of common firewood, good
only to burn in the stove, the same as any other. Yet--might someone be
hidden in it? If so, the worse for him. I'll fix him!"
With these words, he grabbed the log with both hands and started to
knock it about unmercifully. He threw it to the floor, against the walls
of the room, and even up to the ceiling.
He listened for the tiny voice to moan and cry. He waited two
minutes--nothing; five minutes--nothing; ten minutes--nothing.
"Oh, I see," he said, trying bravely to laugh and ruffling up his wig
with his hand. "It can easily be seen I only imagined I heard the tiny
voice! Well, well--to work once more!"
The poor fellow was scared half to death, so he tried to sing a gay song
in order to gain courage.
He set aside the hatchet and picked up the plane to make the wood smooth
and even, but as he drew it to and fro, he heard the same tiny voice.
This time it giggled as it spoke:
"Stop it! Oh, stop it! Ha, ha, ha! You tickle my stomach."
This time poor Mastro Cherry fell as if shot. When he opened his eyes,
he found himself sitting on the floor.
His face had changed; fright had turned even the tip of his nose from
red to deepest purple.
Mastro Cherry gives the piece of wood to his friend Geppetto, who
takes it to make himself a Marionette that will dance, fence, and turn
In that very instant, a loud knock sounded on the door. "Come in," said
the carpenter, not having an atom of strength left with which to stand
At the words, the door opened and a dapper little old man came in.
His name was Geppetto, but to the boys of the neighborhood he was
Polendina,* on account of the wig he always wore which was just the
color of yellow corn.
* Cornmeal mush
Geppetto had a very bad temper. Woe to the one who called him Polendina!
He became as wild as a beast and no one could soothe him.
"Good day, Mastro Antonio," said Geppetto. "What are you doing on the
"I am teaching the ants their A B C's."
"Good luck to you!"
"What brought you here, friend Geppetto?"
"My legs. And it may flatter you to know, Mastro Antonio, that I have
come to you to beg for a favor."
"Here I am, at your service," answered the carpenter, raising himself on
to his knees.
"This morning a fine idea came to me."
"Let's hear it."
"I thought of making myself a beautiful wooden Marionette. It must be
wonderful, one that will be able to dance, fence, and turn somersaults.
With it I intend to go around the world, to earn my crust of bread and
cup of wine. What do you think of it?"
"Bravo, Polendina!" cried the same tiny voice which came from no one
On hearing himself called Polendina, Mastro Geppetto turned the color of
a red pepper and, facing the carpenter, said to him angrily:
"Why do you insult me?"
"Who is insulting you?"
"You called me Polendina."
"I did not."
"I suppose you think _I_ did! Yet I KNOW it was you."
And growing angrier each moment, they went from words to blows, and
finally began to scratch and bite and slap each other.
When the fight was over, Mastro Antonio had Geppetto's yellow wig in his
hands and Geppetto found the carpenter's curly wig in his mouth.
"Give me back my wig!" shouted Mastro Antonio in a surly voice.
"You return mine and we'll be friends."
The two little old men, each with his own wig back on his own head,
shook hands and swore to be good friends for the rest of their lives.
"Well then, Mastro Geppetto," said the carpenter, to show he bore him no
ill will, "what is it you want?"
"I want a piece of wood to make a Marionette. Will you give it to me?"
Mastro Antonio, very glad indeed, went immediately to his bench to get
the piece of wood which had frightened him so much. But as he was about
to give it to his friend, with a violent jerk it slipped out of his
hands and hit against poor Geppetto's thin legs.
"Ah! Is this the gentle way, Mastro Antonio, in which you make your
gifts? You have made me almost lame!"
"I swear to you I did not do it!"
"It was _I_, of course!"
"It's the fault of this piece of wood."
"You're right; but remember you were the one to throw it at my legs."
"I did not throw it!"
"Geppetto, do not insult me or I shall call you Polendina."
On hearing himself called Polendina for the third time, Geppetto lost
his head with rage and threw himself upon the carpenter. Then and there
they gave each other a sound thrashing.
After this fight, Mastro Antonio had two more scratches on his nose,
and Geppetto had two buttons missing from his coat. Thus having settled
their accounts, they shook hands and swore to be good friends for the
rest of their lives.
Then Geppetto took the fine piece of wood, thanked Mastro Antonio, and
limped away toward home.
As soon as he gets home, Geppetto fashions the Marionette and calls it
Pinocchio. The first pranks of the Marionette.
Little as Geppetto's house was, it was neat and comfortable. It was a
small room on the ground floor, with a tiny window under the stairway.
The furniture could not have been much simpler: a very old chair, a
rickety old bed, and a tumble-down table. A fireplace full of burning
logs was painted on the wall opposite the door. Over the fire, there
was painted a pot full of something which kept boiling happily away and
sending up clouds of what looked like real steam.
As soon as he reached home, Geppetto took his tools and began to cut and
shape the wood into a Marionette.
"What shall I call him?" he said to himself. "I think I'll call him
PINOCCHIO. This name will make his fortune. I knew a whole family of
Pinocchi once--Pinocchio the father, Pinocchia the mother, and Pinocchi
the children--and they were all lucky. The richest of them begged for
After choosing the name for his Marionette, Geppetto set seriously to
work to make the hair, the forehead, the eyes. Fancy his surprise
when he noticed that these eyes moved and then stared fixedly at him.
Geppetto, seeing this, felt insulted and said in a grieved tone:
"Ugly wooden eyes, why do you stare so?"
