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the kitchen table.

Little by little his efforts were rewarded. He succeeded, not only in his studies, but also in his work. One day he found that he had accrued fifty cents. With it he wanted to buy himself some new clothes.

He said to his father, “I'm going to the marketplace to buy myself a coat, a cap, and a pair of shoes. When I come back I'll be so dressed up, you'll think I'm a rich man.”

He ran out of the house and up the road to the village. Suddenly he heard his name called, and looking around to see where the voice came from, he noticed a snail crawling out of some bushes.

“Don't you recognize me?” said the snail.

“I'm not sure.”

“Do you remember the snail that lived with the blue-haired fairy? Do you remember how I opened the door for you after you kicked your foot through it?”

“Yes, vividly. Nothing could ever efface my mental picture of that dreadful night,” said Pinocchio. “Answer me quickly. Where have you left my fairy? What's she doing? Has she forgiven me? Does she remember me? Does she still love me? Is she very far away from here? May I see her?”

At all these questions, tumbling out one after another, the snail answered calmly, “My dear Pinocchio, the fairy is sick in a hospital.”

“In a hospital?”

“I'm afraid so. She's had many problems.

“What kind of problems?”

“Problems with her health—her physical health, I mean. Luckily, so far, her mental faculties haven't deteriorated. But she's been beset by financial problems, too. Her recovery has been hampered by a lack of funds. You see, she doesn't even have enough money to buy the medicine that would make her well.”

“Oh, how sorry I am! My poor, dear little fairy! If I had a million dollars I would run to her with it! But I have only fifty cents. Here it is. I was just going to buy some clothes. Here, take it to the hospital, little snail. I authorize you to spend it on her medical care in any way you see fit.”

“What about your new clothes?”

“What does that matter? I'd like to sell these things I have on to help her more. Until today I've earned only enough money to take care of my poor old father. Now I'll have to augment my income so that I can take care of my dear mother, too.” Pinocchio thought for a moment and then said, “Will you do me a favor, little snail? From now on, I'd like you to serve as my liaison with the hospital. You'll take money to my fairy, and you'll bring news of her condition back to me. Will you do it?"

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