"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!"
"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. I deserve it! But spare my poor old father."
"I am going to spare both the father and the son. I have only wanted to remind you of the trick you long ago played upon me, to teach you that in this world of ours we must be kind and courteous to others, if we want to find kindness and courtesy in our own days of trouble."
"You are right, little Cricket, you are more than right, and I shall remember the lesson you have taught me. But will you tell how you succeeded in buying this pretty little cottage?"
"This cottage was given to me yesterday by a little Goat with blue hair."
"And where did the Goat go?" asked Pinocchio.
"I don't know."
"And when will she come back?"
"She will never come back. Yesterday she went away bleating sadly, and it seemed to me she said: 'Poor Pinocchio, I shall never see him again. . .the Shark must have eaten him by this time.'"
"Were those her real words? Then it was she—it was—my dear little Fairy," cried out Pinocchio, sobbing bitterly. After he had cried a long time, he wiped his eyes and then he made a bed of straw for old Geppetto. He laid him on it and said to the Talking Cricket:
"Tell me, little Cricket, where shall I find a glass of milk for my poor Father?"
"Three fields away from here lives Farmer John. He has some cows. Go there and he will give you what you want."
Pinocchio ran all the way to Farmer John's house. The Farmer said to him:
"How much milk do you want?"
"I want a full glass."
"A full glass costs a penny. First give me the penny."
"I have no penny," answered Pinocchio, sad and ashamed.
"Very bad, my Marionette," answered the Farmer, "very bad. If you have no penny, I have no milk."
"Too bad," said Pinocchio and started to go.
"Wait a moment," said Farmer John. "Perhaps we can come to terms. Do you know how to draw water from a well?"
"I can try."
"Then go to that well you see yonder and draw one hundred bucketfuls of water."
"After you have finished, I shall give you a glass of warm sweet milk."
"I am satisfied."
Farmer John took the Marionette to the well and showed him how to draw the water. Pinocchio set to work as well as he knew how, but long before he had pulled up the one hundred buckets, he was tired out and dripping with perspiration. He had never worked so hard in his life.
"Until today," said the Farmer, "my donkey has drawn the water for me, but now that poor animal is dying."
"Will you take me to see him?" said Pinocchio.
As soon as Pinocchio went into the stable, he spied a little Donkey lying on a bed of straw in the corner of the stable. He was worn out from hunger and too much work. After looking at him a long time, he said to himself: "I know that Donkey! I have seen him before."
And bending low over him, he asked: "Who are you?"
At this question, the Donkey opened weary, dying eyes and answered in the same tongue: "I am Lamp-Wick."
Then he closed his eyes and died.
"Oh, my poor Lamp-Wick," said Pinocchio in a faint voice, as he wiped his eyes with some straw he had picked up from the ground.
"Do you feel so sorry for a little donkey that has cost you nothing?" said the Farmer. "What should I do—I, who have paid my good money for him?"
"But, you see, he was my friend."
"A classmate of mine."
"What," shouted Farmer John, bursting out laughing. "What! You had donkeys in your school? How you must have studied!"
The Marionette, ashamed and hurt by those words, did not answer, but taking his glass of milk returned to his father.
From that day on, for more than five months, Pinocchio got up every morning just as dawn was breaking and went to the farm to draw water. And every day he was given a glass of warm milk for his poor old father, who grew stronger and better day by day. But he was not satisfied with this. He learned to make baskets of reeds and sold them. With the money he received, he and his father were able to keep from starving.
Among other things, he built a rolling chair, strong and comfortable, to take his old father out for an airing on bright, sunny days.
In the evening the Marionette studied by lamplight. With some of the money he had earned, he bought himself a secondhand volume that had a few pages missing, and with that he learned to read in a very short time. As far as writing was concerned, he used a long stick at one end of which he had whittled a long, fine point. Ink he had none, so he used the juice of blackberries or cherries. Little by little his diligence was rewarded. He succeeded, not only in his studies, but also in his work, and a day came when he put enough money together to keep his old father comfortable and happy. Besides this, he was able to save the great amount of fifty pennies. With it he wanted to buy himself a new suit.
