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other boys. But how did you grow so quickly?”

“That's a secret!”

“Tell it to me.”

“It's a secret only fairies are permitted to know. I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to disclose it.”

“But I also want to grow a little. Look at me! I've never grown taller than three feet.”

“But you can't grow,” answered the fairy.

“Why? What's wrong with me? Did I suffer some kind of natal injury? Did the part of my brain that controls growth malfunction? Did—”

“No, no. Of course not. There's nothing wrong with you. It's just that puppets never grow. They're born puppets, they live as puppets, and they die as puppets.”

“But I'm tired of always being a little puppet!” cried Pinocchio disgustedly. “People speak of the brevity of childhood—but for me it feels interminable. It's time for me to grow up and become a man, as everyone else does.”

“There's another secret that all adults know, and this one I can divulge.”

“What is it?”

“Every child thinks that when he grows up, he'll become a different person. But the child-adult dichotomy is a false one. After children grow up, they find that their thoughts and feelings are pretty much the same as they always were.”

“Well, then what I want is to change from a puppet into a real boy—and then grow up.”

“And you will if you deserve it.”

“Really? Will I be transformed instantaneously? Or will it be a gradual transition?”

“You're not going to evolve little by little through a series of incremental steps, if that's what you mean. Rather, the change will happen all at once—but not until you deserve it.”

“What can I do to deserve it?”

“It's very simple. Just behave like a good boy.”

“Don't you think I do?”

The fairy thought for a moment and then said, “How can I say this tactfully? Let's just say that you can do better. For example, good boys do as they're told. You, on the other hand—”

“And I never obey.”

“Good boys do their homework, but you—”

“And I use any pretext to get out of it.”

“Good boys do their chores.”

“And I procrastinate or don't do them at all.”

“Good boys always tell the truth.”

“And I'm a chronic liar.”

“Good boys go to school.”

“And I get sick if I go to school. But from now on I'll be different.”

“Do you promise?”

“I promise. I want to be a good boy and to be a comfort to my father. Where's my poor father now?”

“I don't know.”

“Will I ever be lucky enough to find him and hug him again?”

“I think so. Indeed, I'm sure of it.”

At this answer, Pinocchio became very happy. He grasped the fairy's hands and kissed them. Then, lifting his face, he looked at her lovingly and asked, “Tell me, it isn't true that you're dead, is it?”

“It doesn't seem so,” answered the fairy, smiling.

“If you only knew how I suffered and

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