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- Pinocchio in Africa - 5/16 -
"AND now I must pass another night here alone on these bare rocks!" he thought.
The unhappy marionette began to tremble. He tried to walk, but the night was so dark that it was impossible to see where to go. The tears rolled down his wooden cheeks. He thought of his disobedience and of his stubbornness. He remembered the warnings his father had given him, the advice of his teacher, and the kindly words of the good Fairy. He remembered the promises he had made to be good, obedient, and studious. How happy he had been! He recalled the day when his father's face beamed with pleasure at his progress. He saw the happy smile with which his protecting Fairy greeted him. His tears fell fast, and sobs rent his heart.
"If I should die, here in this gloomy place! If I should die of weariness, of hunger, of fear! To die a marionette without having had the happiness of becoming a real boy!"
He wept bitterly, and yet his troubles had scarcely begun. Even while his tears were flowing down his cheeks and into the dark water, he heard prolonged howls. At the same time he saw lights moving to and fro, as if driven by the wind.
"What in the world is this? Who is carrying those lanterns? asked Pinocchio, continuing to sob.
As if in answer to his questions, two lights came down the rocky coast and drew nearer to him.
Along with the lights came the howls, which sounded like those he had heard at the circus, only more natural and terrible.
"I hope this will end well," the marionette said to himself, "but I have some doubt about it."
He threw himself on the ground and tried to hide between the rocks. A minute later and he felt a warm breath on his face. There stood the shadowy form of a hyena, its open mouth ready to devour the marionette at one gulp.
"I am done for!" and Pinocchio shut his eyes and gave a last thought to his dear father and his beloved Fatina. But the beast, after sniffing at him once or twice from head to foot, burst into aloud, howling laugh and walked away. He had no appetite for wooden boys.
"May you never return! said Pinocchio, raising his head a little and straining his eyes to pierce the darkness about him. "Oh, if there were only a tree, or a wall, or anything to climb up on!"The marionette was right in wishing for something to keep him far above the ground. During the whole night these visitors were coming and going. They came around him howling, sniffing, laughing, mocking. As each one ran off, Pinocchio would say, "May you never return!" He lay there shivering in the agony of his terror. If the night had continued much longer, the poor fellow would have died of fright. But the dawn came at last. All these strange night visitors disappeared. Pinocchio tried to get up. He could not move. His legs and arms were stiff. A terrible weakness had seized him, and the world swam around him. Hunger overpowered him. The poor marionette felt that he should surely die. "How terrible," he though, "to die of hunger! What would I not eat! Dry beans and cherry stems would be delicious." He looked eagerly around, but there was not even a cricket or a snail in sight. There was nothing, nothing but rocks.
Suddenly, however, a faint cry came from his parched throat. Was it possible? A few feet from him there was something between the rocks which looked like food. The marionette did not know what it was. He dragged himself along on hands and knees, and commenced to eat it. His nose wished to have nothing to do with it, and would even have drawn back, but the marionette said; "It is necessary to accustom yourself to all things, my friends. One must have patience. Don't be afraid; if I find any roses, I promise to gather them for you."
The nose became quiet, the mouth ate, the hunger was satisfied, and when the meal was finished Pinocchio jumped to his feet and shouted joyously; "I have had my first meal in Africa. Now I must begin my search for wealth." He forgot the night, his father, and Fatina. His only thought was to get farther away from home.
What an easy thing life is to a wooden marionette!
13. Pinocchio Is Well Received
"FIRST of all," he said, "I must go to the nearest castle I can find. The master will not refuse me shelter and food. Some soup, a leg of roast chicken, and a glass of milk will put me in fine spirits."
The journey across the rocks was full of difficulties, but the marionette overcame them readily, leaping from rock to rock like a goat. He walked, walked, walked! The rocks seemed to have no ending, and the castle, which he imagined he saw in the distance, appeared to be always farther and farther away. As the marionette drew nearer, the towers began to disappear and the walls to crumble. He walked on broken-hearted. Finally he sat down I despair and put his head in his hands. "Farewell, castle! good-by, roast chicken and soup!" He was about to weep again when he saw in the distance a village of great beauty lying at the foot of a gentle slope.
At the sight he gave a cry of joy and without a moment's delay set out in that direction. He leaped over the rocks and bushes, putting to flight several flocks of birds in his haste. Of course only a marionette could go as fast as he did. "How beautiful Africa is! said he. "If I had known this I would have come here long ago."
In a short time he reached the main square of the town. Men, women, and children were lounging about, gossiping, buying, and selling. When they saw the marionette they gathered around him, and many began to shout: "It is Pinocchio! Look, here is Pinocchio! Pinocchio! Pinocchio!"
"Well, this is strange!" said the marionette to himself. "I am known even in Africa. Surely I am a great person."
Like most great men, Pinocchio was annoyed at his noisy reception. In some anger he made his way through the crowd, pushing people right and left with his elbows. He ran down a side street and finally stopped before a restaurant, over which was the sign printed in huge letters:MARIONETTES SERVED HERE."This is what I have been looking for," said Pinocchio, and he went in.
14. Pinocchio Is Arrested
PINOCCHIO found himself facing a man of about fifty years of age. He was stout and good-natured, and like all good hosts, asked what the gentleman would have to eat. Pinocchio, hearing himself called "gentleman," swelled with pride, and very gravely gave his order. He was served promptly, and devoured everything before him in a way known only to hungry marionettes.
In the meantime the innkeeper eyed his customer from head to foot. He addressed Pinocchio in a very respectful manner, but the marionette gave only short answers. Persons of rank ate here, and to appear like one of them he could not allow himself to waste words on common folk.
Having finished his meal, the marionette asked for something to drink.
"What is this drink called?" he asked, as he put down the glass and thrust his thumb into his vest pocket after the manner of a gentleman.
"Nectar, your excellency."
Upon hearing himself called "excellency" Pinocchio fairly lost his head. He felt a strange lightness in his feet; indeed, he found it hard work to resist the temptation to get up and dance. "I knew that in Africa I should make my fortune," he thought, and called for a box of cigarettes.
Having smoked one of these, the brave Pinocchio arose to go out, when the host handed him a sheet of paper on which was written a row of figures.
"What is this?" asked the marionette.
"The bill, your excellency; the amount of your debt for the dinner."
Pinocchio stroked his wooden chin and looked at the innkeeper in surprise.
"Is there anything astonishing about that, your excellence? Is it not usual in your country to pay for what you eat?"
"It is amazing! I do not know what you mean! What strange custom is this that you speak of?"
"In these parts, your excellency," remarked the innkeeper, "when one eats, one must pay. However, if your lordship has no money, and intends to live at the expense of others, I have a very good remedy. One minute!"
So saying, the man stepped out of the door, uttered a curious sound, and then returned.
Pinocchio lost his courage. He broke down and began to weep. He begged the man to have patience. The first piece of gold he found would pay for the meal. The innkeeper smiled as he said, "I am sorry, but the thing is done."
"What is done?" asked the marionette.
"I have sent for the police."
"The police!" cried the marionette, shaking with fear. "The police! Even in Africa there are policemen? Please, sir, send them back! I do not want to go to prison."All this was useless talk. Two black policemen were already there. Straight toward the marionette they went and asked his name.
"Pinocchio," he answered in a faint voice.
"What is your business?"
"I am a marionette."
"Why have you come to Africa?"
"I will tell you," replied Pinocchio, "You gentlemen must know that my poor father sold his coat to buy me a spelling book, and as I have
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