There was no answer.
After the eyes, Geppetto made the nose, which began to stretch as soon
as finished. It stretched and stretched and stretched till it became so
long, it seemed endless.
Poor Geppetto kept cutting it and cutting it, but the more he cut, the
longer grew that impertinent nose. In despair he let it alone.
Next he made the mouth.
No sooner was it finished than it began to laugh and poke fun at him.
"Stop laughing!" said Geppetto angrily; but he might as well have spoken
to the wall.
"Stop laughing, I say!" he roared in a voice of thunder.
The mouth stopped laughing, but it stuck out a long tongue.
Not wishing to start an argument, Geppetto made believe he saw nothing
and went on with his work. After the mouth, he made the chin, then the
neck, the shoulders, the stomach, the arms, and the hands.
As he was about to put the last touches on the finger tips, Geppetto
felt his wig being pulled off. He glanced up and what did he see? His
yellow wig was in the Marionette's hand. "Pinocchio, give me my wig!"
But instead of giving it back, Pinocchio put it on his own head, which
was half swallowed up in it.
At that unexpected trick, Geppetto became very sad and downcast, more so
than he had ever been before.
"Pinocchio, you wicked boy!" he cried out. "You are not yet finished,
and you start out by being impudent to your poor old father. Very bad,
my son, very bad!"
And he wiped away a tear.
The legs and feet still had to be made. As soon as they were done,
Geppetto felt a sharp kick on the tip of his nose.
"I deserve it!" he said to himself. "I should have thought of this
before I made him. Now it's too late!"
He took hold of the Marionette under the arms and put him on the floor
to teach him to walk.
Pinocchio's legs were so stiff that he could not move them, and Geppetto
held his hand and showed him how to put out one foot after the other.
When his legs were limbered up, Pinocchio started walking by himself and
ran all around the room. He came to the open door, and with one leap he
was out into the street. Away he flew!
Poor Geppetto ran after him but was unable to catch him, for Pinocchio
ran in leaps and bounds, his two wooden feet, as they beat on the stones
of the street, making as much noise as twenty peasants in wooden shoes.
"Catch him! Catch him!" Geppetto kept shouting. But the people in the
street, seeing a wooden Marionette running like the wind, stood still to
stare and to laugh until they cried.
At last, by sheer luck, a Carabineer* happened along, who, hearing all
that noise, thought that it might be a runaway colt, and stood bravely
in the middle of the street, with legs wide apart, firmly resolved to
stop it and prevent any trouble.
* A military policeman
Pinocchio saw the Carabineer from afar and tried his best to escape
between the legs of the big fellow, but without success.
The Carabineer grabbed him by the nose (it was an extremely long one and
seemed made on purpose for that very thing) and returned him to Mastro
The little old man wanted to pull Pinocchio's ears. Think how he felt
when, upon searching for them, he discovered that he had forgotten to
All he could do was to seize Pinocchio by the back of the neck and take
him home. As he was doing so, he shook him two or three times and said
to him angrily:
"We're going home now. When we get home, then we'll settle this matter!"
Pinocchio, on hearing this, threw himself on the ground and refused to
take another step. One person after another gathered around the two.
Some said one thing, some another.
"Poor Marionette," called out a man. "I am not surprised he doesn't want
to go home. Geppetto, no doubt, will beat him unmercifully, he is so
mean and cruel!"
"Geppetto looks like a good man," added another, "but with boys he's a
real tyrant. If we leave that poor Marionette in his hands he may tear
him to pieces!"
They said so much that, finally, the Carabineer ended matters by setting
Pinocchio at liberty and dragging Geppetto to prison. The poor old
fellow did not know how to defend himself, but wept and wailed like a
child and said between his sobs:
"Ungrateful boy! To think I tried so hard to make you a well-behaved
Marionette! I deserve it, however! I should have given the matter more
What happened after this is an almost unbelievable story, but you may
read it, dear children, in the chapters that follow.
The story of Pinocchio and the Talking Cricket, in which one sees that
bad children do not like to be corrected by those who know more than
Very little time did it take to get poor old Geppetto to prison. In
the meantime that rascal, Pinocchio, free now from the clutches of the
Carabineer, was running wildly across fields and meadows, taking one
short cut after another toward home. In his wild flight, he leaped over
brambles and bushes, and across brooks and ponds, as if he were a goat
or a hare chased by hounds.
On reaching home, he found the house door half open. He slipped into
the room, locked the door, and threw himself on the floor, happy at his
But his happiness lasted only a short time, for just then he heard
"Who is calling me?" asked Pinocchio, greatly frightened.
Pinocchio turned and saw a large cricket crawling slowly up the wall.
"Tell me, Cricket, who are you?"
"I am the Talking Cricket and I have been living in this room for more
than one hundred years."
"Today, however, this room is mine," said the Marionette, "and if you
wish to do me a favor, get out now, and don't turn around even once."
"I refuse to leave this spot," answered the Cricket, "until I have told
you a great truth."
"Tell it, then, and hurry."
"Woe to boys who refuse to obey their parents and run away from home!
They will never be happy in this world, and when they are older they
will be very sorry for it."
"Sing on, Cricket mine, as you please. What I know is, that tomorrow,
at dawn, I leave this place forever. If I stay here the same thing will
happen to me which happens to all other boys and girls. They are sent to
school, and whether they want to or not, they must study. As for me,
let me tell you, I hate to study! It's much more fun, I think, to chase
after butterflies, climb trees, and steal birds' nests."
