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out of bed. Taking his gun, he leaped to the window and shouted, “What's the matter?”

“The thieves are here,” called Pinocchio.

“Where are they?”

“In the chicken coop.”

“I'm coming.”

And, in fact, the farmer was down in the yard in an instant and running toward the chicken coop.

He opened the door, pulled out the weasels one by one, and, after tying them in a bag, said to them, “I've got you at last! I could kill you right now, but instead I'll give you a reprieve. Why? Because I have a lenient spirit. I'll let you stay safe in this bag all night. Tomorrow morning I'll take you to the inn, where you'll make a fine meal for some hungry soul. It's really too great an honor for you, one you don't deserve. But, you see, I'm very kind and forgiving—so I'm going to do this for you!”

Then he went up to Pinocchio and began to pet him.

“How did you ever find them out so quickly? And to think that my dear Fido, my faithful Fido, never saw them in all these years!”

The puppet could have told him, then and there, all he knew about the ignoble collaboration between the dog and the weasels, but thinking of the dead dog, he said to himself: “Why desecrate the dead? They can't defend themselves, so the best thing to do is to leave them in peace!”

“Were you awake or asleep when they came?” continued the farmer.

“I was asleep,” answered Pinocchio, “but they woke me with their whisperings. One of them even came to the door of the doghouse and tried to talk me into making a secret pact with them. He said, ‘If you promise not to bark, we'll promise to give you one of the chickens for your breakfast.' Can you believe that? Those depraved criminals had the nerve to make that proposition to me! I may be full of faults, but I do know that what they asked me to do—to accept a share of stolen property—is equivalent to out-and-out stealing!”

“Fine boy!” cried the farmer, slapping him on the shoulder in a friendly way. “You ought to be proud of yourself. And to show you what I think of you, I'm setting you free!”

And he removed the dog collar from his neck.

Chapter 19 “The Pigeon”

As soon as he no longer felt the oppressive weight of the thick metal collar, the emancipated puppet started to run across fields and meadows. And he never stopped till he came to the path that led to the fairy's house.

When he reached it, he looked into a valley far below him, and there he saw the woods where he'd unluckily met the

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