The Adventures of Pinocchio - Chapter
Finally the wagon arrived. It made
no noise, for its
wheels were bound with straw and rags.
It was drawn by twelve pair of donkeys, all of the same
size, but all of different color. Some were gray, others
white, and still others a mixture of brown and black.
Here and there were a few with large yellow and blue stripes.
The strangest thing of all was that those twenty-four
donkeys, instead of being iron-shod like any other beast
of burden, had on their feet laced shoes made of leather,
just like the ones boys wear.
And the driver of the wagon?
Imagine to yourselves a little, fat man, much wider
than he was long, round and shiny as a ball of butter,
a face beaming like an apple, a little mouth that always
smiled, and a voice small and wheedling like that of a
begging for food.
No sooner did any boy see him than he fell in love with
him, and nothing satisfied him but to be allowed to ride
in his wagon to that lovely place called the Land of Toys.
In fact the wagon was so closely packed with boys of
all ages that it looked like a box of sardines. They were
uncomfortable, they were piled one on top of the other,
they could hardly breathe; yet not one word of complaint
was heard. The thought that in a few hours they would
reach a country where there were no schools, no books,
no teachers, made these boys so happy that they felt
neither hunger, nor thirst, nor sleep, nor discomfort.
No sooner had the wagon stopped than the little fat
man turned to Lamp-Wick. With bows and smiles, he
asked in a wheedling tone:
"Tell me, my fine boy, do
you also want to come to
my wonderful country?"
"Indeed I do."
"But I warn you, my little
dear, there's no more room
in the wagon. It is full."
"Never mind," answered Lamp-Wick. "If
room inside, I can sit on the top of the coach."
And with one leap, he perched himself there.
"What about you, my love?" asked
the Little Man,
turning politely to Pinocchio. "What are you going
Will you come with us, or do you stay here?"
"I stay here," answered Pinocchio. "I
want to return
home, as I prefer to study and to succeed in life."
"May that bring you luck!"
"Pinocchio!" Lamp-Wick called out. "Listen
Come with us and we'll always be happy."
"No, no, no!"
"Come with us and we'll always be happy," cried
other voices from the wagon.
"Come with us and we'll always be happy," shouted
one hundred and more boys in the wagon, all together.
"And if I go with you, what will my good Fairy say?"
asked the Marionette, who was beginning to waver and
weaken in his good resolutions.
"Don't worry so much. Only
think that we are going
to a land where we shall be allowed to make all the racket
we like from morning till night."
Pinocchio did not answer, but sighed deeply once--
twice--a third time. Finally, he said:
"Make room for me. I want
to go, too!"
"The seats are all filled," answered
the Little Man,
"but to show you how much I think of you, take my place
"No, indeed. I could not
permit such a thing. I much
prefer riding one of these donkeys," cried Pinocchio.
No sooner said than done. He approached the first
donkey and tried to mount it. But the little animal turned
suddenly and gave him such a terrible kick in the stomach
that Pinocchio was thrown to the ground and fell with
his legs in the air.
At this unlooked-for entertainment, the whole company
of runaways laughed uproariously.
The little fat man did not laugh. He went up to the
rebellious animal, and, still smiling, bent over him lovingly
and bit off half of his right ear.
In the meantime, Pinocchio lifted himself up from the
ground, and with one leap landed on the donkey's back.
The leap was so well taken that all the boys shouted,
"Hurrah for Pinocchio!" and
clapped their hands in hearty applause.
Suddenly the little donkey gave a kick with his two
hind feet and, at this unexpected move, the poor Marionette
found himself once again sprawling right in the
middle of the road.
Again the boys shouted with laughter. But the Little
Man, instead of laughing, became so loving toward the
little animal that, with another kiss, he bit off half
his left ear.
"You can mount now, my boy," he
then said to Pinocchio.
"Have no fear. That donkey was worried about something,
but I have spoken to him and now he seems quiet and reasonable."
Pinocchio mounted and the wagon started on its way.
While the donkeys galloped along the stony road, the
Marionette fancied he heard a very quiet voice whispering
"Poor silly! You have done
as you wished. But you
are going to be a sorry boy before very long."