"Poor little silly! Don't you know that if you go on like that, you
will grow into a perfect donkey and that you'll be the laughingstock of
"Keep still, you ugly Cricket!" cried Pinocchio.
But the Cricket, who was a wise old philosopher, instead of being
offended at Pinocchio's impudence, continued in the same tone:
"If you do not like going to school, why don't you at least learn a
trade, so that you can earn an honest living?"
"Shall I tell you something?" asked Pinocchio, who was beginning to lose
patience. "Of all the trades in the world, there is only one that really
"And what can that be?"
"That of eating, drinking, sleeping, playing, and wandering around from
morning till night."
"Let me tell you, for your own good, Pinocchio," said the Talking
Cricket in his calm voice, "that those who follow that trade always end
up in the hospital or in prison."
"Careful, ugly Cricket! If you make me angry, you'll be sorry!"
"Poor Pinocchio, I am sorry for you."
"Because you are a Marionette and, what is much worse, you have a wooden
At these last words, Pinocchio jumped up in a fury, took a hammer from
the bench, and threw it with all his strength at the Talking Cricket.
Perhaps he did not think he would strike it. But, sad to relate, my dear
children, he did hit the Cricket, straight on its head.
With a last weak "cri-cri-cri" the poor Cricket fell from the wall,
Pinocchio is hungry and looks for an egg to cook himself an omelet; but,
to his surprise, the omelet flies out of the window.
If the Cricket's death scared Pinocchio at all, it was only for a very
few moments. For, as night came on, a queer, empty feeling at the pit of
his stomach reminded the Marionette that he had eaten nothing as yet.
A boy's appetite grows very fast, and in a few moments the queer, empty
feeling had become hunger, and the hunger grew bigger and bigger, until
soon he was as ravenous as a bear.
Poor Pinocchio ran to the fireplace where the pot was boiling and
stretched out his hand to take the cover off, but to his amazement the
pot was only painted! Think how he felt! His long nose became at least
two inches longer.
He ran about the room, dug in all the boxes and drawers, and even looked
under the bed in search of a piece of bread, hard though it might be,
or a cookie, or perhaps a bit of fish. A bone left by a dog would have
tasted good to him! But he found nothing.
And meanwhile his hunger grew and grew. The only relief poor Pinocchio
had was to yawn; and he certainly did yawn, such a big yawn that his
mouth stretched out to the tips of his ears. Soon he became dizzy and
faint. He wept and wailed to himself: "The Talking Cricket was right. It
was wrong of me to disobey Father and to run away from home. If he were
here now, I wouldn't be so hungry! Oh, how horrible it is to be hungry!"
Suddenly, he saw, among the sweepings in a corner, something round and
white that looked very much like a hen's egg. In a jiffy he pounced upon
it. It was an egg.
The Marionette's joy knew no bounds. It is impossible to describe it,
you must picture it to yourself. Certain that he was dreaming, he turned
the egg over and over in his hands, fondled it, kissed it, and talked to
"And now, how shall I cook you? Shall I make an omelet? No, it is better
to fry you in a pan! Or shall I drink you? No, the best way is to fry
you in the pan. You will taste better."
No sooner said than done. He placed a little pan over a foot warmer full
of hot coals. In the pan, instead of oil or butter, he poured a
little water. As soon as the water started to boil--tac!--he broke the
eggshell. But in place of the white and the yolk of the egg, a little
yellow Chick, fluffy and gay and smiling, escaped from it. Bowing
politely to Pinocchio, he said to him:
"Many, many thanks, indeed, Mr. Pinocchio, for having saved me the
trouble of breaking my shell! Good-by and good luck to you and remember
me to the family!"
With these words he spread out his wings and, darting to the open
window, he flew away into space till he was out of sight.
The poor Marionette stood as if turned to stone, with wide eyes, open
mouth, and the empty halves of the egg-shell in his hands. When he came
to himself, he began to cry and shriek at the top of his lungs, stamping
his feet on the ground and wailing all the while:
"The Talking Cricket was right! If I had not run away from home and if
Father were here now, I should not be dying of hunger. Oh, how horrible
it is to be hungry!"
And as his stomach kept grumbling more than ever and he had nothing
to quiet it with, he thought of going out for a walk to the near-by
village, in the hope of finding some charitable person who might give
him a bit of bread.
Pinocchio falls asleep with his feet on a foot warmer, and awakens the
next day with his feet all burned off.
Pinocchio hated the dark street, but he was so hungry that, in spite of
it, he ran out of the house. The night was pitch black. It thundered,
and bright flashes of lightning now and again shot across the sky,
turning it into a sea of fire. An angry wind blew cold and raised dense
clouds of dust, while the trees shook and moaned in a weird way.
Pinocchio was greatly afraid of thunder and lightning, but the hunger he
felt was far greater than his fear. In a dozen leaps and bounds, he
came to the village, tired out, puffing like a whale, and with tongue
The whole village was dark and deserted. The stores were closed, the
doors, the windows. In the streets, not even a dog could be seen. It
seemed the Village of the Dead.
Pinocchio, in desperation, ran up to a doorway, threw himself upon the
bell, and pulled it wildly, saying to himself: "Someone will surely
He was right. An old man in a nightcap opened the window and looked out.
He called down angrily:
"What do you want at this hour of night?"
"Will you be good enough to give me a bit of bread? I am hungry."
"Wait a minute and I'll come right back," answered the old fellow,
thinking he had to deal with one of those boys who love to roam around
at night ringing people's bells while they are peacefully asleep.
