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games, the candy, and, perhaps most of all, the cheerful camaraderie. But there came a morning when he awoke to find a great surprise waiting for him.

Chapter 28 “Donkeys”

On awakening, Pinocchio put his hand to his head and there he found that, during the night, his ears had grown at least ten full inches! He went in search of a mirror, but not finding any, he filled a wash bowl with water and looked at himself in it. His ears had become donkey ears!

He began to cry, to scream. But the more he shrieked, the longer and the more hairy his ears grew.

Hearing those loud cries, a squirrel who lived upstairs came into the room. Seeing Pinocchio so grief-stricken, he asked him, “What's the matter?”

“I'm sick, very, very sick—and from such an awful disease! Do you know how to check for fever?”

“I think so.”

“Feel my forehead, then, and tell me if my temperature is elevated.”

The squirrel placed his paw on Pinocchio's forehead and, after a few seconds, looked at him compassionately and said, “My friend, I'm sorry, but I must give you some very bad news.”

“What is it?”

“You have donkey fever.”

“I never heard of it,” said the puppet, who still hadn't quite assimilated the ramifications of what was happening.

“Then I'll tell you about it,” said the squirrel. “It's an illness that's prevalent among lazy boys, especially lazy boys who live in Playland. It manifests itself in a very strange way. It changes you into a donkey. Right now you're in limbo; you're a hybrid creature—part boy and part donkey. But within a few hours the change will be complete and you'll be all donkey, just like the ones that pull the carts.”

“Oh, what have I done? What have I done?” screamed Pinocchio, grasping his two long ears in his hands and pulling and tugging at them angrily, as if they belonged to someone else.

“My boy,” said the squirrel, to bolster the puppet's spirits, “you shouldn't fret about it. What's done can't be undone, you know.” Then he added, “Besides, as far as donkey ears go, they are rather nice ones.”

Ignoring the squirrel's diplomatic remark, the puppet shrieked, “But how could I have caught this awful disease?” Then more quietly he asked, “Do you think it's from eating food contaminated with toxic substances?”

“No, that's not what causes it.”

“Then did I catch some rare, exotic infection? Should I be quarantined?”

“That's not it,” answered the squirrel. “And the disease doesn't spread through contact, so you don't have to isolate yourself.”

“Then what causes it?”

“You see, all boys who are lazy or who fritter away their time playing with toys and playing games sooner or later turn into donkeys.”

“Are you sure?” asked the puppet, sobbing bitterly.

“I'm sorry to say

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