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at the Red Lobster Inn.

“Here comes our dear Pinocchio!” cried the fox, hugging and kissing him. “What are you doing here?”

“Doing here?” repeated the cat.

“It's a long story,” said the puppet. “The other night, when you left me alone at the inn, I met killers on the road.”

“Killers? Oh, you poor thing! How traumatic for you! What did they want?”

“They wanted my gold pieces.”

“Scoundrels!” said the fox.

“The worst sort of scoundrels!” added the cat.

“But I began to run,” continued the puppet, “and they followed after me, until they overtook me and hung me to the branch of that oak tree.” Pinocchio pointed to the tall oak nearby.

“Could anything be worse?” said the fox. “What an awful world to live in! Where can gentlemen like us find a safe place?”

As the fox talked, Pinocchio noticed that the cat carried his right paw in a sling.

“What happened to your paw?” he asked.

The cat began to answer, but his stammering explanation became so garbled that the fox jumped in to help him out.

“Please excuse my friend's disjointed narrative, but the truth is, he's much too unassuming to articulate what really happened. What he tried to say—if I may paraphrase—is that about an hour ago we met an old wolf on the road. He was starving and begged for help. Having nothing to give him, my good friend here, out of the kindness of his heart, bit off his own front paw and gave it to the poor beast, so that he might have something to eat.”

As he spoke, the fox wiped away a tear.

Pinocchio, almost in tears himself, whispered into the cat's ear, “If all cats were like you, how lucky mice would be!”

“What are you doing now?” the fox asked.

“I'm waiting for my good father, who'll be here any minute.”

“And your gold pieces?”

“I still have them in my pocket, except one that I spent at the Red Lobster Inn.”

“To think,” said the fox, “that those four gold pieces might become about two thousand tomorrow. Why don't you listen to me? Why don't you sow them in the Field of Wonders? Do that and you'll be living on easy street.”

“Where's that?”

“Ha, ha! No, it's not a real street. “Easy street” is a just a colloquialism. When I used that phrase I meant to imply that you'll be rich and you'll have a life of ease!”

“Oh. Well, today it's impossible. I'll go with you some other time.”

“But another day will be too late,” said the fox.


“Because the field has been sold. You know, of course, that the government keeps a list of fields that are open to the public. Tomorrow, sad to say, the Field of Wonders will be deleted from the roster.”

“Well, how far is

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