After a minute or two, the same voice cried:
"Get under the window and hold out your hat!"
Pinocchio had no hat, but he managed to get under the window just in
time to feel a shower of ice-cold water pour down on his poor wooden
head, his shoulders, and over his whole body.
He returned home as wet as a rag, and tired out from weariness and
As he no longer had any strength left with which to stand, he sat down
on a little stool and put his two feet on the stove to dry them.
There he fell asleep, and while he slept, his wooden feet began to burn.
Slowly, very slowly, they blackened and turned to ashes.
Pinocchio snored away happily as if his feet were not his own. At dawn
he opened his eyes just as a loud knocking sounded at the door.
"Who is it?" he called, yawning and rubbing his eyes.
"It is I," answered a voice.
It was the voice of Geppetto.
Geppetto returns home and gives his own breakfast to the Marionette
The poor Marionette, who was still half asleep, had not yet found out
that his two feet were burned and gone. As soon as he heard his Father's
voice, he jumped up from his seat to open the door, but, as he did so,
he staggered and fell headlong to the floor.
In falling, he made as much noise as a sack of wood falling from the
fifth story of a house.
"Open the door for me!" Geppetto shouted from the street.
"Father, dear Father, I can't," answered the Marionette in despair,
crying and rolling on the floor.
"Why can't you?"
"Because someone has eaten my feet."
"And who has eaten them?"
"The cat," answered Pinocchio, seeing that little animal busily playing
with some shavings in the corner of the room.
"Open! I say," repeated Geppetto, "or I'll give you a sound whipping
when I get in."
"Father, believe me, I can't stand up. Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I shall have
to walk on my knees all my life."
Geppetto, thinking that all these tears and cries were only other pranks
of the Marionette, climbed up the side of the house and went in through
At first he was very angry, but on seeing Pinocchio stretched out on the
floor and really without feet, he felt very sad and sorrowful. Picking
him up from the floor, he fondled and caressed him, talking to him while
the tears ran down his cheeks:
"My little Pinocchio, my dear little Pinocchio! How did you burn your
"I don't know, Father, but believe me, the night has been a terrible one
and I shall remember it as long as I live. The thunder was so noisy and
the lightning so bright--and I was hungry. And then the Talking Cricket
said to me, 'You deserve it; you were bad;' and I said to him, 'Careful,
Cricket;' and he said to me, 'You are a Marionette and you have a wooden
head;' and I threw the hammer at him and killed him. It was his own
fault, for I didn't want to kill him. And I put the pan on the coals,
but the Chick flew away and said, 'I'll see you again! Remember me to
the family.' And my hunger grew, and I went out, and the old man with a
nightcap looked out of the window and threw water on me, and I came home
and put my feet on the stove to dry them because I was still hungry,
and I fell asleep and now my feet are gone but my hunger isn't!
Oh!--Oh!--Oh!" And poor Pinocchio began to scream and cry so loudly that
he could be heard for miles around.
Geppetto, who had understood nothing of all that jumbled talk, except
that the Marionette was hungry, felt sorry for him, and pulling three
pears out of his pocket, offered them to him, saying:
"These three pears were for my breakfast, but I give them to you gladly.
Eat them and stop weeping."
"If you want me to eat them, please peel them for me."
"Peel them?" asked Geppetto, very much surprised. "I should never have
thought, dear boy of mine, that you were so dainty and fussy about your
food. Bad, very bad! In this world, even as children, we must accustom
ourselves to eat of everything, for we never know what life may hold in
store for us!"
"You may be right," answered Pinocchio, "but I will not eat the pears if
they are not peeled. I don't like them."
And good old Geppetto took out a knife, peeled the three pears, and put
the skins in a row on the table.
Pinocchio ate one pear in a twinkling and started to throw the core
away, but Geppetto held his arm.
"Oh, no, don't throw it away! Everything in this world may be of some
"But the core I will not eat!" cried Pinocchio in an angry tone.
"Who knows?" repeated Geppetto calmly.
And later the three cores were placed on the table next to the skins.
Pinocchio had eaten the three pears, or rather devoured them. Then he
yawned deeply, and wailed:
"I'm still hungry."
"But I have no more to give you."
"I have only these three cores and these skins."
"Very well, then," said Pinocchio, "if there is nothing else I'll eat
At first he made a wry face, but, one after another, the skins and the
"Ah! Now I feel fine!" he said after eating the last one.
"You see," observed Geppetto, "that I was right when I told you that one
must not be too fussy and too dainty about food. My dear, we never know
what life may have in store for us!"
Geppetto makes Pinocchio a new pair of feet, and sells his coat to buy
him an A-B-C book.
The Marionette, as soon as his hunger was appeased, started to grumble
and cry that he wanted a new pair of feet.
But Mastro Geppetto, in order to punish him for his mischief, let him
alone the whole morning. After dinner he said to him:
"Why should I make your feet over again? To see you run away from home
"I promise you," answered the Marionette, sobbing, "that from now on
I'll be good--"
"Boys always promise that when they want something," said Geppetto.
"I promise to go to school every day, to study, and to succeed--"
"Boys always sing that song when they want their own will."
"But I am not like other boys! I am better than all of them and I always
tell the truth. I promise you, Father, that I'll learn a trade, and I'll
be the comfort and staff of your old age."
