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a terminal illness. In a few hours it will take you far away to another world.”

“I don't care,” answered the puppet nonchalantly.

“That's an awfully blasé attitude. Aren't you afraid of the unknown, of eternity?”

“No. Those are just abstract ideas. A sour taste is real. I'd rather die than drink that awful medicine.”

At that moment, the door of the room flew open and in came four black rabbits.

“What do you want?” asked Pinocchio.

“We've come for your body,” said the largest rabbit gravely.

“But I'm not dead yet!”

“No, not yet. But a sickness has invaded you, and the invading cells replicate themselves very quickly. Since you've refused to take the medicine that would have made you well, you'll be dead in no time. Once you're dead…how can I put this without being too graphic?…well, once you're dead we'll take your corpse to the puppet medical school, where your dismembered body parts will be dissected for study.”

Pinocchio, envisioning that grisly scene, cried out in horror, “Oh, fairy, my fairy…give me that glass! Quick, please! I don't want to die! No, no, not yet…not yet!”

Holding the glass in both hands, and still seeing in his mind's eye the gruesome image of his cadaver being horribly mutilated, he swallowed the medicine in one gulp.

“Well,” said the four rabbits, “this time we've made the trip for nothing.” And turning on their heels, they marched out of the room, muttering and grumbling between their teeth.

In a moment, Pinocchio felt fine. With one leap he was out of bed and into his clothes.

The fairy, seeing him run and jump around the room, said to him, “The medicine was good for you, after all, wasn't it?”

“Yes! It's given me new life.”

“Why, then, did I have to beg you so hard to make you drink it?”

“I'm a boy, you see, and all boys find medicine even more repellent than sickness.”

“What a shame! Boys ought to know, after all, that medicine, taken in time, can save them from pain and even from death. I admit the medicine tasted sour, but if you think about it, the momentary unpleasantness is trivial when looked at in a larger context.”

“You're right. Next time I won't have to be begged so hard. I'll remember those black rabbits—and the phobic reaction I had to what would have happened to me at the puppet medical school—and I'll take the medicine at once!”

“Good. Now, even though you feel fine, it's not a good idea for you to be running around so much. You need time to recuperate after such a serious illness. Come sit here beside me and tell me how it came about that you found yourself in the hands of killers.”

“Well, it's a long story,”

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