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the puppet, who had hardly a breath left in his whole body.

“Come now. Would you have us believe that he was mauled by a wild animal? Or that he fell off a roof? Now tell the truth. Who did it.”

“Not I,” he repeated.

“What was he wounded with?”

“With this book,” answered the puppet, holding up the math book to show it to the officer.

“Whose book is it?” asked the officer, noticing a bit of congealed blood on the book's corner.


“I see. Then how do you reconcile your claim of innocence with the fact that your book has this poor boy's blood on it and you're the only one here?”

Pinocchio could have told the officers all about the troublemaker who'd instigated the fight, but he was no tattletale. At the risk of being made the scapegoat for a crime he didn't commit, he said nothing.

“Okay, that's enough.” said the officer, taking the book. “Come along with us.”

“But I—”

“Come with us!”

“But I'm innocent.”

“Innocent? The incriminating evidence is right here!” shouted the officer, thrusting the book an inch in front of Pinocchio's nose. “There's no question that you'll be indicted for this crime. And if the judge unearths any evidence that shows that your attack was premeditated, you'll serve jail time. Now come with us!”

Before starting out, the officer called out to several fishermen passing by in a boat, “Fishermen! Hey! This is an emergency! I hereby appoint you temporary, auxiliary police officers. Do your best to resuscitate this injured little boy. Take him home with you, put him to bed, and treat his wounds. Tomorrow we'll come back for him.”

The two officers took hold of Pinocchio and put him between them. Then one said to him in a gruff voice, “Now march! And go quickly, or it'll be even worse for you!”

They didn't have to say it again. Pinocchio silently allowed himself to be escorted between the officers along the road to the village. But the poor puppet was in a daze. He felt like he was in a horrible dream. Everything looked distorted. He felt queasy and feverish. His legs trembled and his tongue was dry. And his throat felt so constricted that, try as he might, he couldn't utter a single word. Yet, in spite of this delirium, one thought continually tormented him—the thought of passing under the window of the good fairy's house. What would she say on seeing him embroiled in legal difficulties? What would she say on hearing the gory details of what had just happened to his schoolmate's head? What would she say on thinking he'd blundered yet again? Then another thought entered his head. What would his teacher

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