Geppetto, though trying to look very stern, felt his eyes fill with
tears and his heart soften when he saw Pinocchio so unhappy. He said
no more, but taking his tools and two pieces of wood, he set to work
In less than an hour the feet were finished, two slender, nimble little
feet, strong and quick, modeled as if by an artist's hands.
"Close your eyes and sleep!" Geppetto then said to the Marionette.
Pinocchio closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep, while Geppetto
stuck on the two feet with a bit of glue melted in an eggshell, doing
his work so well that the joint could hardly be seen.
As soon as the Marionette felt his new feet, he gave one leap from the
table and started to skip and jump around, as if he had lost his head
from very joy.
"To show you how grateful I am to you, Father, I'll go to school now.
But to go to school I need a suit of clothes."
Geppetto did not have a penny in his pocket, so he made his son a little
suit of flowered paper, a pair of shoes from the bark of a tree, and a
tiny cap from a bit of dough.
Pinocchio ran to look at himself in a bowl of water, and he felt so
happy that he said proudly:
"Now I look like a gentleman."
"Truly," answered Geppetto. "But remember that fine clothes do not make
the man unless they be neat and clean."
"Very true," answered Pinocchio, "but, in order to go to school, I still
need something very important."
"What is it?"
"An A-B-C book."
"To be sure! But how shall we get it?"
"That's easy. We'll go to a bookstore and buy it."
"And the money?"
"I have none."
"Neither have I," said the old man sadly.
Pinocchio, although a happy boy always, became sad and downcast at these
words. When poverty shows itself, even mischievous boys understand what
"What does it matter, after all?" cried Geppetto all at once, as he
jumped up from his chair. Putting on his old coat, full of darns and
patches, he ran out of the house without another word.
After a while he returned. In his hands he had the A-B-C book for his
son, but the old coat was gone. The poor fellow was in his shirt sleeves
and the day was cold.
"Where's your coat, Father?"
"I have sold it."
"Why did you sell your coat?"
"It was too warm."
Pinocchio understood the answer in a twinkling, and, unable to restrain
his tears, he jumped on his father's neck and kissed him over and over.
Pinocchio sells his A-B-C book to pay his way into the Marionette
See Pinocchio hurrying off to school with his new A-B-C book under
his arm! As he walked along, his brain was busy planning hundreds of
wonderful things, building hundreds of castles in the air. Talking to
himself, he said:
"In school today, I'll learn to read, tomorrow to write, and the day
after tomorrow I'll do arithmetic. Then, clever as I am, I can earn a
lot of money. With the very first pennies I make, I'll buy Father a new
cloth coat. Cloth, did I say? No, it shall be of gold and silver with
diamond buttons. That poor man certainly deserves it; for, after all,
isn't he in his shirt sleeves because he was good enough to buy a
book for me? On this cold day, too! Fathers are indeed good to their
As he talked to himself, he thought he heard sounds of pipes and drums
coming from a distance: pi-pi-pi, pi-pi-pi. . .zum, zum, zum, zum.
He stopped to listen. Those sounds came from a little street that led to
a small village along the shore.
"What can that noise be? What a nuisance that I have to go to school!
Otherwise. . ."
There he stopped, very much puzzled. He felt he had to make up his mind
for either one thing or another. Should he go to school, or should he
follow the pipes?
"Today I'll follow the pipes, and tomorrow I'll go to school. There's
always plenty of time to go to school," decided the little rascal at
last, shrugging his shoulders.
No sooner said than done. He started down the street, going like the
wind. On he ran, and louder grew the sounds of pipe and drum: pi-pi-pi,
pi-pi-pi, pi-pi-pi . . .zum, zum, zum, zum.
Suddenly, he found himself in a large square, full of people standing in
front of a little wooden building painted in brilliant colors.
"What is that house?" Pinocchio asked a little boy near him.
"Read the sign and you'll know."
"I'd like to read, but somehow I can't today."
"Oh, really? Then I'll read it to you. Know, then, that written in
letters of fire I see the words: GREAT MARIONETTE THEATER.
"When did the show start?"
"It is starting now."
"And how much does one pay to get in?"
Pinocchio, who was wild with curiosity to know what was going on inside,
lost all his pride and said to the boy shamelessly:
"Will you give me four pennies until tomorrow?"
"I'd give them to you gladly," answered the other, poking fun at him,
"but just now I can't give them to you."
"For the price of four pennies, I'll sell you my coat."
"If it rains, what shall I do with a coat of flowered paper? I could not
take it off again."
"Do you want to buy my shoes?"
"They are only good enough to light a fire with."
"What about my hat?"
"Fine bargain, indeed! A cap of dough! The mice might come and eat it
from my head!"
Pinocchio was almost in tears. He was just about to make one last offer,
but he lacked the courage to do so. He hesitated, he wondered, he could
not make up his mind. At last he said:
"Will you give me four pennies for the book?"
"I am a boy and I buy nothing from boys," said the little fellow with
far more common sense than the Marionette.
"I'll give you four pennies for your A-B-C book," said a ragpicker who
Then and there, the book changed hands. And to think that poor old
Geppetto sat at home in his shirt sleeves, shivering with cold, having
sold his coat to buy that little book for his son!
The Marionettes recognize their brother Pinocchio, and greet him with
loud cheers; but the Director, Fire Eater, happens along and poor
Pinocchio almost loses his life.
Quick as a flash, Pinocchio disappeared into the Marionette Theater. And
then something happened which almost caused a riot.
The curtain was up and the performance had started.
Harlequin and Pulcinella were reciting on the stage and, as usual, they
were threatening each other with sticks and blows.
