The Adventures of Pinocchio - Chapter
As he ran, the Marionette felt more
and more certain that
he would have to give himself up into the hands of his
pursuers. Suddenly he saw a little cottage gleaming white
as the snow among the trees of the forest.
"If I have enough breath
left with which to reach that
little house, I may be saved," he said to himself.
Not waiting another moment, he darted swiftly through
the woods, the Assassins still after him.
After a hard race of almost an hour, tired and out of
breath, Pinocchio finally reached the door of the cottage
and knocked. No one answered.
He knocked again, harder than before, for behind him
he heard the steps and the labored breathing of his
persecutors. The same silence followed.
As knocking was of no use, Pinocchio, in despair,
began to kick and bang against the door, as if he wanted
to break it. At the noise, a window opened and a lovely
maiden looked out. She had azure hair and a face white
as wax. Her eyes were closed and her hands crossed on
her breast. With a voice so weak that it hardly could be
heard, she whispered:
"No one lives in this house.
Everyone is dead."
"Won't you, at least, open
the door for me?"
cried Pinocchio in a beseeching voice.
"I also am dead."
"Dead? What are you doing
at the window, then?"
"I am waiting for the coffin
to take me away."
After these words, the little girl disappeared and the
window closed without a sound.
"Oh, Lovely Maiden with Azure Hair," cried
Pinocchio, "open, I beg of you. Take pity on a poor
is being chased by two Assass--"
He did not finish, for two powerful hands grasped him
by the neck and the same two horrible voices growled
threateningly: "Now we have you!"
The Marionette, seeing death dancing before him,
trembled so hard that the joints of his legs rattled and
the coins tinkled under his tongue.
"Well," the Assassins asked, "will
you open your
mouth now or not? Ah! You do not answer? Very well,
this time you shall open it."
Taking out two long, sharp knives, they struck two
heavy blows on the Marionette's back.
Happily for him, Pinocchio was made of very hard
wood and the knives broke into a thousand pieces. The
Assassins looked at each other in dismay, holding the
handles of the knives in their hands.
"I understand," said one of them to the other, "there
is nothing left to do now but to hang him."
"To hang him," repeated
They tied Pinocchio's hands behind his shoulders and
slipped the noose around his neck. Throwing the rope
over the high limb of a giant oak tree, they pulled till
the poor Marionette hung far up in space.
Satisfied with their work, they sat on the grass waiting
for Pinocchio to give his last gasp. But after three hours
the Marionette's eyes were still open, his mouth still
and his legs kicked harder than ever.
Tired of waiting, the Assassins called to him mockingly:
"Good-by till tomorrow. When we return in the morning,
we hope you'll be polite enough to let us find you
dead and gone and with your mouth wide open."
With these words they went.
A few minutes went by and then a wild wind started
to blow. As it shrieked and moaned, the poor little
sufferer was blown to and fro like the hammer of a bell.
The rocking made him seasick and the noose, becoming
tighter and tighter, choked him. Little by little a film
covered his eyes.
Death was creeping nearer and nearer, and the Marionette
still hoped for some good soul to come to his rescue,
but no one appeared. As he was about to die, he thought
of his poor old father, and hardly conscious of what he
was saying, murmured to himself:
"Oh, Father, dear Father!
If you were only here!"
These were his last words. He closed his eyes, opened
his mouth, stretched out his legs, and hung there, as if
he were dead.