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no exception to this rule, soon drifted off. But about midnight he was awakened by strange whisperings coming from the yard. He stuck his nose out of the doghouse, and, in the dim light provided by a crescent moon, saw four small, dark, furry animals. They were weasels! One of them left his companions and, coming to the door of the doghouse, said in a sweet voice, “Good evening, Fido.”

“My name isn't Fido,” answered Pinocchio.

“Who are you, then?”

“I'm Pinocchio.”

“What kind of name is that?”

“I'm the namesake of a very lucky family my father once knew.”

“Oh. But what are you doing here?”

“I've been relegated to the doghouse.”

“The doghouse? But where's Fido? Where's the old dog who used to live here?”

“He died.”

“Died? Poor thing! He was so good! Still, judging by your face, I think you, too, are a good dog.”

“I beg your pardon, but I'm not a dog!”

“What are you, then?”

“Can't you see? I'm a puppet.”

“Are you taking the place of the watchdog?”

“I'm sorry to say that I am. I'm being punished.”

“That's a strange punishment.”

“The farmer imposed it on me as a penance for something I did wrong.”

“Well, this might be your lucky night…I think your father was right to give you that lucky name! You see, I'll make the same deal with you that we made with Fido. I'm sure you'll be glad to hear it.”

“What is it?”

“We'll come once in a while, as in the past, to pay a visit to this chicken coop, and we'll take away eight chickens. Of these, seven are for us, and one for you, provided, of course, that you'll make believe you're sleeping and won't bark for the farmer.”

“Did Fido really agree to that?” asked Pinocchio.

“Indeed he did! And because of that we were the best of friends. Now, sleep away peacefully, and remember that before we go we'll leave you a nice fat chicken all ready for your breakfast in the morning. In fact, because this is your first time, I'll amend the deal this once and leave you two chickens. Understood?”

“Only too well,” answered Pinocchio. And shaking his head in a threatening manner, he seemed to say, “We'll see about that.”

As soon as the weasels had talked things over, they went straight to the chicken coop, which stood close to the doghouse. Digging busily with teeth and claws, they opened the little door and slipped in. But they were no sooner in than they heard the door close with a sharp bang.

The one who had shut it was Pinocchio, who, not satisfied with that, dragged a heavy stone in front of it. That done, he started to bark. And he barked as if he were a real watchdog: “Bow-wow! Bow-wow-wow!”

The farmer heard the loud barks and jumped

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