The theater was full of people, enjoying the spectacle and laughing till
they cried at the antics of the two Marionettes.
The play continued for a few minutes, and then suddenly, without any
warning, Harlequin stopped talking. Turning toward the audience, he
pointed to the rear of the orchestra, yelling wildly at the same time:
"Look, look! Am I asleep or awake? Or do I really see Pinocchio there?"
"Yes, yes! It is Pinocchio!" screamed Pulcinella.
"It is! It is!" shrieked Signora Rosaura, peeking in from the side of
"It is Pinocchio! It is Pinocchio!" yelled all the Marionettes, pouring
out of the wings. "It is Pinocchio. It is our brother Pinocchio! Hurrah
"Pinocchio, come up to me!" shouted Harlequin. "Come to the arms of your
At such a loving invitation, Pinocchio, with one leap from the back of
the orchestra, found himself in the front rows. With another leap,
he was on the orchestra leader's head. With a third, he landed on the
It is impossible to describe the shrieks of joy, the warm embraces, the
knocks, and the friendly greetings with which that strange company of
dramatic actors and actresses received Pinocchio.
It was a heart-rending spectacle, but the audience, seeing that the play
had stopped, became angry and began to yell:
"The play, the play, we want the play!"
The yelling was of no use, for the Marionettes, instead of going on
with their act, made twice as much racket as before, and, lifting up
Pinocchio on their shoulders, carried him around the stage in triumph.
At that very moment, the Director came out of his room. He had such a
fearful appearance that one look at him would fill you with horror. His
beard was as black as pitch, and so long that it reached from his chin
down to his feet. His mouth was as wide as an oven, his teeth like
yellow fangs, and his eyes, two glowing red coals. In his huge, hairy
hands, a long whip, made of green snakes and black cats' tails twisted
together, swished through the air in a dangerous way.
At the unexpected apparition, no one dared even to breathe. One could
almost hear a fly go by. Those poor Marionettes, one and all, trembled
like leaves in a storm.
"Why have you brought such excitement into my theater;" the huge fellow
asked Pinocchio with the voice of an ogre suffering with a cold.
"Believe me, your Honor, the fault was not mine."
"Enough! Be quiet! I'll take care of you later."
As soon as the play was over, the Director went to the kitchen, where
a fine big lamb was slowly turning on the spit. More wood was needed to
finish cooking it. He called Harlequin and Pulcinella and said to them:
"Bring that Marionette to me! He looks as if he were made of
well-seasoned wood. He'll make a fine fire for this spit."
Harlequin and Pulcinella hesitated a bit. Then, frightened by a look
from their master, they left the kitchen to obey him. A few minutes
later they returned, carrying poor Pinocchio, who was wriggling and
squirming like an eel and crying pitifully:
"Father, save me! I don't want to die! I don't want to die!"
Fire Eater sneezes and forgives Pinocchio, who saves his friend,
Harlequin, from death.
In the theater, great excitement reigned.
Fire Eater (this was really his name) was very ugly, but he was far from
being as bad as he looked. Proof of this is that, when he saw the poor
Marionette being brought in to him, struggling with fear and crying, "I
don't want to die! I don't want to die!" he felt sorry for him and began
first to waver and then to weaken. Finally, he could control himself no
longer and gave a loud sneeze.
At that sneeze, Harlequin, who until then had been as sad as a weeping
willow, smiled happily and leaning toward the Marionette, whispered to
"Good news, brother mine! Fire Eater has sneezed and this is a sign that
he feels sorry for you. You are saved!"
For be it known, that, while other people, when sad and sorrowful, weep
and wipe their eyes, Fire Eater, on the other hand, had the strange
habit of sneezing each time he felt unhappy. The way was just as good as
any other to show the kindness of his heart.
After sneezing, Fire Eater, ugly as ever, cried to Pinocchio:
"Stop crying! Your wails give me a funny feeling down here in my stomach
and--E--tchee!--E--tchee!" Two loud sneezes finished his speech.
"God bless you!" said Pinocchio.
"Thanks! Are your father and mother still living?" demanded Fire Eater.
"My father, yes. My mother I have never known."
"Your poor father would suffer terribly if I were to use you as
firewood. Poor old man! I feel sorry for him! E--tchee! E--tchee!
E--tchee!" Three more sneezes sounded, louder than ever.
"God bless you!" said Pinocchio.
"Thanks! However, I ought to be sorry for myself, too, just now. My good
dinner is spoiled. I have no more wood for the fire, and the lamb
is only half cooked. Never mind! In your place I'll burn some other
Marionette. Hey there! Officers!"
At the call, two wooden officers appeared, long and thin as a yard of
rope, with queer hats on their heads and swords in their hands.
Fire Eater yelled at them in a hoarse voice:
"Take Harlequin, tie him, and throw him on the fire. I want my lamb well
Think how poor Harlequin felt! He was so scared that his legs doubled up
under him and he fell to the floor.
Pinocchio, at that heartbreaking sight, threw himself at the feet of
Fire Eater and, weeping bitterly, asked in a pitiful voice which could
scarcely be heard:
"Have pity, I beg of you, signore!"
"There are no signori here!"
"Have pity, kind sir!"
"There are no sirs here!"
"Have pity, your Excellency!"
On hearing himself addressed as your Excellency, the Director of the
Marionette Theater sat up very straight in his chair, stroked his long
beard, and becoming suddenly kind and compassionate, smiled proudly as
he said to Pinocchio:
"Well, what do you want from me now, Marionette?"
