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or less wouldn't make any difference.”

“And if the fairy yells at you?”

“Don't worry. It's not as if she's some kind of shrew or something. She's the nicest mother in the world! The worst she'll do is lecture me a little about how I should always do the right thing. I can handle it.”

In the meantime, the night became darker and darker, and one by one the stars came out. While the flickering astral lights looked down upon the two boys, all at once, far down the road, another light flickered and a bell tinkled.

“There it is!” cried Lampwick, jumping to his feet.

“What?” whispered Pinocchio.

“The wagon that's coming to take me to Playland. For the last time, are you coming or not?”

“But is it really true that in that country boys never have to study?”

“Never, never, never!”

“What a wonderful, beautiful, marvelous country! Oh! Oh!”

Chapter 27 “Playland”

Finally the wagon arrived. It made no noise, for its wheels were covered with straw and rags. It was drawn by twelve pairs of donkeys, all of the same size, but of different colors. Some were gray, others white, and still others a mixture of brown and black. But what was most bizarre was that all the donkeys, instead of iron horseshoes, wore laced shoes made of leather, just like ones boys wear.

The wagon was so closely packed with boys of all ages that it looked like a can of sardines. They were uncomfortably piled one on top of another and could hardly breathe, yet no one complained. The thought that in a few hours they'd reach a country where there were no schools, no books, and no teachers made the boys so happy that they felt no discomfort.

No sooner had the wagon stopped than the driver—a short, obese fellow with greasy hair and small eyes—turned to Lampwick. With a handshake and smile, he asked, “Tell me, my fine boy, do you also want to come to my wonderful country?”

“Indeed, I do.”

“But I must tell you that there's no more room in the wagon. It's full.”

“Never mind,” answered Lampwick. “If there's no room inside, I can sit on the top of the coach.” And with one leap, he perched himself there.

Then the man turned to Pinocchio and, in an overly polite, servile manner, bowed and asked, “And what about you, my handsome young lad? Will you also come with us to my glorious country?”

“I'll stay here,” answered Pinocchio. “I want to return home. I'm going to study and succeed in life.”

“Pinocchio!” Lampwick called out. “Listen to me. I know you think that good study habits are conducive to success, but ask yourself—is it really worth it? Come with us and we'll always be happy.”

“No, I can't!”

“Come with us

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