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am a snail, and snails never hurry.”

An hour passed; then two hours; the door was still closed. Pinocchio, who was trembling with fear and shivering from the cold rain on his back, knocked a second time, this time louder than before.

At that second knock, a window on the third floor opened and the same snail looked out.

“Dear little snail,” cried Pinocchio, “I've been waiting two hours for you! And two hours on a dreadful night like this is as long as two years. Hurry, please!”

“My boy,” answered the snail in a calm, peaceful voice, “I am a snail, and snails never hurry.” And the window closed.

A few minutes later midnight struck; then one o'clock; then two o'clock; the door still remained closed!

The many hours of discomfort and fear finally culminated in Pinocchio losing all control. Seething with frustration, he drew back his leg and gave a violent kick against the door. He kicked so hard that his foot went straight through the wood and his leg followed almost to the knee. No matter how he pulled and yanked, he couldn't get it out. There he stayed as if nailed to the door.

Poor Pinocchio! The rest of the night he had to spend with one foot through the door and the other on the ground.

As dawn was breaking, the door finally opened. That little snail had taken exactly nine hours to go from the fourth floor to the first!

“What are you doing with your foot through the door?” it asked the puppet.

“It was an accident. Won't you try to free me from this torture?”

“My boy, this is a job for a carpenter.”

“Ask the fairy to help me!”

“The fairy's asleep and doesn't wish to be disturbed.”

“Bring me something to eat, at least, for I'm faint from hunger.”

“Right away!” said the snail.

In fact, after three and a half hours, Pinocchio saw him return with a tray of bread, roast chicken, and fruit.

“Here's the breakfast the fairy sends you,” said the snail.

At the sight of all these good things, the puppet felt much better.

But upon tasting the food, he was disgusted to find that the bread was made of chalk, the chicken of cardboard, and the fruit of plaster!

He wanted to cry; he wanted to throw away the tray and all that was on it. Instead, from pain and weakness, he fainted.

When he regained his senses, he found himself stretched out on a sofa and the good fairy was seated near him.

“This time also I forgive you,” said the fairy to him. “But be careful not to get into trouble again.”

Receiving the fairy's forgiveness so easily made Pinocchio feel very guilty. But while his guilt

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