"I beg for mercy for my poor friend, Harlequin, who has never done the
least harm in his life."
"There is no mercy here, Pinocchio. I have spared you. Harlequin must
burn in your place. I am hungry and my dinner must be cooked."
"In that case," said Pinocchio proudly, as he stood up and flung away
his cap of dough, "in that case, my duty is clear. Come, officers!
Tie me up and throw me on those flames. No, it is not fair for poor
Harlequin, the best friend that I have in the world, to die in my
These brave words, said in a piercing voice, made all the other
Marionettes cry. Even the officers, who were made of wood also, cried
like two babies.
Fire Eater at first remained hard and cold as a piece of ice; but then,
little by little, he softened and began to sneeze. And after four or
five sneezes, he opened wide his arms and said to Pinocchio:
"You are a brave boy! Come to my arms and kiss me!"
Pinocchio ran to him and scurrying like a squirrel up the long black
beard, he gave Fire Eater a loving kiss on the tip of his nose.
"Has pardon been granted to me?" asked poor Harlequin with a voice that
was hardly a breath.
"Pardon is yours!" answered Fire Eater; and sighing and wagging his
head, he added: "Well, tonight I shall have to eat my lamb only half
cooked, but beware the next time, Marionettes."
At the news that pardon had been given, the Marionettes ran to the stage
and, turning on all the lights, they danced and sang till dawn.
Fire Eater gives Pinocchio five gold pieces for his father, Geppetto;
but the Marionette meets a Fox and a Cat and follows them.
The next day Fire Eater called Pinocchio aside and asked him:
"What is your father's name?"
"And what is his trade?"
"He's a wood carver."
"Does he earn much?"
"He earns so much that he never has a penny in his pockets. Just think
that, in order to buy me an A-B-C book for school, he had to sell the
only coat he owned, a coat so full of darns and patches that it was a
"Poor fellow! I feel sorry for him. Here, take these five gold pieces.
Go, give them to him with my kindest regards."
Pinocchio, as may easily be imagined, thanked him a thousand times. He
kissed each Marionette in turn, even the officers, and, beside himself
with joy, set out on his homeward journey.
He had gone barely half a mile when he met a lame Fox and a blind Cat,
walking together like two good friends. The lame Fox leaned on the Cat,
and the blind Cat let the Fox lead him along.
"Good morning, Pinocchio," said the Fox, greeting him courteously.
"How do you know my name?" asked the Marionette.
"I know your father well."
"Where have you seen him?"
"I saw him yesterday standing at the door of his house."
"And what was he doing?"
"He was in his shirt sleeves trembling with cold."
"Poor Father! But, after today, God willing, he will suffer no longer."
"Because I have become a rich man."
"You, a rich man?" said the Fox, and he began to laugh out loud. The Cat
was laughing also, but tried to hide it by stroking his long whiskers.
"There is nothing to laugh at," cried Pinocchio angrily. "I am very
sorry to make your mouth water, but these, as you know, are five new
And he pulled out the gold pieces which Fire Eater had given him.
At the cheerful tinkle of the gold, the Fox unconsciously held out his
paw that was supposed to be lame, and the Cat opened wide his two eyes
till they looked like live coals, but he closed them again so quickly
that Pinocchio did not notice.
"And may I ask," inquired the Fox, "what you are going to do with all
"First of all," answered the Marionette, "I want to buy a fine new coat
for my father, a coat of gold and silver with diamond buttons; after
that, I'll buy an A-B-C book for myself."
"For myself. I want to go to school and study hard."
"Look at me," said the Fox. "For the silly reason of wanting to study, I
have lost a paw."
"Look at me," said the Cat. "For the same foolish reason, I have lost
the sight of both eyes."
At that moment, a Blackbird, perched on the fence along the road, called
out sharp and clear:
"Pinocchio, do not listen to bad advice. If you do, you'll be sorry!"
Poor little Blackbird! If he had only kept his words to himself! In the
twinkling of an eyelid, the Cat leaped on him, and ate him, feathers and
After eating the bird, he cleaned his whiskers, closed his eyes, and
became blind once more.
"Poor Blackbird!" said Pinocchio to the Cat. "Why did you kill him?"
"I killed him to teach him a lesson. He talks too much. Next time he
will keep his words to himself."
By this time the three companions had walked a long distance. Suddenly,
the Fox stopped in his tracks and, turning to the Marionette, said to
"Do you want to double your gold pieces?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you want one hundred, a thousand, two thousand gold pieces for your
"Yes, but how?"
"The way is very easy. Instead of returning home, come with us."
"And where will you take me?"
"To the City of Simple Simons."
Pinocchio thought a while and then said firmly:
"No, I don't want to go. Home is near, and I'm going where Father is
waiting for me. How unhappy he must be that I have not yet returned! I
have been a bad son, and the Talking Cricket was right when he said that
a disobedient boy cannot be happy in this world. I have learned this
at my own expense. Even last night in the theater, when Fire Eater. . .
Brrrr!!!!! . . . The shivers run up and down my back at the mere thought
"Well, then," said the Fox, "if you really want to go home, go ahead,
but you'll be sorry."
"You'll be sorry," repeated the Cat.
"Think well, Pinocchio, you are turning your back on Dame Fortune."
"On Dame Fortune," repeated the Cat.
"Tomorrow your five gold pieces will be two thousand!"
"Two thousand!" repeated the Cat.
"But how can they possibly become so many?" asked Pinocchio wonderingly.
