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"You see,” said Pinocchio, “I was once a wooden puppet, just as I am today. One day I was about to become a boy—a real boy. But because of my laziness and my hatred of books, and because I listened to bad friends, I ran away from home. One morning, I awoke to find myself changed into a donkey—with long ears, a gray coat, and a tail. I was taken to the marketplace and sold to a circus owner. At the circus, before the entire audience, I suffered the indignity not only of being a donkey, but of being made into a buffoon—I was forced to wear girlish ribbons, perform dainty ballet steps, and jump through hoops! I was so ashamed. As it turned out, I was a dismal failure as a ballerina and I was completely inept at jumping through a hoop. Anyway, the upshot of the matter was that one night, during a bungled performance, I fell while trying to jump through the hoop. My hoof was maimed, and I became crippled. Not knowing what to do with a physically impaired donkey, the circus owner sent me back to the marketplace, and you bought me.”

“I know! And I paid ten cents for you. Now, who will give me my money back?”

“But why did you buy me? You bought me to make a drum from my skin! A drum!

“Yes, I did! And now where will I find another skin?”

“Don't worry. There are many other donkeys in the world.”

“Is that the end of your story?”

“One more thing,” answered the puppet. “After buying me, you brought me here to kill me. But feeling sorry for me, you tied a stone to my neck and threw me to the bottom of the sea. That was very good of you to want me to suffer as little as possible, and I'll always be grateful. And now my fairy will take care of me, even if you—”

“Your fairy? Who is she?”

“She's my mother. And like all clairvoyant fairies—and mothers who love their children—she never loses sight of me. And today this good fairy of mine, this fairy filled with maternal love, as soon as she saw me in danger of drowning, sent a thousand carnivorous fish to me. They thought I was really a dead donkey and began to eat me. Some ate my ears, others my nose, and others my neck, my mane, my legs, my back, and my tail.” When they finished eating my hide and muscle, they came to my bones—or rather, to the wood. After the first few bites, they found that the wood was too hard to eat. They turned and swam away. And that's my whole story.”

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