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him affectionately on his cheek. At this sign of love, the poor tuna, who was not used to such things, wept like a baby. Then, ashamed to be seen in such a state, he turned quickly, plunged into the water, and disappeared.

But the ordeal had debilitated Geppetto completely, and he could barely stand. Pinocchio offered his arm to him and said, “Lean on my arm, Father, and let's go. We'll walk very, very slowly, and if we feel tired we can stop and rest.”

“Where are we going?” asked Geppetto weakly.

“To look for a house or a hut where we can ask for some bread to eat and some straw to sleep on.”

They'd walked barely a hundred feet when they saw two beggars loitering by the roadside.

It was the fox and the cat, but they looked so miserable and sickly that they were hardly recognizable. The cat, after maintaining a façade of blindness for so many years, had really lost his sight. And the fox, whose muscles had atrophied, looked old and emaciated.

“Oh, Pinocchio,” he cried in a tearful, high-pitched voice. “Give us something, we beg of you! We're old, tired, and sick.”

“Tired and sick!” wailed the cat.

Looking directly into the fox's gaunt face, the puppet answered, “I'm wise to your tricks. You fooled me once with your suave style and smooth talk, but you'll never fool me again. And if now you think that you can evoke sympathy with your pathetic whining, forget it. You're incorrigible thieves and you deserve whatever you get. Good-bye.”

Pinocchio and Geppetto calmly went on their way. After a few more steps, they saw, at the end of a long path, a tiny cottage built of straw.

“That little cottage,” said Pinocchio, “has a rustic charm and simplicity. I like it. Someone kind must live there. Let's go see.”

They went and knocked at the door.

“Who is it?” said a little voice from within.

“A poor father and his poor son, with no food and no home,” answered the puppet.

“Turn the key and the door will open,” said the same little voice.

Pinocchio turned the key and the door opened. As soon as they went in, they looked all around but saw no one.

“Where are you?” cried Pinocchio, baffled.

“Here I am, up here!”

Father and son looked up to the ceiling, and there on a beam sat a glowing cricket.

“Oh, my dear cricket,” said Pinocchio, bowing politely.

“Oh, now you call me your dear cricket, but do you remember when you threw a hammer at me?”

“You're right. Throw a hammer at me now. I deserve it! But please spare my poor old father.”

“I'm going to spare both of you. I only wanted to remind you of what you once did to

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