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However, not one of them seemed very hungry.

The poor cat said that he was too tired to eat, but, because he didn't want to become malnourished, would try. He was able to swallow only thirty-five pieces of fish garnished with lemon slices.

The fox, claiming that he, also, was too exhausted to eat, tried his best to force something down. His doctor, he explained, had put him on a special diet that stressed abstinence from rich foods. As such, he was trying to wean himself from butter, sugar, and eggs. He had to be satisfied with only a small rabbit surrounded by a dozen young, tender chickens. That was all. Soothingly patting his distended stomach, he said that he felt ill and couldn't eat another bite.

Pinocchio ate least of all. He asked for a little buttered toast but then hardly touched it. With his mind on the Field of Wonders, he was too excited to eat. A waiter who hovered nearby suggested sprinkling a bit of cinnamon on the toast to impart flavor—but the puppet declined.

Because the fox and cat had been so busy stuffing themselves, very little conversation transpired during the meal. But after they'd finally put down their knives and forks, the fox recapitulated some of what he'd said earlier, then added, “But anywhere you look in the broad spectrum of criminal behavior, one thing remains the same. All people who commit crimes suffer from an emotional disorder. What I mean is that because of a certain psychological predisposition, they really can't help their aberrant behavior. That's why it's important for lawbreakers to be purged from society once and for all. It's the only way to make the world safe for the rest of us.”

“The rest of us,” repeated the cat.

“And I'm not talking about segregating them from the rest of society by sending them to jail,” the fox went on. “I'm actually opposed to that—adamantly opposed. Why? Because prisons, instead of rehabilitating offenders, generally make them even worse than they already were! I say that all criminals should be sent to a deserted island someplace, where they'd have only each other to hurt.”

“Each other to hurt,” repeated the cat.

Pinocchio nodded his agreement.

With dinner over, the fox said to the innkeeper, “Give us two good rooms upstairs—one for Pinocchio and the other for my friend and me. Before starting out, we'll take a little nap. Remember to call us at midnight sharp, for we must continue on our journey.”

The innkeeper, who seemed to know exactly what the fox and cat were up to, indicated his tacit approval by winking and smiling at them.

On the way upstairs, the fox said

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