One day he said to his father:
"I am going to the market place to buy myself a coat, a cap, and a pair of shoes. When I come back I'll be so dressed up, you will think I am a rich man."
He ran out of the house and up the road to the village, laughing and singing. Suddenly he heard his name called, and looking around to see whence the voice came, he noticed a large snail crawling out of some bushes.
"Don't you recognize me?" said the Snail.
"Yes and no."
"Do you remember the Snail that lived with the Fairy with Azure Hair? Do you not remember how she opened the door for you one night and gave you something to eat?"
"I remember everything," cried Pinocchio. "Answer me quickly, pretty Snail, where have you left my Fairy? What is she doing? Has she forgiven me? Does she remember me? Does she still love me? Is she very far away from here? May I see her?"
At all these questions, tumbling out one after another, the Snail answered, calm as ever:
"My dear Pinocchio, the Fairy is lying ill in a hospital."
"In a hospital?"
"Yes, indeed. She has been stricken with trouble and illness, and she hasn't a penny left with which to buy a bite of bread."
"Really? Oh, how sorry I am! My poor, dear little Fairy! If I had a million I should run to her with it! But I have only fifty pennies. Here they are. I was just going to buy some clothes. Here, take them, little Snail, and give them to my good Fairy."
"What about the new clothes?"
"What does that matter? I should like to sell these rags I have on to help her more. Go, and hurry. Come back here within a couple of days and I hope to have more money for you! Until today I have worked for my father. Now I shall have to work for my mother also. Good-by, and I hope to see you soon."
The Snail, much against her usual habit, began to run like a lizard under a summer sun.
When Pinocchio returned home, his father asked him:
"And where is the new suit?"
"I couldn't find one to fit me. I shall have to look again some other day."
That night, Pinocchio, instead of going to bed at ten o'clock waited until midnight, and instead of making eight baskets, he made sixteen.
After that he went to bed and fell asleep. As he slept, he dreamed of his Fairy, beautiful, smiling, and happy, who kissed him and said to him, "Bravo, Pinocchio! In reward for your kind heart, I forgive you for all your old mischief. Boys who love and take good care of their parents when they are old and sick, deserve praise even though they may not be held up as models of obedience and good behavior. Keep on doing so well, and you will be happy."
At that very moment, Pinocchio awoke and opened wide his eyes.
What was his surprise and his joy when, on looking himself over, he saw that he was no longer a Marionette, but that he had become a real live boy! He looked all about him and instead of the usual walls of straw, he found himself in a beautifully furnished little room, the prettiest he had ever seen. In a twinkling, he jumped down from his bed to look on the chair standing near. There, he found a new suit, a new hat, and a pair of shoes.
As soon as he was dressed, he put his hands in his pockets and pulled out a little leather purse on which were written the following words:
The Fairy with Azure Hair returns
fifty pennies to her dear Pinocchio
with many thanks for his kind heart.
The Marionette opened the purse to find the money, and behold—there were fifty gold coins!
Pinocchio ran to the mirror. He hardly recognized himself. The bright face of a tall boy looked at him with wide-awake blue eyes, dark brown hair and happy, smiling lips.
Surrounded by so much splendor, the Marionette hardly knew what he was doing. He rubbed his eyes two or three times, wondering if he were still asleep or awake and decided he must be awake.
"And where is Father?" he cried suddenly. He ran into the next room, and there stood Geppetto, grown years younger overnight, spick and span in his new clothes and gay as a lark in the morning. He was once more Mastro Geppetto, the wood carver, hard at work on a lovely picture frame, decorating it with flowers and leaves, and heads of animals.
"Father, Father, what has happened? Tell me if you can," cried Pinocchio, as he ran and jumped on his Father's neck.
"This sudden change in our house is all your doing, my dear Pinocchio," answered Geppetto.
"What have I to do with it?"
"Just this. When bad boys become good and kind, they have the power of making their homes gay and new with happiness."
"I wonder where the old Pinocchio of wood has hidden himself?"
"There he is," answered Geppetto. And he pointed to a large Marionette leaning against a chair, head turned to one side, arms hanging limp, and legs twisted under him.
After a long, long look, Pinocchio said to himself with great content:
"How ridiculous I was as a Marionette! And how happy I am, now that I have become a real boy!"