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at the puppet with all his strength. But Pinocchio ducked and the projectile struck the head of another classmate who'd just run up to watch the excitement. The thrower then screamed a belated “Watch out!” and the victim, pale as a ghost, cried out, “Help! I'm dying!” and fell senseless to the ground. Pinocchio heard his head crack against the hard dirt.

At the sight of that pale little body, the boy who'd thrown the book suddenly became so distraught that he turned and ran. In a few moments he was gone.

Although scared to death by the ghastly accident, Pinocchio ran to the sea and saturated his handkerchief with cool ocean water. Then he ran back and gently patted the forehead of his poor little schoolmate with it. Sobbing bitterly, he said to him, “Open your eyes and look at me! Why don't you answer? I wasn't the one who hit you, you know. Open your eyes. If you keep them shut, then I'll die, too.”

Then the puppet thought to himself: “Oh dear, how will I ever go home now? How will I ever face my mother again? What will happen to me? Where will I go? Where will I hide? Oh, how much better it would have been, a thousand times better, if only I'd gone to school! Why did I listen to that boy? He was a bad influence! And to think that the teacher had told me—and my mother, too!—‘Beware of bad company!' That's what they said. But I'm stubborn and selfish. I listen, but I always do as I please. And then I pay. I've never had a moment's peace since I've been born! Oh, dear! What will become of me? What will become of me?”

Pinocchio went on crying and moaning. Then he said to the lifeless body of his little friend, “You came here to try to mediate a truce between me and that other boy, didn't you? You did nothing wrong. You don't deserve to die. Open your eyes. Please open your—” Suddenly he heard heavy steps approaching.

He looked up and saw two tall police officers near him.

“What are you doing on the ground?” they asked Pinocchio.

“I'm helping this schoolmate of mine.”

“Is anything wrong with him?”

“I think so,” answered Pinocchio weakly.

One of the officers bent down for a closer look. Right away he noticed the boy's shallow breathing and pale, moist skin. When he pulled up the child's drooping eyelids he found that the eyes were glazed and the pupils were dilated. Then, seeing angry bruises and coagulated blood above the boy's ear, he said, “His temple's been lacerated and he's in shock.” Then to Pinocchio: “All right, what happened? Who did this?”

“Not I,” stammered

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