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- Pinocchio in Africa - 6/16 -
heard that there is plenty of gold and silver in Africa, I have come here."
"What kind of talk is this?" asked the elder of the two policemen. "No nonsense! Show us your papers."
"What papers! I left all I had at school."
The policemen cut short the marionette's words by taking out their handcuffs and preparing to lead him away to prison. But the innkeeper was a good-hearted man, and he was sorry for the poor blockhead. He begged them to leave Pinocchio in his charge.
"So long as you are satisfied, we are satisfied," said the policemen. "If you wish to give away your food, that is your own affair;" and they went off without saying another word.
15. Pinocchio's Father
PINOCCHIO blushed with shame.
"Then you are the marionette Pinocchio?"
Upon hearing himself addressed in this familiar way, Pinocchio felt a little annoyed, but recalling the unsettled account, he thought it best to answer politely that he was Pinocchio.
"I am pleased," continued the man; "I am very much pleased, because I knew your father."
"You knew my father?" exclaimed the marionette.
"Certainly I knew him! I was a servant in his house before you were born."
"In my house as a servant? When has father Geppetto had servants?" asked the marionette, his eyes wide with surprise.
"But who said Geppetto? Geppetto is not your father's name."
"Oh, indeed! Well, then, what is his name?"
"Your father's name is not Geppetto, but Collodi. A wonderful man, my boy."
Pinocchio understood less and less. It was strange, he thought, to have come to Africa to learn the story of his family. He listened with astonishment to all that the innkeeper said.
"Remember, however, that even if you are not really the son of the good Geppetto, it does not follow that you should forget the care he has given you. What gratitude have you shown him? You ran away from home without even telling him. Who knows how unhappy the poor old man may be! You never will understand what suffering you cause your parents. Such blockheads as you are not fit to have parents. They work from morning till night so that you may want for nothing, and may grow up to be good and wise men, useful to yourselves, to your family, and to your country. What do you do? Nothing! You are worthless!"
Pinocchio listened very thoughtfully. He had never expected that in Africa he was to hear so many disagreeable truths, and he was on the verge of weeping.
"For your father's sake you have been let off easily. From now on you may regard this as your home. I am not very rich, and I need a boy to help me. You will do. You may as well begin to work at once." And he handed the marionette a large broom.
Pinocchio was vexed at this, but the thought of the black policemen and the unsettled bill cooled his anger, and he swept as well as he knew how. "From a gentleman to a sweeper! What fine progress I have made!" he thought, as the tears rolled down his cheeks.
"If my father were to see me now, or my good Fairy, or my companions at school! What a fine picture I should make!" And he continued to sweep and dust.
16. Pinocchio Sells Drinking Water
THE time passed quickly. At the dinner hour Pinocchio had a great appetite and ate with much enjoyment. The master praised him highly for the tidy appearance of the store and urged him to keep up his good work.
"At the end of twenty years," he said, "You will have put aside enough to return home, and a little extra money to spend on poor old Geppetto. Now that you have eaten, take this leather bag and fill it with water, which you are to sell about the city. When you return we shall know how much you have made."
The bag was soon strapped on his shoulders and the marionette was shown the door. "Remember," said his master, "a cent a glass!"
Pinocchio set out down the narrow street. He walked on, little caring where he went. His wooden brains were far away. He was grieved. Had the master known just how the marionette felt he would have run after him and at least regained his leather bag.
Pinocchio walked on. He was soon among a hurrying crowd of people. "Can this be Egypt in Africa? I have read about it often."
A Man, wrapped in a white cloak, touched him on the shoulder. Pinocchio did not understand, and started to go on about his business, but the man took him roughly by the nose. Pinocchio shrieked. The crowd stopped. At last, he discovered that the man wanted water. Pinocchio placed the bag on the ground. Then he poured the water into a glass. The man drank, paid, and went his way.
"What a thirst for water Africans have!" thought the marionette, as he remembered his companions of the circus. "I like ices better, and I am going to try to get one with this penny." At once he started off, leaving the leather bag behind.
17. A Ride On A Dog's Back
A CROWD of boys had by this time gathered in the street. They began, after the manner of boys in nearly every part of the world, to annoy one who was clearly a stranger. They did not know Pinocchio, however, nor the force of his feet and elbows. There came a shower of kicks and punches, and the boys scattered. Away flew Pinocchio. The people were astonished to see those tiny legs fly like the wind. They shouted and ran after him. Pinocchio resolved not to be caught. He turned into a side street that led into the open country. A large dog, stretched out upon the ground, was in his way. Pinocchio measured the distance and leaped.
At that very moment the dog sprang up, and hardly knowing how it happened, Pinocchio found himself astride his back. Barking furiously, the animal shot along like a cannon ball. The poor boy felt sure that he was going to break his neck and prayed for safety. On they rushed. The dog jumped over rocks and ditches as if he had done nothing in all his life but carry marionettes on his back.
"Is it possible that he is a horse-dog?" thought Pinocchio. "If he is, I shall ride him always, and when I return home, I shall present him to my father. My companions will die of envy when they see me riding to school like a gentleman. I shall make him a saddle like those I saw on the circus horses, and a pair of silver stirrups. A saddle is really necessary, because it is very uncomfortable to ride in this way."
The came to a deep gully and the dog prepared to make the leap. Pinocchio muttered to himself: "This is the end. If I cross this in safety, I will surely return home and go to school."
There was a leap, and a plunge into the black, empty air. When he opened his eyes, he found himself lying at the bottom of a precipice in total darkness. How long had he been in the air? The marionette did not know. He remembered only that while flying down he had heard a familiar voice call, "Pinocchio! Pinocchio! Pinocchio!"
"Farewell to the world and to Africa," said the marionette. "Wooden marionettes will never learn. Here I shall stay forever. It serves me right."
18. The Cave
IF I get out of this prison alive, it will be the greatest wonder I have ever known." Pinocchio sat in the spot where he had fallen. He now began to suffer from thirst. There had been a great deal of excitement, and his throat was parched. He would have given anything for a sip of the water he had so carelessly left in the middle of the street only a little while before.
"I don't want to die here," he said. "I must get up and walk."
So saying, he moved slowly about, groping with his hands and feet as if he were playing blindman's buff. The ground was soft, and the air seemed fresh. In fact, it was not so bad as he had at first thought. Only four things worried him, darkness, hunger, thirst, and fear. Aside from these he was safe and sound.
He had gone but a short distance through the darkness when suddenly he thought he heard a faint murmur. He saw a gleam of light. The blood rushed through his veins. He walked on. The sound became clearer, and the light grew brighter. At length Pinocchio found himself in a cave lighted by soft rays. The murmuring sound was caused by a small stream of water coming out from a high rock and forming a little waterfall. Pinocchio rushed toward the rocks, opened his mouth wide like a funnel, and drank his fill.
"I shall not die of thirst," said the marionette. "Unfortunately, I am still hungry. What a fate is mine! Why can we not live without eating? Some day I am going to find a way. If I succeed, I shall teach the poor people to live without food as I do. How happy they will be!" Meanwhile he looked about for a means of escape. Soon he discovered the hole that lighted the cave, and walked out once more under the open sky.
19. The Caravan
HE saw nothing but rocks and sand; rocks that shone like mirrors, and sand that burned like fire. He walked on very sadly, without knowing where. Presently he found himself upon a hill, from which he could see a vast plain crossed by a wide highway. A long line of people
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