Pinocchio, greatly frightened, looked about him to see
whence the words had come, but he saw no one. The
donkeys galloped, the wagon rolled on smoothly, the
boys slept (Lamp-Wick snored like a dormouse) and the
little, fat driver sang sleepily between his teeth.
After a mile or so, Pinocchio again heard the same
faint voice whispering: "Remember, little simpleton!
Boys who stop studying and turn their backs upon books
and schools and teachers in order to give all their time
to nonsense and pleasure, sooner or later come to grief.
Oh, how well I know this! How well I can prove it to you!
A day will come when you will weep bitterly, even as I
am weeping now--but it will be too late!"
At these whispered words, the Marionette grew more
and more frightened. He jumped to the ground, ran up
to the donkey on whose back he had been riding, and
taking his nose in his hands, looked at him. Think how
great was his surprise when he saw that the donkey was
weeping--weeping just like a boy!
"Hey, Mr. Driver!" cried the Marionette. "Do
you know what
strange thing is happening here! This donkey weeps."
"Let him weep. When he gets
married, he will have time to laugh."
"Have you perhaps taught
him to speak?"
"No, he learned to mumble
a few words when he lived
for three years with a band of trained dogs."
"Come, come," said the Little Man, "do
not lose time over
a donkey that can weep. Mount quickly and let us go.
The night is cool and the road is long."
Pinocchio obeyed without another word. The wagon
started again. Toward dawn the next morning they finally
reached that much-longed-for country, the Land of Toys.
This great land was entirely different from any other
place in the world. Its population, large though it was,
was composed wholly of boys. The oldest were about
fourteen years of age, the youngest, eight. In the street,
there was such a racket, such shouting, such blowing of
trumpets, that it was deafening. Everywhere groups of
boys were gathered together. Some played at marbles, at
hopscotch, at ball. Others rode on bicycles or on wooden
horses. Some played at blindman's buff, others at tag.
Here a group played circus, there another sang and recited.
A few turned somersaults, others walked on their hands
with their feet in the air. Generals in full uniform leading
regiments of cardboard soldiers passed by. Laughter,
shrieks, howls, catcalls, hand-clapping followed this
parade. One boy made a noise like a hen, another like
a rooster, and a third imitated a lion in his den. All
together they created such a pandemonium that it would
have been necessary for you to put cotton in your ears.
The squares were filled with small wooden theaters,
overflowing with boys from morning till night, and on the
walls of the houses, written with charcoal, were words
like these: HURRAH FOR THE LAND OF TOYS! DOWN WITH
ARITHMETIC! NO MORE SCHOOL!
As soon as they had set foot in that land, Pinocchio,
Lamp-Wick, and all the other boys who had traveled with
them started out on a tour of investigation. They
wandered everywhere, they looked into every nook and
corner, house and theater. They became everybody's friend.
Who could be happier than they?
What with entertainments and parties, the hours, the days,
the weeks passed like lightning.
"Oh, what a beautiful life this is!" said
time that, by chance, he met his friend Lamp-Wick.
"Was I right or wrong?" answered Lamp-Wick. "And
to think you did not want to come! To think that even
yesterday the idea came into your head to return home
to see your Fairy and to start studying again! If today
you are free from pencils and books and school, you owe
it to me, to my advice, to my care. Do you admit it? Only
true friends count, after all."
"It's true, Lamp-Wick, it's
true. If today I am a really
happy boy, it is all because of you. And to think that
teacher, when speaking of you, used to say, `Do not go
with that Lamp-Wick! He is a bad companion and some
day he will lead you astray.'"
"Poor teacher!" answered
the other, nodding his head.
"Indeed I know how much he disliked me and how he
enjoyed speaking ill of me. But I am of a generous nature,
and I gladly forgive him."
"Great soul!" said
Pinocchio, fondly embracing his friend.
Five months passed and the boys continued playing and
enjoying themselves from morn till night, without ever
seeing a book, or a desk, or a school. But, my children,
there came a morning when Pinocchio awoke and found
a great surprise awaiting him, a surprise which made him
feel very unhappy, as you shall see.