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I can go only so far. I'm hungry and my dinner must be cooked, so this puppet must burn in your place.”

“In that case,” declared Pinocchio, heedless of the consequences, “my duty is clear. Guards, tie me up and throw me on those flames. It's not fair for someone else to die in my place!”

These brave words, said in a piercing voice, made all the other marionettes cry. Even the guards cried like babies.

Fire-Eater at first remained hard and cold. He said, “So what if it's not fair? Life is filled with inequities. In war some soldiers die while others are merely wounded. Why? Because life isn't fair!” But then, little by little, he softened and began to sneeze. After about a dozen sneezes, he opened his arms wide and said to Pinocchio, “You're a brave boy! Come to my arms and kiss me!”

Pinocchio ran to him and, scurrying like a squirrel up the long black beard, gave Fire-Eater a loving kiss on the tip of his nose.

“You're all pardoned!” announced Fire-Eater. Then, sighing and sadly shaking his head, he added, “Tonight I'll have to eat my lamb chop only half cooked. But watch out next time, marionettes.”

At the news that pardon had been granted, all the puppets ran to the stage and, turning on the lights, they danced and sang till dawn.

Chapter 8 “The Fox and Cat”

The next day Fire-Eater called Pinocchio aside and asked him, “What's your father's name?”


“That's a nice name. You know, my name, “Fire-Eater,” is really a misnomer. I don't actually eat fire; I only looked as if I might, or so I'm told. Now tell me, what does your father do for a living?”

“He's a wood carver.”

“Does he earn much?”

“A mere pittance; in fact, his earnings are so meager that in order to buy me a schoolbook, he had to sell the only coat he owned—a coat full of patches.”

“Poor fellow! I feel sorry for him. Here, take these five gold pieces. Give them to him with my kindest regards.”

Pinocchio thanked him over and over. He kissed each marionette in turn, then even kissed the guards, and, beside himself with joy, set out on his homeward journey.

He had gone barely half a mile when he met a crippled fox and a blind cat walking together like two good friends. The fox leaned on the able-bodied cat for support, and the cat let the sharp-eyed fox lead him along.

“Good morning, Pinocchio,” said the fox, greeting him courteously.

“How do you know my name?” asked the puppet.

“I know your father well.”

“Where have you seen him?”

“I saw him yesterday standing at the door of his house.”

“What was he doing?”

“He was in his

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