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if they were ghosts.

“Here they come!” Pinocchio said to himself, and, not knowing where to hide the gold pieces, he stuck all four of them under his tongue.

He tried to run away, but before he could take a step he felt his arms grasped and heard two horrible, deep voices say to him, “Your money or your life!”

Unable to speak without revealing that the gold pieces were in his mouth, Pinocchio tried with his head, hands, and body to show, as best he could, that he was only a poor puppet without a penny in his pocket.

“Come, come, stop your nonsense and out with your money!” cried the muggers in threatening voices.

Once more, with his head and hands, Pinocchio pantomimed, “I haven't a penny.”

“Out with that money or you're a dead man,” said the taller of the two black figures.

“Dead man,” repeated the other.

“And after having killed you, we'll kill your father, too.”

“Your father, too!”

“No, no, no, not my father!” cried Pinocchio, wild with terror. As he screamed, the gold pieces tinkled together in his mouth.

“Aha! So that's the game! You have the money hidden under your tongue. Out with it!”

But Pinocchio, as stubborn as ever, refused to relinquish the coins.

“Are you deaf? Then we'll make you spit it out!”

One of them grabbed the puppet by the nose and the other by the chin, and they pulled him unmercifully from side to side to make him open his mouth. But it was no use. The puppet's lips were as tightly closed as if they had been nailed together.

In desperation the smaller of the two figures pulled out a long knife from his pocket and tried to pry Pinocchio's mouth open with it. Quick as a flash, the puppet sank his teeth deep into the brute's hand, bit it off, and spit it out. When he looked down he was amazed to see that it wasn't a hand, but a cat's paw!

Encouraged by this first victory, he violently wrenched himself free from the claws of his assailants and, leaping over the bushes that lined the road, ran swiftly across the fields. The robbers were after him at once, like hounds after a fox.

After running several miles, Pinocchio was exhausted and lost. He climbed to the top of a tall pine tree and sat there to rest and think. The sack-covered figures arrived soon after. They tried to climb also, but slipped and fell.

Far from giving up the chase, this only spurred them on. They quickly gathered leaves, twigs, and whatever other combustible material they could find. They piled it all at the foot of the tree and set fire to it. In an instant the

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