"I'll explain," said the Fox. "You must know that, just outside the City
of Simple Simons, there is a blessed field called the Field of Wonders.
In this field you dig a hole and in the hole you bury a gold piece.
After covering up the hole with earth you water it well, sprinkle a bit
of salt on it, and go to bed. During the night, the gold piece sprouts,
grows, blossoms, and next morning you find a beautiful tree, that is
loaded with gold pieces."
"So that if I were to bury my five gold pieces," cried Pinocchio with
growing wonder, "next morning I should find--how many?"
"It is very simple to figure out," answered the Fox. "Why, you can
figure it on your fingers! Granted that each piece gives you five
hundred, multiply five hundred by five. Next morning you will find
twenty-five hundred new, sparkling gold pieces."
"Fine! Fine!" cried Pinocchio, dancing about with joy. "And as soon as
I have them, I shall keep two thousand for myself and the other five
hundred I'll give to you two."
"A gift for us?" cried the Fox, pretending to be insulted. "Why, of
"Of course not!" repeated the Cat.
"We do not work for gain," answered the Fox. "We work only to enrich
"To enrich others!" repeated the Cat.
"What good people," thought Pinocchio to himself. And forgetting his
father, the new coat, the A-B-C book, and all his good resolutions, he
said to the Fox and to the Cat:
"Let us go. I am with you."
The Inn of the Red Lobster
Cat and Fox and Marionette walked and walked and walked. At last, toward
evening, dead tired, they came to the Inn of the Red Lobster.
"Let us stop here a while," said the Fox, "to eat a bite and rest for
a few hours. At midnight we'll start out again, for at dawn tomorrow we
must be at the Field of Wonders."
They went into the Inn and all three sat down at the same table.
However, not one of them was very hungry.
The poor Cat felt very weak, and he was able to eat only thirty-five
mullets with tomato sauce and four portions of tripe with cheese.
Moreover, as he was so in need of strength, he had to have four more
helpings of butter and cheese.
The Fox, after a great deal of coaxing, tried his best to eat a little.
The doctor had put him on a diet, and he had to be satisfied with a
small hare dressed with a dozen young and tender spring chickens. After
the hare, he ordered some partridges, a few pheasants, a couple of
rabbits, and a dozen frogs and lizards. That was all. He felt ill, he
said, and could not eat another bite.
Pinocchio ate least of all. He asked for a bite of bread and a few nuts
and then hardly touched them. The poor fellow, with his mind on the
Field of Wonders, was suffering from a gold-piece indigestion.
Supper over, the Fox said to the Innkeeper:
"Give us two good rooms, one for Mr. Pinocchio and the other for me and
my friend. Before starting out, we'll take a little nap. Remember to
call us at midnight sharp, for we must continue on our journey."
"Yes, sir," answered the Innkeeper, winking in a knowing way at the Fox
and the Cat, as if to say, "I understand."
As soon as Pinocchio was in bed, he fell fast asleep and began to dream.
He dreamed he was in the middle of a field. The field was full of
vines heavy with grapes. The grapes were no other than gold coins which
tinkled merrily as they swayed in the wind. They seemed to say, "Let him
who wants us take us!"
Just as Pinocchio stretched out his hand to take a handful of them, he
was awakened by three loud knocks at the door. It was the Innkeeper who
had come to tell him that midnight had struck.
"Are my friends ready?" the Marionette asked him.
"Indeed, yes! They went two hours ago."
"Why in such a hurry?"
"Unfortunately the Cat received a telegram which said that his
first-born was suffering from chilblains and was on the point of death.
He could not even wait to say good-by to you."
"Did they pay for the supper?"
"How could they do such a thing? Being people of great refinement, they
did not want to offend you so deeply as not to allow you the honor of
paying the bill."
"Too bad! That offense would have been more than pleasing to me," said
Pinocchio, scratching his head.
"Where did my good friends say they would wait for me?" he added.
"At the Field of Wonders, at sunrise tomorrow morning."
Pinocchio paid a gold piece for the three suppers and started on his way
toward the field that was to make him a rich man.
He walked on, not knowing where he was going, for it was dark, so dark
that not a thing was visible. Round about him, not a leaf stirred. A few
bats skimmed his nose now and again and scared him half to death. Once
or twice he shouted, "Who goes there?" and the far-away hills echoed
back to him, "Who goes there? Who goes there? Who goes. . . ?"
As he walked, Pinocchio noticed a tiny insect glimmering on the trunk of
a tree, a small being that glowed with a pale, soft light.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"I am the ghost of the Talking Cricket," answered the little being in a
faint voice that sounded as if it came from a far-away world.
"What do you want?" asked the Marionette.
"I want to give you a few words of good advice. Return home and give the
four gold pieces you have left to your poor old father who is weeping
because he has not seen you for many a day."
"Tomorrow my father will be a rich man, for these four gold pieces will
become two thousand."
"Don't listen to those who promise you wealth overnight, my boy. As a
rule they are either fools or swindlers! Listen to me and go home."
"But I want to go on!"
"The hour is late!"
"I want to go on."
"The night is very dark."
"I want to go on."
"The road is dangerous."
"I want to go on."
"Remember that boys who insist on having their own way, sooner or later
come to grief."
"The same nonsense. Good-by, Cricket."
"Good night, Pinocchio, and may Heaven preserve you from the Assassins."
There was silence for a minute and the light of the Talking Cricket
disappeared suddenly, just as if someone had snuffed it out. Once again
the road was plunged in darkness.